Volume 96, Issue 12

Page 1

VOL 96 : 12 FEBRUARY 6, 2019 torchonline.com

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

ambitious vision

see the story on page 11



contentious turkish pres. received honorary degree from sju in 2004 Story on pAgE 3

QUEENS District attorney to retire | Story on Page 2




Queens District Attorney Brown To Retire

St. John’s students demand a progressive replacement Dayra Santana After seven consecutive terms and nearly three decades in office, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced in early January he will retire after his term ends at the end of this year. With the 86-year-old’s departure from the District Attorney’s office, progressive grassroots groups have formed the Queens for DA Accountability coalition and are seizing the opportunity to advocate for changes to criminal law in Queens. Approximately 100 activists and Queens residents were present on the steps of the Queens County Criminal Court in Kew Gardens on Jan. 21, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, braving freezing temperatures in order to present their demands for the next DA of Queens. The Queens for DA Accountability coalition is concerned with the harmful outcomes that may result from the

We’re here to demand that the next District Attorney treats us like youth and gives us a fair shot at justice. Malachi Davidson

courtroom decisions made by the District Attorney and hope to make significant changes in the criminal legal system. “As a resident of Queens County, it is my right and duty to speak about the negative impact that the practices of Attorney Brown’s office have had over many years,” Kathy Garcia, who spoke to the crowd outside of the criminal court in Spanish, said. Garcia is a member of a Queens organization called Make the Road that works to end transphobia and homophobia. Garcia was deported to Mexico as a result of charges she faced several years ago. She describes herself and other transgender women as being a target for police. These interactions with the police have put her and other vulnerable residents in danger. “We as transgender women should be able to walk in the streets without being afraid of the police or the injustice of the courts and the prosecution,” she said. The current policies in place at the District Attorney’s office reflect an era of tough-on-crime prosecutors who sought to eradicate the city of all crime. The activists criticized Brown for continuing to take a hard line prosecuting low-level charges, from subjects ranging from fare evasion, petty larceny and marijuana at a time while other boroughs have shifted their focus. Brown has also run largely uncontested for the past 28 years, limiting any outside pressure to evolve his policies. The coalition has released eight demands for the next Queens DA.


Activists took to Queens County Criminal Court in Kew Gardens to present their demands for the next Queens DA.

Some of the demands are a zero tolerance policy for police brutality and other criminal misconduct, a reform of pre-trial practices that contribute to mass incarceration and the protection of immigrant communities. St. John’s public relations major and advocate Kimberly Balderas, a senior, grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens and has seen how Brown’s policies have impacted her community. She can attest to how a policy, such as the one regarding fare evasion, targets low-income Queens residents. “That was a huge one growing up, people would get arrested all the time about hopping the turnstile because they didn’t have their student metrocard or they just didn’t have, at the time I think it was $1.50. As small as $1.50 is, that’s a lot of money for a lot of people,” Balderas said. “Yeah, it’s illegal to jump a turnstile …

We need to organize and demand for what we want to see in our society. Kimberly Balderas

[But] if you could swipe your metrocard and pay the $2.75, I’m sure you would. They don’t look at the root of the problem. The root of the problem isn’t hopping a turnstile, the root of the problem is…‘I can’t afford $2.75,’” she said. The Queens for DA Accountability wants the District Attorney’s office to give all residents a chance, regardless of citizenship, age, race or sexual orientation. “It’s no secret that the criminal justice system disproportionately impacts youth of color like myself. We are portrayed as criminals and are not afforded the same presumption of innocence as white youth,” Malachi Davidson, the membership engagement organizer at Rockaway Youth Task Force, said. “We’re here to demand that the next District Attorney treats us like youth and gives us a fair shot at justice.”

Queens DA policies affect students at St. John’s University, and whoever is going to occupy the position after Brown leaves office is something that every Queens resident, student or not, should keep in their minds. “For me, one of the issues I’ve fought for for a long time is police brutality, and… with their coalition they have, that’s one of their demands… that there’s no tolerance for police brutality.” “With a progressive DA, we can hold some cops accountable for what they’ve done. That’s a huge step in the right direction,” she said. “We need to organize and demand for what we want to see in our society,” Balderas said. “As small as the DA may be it has a larger impact in our community that we could actually see.”

