Volume 95. Issue 11

Page 1

VOL 95 : 11 DECEMBER 6, 2017 The award-winning independent student newspaper of St. John’s University




students protest in vp's office Chief Diversity Officer talks initiatives New faculty most diverse in years TORCH PHOTO/ARIANA ORTIZ


Students Create Off-Campus Meal Plan page 2 TORCH PHOTO/LAUREN FINEGAN

Students Share Their Favorite Holiday Traditions

Student Orgs Give Back During The Holiday Season

page 9

page 10




An Alternative Meal Plan Option? Students seek to ease burden of cooking through off-campus meal plan




Despite offering several different meal plan options, one thing St. John’s doesn’t give students the option of with their plan is using swipes or points at off-campus restaurants. But now, two students are working to change that — for off-campus residents, anyway. Param Yonzon, a senior, and Milton Parra, a graduate student, have spent the last year developing an off-campus meal plan for students who don’t dorm at St. John’s that is unaffiliated with the University. “I think it was one night where I was just so frustrated and I had just thought about the idea, you know, like, ‘Why isn’t there an off-campus meal plan at these local restaurants?’” Yonzon said. When Yonzon moved off campus last school year, he said he came to face an issue a lot of college students regularly battle with: grocery shopping and finding time to actually make meals. And like a lot of college students, he spent a lot of time eating out. “I basically had no time to grocery shop, I was really bad at budgeting, and it was just really hard for me to find food to eat, and so I always went to local restaurants like Regina’s and Double J’s,” Yonzon, a risk management student, said in a recent interview. That’s how unimealplan, Yonzon and Parra’s off-campus meal plan, came to be. Partnered with Yonzon’s cousin, who lives in the Netherlands, they set off to develop the best possible plan for both students and local businesses; one that was affordable, but also worthwhile for restaurants around campus. The program launched this fall. Students sign up for unimealplan through the company’s website, www.unimealplan.com. The way it works is different from a St. John’s meal plan, which lasts for an entire semester. Through unimealplan, students purchase one of two options: •3 meals at $7/meal for a total of $23 including tax •10 meals at $6.50/meal for a total of $71 including tax The meals don’t run out over a period of time, either. Students can purchase three meals, for example, and purchase the meals over the span of a few months. Currently, unimealplan is partnered with Double Js, Salad Shack, CJ’s and Regina’s — all located on Union Turnpike. Meals then get ordered through the website and can be picked up. “[I’ve] used unimealplan since September, and it was very convenient for me because I am in rush mode most [of] the time,” Ahmed Mayan, a freshman at St. John’s, said. The target market for the business are students who live off campus, as St. John’s began requiring all on campus students to purchase a meal plan through the University last spring. To kickstart the venture, Yonzon said he reached out to manufacturers in China who could create physical cards for students to use, but it was too expensive. So, he placed a call to a random entrepreneur — Reuben Pressman — who advised him to develop his own software in the form of a web application. Presently, there is a unimealplan Android app, but not an iPhone app. “I like [unimealplan] because there is no cash exchange [or] minimum; I never have cash,” Malia DelaCruz, a senior commuter student who uses the service. Unimealplan is incorporated in Delaware,

the pair said, and it currently has no investors, meaning the entire thing is self-funded. According to Parra, they pretty much break even, as they do earn a profit from the business, but have to use that money to purchase tablets for businesses partnering with the meal plan service. “I think, when you talk about financial returns, no; we’ve broken even,” Parra said. “So we’re not losing money actively, but I think we’ve learned a ton.” Additionally, they teach restaurant employees how to use the software. “We have this little training guide for people who are either new hires at the restaurant, so it’s like a walk-through guide of how it works. A lot of the processes that Seamless [and] GrubHub — all these other apps — they don’t have that.” Aside from the technicalities, Yonzon and Parra said they regularly seek feedback from students. Recently, for example, they said they stood outside of Double J’s for more than one hour to introduce the product to people walking by and ask them about their own problems with eating off campus. “Right now, we’re in the process of talking to people and finding out what is the right thing... What do they think it is, first of all, and second of all, what do they want,” Yonzon said. Parra added that the success they’ve seen since launching is the way people have been receptive to their efforts. Ultimately, the pair said that for now, their goal is to focus on how to best serve the St. John’s community before expanding. “We know that if we can make an amazing experience for one St. John’s student, then we can make an amazing experience for 10 St. John’s students, and then if we can do it for 10, then we can do it for 100, and it can go on,” Yonzon said. “And then if we can do an amazing experience for one school then we can replicate that and we can hit another school and another school and another school, and we can learn about different demographics.”

Parra and Yonzon recently launched an off-campus meal plan with local businesses.

Winter Carnival’s N.Y. Spectacular Postponed ISABELLA BRUNI

Co-News Editor

Christmas spirit will officially arrive to the St. John’s campus on Wednesday, Dec. 6 at the 27th annual New York Christmas Spectacular on the Great Lawn. The event was originally scheduled for Tuesday night but due to inclement weather the event was moved last minute. The Winter Carnival is an tradition at St. John’s with multiple days filled with holiday festivities. The New York Spectacular features fireworks, performances, New York street vendor food along with the lighting of the Great Lawn Christmas tree. The event is followed by a dessert party in the D’Angelo Center where students can eat and win prizes. According to Student Government Inc., the Santa’s Workshop event on Tuesday, Dec. 5 will use half of the desserts and half of the giveaway prizes meant for the Winter Carnival night so that students have a chance to attend one of the events and still snag some goodies. The Winter Carnival will begin Wednesday at 7 p.m. on the Great Lawn in front of St. Augustine Hall and will end around 9 p.m.





Students Demand Better Policies

Racial, other social concerns aired during impromptu meeting with VP ARIANA ORTIZ

Co-News Editor

More than 40 students gathered at DAC on Nov. 16 to protest what they say is the University’s indifference toward the needs of its marginalized students, including students of color, LGBT and disabled students. The demonstration ended with an impromptu meeting that lasted over an hour inside the Newman Hall office of Joseph Oliva, vice president for administration, secretary and general counsel. Oliva, standing behind his desk, listened to the concerns of the students. In a statement to the Torch afterward, he said the administration “welcomes and embraces the opportunity to work with all of our students and the broader University community on both initiatives already underway and new ideas and approaches to creating an inclusive campus climate.” The demonstration was headed by Students of Consciousness (SoC), a student-led organization that describes itself on its website as “a collective body of students, faculty and alumni demanding change for marginalized groups at St. John’s University.” “We are gathered here today to protest... We are gathered here today because black, brown and [LGBT] lives matter,” protesters chanted in front of DAC. “We are gathered here because St. John’s does not value black, brown and [LGBT] lives.” Demonstrators began by chanting outside of D’Angelo Center, then continued through its lobby and living room where a Commuter’s Day event was being held. Most Commuter’s Day participants watched the demonstrators as they chanted while others joined in. The group, some of whom held signs that read “Dismantle white supremacy in our classroom & SJU community” and “Market diversity, hire diversity,” then attempted to initiate a meeting with President Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw at his Newman Hall office. While the group was not permitted to enter Gempesaw’s office — they were told he was in a meeting — they were instead invited to speak with Oliva in his Newman Hall office. The meeting with Oliva consisted of about two dozen students, most of whom also participated in the demonstration, voicing their personal experiences at the University, grievances and demands. Other participants stood by to watch and listen. Students voiced concerns to Oliva about issues including: • their view of SJU’s failure to hire qualified people of color in faculty positions; • low retention and tenure rates for students and faculty of color; • the complicated procedure of reporting incidents such as racist comments from professors and peers; • the University’s celebration of Columbus Day and lack of any celebration for National Native American Heritage Month, which is the month of November; • experiences with Public Safety where students believed they were treated negatively because of their race; • increasing accessibility on campus for disabled students.



Students voiced their concerns to University Vice President, Joseph Oliva.

We are gathered here today because St. John’s does not value black, brown and [LGBT] lives

We will work with you to root out the issues. Vice President Joseph Oliva

Student demonstrators

A video of the meeting will be posted on the Torch’s website within the week. “The meeting was a good opportunity to hear directly from students about ways we can create a more inclusive university environment,” Oliva said. “Addressing issues of equity and inclusivity are a priority of the entire University community.” Liberal Arts Faculty Council Meeting, Lack of Faculty Diversity

The demonstration took place two days after members of Students of Consciousness were dismayed by what SoC leaders called racist comments and pushback they say they experienced at the Liberal Arts Faculty Council Meeting on Nov. 14. On Nov. 15, a day after that meeting, SoC released a statement on their Instagram page that described how senior Kenneth Shelton gave a speech on behalf of SoC that focused on how the University’s faculty does not reflect the diversity that exists within the student body. Shelton “spoke on behalf of the Black students at St. John’s campus as Black and Brown students are confronted with racism in the classroom through remarks and micro-aggressions committed by other students and professors,” according to the SoC statement. Shelton told the Torch that he also men-

tioned in his speech that he has been disappointed by what he describes as a lack of follow-through regarding diversity and equity for marginalized students. He said he requested that faculty members who are not willing to help create a diverse space for students resign. He offered to help draft resignation letters. Shelton said his speech was met with pushback from some of the faculty present. He said he felt faculty members there “were more upset about that remark than upset that the problem exists in the first place.” According to the SoC statement, a tense exchange followed between black students and a white faculty member about racism. Oliva, during the impromptu meeting with student demonstrators in his office, said, “I did hear about the comments that were made at the faculty council meeting. And we do not support those comments, and I mean that.” SGI Meeting Community Dialogue

Shelton and fellow SoC leader Kimberly Balderas spoke during the newly implemented “campus dialogue” portion of SGI’s Nov. 27 meeting in which they accused SGI’s e-board of being out of touch with the needs of the student body and suggested that they improve their communication methods to better represent all

students. Balderas was motivated to attend this hearing because she was bothered by the previous SGI meeting where students attempted to discuss the issue of recognizing Columbus Day. She said representatives cut the discussion short and were not being receptive to student feedback. “I was very upset because they didn’t care to hear what other students had to say, and they’re supposed to represent us,” Balderas said. Balderas spoke about how she takes issue with SGI’s approach and said class representatives do not know the needs of their respective classes as well as they should. “I said that SGI is supposed to represent the student body, they’re elected to e-board positions…[they] have to work as a community and with the community, because at the end of that day, that’s who [they] have to respond to,” Balderas said. “And basically...the room of faces, they were so uninterested. Some people were, but they weren’t really engaged, they didn’t get it.” Shelton, who was involved with SGI as a class representative and research and development committee co-chair until his junior year, said he agrees with Balderas that SGI leaders need to be in better touch with the needs of students. “I think the culture of SGI needs to change, in which it shouldn’t take a community dialogue in the first place for people who are elected to represent people to understand what’s going on,” Shelton said. In response, SGI President Frank Obermeyer said, “we are always willing to look for ways that our representatives can better serve as advocates. The first step in that advocacy comes from us engaging with our constituents.” He said the fact that these students addressed SGI representatives as part of the new open dialogue feature shows SGI’s willingness to evolve. “All students are welcome to speak as the first item on our agenda each meeting,” Obermeyer said, referring to the new feature. “SGI is committed to increasing our engagement with the student body so that we can better advocate for and empower them,” he added. “I encourage students to stay tuned for our surveys and take advantage of our office in DAC 215.” ‘It’s a community project’

Shelton, in his speech at the faculty meeting, touched on a point that — in retrospect — perhaps almost everyone could agree with: that everyone at St. John’s needs to be on the same page with regards to such significant issues. “It’s a community project,” he said in the interview with the Torch, “not us against [faculty]… it should be us working with them in certain capacities.” Oliva made it clear to the students in his office that he agrees. “If you’re an employee of St. John’s,” Oliva said, “whether you’re a faculty member, administrator, staff, and you don’t support our mission — and that mission includes a mission of diversity, and a mission of love and respect, and to do all those things — then you don’t belong here. “We are committed to that, and we will work with you to root out the issues.”




Diversity Within Cultural Organizations

Students don’t let cultural differences stop them from serving on e-boards


from the groups they represent. Much like becoming a general memAssistant News Editor ber, becoming an e-board member of a A portion of the discussion at the Cul- student organization does not necessarily tural Town Hall meeting last month re- require that they be of the same culture. Student leaders Marina Dal Agnol, garding a non-black student serving on Connor Cox and Alyssa Morris are all of the Haraya e-board has reignited the issue different backgrounds than their organiof cultural awareness among student orzations. ganizations. Despite this, the three say they do not Since then the Torch spoke with three feel unwelcome. students from different cultural organiza“Serving for Circolo has been a chaltions on campus about why they serve as lenging and enlightening experience, ” e-board members of their organizations Dal Agnol said on her role as president even though their backgrounds differ of Circolo Italiano, the Italian cultural organization on campus. Dal Agnol, a senior who primarily identifies as Brazilian, said she initially held some reservations going in, but they quickly faded as she became more involved with the PHOTO COURTESY/CONNOR COX organization. Connor Cox, Avaaz treasurer. “The group welcomed me with open arms in the same way that they do with all the members,” she said. Cox, who is a senior and treasurer of a student organization called Avaaz that represents Sikhs on campus, says he is of Western European descent. Like Dal Agnol, Cox also PHOTO COURTESY/SIETA LEON says he felt a bit unAlyssa Morris, LASO co-public relations chair.

certain at the outset. “Since I did not come from the culture [that Avaaz represents] I was a little hesitant to serve on Avaaz’s e-board,” he said. Cox’s decision to get involved with Avaaz was sparked by a desire to learn about a new culture coupled with the support of friends that were already part of the Sikh-representing organization. “My Sikh friends encouraged me to run for treasurer and have been supportive, and it’s been a lot of fun being a part of this organization,” he said. Although Morris, a junior and co-public relations chair of the Latin American Student Organization (LASO), is of Jamaican descent, she was not apprehensive about obtaining an e-board position within it. “I didn’t think that it would be a big deal that I wasn’t of Latin American [heritage or that] they’d push me away from being a part of operations and learning about their Latin culture,” Morris said. Initial reservations or not, the three e-board members said they wouldn’t change any part of their experiences. In fact, they see serving for their respective organizations as an opportunity rather than a dividing line. “Now I get the chance to share [the Italian culture] with other students, [and show them] how Italy is more than pasta and mafia movies,” Dal Agnol said. Joining an organization of a different culture is something Cox doesn’t think students should shy away from. “It’s important to learn more about each other and understand our differences,” he said. “I think people will find that different cultures share a lot in common too.” Similarly, Morris believes this allows students to become aware of different cultures. “It’s all about being open-minded,” she

said. “It’s about learning about different things and opening up your mind to a bright world.” They all agree that embracing these differences and similarities makes St. John’s all the more diverse. “It’s awesome to experience something you never experienced and interact with all types of people,” Cox said. St. John’s has long prided itself on its diverse student body. Most recently, the University received a rating of .7 out of one on a diversity index published in the U.S. News Campus Ethnic Diversity report for 2018. A score of one represents the most diverse student body. St. John’s rating of .7, which ranked 22nd among schools nationwide, places it above NYU’s rating of .68 and at the same level of Columbia University.


more diverse scholars apply to St. John’s. “If I was recruiting a biologist, it would seem to me I’ll put an ad in Nature Magazine, it’s the greatest journal in biology and that’s where people are going to read, but that’s not enough,” Mangione said. “By reading an ad in Nature magazine it may not be evident what a great place St. John’s would be for historically underrepresented faculty members.” Llewellyn added that she and Mangione are constantly working with faculty to actively add resources, such as a minority faculty applicant database, to further their initiatives for hiring faculty of historically underrepresented groups. “Last year we went to the Black Doctoral Network Recruitment Fair and that was an opportunity to meet with a lot of candidates and it was a really good experience [as] it gets our name out there as an employer that is interested and dedicated to employing faculty from historically underrepresented groups,” Llewellyn said. Although Mangione and Llewellyn are optimistic about this year’s progress, some students believe there is more to be done. On Nov. 16, Students of Consciousness organized a protest where they demanded more representation in the classroom.