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Controversial Turkish President Has Ties to University St. John’s hosted Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a visit in 2004 Derrell J. Bouknight


President Erdoğan’s during an August 2016 press conference alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin.

world peace clearly are qualities which we by one of America’s mt prominent media earn an absolute majority in Turkey’s 550as a university highly respect and applaud,” outlets. seat parliament, according to Britannica. Harrington said during his remarks. In 2010, Erdoğan was ranked 17th in the The decision came four years after he was Kanter’s father, Dr. Mehmet Kanter, was Leaders section of TIME magazine’s 2010 arrested and served a four-year term for insentenced to 15 years in prison in 2018 by “TIME 100: The World’s Most Influential citing religious hatred, according to BBC Turkish the government for alleged mem- People” list. News. bership in a Turkish terror group. The magazine called him a “survivor” Despite being legally prohibited from Kanter bewho made serving in parliament or as prime minister lieves the govends meet in because of the conviction, the party named ernment tarIstanbul. Erdoğan its leader in 2003. geted his father “He has A constitutional amendment passed the because of the b e c o m e year before removed his disqualification The people Erdogan is targetbeliefs his son openly crit- and allowed him to assume the role. ing are my family, my friends, expresses. ical of Israel According to the 2004 Torch article, my neighbors, my classmates. I despite ties St. John’s had also awarded honorary de“People ofneed to speak out, or my coun- between the grees to former Egyptian President Honten ask me why I continue two nations, si Mubarak and Italian President Azeglio try will suffer in silence. to speak out has urged Ciampi before awarding Erdoğan with his. if it’s hurting d e a l i ngs Even though Erdoğan was not honored Enes Kanter, New York Knicks my family,” with Hamas at the undergraduate commencement cereKanter wrote and opposes mony at the end of the academic year and in a column for U.S. calls for did not deliver a typical commencement TIME magsanctions on speech, his honor is not discredited or limazine last year. “But that’s exactly why I Iran,” the magazine also said. ited, according to Browne. speak out. The people Erdogan is targeting In 2002, a group led by Erdoğan known His degree is still referred to as an honare my family, my friends, my neighbors, as the Justice and Development Party won orary degree. my classmates. I need to speak out, or my enough seats in November of that year to country will suffer in silence.” In 2004, Father Donald Harrington, who served as president of St. John’s for 24 years, praised Erdoğan’s political track record and his efforts to restore diplomacy in Turkey up until his U.S. visit. Days after Erdoğan’s visit to St. John’s, former President George W. Bush welcomed him to the White House for an opportunity to “deepen our strategic partnership with our NATO ally, Turkey, on counterterrorism, Transatlantic relations, Iraq, Afghanistan, Cyprus, Eurasia, the Greater Middle East, and economics and trade,” according to a press release from the White House. The meeting took place a few months before Turkey was set to host June’s NATO Summit. Erdoğan’s leadership was recognized and President Erdoğan speaking at St. John’s in 2004 on Cyprus, Iraq-U.S. relations. acknowledged worldwide several years ago


In a 2004 midyear special convocation, St. John’s University honored then-Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the Queens campus with an honorary doctorate of laws. Fifteen years later, Erdoğan, now the president of Turkey, finds himself immersed in controversy after years of what some deem harsh punishments and life-threatening rulings sent down on those who criticize him. Dressed in full academic regalia during the third day of his five-day diplomatic visit to the United States, Erdoğan addressed the crowd in Marillac Auditorium through a translator, according to a Torch article published in January of the same year. Addressing the similarities between the University’s educational ideals and the willingness of Turkish culture to invite change “based on a rationalism that does not reject the spirituality of life,” Erdoğan said that one’s culture cannot claim a monopoly on certain principles, such as dominance on law, human rights and treating men and women as equals. Even as he attempts to change the Turkish ruling system through “civil politics,” as he told supporters during a rally nearly two years ago, according to BBC News, many citizens of the country have referred to the president of five years as a dictator and autocrat. In a statement to the Torch, University spokesperson Brian Browne said that the University does review past honorees under certain circumstances. So far, there has been no review of this case. “Honorary degrees are approved, in advance, by the Board of Trustees,” Browne said. “When appropriate, the University does have a process to review past honors. To date, the University has not undertaken such a review in regard to Turkish President Erdoğan.” One person who has been impacted by Erdoğan’s actions is New York Knicks center Enes Kanter. A native of Turkey whose brother Kerem played a year of college basketball for the Xavier Musketeers. He believes he has been targeted by Erdoğan and the Turkish government. Kanter has been outspoken of Erdoğan for several years. As recently as January when the Knicks traveled to London to play the Washington Wizards, Kanter refused to make the trip, saying, “there’s a chance I could get killed out there,” according to the Associated Press. He fears that the Turkish government could assassinate him if he leaves the country. “Sadly, I’m not going [to London] because of that freaking lunatic, the Turkish president,” Kanter said. “It’s pretty sad that all the stuff affects my career and basketball, because I want to be out there and help my team win. But just because of the one lunatic guy, one maniac, one dictator, I can’t even go out there and do my job. It’s pretty sad.” “Such outreach, such commitment to