A group of 40 students marched to Gempesaw’s office demanding to speak to him about these issues. Gempesaw wasn’t present but they were able to speak with Joseph E. Oliva, vice president for administration, secretary and general counsel in his office. “The meeting was a good opportunity to hear directly from students about ways we can create a more inclusive university environment,” Oliva said in a statement to the Torch. In St. John’s most recent fact book, which includes data from 2015, statistics showed that only 24 percent of full-time faculty were black, Asian and Hispanic/Latino. This number hasn’t changed since fall of 2013. Raj Chetty, an assistant professor in the English department, said he is “cautiously excited” about the increase in diverse new hires. In the past, Chetty has spoken out about the need for more diverse faculty as he works closely with the R.I.S.E. Network, but said he has found Llewellyn’s work beneficial. “The danger of this progress can be jumping over one hurdle and then stopping in our midst,” Chetty said. “It’s important to embrace what we say about diversity and not hide behind the wrong idea of it.”


Marina Dal Agnol, Circolo Italiano president.

2017 Faculty Hires Most Diverse in Years Co-Social Media Manager The University says that half of its new faculty hires this year have been minorities, a development that comes on the heels of a year-long student discussion about a lack of diversity among the teaching ranks. The new faculty hires consist of: • Asians: 21 percent • Black/African Americans: 18 percent • Hispanic/Latino: nine percent Comparing these figures to the last three years of new faculty hires brochures, the number of diverse new hires has increased considerably. The brochure, published annually under the the Academics heading in St. John’s website under “Provost,” contains a small profile on each new faculty member. What caused this shift? University Provost Dr. Robert Mangione and Chief Diversity Officer Nada M. Llewellyn, Esq. said this is due to the University’s recent efforts to accommodate the student body’s concerns and as a direct response to President Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw’s second strategic

priority to “recruit, recognize and retain the best faculty, staff and administrators.” “Why did we do better this year than the year before? I think a big part of that is certainly Dr. Llewellyn’s help and learning how to recruit more effectively,” Mangione said. Mangione explained that there is an extensive process when hiring new faculty. First, the department chairs must discuss what positions are needed for the next school year before submitting their requests to Mangione. Then Mangione asks them questions to justify these requests, which include questions about enrollment and potential growth of the program. “A very important question in there is: What will you do to diversify the applicant pool?” Mangione said. Once this is taken into consideration, Mangione assesses what positions can be opened in regards to budget constraints. Then, with the approval from Gempesaw, he gives each department chair the positions that they can recruit for. The basic recruitment process starts with advertisement in various journals. Mangione admits that they have become aware of the need to advertise on platforms that will ensure that




Chief Diversity Officer Seeks to Create “Institutional Change” SUZANNE CIECHALSKI


Nada Llewellyn has worked in the Office of the General Counsel at St. John’s University since 2005; first as Associate General Counsel, and then as Deputy General Counsel. As she puts it, “I was really connecting all over the University, so I had a good understanding of how the University works from the academic side to the operations side to the student side to campus ministry. There really isn’t an area that I didn’t touch.” That’s why when the “need” arose for a Chief Diversity Officer at St. John’s, she was promoted to that role, along with Associate Vice-President of Human Resources in 2016. “When Dr. Gempesaw first came he had the idea that he wanted to focus on diversity and inclusivity issues and early on in his presidency, he had meetings with student leaders and faculty leaders that really reaffirmed that that was a need.” In her role as Chief Diversity Officer, Llewellyn works closely with University President Dr. Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw and Provost Dr. Robert Mangione, as well as student leaders and other campus offices to achieve diversity, equity and inclusivity (DEI) at St. John’s. Along with Dr. Manouchkathe Cassagnol, a professor of Clinical Health Professions at St. John’s, Llewellyn cochairs the SJU Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion. The committee, formed by the president and provost held its first meeting last November, she said. The group is comprised of faculty, administrators, staff and students, and is tasked with four different charges: • ensure that training for staff and administrators and professional development for faculty is sufficiently robust in the diversity, equity and inclusivity space, • come up with the best recommendations for St. John’s to recruit and retain faculty from historically underrepresented groups, • incorporate DEI into curricula, • partner with Student Affairs in creating a more inclusive campus climate. What that might look like, Llewellyn said, is deciding the best types of training to offer, who delivers it and how it is delivered. It could also be reaching out to

Student Government Inc. (SGI) or other organizations to understand different needs, and figuring out how they can be addressed. All of this relates back to Llewellyn’s larger role as the Chief Diversity Officer. And in a nutshell, “What that looks like from day-to -day can vary,” she said. There are two students who sit on the Diversity Task Force, according to Llewellyn, but students are also involved in several of the group’s subcommittees, especially members of SGI. One such subcommittee is the lecture series committee. Additionally, Llewellyn added that she recently spoke with the University’s Pan-African Student Coalition, Haraya and Students of Consciousness, and will be developing a mostly student-based subcommittee on “creating an inclusive campus climate.” “We have students really working to identify issues and formulate together — PHOTO COURTESY/MEDIA RELATIONS partnering together — to formulate the best Llewellyn, the Chief Diversity Officer, has worked at SJU since 2005. strategies to address them,” she said. To form the committee, Llewellyn said they’ll likely reach out to the entire student body and solicit be changed. applications — but the process isn’t set in stone yet. Separately, the University is working on an academic “We want to make sure we’re getting a good cross section center for equity and inclusion. The pillars of the center of all St. John’s students,” she added, “But we also want to are: make it small enough so that it’s functional and people feel • research and scholarship, accountable to actually show up and do the work.” • skills building and professional development, Llewellyn stressed that everything she’s worked on or is • pedagogical resources and information, working on has been a collaboration between her, students, • faculty support, faculty and administration at the University. • authentic dialogue, “This is not just my work, or even just the task force work. • advocacy. I think what we’re really seeing now is kind of a collective “It’s really a portal for faculty to enhance their ability to effort of individuals across the University community,” she infuse DEI themes into curricular content and pedagogical said. practices so that we can meet the needs of a diverse student During her interview, Llewellyn said St. John’s is working body,” she said. on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity certificate program While these are just a few of the initiatives currently for faculty, staff and administrators to become “University being worked on throughout the University, Llewellyn said Inclusion Practitioners.” she believes a lot of change is taking place. In that role, they’ll be responsible for looking at the “It’s really coming from the top down and then from the practices and policies of their own departments to figure bottom up, so I feel like it’s institutional change that we’re out whether people are being excluded, and how that can working to create,” she said.

St. John’s Law School to Accept the GRE BRYANT RODRIGUEZ

Managing Editor

On Nov. 9, the St. John’s University School of Law announced that it will begin accepting the GRE from applicants for the class of 2018 along with the LSAT. In doing so, St. John’s joins only a handful of universities that accept the alternative standardized test for law school admission and the second one in New York State, after Columbia. The American Bar Association requires accredited law schools to use a “valid standardized test” as part of the application process, but doesn’t specify that it must be the LSAT. According to a press release, the move was spearheaded by Vice Dean Larry Cunningham. “After correlating GRE performance to performance in the first year of law school, we’re confident that the GRE predicts student success in law school,” he said. The GRE is primarily used for graduate admissions, whereas accredited law schools

use the LSAT. “The GRE also opens the Law School’s doors to a broader, more diverse set of applicants, increasing access to legal education,” Dean Cunningham added. “Not only is the GRE offered throughout the year at an extensive network of locations, it meets the needs of a growing number of applicants who pursue a law degree after obtaining a graduate or doctorate degree in another field, and who have already taken the GRE.” Although the GRE and LSAT are both used as admission tests, they cover separate topics. The GRE covers vocabulary, reading comprehension, geometry and an analytical writing section. The LSAT is composed of logical reasoning, logic games and arguments/questions with an unscored writing sample. Additionally, the LSAT is offered only as a paper-based exam six times a year while the GRE is available at any time since it is a computeradministered exam. These differences may lead prospective law school applicants to choose the exam they are more comfortable with.

“I think the benefit to taking the GRE is the similarity to other tests given before,” senior Joseph de Rege said. “It also allows for a larger sampling of people since many people are uncomfortable with the logic of the LSAT.” “I think it means that they do not have to worry about the LSAT and can bring the quality of law schools up,” he added. Sophomore Maggie Chen sees this new change as a positive for her. “I’m really glad that SJU is one of the few schools nationwide to accept the GRE. It’s an advantage,” Chen said.

“It’s great because as an enterprise regulation major, law/business school is on the horizon,” she said. “The GRE sounds like a better choice for me knowing that law school will accept it.” The GRE is also accepted by the law schools at Columbia, Georgetown, Harvard, Northwestern, UCLA, University of Chicago, Brigham Young University, George Washington, Texas A&M, University of Arizona, University of Hawaii, Wake Forest in WinstonSalem, N.C. and Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.

Rankings data from US News and World Report.

6 Opinion


Flames of the Torch

SGI Must Represent the Student Body Managing Board XCV



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



Ariana Ortiz News Editor Isabella Bruni News Editor Derrell Bouknight Sports Editor Dylan Hornik Sports Editor Beverly Danquah Features Editor Michael Ambrosino Entertainment Editor Angelica Acevedo Opinion Editor Steven Verdile Design Editor Courtney Dixon Chief Copy Editor Lauren Finegan Photo Editor

Amanda Negretti Photo Editor Erin Bola Social Media Manager Angelica Acevedo Social Media Manager Jillian Ortiz Asst. News Editor Brendan Myers Asst. Sports Editor Samantha Dennino Asst. Entertainment Editor Morgan Mullings Asst. Opinion Editor Nick Bello Asst. Photo Editor Jim Baumbach Adviser

sju torch productions


torcheic@gmail.com torchads@gmail.com

The Torch, St. John’s University O’Connor Hall - B Level 8000 Utopia Parkway Queens, NY 11439

Staff and contributors Alessia Pisciotta Alexis Gaskin Amber Borden Angela Kellett Arturo Enamorado Beatriz Da Costa

Chyna Davis Fatima Sajjad John Cavanagh Kenneth Davis Kyle Suta

Madelyn Starks Madusha Pieris Richard D’Orazi Sean Okula Zoë Stanley

Editorial policy

About the Torch

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

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

Contributions All letters submitted for publication must include the author’s name, email and affliliation to St. John’s. Limit letters to 350 words. Submissions may be edited for clarity. Please submit letters to torchopinion@gmail.com

This week, Students of Consciousness told the Torch they believe student government leaders need to be more in touch with students’ needs in order to represent them better. We couldn’t agree more. SGI is one of the most important organizations on campus; they are charged with representing students, planning events and keeping their fingers on the pulse of what’s going on at the University. While they certainly do a great job with event planning, we believe there’s work to be done in terms of representation. Of all groups on campus, SGI should be the one working with students to help facilitate change; they may be trying, but if students are at the point of walking into Newman Hall to force a meeting with administration, then frankly, SGI is not doing enough. SGI only has as much power as the University will allow them, obviously. But at the same time, there is clearly more they can be doing in terms of advocacy. And to their credit, they are trying new initiatives. The new community dialogue instituted at the start of floor meetings is a good example of this. SGI President Frank Obermeyer told the Torch this week that this new addition to floor meetings shows that the group is willing to evolve. However, it can’t stop there. It’s easy to hear students out; taking action is the

tough part. SGI has more access to administrators than any other student organization on campus. If a high number of students are advocating for something that directly affects campus culture, SGI should prioritize facilitating conversations with the powers that be. They don’t have to agree with the cause, but their job is to represent the student body. And they need to push hard for change. And if they are already trying to do this, then they need to make that more clear to the entire student body. For example, the university’s chief diversity officer Nada Llewellyn told us this week about initiatives she’s working on in collaboration with SGI. If this is news to us, then surely it’s news to the student body. That shouldn’t be the case. SGI executive board members get paid a stipend for their position, and part of that responsibility is advocacy and representation. If they aren’t actively advocating for students, that’s the equivalent of not showing up for your job. Clearly this isn’t all on SGI. Students need to be more engaged and administrators need to listen. But SGI plays the ever-important role of the conduit. And in order for this setup to work, students need to know that their representatives are aware of their concerns.

Advertising To advertise in the Torch, contact torchads@gmail.com. Advertisements are subject to space limits and must be submitted by 12 p.m. the Tuesday before publication for the issue of placement. A list of rates and publication dates is available online at torchonline.com/advertising. TORCH ILLUSTRATION/ALEXANDER D. BREWINGTON

Interning is Beneficial Whether You Get Paid or Not ALEXIS GASKIN

Staff Writer

This past semester, I interned with one of my all-time favorite fashion designers, Christian Siriano. This internship was unpaid, but offered college credit. Unfortunately, since I am a sophomore, I couldn’t earn credits for my time at Christian Siriano. However, it was completely and 100 percent worth it. As a plus sized girl, it’s really hard for me to find clothes that fit, from finding jeans in the store for everyday wear, to finding a prom dress for that special day in high school. It’s hard. Fashion is steadily evolving and it’s because of designers like Christian Siriano that I get to have more choices in fashion and in stores. So when I got the chance to work with him, I didn’t care that it was unpaid and that I wouldn’t get credit because this was the chance of a lifetime.

In the fashion industry, it’s very hard to get internships without prior experience, so I saw this as my chance to add my voice to the inclusivity of size, gender and sex. Christian Siriano has always been such a huge inspiration to me. When I first found his designs, I was blown away by his masterpieces and the diversity of the people that he was designing for and dressing. Top celebrities such as Beyoncé, Michelle Obama and Leslie Jones are only a few of the amazing women that he’s designed for. When I decided I was going to be a PR major, I knew that I wanted to work in fashion and that I eventually wanted to work with Christian Siriano. I was thrilled when I was offered the internship. It was scary though. I had to balance school and this internship, but I gained better time management and organizational skills. My time at Christian Siriano was priceless. I was surrounded by beautiful dresses everyday that came from his different collections and were worn by celebrities.

I was able to help with the packaging and care of these dresses while they were being sent to celebrities, stylists and magazines. Working in-house gave me the chance to be a part of the everyday work environment. Since I was an intern for the PR/Sales department, I got to see the business side of handling clients and celebrities. The PR/Sales department consisted of some amazing and strong women, who I aspire to be like in the industry and worked on specific areas of the business. These women, who I worked with three days a week, made me feel welcome and helped me make the best of my experience in the office. They always kept me on my toes and pushed me to be better at whatever I was doing. If I did something wrong, they were sure to let me know and help me fix it. I wasn’t afraid to ask for help. Of course, being in the same office as Christian Siriano himself was amazing, being able to work alongside him and assist him in whatever he needed.

From the random fun facts about some celebrity to the knowledge I learned on different fabrics, most importantly the difference between tulle and chiffon. The lessons I learned from my time at Siriano’s will follow me to other jobs and in life. Most importantly, working in a business that is thought to be ruled by small sized women, as a big girl, I never felt out of place; I felt beautiful. Models would come in and tell me they liked my hair, celebrities would smile at me and above all, I’d look at the showroom full of gowns for all sizes of people and think “I could wear that, I can feel beautiful too.” I’m coming out of this internship with a lot of memories and new skills in the industry. So was it worth it? Absolutely. If you get the chance to work for the people or company that you want and it’s unpaid, take it. Everyone has to start somewhere, and the experience is priceless.

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

10 Features


Earth Club Hosts First Annual “Cli-Met Gala” AMBER BORDEN

Assistant Features Editor On Friday, Dec. 1, the Earth Club hosted its first annual Cli-Met Gala, which aimed to plant the seeds of awareness about the environment and elucidate the club itself. The club’s president, Carissa Herb, wanted to ensure that the event welcomed all and pushed the importance of our planet in a hospitable way. The Cli-Met Gala started as an event to raise awareness for climate change, but it developed a charitable purpose as well. “We named it the Cli-Met Gala because this is an event to raise awareness, then we transitioned it into a way to raise funds for our Dollar for Solar Campaign,” Carissa Herb said. Twenty-seven tickets were sold that night and the Earth Club raised close to $100. “The proceeds from the tickets go straight to Sky [Dollar for Solar] the organization in South Africa,” Herb said. Dressed in semi-formal attire, guests entered the Faculty Lounge greeted with holiday music and food. Food was catered by the Earth Club. “Everything is vegan, it is big for us because animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of pollution in the world,” Herb explained. “So I wanted to make sure that what we are giving to people matches what we stand for.” Alexia Dolamakian, an active member of the Earth Club, created plant based truffles that were garnished with almond shavings, baby’s breath and a side compote of raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. “Another reason we chose to serve vegan food for this event was to familiarize people with it,” Dolamakian said. The Cli-Met Gala is only an extension of the initiatives that the Earth Club is a part of at the University. They also run the campus garden, participate in food-waste challenges and participate in RecycleMania, which is a nationwide competition during the spring. “We start other initiatives on campus like the charging stations, which are solar-powered tables that are placed around campus,” Herb shared. The solar-powered tables was a project pushed by Herb with the help of Dolamakian in collaboration with the Organization of Sustainability.


Following the Cli-Met Gala, the hope and forecast of the club seems to change that. The Cli-Met Gala was to serve as a platform to create a presence for the club. “The Cli-Met Gala was an event to celebrate Earth Club, what they have accomplished and also an event to celebrate fellowship,” Dolamakian said. The Earth Club stands as the voice of the planet at St. John’s University. The Cli-Met Gala was a way to reach and educate members, new members and guests about the power of caring for the planet.

Student Organizations Spread Holiday Cheer By Giving Back BEVERLY DANQUAH

Features Editor

The holiday season is upon us, and for some on-campus organizations, so is their Vincentian spirit. Many students are using this season as an opportunity to donate clothes, toys and funds to charities, hospitals and shelters. The Resident Student Association implemented a section of philanthropy to their organization this year as a way of increasing their charitable efforts. Itzel Hurtado, head of the Philanthropy Committee, said she thought it was important to give back to the community that surrounds St. John’s during the holiday season. “We are planning to give the clothes that we collect to a local homeless shelter here in Jamaica,” Hurtado said. “As for clothing, we are accepting anything people are willing to donate, but we are specifically looking for warm clothing.” Hurtado said that thus far, the clothing drive has been successful. “As an organization, we all agree that we shouldn’t only give back during the holi-

days, but all year round,” she said. “Giving back is very simple and it can have a long-lasting effect on others.” Students are asked to drop off their clothes in DAC 114 (RSA office) from 2 p.m.-5 p.m. The newly-SGI recognized organization, Disney Club, is having a toy drive to give back to children who otherwise wouldn’t receive gifts for Christmas. “I thought a toy drive was a good way to give back to those who need it,” Shelly Warren, the club’s historian said. “It ties in with our Disney roots because of the movie Toy Story so I wanted to bring the two together.”

All toys and donated funds will be going to the Stony Brook Children’s Hospital. “I chose Stony Brook because the Ronald McDonald House that St. John’s students volunteer with is in connection with Stony Brook,” Warren added. The organization has even provided a fun incentive, as students donating are asked to take pictures of their donation, which will serve as a movie ticket that will grant students access to the organization’s Toy Story movie marathon on Dec. 8. “Giving during the holiday season means a lot to us as a club because of our roots in Disney,” Warren said. “Disney as a whole is a very giving company and we would like to reflect this in our identity on campus.” So far, the organization only has toys donated by the e-board, but are hopeful to have the box filled by the eighth of December. Much like the Disney Club, Latin American Student Organization will also be donating toys to the Ronald McDonald House this week. “We knew we wanted to donate toys much like we did last year, but we didn’t know

what organization they should go to initially,” Sieta Leon, Vice President of LASO, said. “Our co-chair, Andres Hernandez, had the idea of donating to Ronald McDonald.” Leon says the org. will be dropping the toys off at Ronald McDonald House this week. The last day to drop off toys will be Dec. 7.

Opinion 11




JUNIOR | TOXICOLOGY MAJOR “On Christmas Eve after church, my family and I will head home and stop by The Plaza in Kansas City to see the lights. Itʼs a great family bonding experience and tradition.”

Student Sparks By: Fatima Sajjad

SENIOR | COMMUNICATIONS MAJOR “My favorite holiday tradition is when my family and I celebrate the last nine days leading up to Christmas together. Every night we go to a different family memberʼs house to pray and eat dinner, following with a fun game of Bingo.”



JUNIOR | TOXICOLOGY MAJOR “My favorite holiday tradition takes place after Thanksgiving dinner. After eating I like sitting down with my family as we joke around, have fun, and enjoy each otherʼs company.”

FRESHMAN | TV/FILM PRODUCTION MAJOR “My favorite holiday tradition is one that specifically involves me and my siblings. Every year we seat ourselves on the steps of our house and open our presents in chronological order. We start with the youngest sibling first!”

SJU Should Become A Smoke-Free Campus Staff Writer

Federal Courts have recently forced big tobacco companies to run a 52-week ad campaign on the health dangers of cigarettes and secondhand smoke. Studies are released almost every year, detailing how tobacco correlates to cancer and other health issues. But what is St. John’s doing to further this conversation on campus? The University has ensured student safety in many ways, but we lack programs and organizations that bring awareness to the dangers of tobacco. Students who may be struggling with a tobacco addiction do not have significant resources to help them, and we have yet to see programs or student organizations advocate for an entirely smoke-free campus. Perhaps the solution may be a student wellness center intervention. However, it may be even more beneficial to have a student organization or program to educate St. John’s students. It can be as simple as hosting events that discuss the dangerous effects of smoking and secondhand smoke in particular. There should also be measures to help those students who struggle with smoking addiction the ability to quit. For the most part, students are already aware that cigarettes are bad.

ALUM | SPORTS MGMT. MAJOR “Every year on Christmas day my family and I enjoy watching the “Christmas Story” marathon on CBS.”

What is your favorite Holiday tradition?




But the commercials and the statistics will only go so far. They need to have a real reason to kick the habit. Sometimes the only way to understand a situation is to see it for yourself. My mother has oral and lung cancer, and the doctors are almost certain that it was caused by secondhand smoke. I have seen the side effects and health issues that are caused by cigarettes. This has made me hyper-aware of secondhand smoke everywhere I go. If I am walking past the St. John’s Hall’s main entrance and see students smoking, I will walk around to the other entrance just so I do not have to walk near the smoke. This issue extends not only to our campus, but also our surrounding locations. New York City has made significant steps to prevent people from having to deal with secondhand smoke. Certain areas are smokefree zones and other places mandate that people can smoke only in a particular section. Yet we may still be exposed to secondhand smoke when we walk through the city. The goal of an organization, an awareness campaign or program to take this on would be to ultimately turn SJU into a smoke-free campus. It would be an extensive process, but it would be another step to ensure students’ safety and well being.

FRESHMAN | ENGLISH MAJOR “Iʼm from upstate so one of my favorite holiday traditions is going to a farm with my family every year to cut down our Christmas tree.”

MILLENNIAL THINK: Our clicks have massive impact STEVEN VERDILE Design Editor

As the holiday season approaches, everyone prepares themselves for decorating trees, drinking eggnog and building snowmen. While most people would normally spend hours scrambling through mall kiosks after finally finding parking, a large group of people, mainly comprised of millennials, has switched over their shopping habits to the web. Online shopping has been a growing industry for years and shows no sign of slowing down. With Amazon Prime, customers can browse a nearly infinite catalogue of competitively priced products and have them delivered to their home within 48 hours for free. It’s an experience that challenges the “convenience” of the convenience store while bringing about a buffet of benefits that storefronts can’t offer. I personally have an overwhelming trust of the Amazon review system, and consistently hunt for the elusive five-star

product. In addition, in an era where everyone has everything and gift giving is difficult, online shopping offers easy access to the most unique and obscure items. It has never been as easy to get a personal gift as it is now. Although it may seem nearly utopian, online shopping does come with flaws. While larger websites generally offer reasonable shipping charges and speeds, small e-commerce stores are often both costly and slow. Also, online shopping is fairly antisocial, and cuts back on time spent bargain chasing with friends. At the same time, while e-commerce success usually means greater efficiency for a business, it also means less retail jobs, jobs that are key to a large demographic of students and other inexperienced workers. Outside of all of the positive and negative impacts I’ve mentioned, there are dozens more. The rapid abandonment of Blockbuster for Netflix is one of many drastic results, and there are certainly more to come. The best actions that you can take to shape our future marketplace is to simply support the stores that you value most and be aware of how this evolution might affect you.

12 Entertainment


Celebrating the Christmas Spirit Live music and hot chocolate at jolly Java Johnnies


Asst. Entertainment Editor

work that goes into making campus bright and warm for the holiday season. “The food and drinks were presented in a lovely manner, and the living room of the D’Angelo Center was so festively decorated! Between the holiday decor, delicious food and excellent live music, I felt right at home at Java Johnnies,” agreed Kupiec.As a freshman here at St. John’s, this is my first year experiencing the holiday season on campus

and it is near impossible to not feel the contagious nature of the season. During this time of year, students tend to become more homesick, yearning to join their families in celebrating the holidays. From their marvelous decorations, themed movie screenings and concerts and even their insane horse-and-buggy rides, St. John’s most definitely puts in the effort to spread the holiday cheer for all to enjoy.


Last week’s holiday spirit culminated in Dec. 1’s Jolly Java Johnnies performance in the DAC Living Room. Christmas music was pumped through the sound system, couches and comfy chairs were lined up and pushed up next to each other to provide maximum comfort and to top it all off, food and beverages, such as chicken and waffles, were served to the students. The event workers walked around with trays of hot chocolate with whipped cream delicately served on top and welcomed any to take. Overall, the atmosphere was festive, cozy and welcoming, making the event a relaxing end to a week full of end-of-the-semester due dates. “I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Jolly Java Johnnies tonight. The atmosphere was uplifting and very comfortable. It was evident how the students working the event truly wanted everyone to feel cared for and have a positive experience,” said freshman communications major Sarah Kupiec. The performance of the night was by Ezra John, a R&B/Soul artist and West Virginia native. Accompanied by a saxophone and guitar, the set list included a few Christmas hits deconstructed to fit the genre of the set, original songs by John and few popular radio hits. Some songs that made an appearance that night were Donny Hathaway’s

“This Christmas,” “Run, Run, Rudolph,” Sam Smith’s “Not the Only One,” Macy Gray’s “I Try,” Phillip Phillips’s “Home” and Frankie Valli’s “I Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.” The night was brought to a magical end with Stevie Wonder’s classic hit “Isn’t She Lovely” that beautifully faded out into the cold December night. The event served to highlight the immense

“Three Billboards” is Profoundly Wild MICHAEL AMBROSINO

Romance, Monsters and History ALESSIA PISCIOTTA

Staff Writer

Guillermo del Toro is known for having a visionary mind, which has proven useful in the film industry. On Friday his latest, “The Shape of Water,” hit theatres in the U.S., months after premiering at the 74th Venice International Film Festival in August. This story takes place in Baltimore during the early 1960’s (i.e. the Cold War). Elisa Esposito, played by Sally Hawkins, is a mute janitor at a government research lab where she meets a humanoid fish creature that is being held there for science purposes and national security. She befriends it and eventually falls madly in love with it. Initially, it seems weird that this woman wants to be with a creature from the deep (in more ways than one). But you quickly find yourself rooting for them. It took one line for me to do that. When Elisa explained it to her


best friend and neighbor Giles, played by Richard Jenkins, she was so intense without even speaking a word, it left me in awe. “The way he looks at me,” she signed. “He doesn’t know what I lack.” This was important to her as her character felt like people looked at her differently because was mute. She felt incomplete. This creature looks similar to the one in “The Creature from the Black

Lagoon” (1954), except Del Toro’s is quite intricate and beautiful. This is the kind of movie that has a little bit of everything, which makes it all the more interesting. It’s part an unorthodox love story, part monster movie. There’s bigotry and pessimism seeping out of every crack in this film, however, it also achieves beauty and moments of “this feels right.”

Entertainment Editor

Written and directed by Martin McDonagh (“In Bruges,” “Seven Psychopaths”) “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” is true, powerful, darkly funny and emotionally moving. Conveyed through the outstanding work of writing, directing and especially acting, this film has a whole lot of humanity under its explosion of vicious laughs. “What’s the law on what you can and cannot say on a billboard? I assume you can’t say nothin’ defamatory and you can’t say f***, p*** or c***, that right?” The emotional but strong Mildred Hayes, played fiercely by Frances McDormand, asks this question early in the movie after being struck with the idea of calling out the town’s incompetent police department. Hayes’ daughter was raped and murdered, and in her eyes, Ebbing’s cops “is too busy torturing black folk to solve actual crimes.” Angry, Hayes pays $5,000 for a month’s placement of three billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri. They read: “Raped While Dying,” “Still No Arrests” and “How Come, Chief Willoughby?” Naturally, Hayes draws in some serious attention from both the police department and townspeople, especially Chief Willoughby himself, played by Woody Harrelson. As tension builds between Hayes and the police and the act two turning point takes full effect, “Three Billboards” roars to its moving final moments with dark humor, genuine emotion and a big, beating heart. This is a marvelous film and one of the very best of 2017. McDonagh, McDormand, Harrelson and the terrific Sam Rockwell take you on a wild, rousing and moving journey through blood, tears and a search for justice.

Entertainment 13


Jay-Z, Lorde Lead 2018 Grammy Nominations RICHARD D’ORAZI

Staff Writer


Staff Writer

Spike Lee has an immaculate comeback with his Netflix series, “She’s Gotta Have It.” Lee, who created the original film, “She’s Gotta Have It” in 1986, decided to reinvent and modernize main character, Nola Darling, who wants people to see her from her point of view. Nola, played by actress Tracy Camilla Johns, livens the character’s characteristic of being a powerful, independent and artistic woman living in an ever-changing, gentrified part of Brooklyn. Like the original movie, the series, which contains 10-episodes, is bold. Nola is known and defined by her sexuality. Though she changes after being sexually assaulted for ignoring and refusing gestures of a man cat-calling her as she walked home. St. John’s students, Alyssa Morris and Sieta Leon share their perspective of the show. “I love how no one’s character is over played,” Morris said. “We get a lot of different POVs.” Nola shares her viewpoint of being a liberated woman, just like her sexual counterparts: Mars Blackmon, Greer Childs, Jamie Overstreet and Opal Gilstrap. The intimate scenes bring out nudity, symbolizing Nola’s vulnerability as a struggling artist awaiting a grant that will push her career further. They all share love for Nola, making the story line an interesting one. “When watching it you’ll automatically have that one person you count on to fall in love with the main character,” Morris said. “However, the main character herself makes you a bit frustrated in her development as the episodes go on. ”

I really love how they expanded Nola’s story and incorporated some issues that single women face like assult and cat calling. Sieta Leon

According to Rolling Stones interview with Lee, he says, “’Nola is still ahead of her time.’” His wife Tonya Lewis Lee, is the reason why the show was reinvented. Nola’s role was expanded, and it mirrors the catcalling incidences happening today. Leon shares a similar perspective and touches upon the importance of Lee including the effect gentrification has on Brooklyn, years after his original film. “I saw the movie beforehand so I already knew what it’s about,” Leon said. In contrast to the original, Lee expanded Nola’s friend group and career choices. He uses music and plays tribute to artists and activists from the era of Prince, The Isley Brothers, and Frank Sinatra to guide Nola’s story. “I really love how they expanded Nola’s story and incorporated some issues that single women face like assault and cat calling,” Leon said. “I also love how they’re showing the gentrification of Brooklyn and how it affects the community.” The nostalgic series on Netflix is a portrayal of women like Nola that intend to explore factors like gentrification, sexuality and womanhood without being judged or labeled.


Spike Lee Hits Up Netflix


With the nominations for the 2018 Grammy Awards, hip hop and R&B among black and male artists have gotten a bigger clout in the major nomination categories than in the past in the last year in pop music, these genres and artists dominated thanks to the rise of streaming services. This year shows the most dramatic shift the Grammys has taken to embracing hip hop and the streaming era of music. This move comes after Adele swept all the major awards from Beyoncé at the 2017 Awards, Taylor Swift won Album of the Year for “1989” over Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp A Butterfly” in 2016 and other upsets seen as additional examples of the Grammys ignoring hip hop and artists of color. Drake, Kanye West and Frank Ocean boycotted the Awards by not submitting their albums for nomination last year. As a result of this shift, big pop stars like Ed Sheeran, who dominated 2017 with his 12 week #1 hit, “Shape of You” and the second best selling album of the year with “Divide,” shocked many by not being nominated in the major categories. Instead in the smaller pop categories, with “Shape of You” nominated for Best Pop Solo Performance and “Divide” nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album. This also applied to Lady Gaga’s “Joanne,” The Weeknd’s “Starboy” and others that many had expected to land major nom-

inations, especially with their throwback sound and mass appeal that the Grammys usually favors. In the major categories, JAY-Z and Bruno Mars both have nominations in the big three of Record, Album and Song of the Year. For JAY-Z, “The Story of O.J.” is nominated for Record of the Year, “4:44” for Album of the Year and “4:44” for Song of the Year. Bruno Mars is nominated in Record of the Year for “24K Magic,” Album of the Year for “24K Magic” and Song of the Year for “That’s What I Like.” The big summer smash “Despacito” also received nods in Record and Song of the Year categories for the Justin Bieber English remix. Childish Gambino, the musical alter-ego of actor Donald Glover scored nominations in Record of the Year for “Redbone” and Album of the Year for “Awaken, My Love!.” Rounding out Album of the Year nominations is Lorde’s critically acclaimed sophomore effort “Melodrama” and rounding out Song of the Year nominations are “Issues” by Julia Michaels and “1-800-273-8255” by Logic ft. Alessia Cara and Khalid. In the other big category Best New Artist, rapper Lil Uzi Vert, along with R&B singers SZA and Khalid and pop singers Julia Michaels and Alessia Cara, nominated. The 60th Annual Grammy Awards will be held at Madison Square Garden for the first time since 2003 on Sunday, Jan. 28 and will be broadcasted on CBS Channel 2 at 7:30 p.m.

Winter is coming! Register now for Winter Session at Queens College. Earn up to 4 credits in 3 weeks.

January 2–23 www.qc.cuny.edu/winter • 718-997-5600 65-30 Kissena Blvd. • Queens, NY 11367-1597

Adm_SJUTheTorch_Ad_11_21_17.indd 1

11/20/17 1:13 PM

14 Sports


Men’s Basketball Heads Out West KYLE SUTA

Staff Writer

New York’s team lived up to their responsibility to the greatest city in the world on Saturday. They delivered a dominant performance in front of their fans at Carnesecca Arena against Sacred Heart. The Johnnies won 90-55 after being up by only two at half. Early Sunday morning, the red hot Red Storm flew out to Phoenix, where they will participate in the Valley of the Sun Shootout. They will face the Grand Canyon Antelopes on Tuesday at 11:30 p.m. EST, and Arizona State at 8:30 p.m. EST on Friday. “[Grand Canyon and Arizona State] are two high-powered offensive teams,” Head Coach Chris Mullin said following the win over the Pioneers. “I’m looking forward to it. We’re going to get out there, get two good workouts in before our game on Tuesday and be ready to go.” The Antelopes are off to a hot start, as they sit at 5-1 after a 68-54 victory over the University of California Riverside this past Saturday. They are coached by former Phoenix Suns star Dan Majerle. Majerle was a threetime All-Star who started and finished his 14-year career with the Suns. This year marks the first in which Grand Canyon is NCAA Tournament eligible. Now in their fifth season as a Division I program, the Antelopes are making some significant progress. Senior guard Josh Braun is their leading scorer, averaging just under 16 points per game. Grand Canyon had trouble during their period of March Madness ineligibility. To compensate, Majerle has gone after interna-

tional players, boasting seven players from outside the U.S. on his roster. Coach Majerle is especially excited about freshman big man Alessandro Lever. In six games at the U18 European Championships last summer, the big man averaged just over 13 points and about six rebounds per game. St. John’s will face an even tougher challenge in the second game vs undefeated Arizona State. The 7-0 Sun Devils, just like the Antelopes, are led by a former NBA player, Bobby Hurley. The Jersey City, New Jersey native played at Duke where he won two national titles in 1991 and ’92. The Red Storm defense will have its hands full against an explosive Sun Devils offense that scored 90 or more points in its first 6 games. Arizona State possesses three senior guards who are leading the offensive attack. Superstar guard Tra Holder is averaging an astounding 22 points per game, shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor. Kodi Justice is putting up 15 points per game and averaging nearly two steals per game. The third guard, Shannon Evans III, is producing to the tune of 18.7 points per game. In the paint, freshman forward Romello White is averaging 30 minutes a game and putting up nearly 16 points per game. Junior forward De’Quon Lake has registered multiple double-doubles this year in points and rebounds. These two big men will pose a challenge for the undersized Red Storm squad down low. “Both of these teams are both great scoring teams, so we are going to have to bring it defensively,” forward Marvin Clark II said. “We are going to have to bring a lot of grit.”


Shamorie Ponds led the Red Storm with 22 points against Sacred Heart on Dec. 2.

Women’s Soccer Star Bellero Reflects on Breakout Season


Staff Writer

When the St. John’s women’s soccer team needed a leader on offense, in stepped Chrstina Bellero. The junior nearly doubled her scoring productivity from her sophomore campaign, registering a team-high 17 points this fall. A regular guest of the All-Big East Week-

ly Honor Roll this season, Bellero led the team in goals, finished second in assists and recorded three game-winning tallies to push the Red Storm to the precipice of the postseason. St. John’s concluded their season following a 1-0 loss to DePaul on Oct. 26 with an overall record of 8-9-1 and a conference record of 4-5. “I would say our last season, it went pretty well, it was okay,” Bellero said when reflect-


Christina Bellero was the unquestioned leader on offense for the Red Storm in 2017.

ing on the team’s 2016 season. “I thought in the beginning we did well and then towards the middle we kind of had a few losses in there, then towards the end we started winning again. But then that last game we just couldn’t pull through to win to get to the finals.” This season, Bellero credited her individual success to the hard work and effectiveness of the team’s midfielders, saying how the dynamics of the team played a role in her success on the field. “I think it helped a lot because we all work so well together,” she said. “Especially when it came to connecting with the midfield. They always found that ball through to me and it ended up working out because I ended up scoring off of it.” Bellero also took several steps on her own to enhance her playing during the off-season. She mentioned playing with the Long Island Rough Riders, a New York FC affiliate to “keep her touch.” “[I did] a lot of playing over the summer,” she said. “I worked out a lot to stay in shape so that when I came in, I was ready. And I just gained more confidence. I knew I had to step up for the team and help with the attacking side of it. So I went for it and ended up scoring a lot of goals.” Bellero’s confidence on the field stems from her competitive and focused nature. She is a true team player who, in her own words, tries to do whatever she can to help the team win. Over the years, the soccer program has

produced other great players at Bellero’s position like Rachel Daly and Jen Leaverton, who were both major goal scorers for the Johnnies during their tenures. “I think seeing Rachel’s success [my] freshman year was a good motivation for me because I wanted to be that successful and help the team out that much when I got older” she said of Daly, now a star for the Houston Dash of the National Women’s Soccer League. “Jen has helped me a lot as a coach,” she added of Leaverton. “Just every day at practice, and just keeping my confidence up. She’s a natural goal scorer so she’s helped me a lot with that and finding opportunities to get shots off to score goals.” Looking to the offseason and next year, Bellero plans to continue the wave of success. Her willingness to work hward as a team player coupled with her love for the game has provided fertile ground for her to grow into the successful athlete she is today. “I’m just going to keep pushing hard, keep myself in shape and then in the spring season try to just keep the team chemistry even better and just work hard to prepare myself for next fall,” Bellero said. After seeing previous Red Storm players’ achievements, she aspires to play professionally if the opportunity presents itself. “You know, that would be amazing,” Bellero said. “But, I guess I’ll just see what happens with that. Hopefully, after [college], I will still get to play, or at least be involved somehow.”

Sports 15


Jack Shearer: Humble Beginnings

Freshman’s contributions were key for men’s soccer BRENDAN MYERS

Assistant Sports Editor Heading into halftime scoreless against Temple in early September, the St. John’s men’s soccer team was staring down a fourth consecutive game without a win. For much of the first half, St. John’s looked out of sync in the attacking third, and hadn’t scored for over 300 minutes. Substitute striker Jack Shearer came in, and St. John’s looked like a much different team. Goals from Alistair Johnston and Matt Forster gave the Johnnies a much needed 2-0 win that night. But Shearer was just getting started. “I didn’t think I was going to have a huge role, but I was extremely thankful when coach called my name and I made sure I was ready,” Shearer said. He came in and played the role of a true striker, holding up possession for his team,and letting talented midfielders Harry Cooksley and Alistair Johnston play off him. Watching Shearer play, he’s a defender’s nightmare. There isn’t a 50-50 ball that he doesn’t think he can win, and there isn’t a long ball that he doesn’t think is worth chasing. His style of play echoes that of junior striker Filippo Ricupati, who battled a nagging leg injury throughout the entire season. “It’s not just me, as a team we really bought into that style of play, chasing down loose balls for each other,” Shearer said. “We built a lot of early chemistry during the season.” If you ask Shearer about all of his success, he gives all of the credit to his teammates.


Jack Shearer may not have had a major impact on the stat sheet, but his presence was key for an upstart Red Storm squad in 2017.

“I knew heading into this season that this team was so talented,” he said. “I didn’t think I was going to have as much individual success, but I knew this team had a lot of potential.” In the team’s run to the semifinals of the Big East Tournament, he was instrumental. He added that it all came down to having his teammate’s trust, which allowed him to play free on the field. All three of his goals came in conference play, including two game-winners, and he tied for the team league in points in conference play with seven, the same amount as Cooksley, this season’s Big East Midfielder

of the Year. His play was recognized nationally. In September, he joined senior center half David Enstrom on the Top Drawer Soccer National Team of the Week after Shearer scored both goals against then-ranked Xavier. Later in the year, Top Drawer Soccer named Shearer to the Top 100 Freshmen list, ranking him as the 43rd-best first-year player in the country. Shearer’s three goals and three assists might not jump off the page, but the impact he had on this team doesn’t show up on the score sheet. For a team that likes to be set defensively

and play on the counter, having a forward that can hold up the ball and get his midfielders involved is one of the keys to Masur’s system. Shearer will surely be a key part of the Red Storm’s offense next season, especially with Cooksley graduating. He’ll only be a sophomore, but after appearing in all 19 games for the team this season, he’ll return a plethora of game experience. “I need to work on my left foot, and I need to get stronger and more fit,” Shearer said on what he needs to improve upon this offseason. “I’ll do anything for the team, and help with whatever coach needs me to do.”

University Unveils LapchickStatue DERRELL BOUKNIGHT

Co-Sports Editor

Just as the crowd began to settle into the seats planted between Taffner Fieldhouse and Carnesecca Arena, St. John’s Athletic Director Anton Goff stepped up to the podium. All eyes focused were focused on Goff, who welcomed the crowd and greeted its familiar faces. Jack Kaiser, Lou Carnesecca and Chris Mullin accompanied the crowd, watching as he spoke and waiting for the red tarp to come off the nearly 12-foot structure to his right. Underneath the cover was a lifelike design of one of the most decorated figures in the history of St. John’s athletics. Joe Lapchick, who won four National Invitational Tournament championships during his tenure at St. John’s, changed the culture of the University, both on and off the court. “Coach Lapchick elevated St. John’s basketball to new heights, winning 334 games over 20 years at the helm of our program,” Goff said. During a time in which the NIT rivaled the NCAA Tournament as the premier setting for college basketball, Lapchick won four of St. John’s five titles. Kevin Reed, a 1975 graduate of St. John’s and chair of the Tobin College of Business Board of Advisors, spearheaded the fundraising efforts for the statue several years ago. He wanted to honor Lapchick, a basketball Hall of Fame inductee and member of the Original Celtics.

Reed believes every St. John’s student should know the story of Lapchick, who faced backlash as head coach of the New York Knicks for drafting Nathaniel “Sweetwater” Clifton, the first black player in NBA history. “Coach Lapchick was an agent of social change and activism long before it was popular,” Reed said during the ceremony. “He was a man who practiced what he preached and who had the courage of his convictions to act in accordance with his strongly-held moral and ethical beliefs.” Dr. Richard Lapchick, who said one of the fondest recollections of his father was his image swinging from the rope of a tree outside their Yonkers home for signing a black player, spoke after Reed. “I call my dad the first activist coach and athlete,” Dr. Lapchick said. “He never took a knee. He never stood in a protest line. But he simply acted as an activist athlete by doing what he felt was the right thing, the morally just thing, the ethical thing. To stand up for justice and not block its path.” Members on the stage, including Dr. Lapchick’s sister Barbara and University President Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, stood on either side of the statue and removed the tarp to unveil Lapchick. He stood tall, the letters “SJU” in writing across the chest of his coaching uniform. In his right hand was a basketball. His left hand was in the air, pointing in the distance with a smile and whistle around his neck. The sculptor, New Jersey-native Brian

Hanlon, created the statue of Lapchick. Hanlon has created over 300 public and private art pieces since 1987, according to his website. He is the official sculptor for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and has designed sculptures of Shaquille O’Neal, Bob Cousy, Magic Johnson and John Thompson, among many others. Following the outdoor ceremony was a reception, where members of the community who celebrated the occasion gathered for a chance to talk and commemorate the life of Lapchick, whose impact extended beyond basketball. Before the end of his speech and as the

crowd eagerly awaited the unveiling of the statue, Reed concluded by thanking St. John’s. The idea of creating a statue to honor Lapchick began after watching a documentary on him. He asked himself why there was no statue of him on campus and told himself he wanted do something to honor his legacy. The first piece of an area to be known as “Legend’s Plaza” was finally introduced. And for Reed, the contributions and work that went into unveiling the statue gave him a new sense of pride as an alumnus. “Thank you all,” he said before concluding. “And I have never been more proud to be part of the St. John’s family than I am today.”


Joe Lapchick’s Statue is located between Taffner Fieldhouse and Carnesecca Arena.




The Last Ride Ahmed improving in his senior season TORCH PHOTO/NICK BELLO


Assistant Sports Editor It’s all come full circle for Bashir Ahmed. Growing up in the Bronx, he would head downtown Madison Square Garden and watch the Red Storm. Partly because he wanted to watch the game, but also because he wanted his hometown team to recruit him. When it didn’t happen, Ahmed chose to attend Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, where he would grow into the second ranked player in junior college before eventually committing to his hometown team. “It means so much to play in front of my friends and family here,” Ahmed said before Saturday’s dominating win over Sacred Heart.

Last year in his first season with the team, he saw early success. Ahmed started all 33 games for the team, finishing first in rebounding and third in scoring. After one season in Queens, Ahmed decided to test draft waters to get feedback from NBA scouts on what he needed to improve upon. “Overall, it just motivated me and told me that I really needed to get into the gym and work on my game,” he said. Eight games into the season, the offseason work has shown for Ahmed. He’s playing fewer minutes, but he’s also playing far more efficiently. His field goal percentage is up from the high 30’s to 42 percent. In 33 games last season, he totaled 18 steals. This year, he’s already racked up 10 through eight games. A lot of the hype that surrounded the Red

Storm in the offseason had to do with the return of the electric backcourt comprised of Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett and exciting transfers Justin Simon and Marvin Clark II, leading Ahmed to fall under the radar. It will be tough for the team to have success if Ahmed is struggling. His varied skillset can have defenses reeling when he’s on his game. One thing that Ahmed has mastered is how to use his frame. At 6 foot 7 and 210 pounds, he often bullies opponents into the post. When he catches the ball at the top of the key, he’s able to pull up for a jump shot, or blow by them with his long strides. Last year, Ahmed would get in trouble when trying to do too much for the team. After beating one defender, he would often find himself clattering into a second defender, getting himself into quick foul trouble.

“Bashir was able to watch film of himself this offseason and I think that really helped,” Head Coach Chris Mullin said. “Some of the stuff he was doing, he needed to see for himself.” Ahmed is also one of only two seniors on the team, along with forward Amar Alibegovic. Leadership is one aspect where he thinks that he has improved the most. “I’m just doing whatever the coaches ask, whether it’s picking the team up, or just being a vocal leader,” Ahmed said. Ahmed’s journey took him over 1,400 miles away to the Great Plains. Now, he’s playing only 16 miles away from home in his final year of eligibility. He could be a key factor for St. John’s heading into conference play.