UPCOMING EVENTS: THe global anti-african agenda

spring activities fair

afro-caribbean dance workshop

When: feb. 6 , 5 - 8 p.m.

When: feb. 7, 12 - 3 P.M.

When: feb. 14 , 5 - 8 p.m.

Where: D'angelo coffee house

Where: taffner field house

Where: D'angelo center, room 128

african caribbean writers series

gospel mass

When: feb. 7, 5 - 7 P.M.

When: feb. 10, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Where: little theater

Where: st. thomas more church

conversation on restorative justice

new york through movies workshop

annual alumni blessing of the couples

When: feb. 7, 5 - 7 P.M.

When: feb. 11, 6:30 - 9 P.M.

When: feb. 16 , 4:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Where: st. thomas more church

Where: st. john hall, room 113

Where: st. thomas more church

black history museum When: feb. 15, 7 P.M. Where: d'angelo center, room 416

Tuesday Water Main Leak Prompts Public Safety Alert


Public Safety sent out a text and phone call to members of the SJU community.

Isabella Bruni Public Safety alerted students via text and phone call just after 11:30 a.m. Tuesday morning of reports with a water main leak within the vicinity of Bent Hall and the University Center. As of 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, University spokesperson Brian Browne said, “The situation is fluid.” The text says the leak occurred at the rear of the University Center near the entrance to the garden level of the Tobin College of Business. Last school year Tobin College/Bent Hall finished its months long renovation process. Public Safety asked members of the St. John’s community to avoid the area “due to the arrival and use of heavy excavation equipment needed to access the water pipe.” “It appears that there is a water main leak in an underground pipe behind the

University Center that was probably frozen and thawed out as a result of the sudden warm weather,” Browne said in a statement to the Torch. Just two weeks ago, parts of New York City fell far below freezing point, including the St. John’s area. Temperatures on Tuesday, Feb. 5 rose as high as 60 degrees in some areas. Major changes in temperature are typically the reasoning behind issues such as water main breaks. “An outside vendor has been retained to assist with isolating the leak and making the necessary repairs. There was some water damage to some offices in the Office of Student Affairs. More info to follow as the situation develops,” Browne added in his statement. For more information Public Safety can be contacted at 718-990-6281 or at the ROTC Building/McDonald Center.




Flames of the Torch On the University’s responsibility to allocate funds

Managing Board XCVI


Angelica Acevedo, Editor-in-Chief Isabella Bruni, Managing Editor


Amanda Negretti Creative Director Derrell Bouknight News Editor Alexis Gaskin Assistant News Editor Brendan Myers Sports Editor Beverly Danquah Features Editor Dayra Santana Assistant Features Editor Samantha DeNinno Culture Editor Priyanka Gera Assistant Culture Editor Beatriz da Costa Opinion Editor

Dara Durke Assistant Opinion Editor Jillian Ortiz Chief Copy Editor Spencer Clinton Photo Editor Alex Yem Assistant Photo Editor Jenna Woo Assistant Design Editor Nick Bello Social Media Manager Morgan Mullings Outreach Manager Dana Livingston Assistant Outreach Manager Jim Baumbach Adviser



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

Staff and contributors Gina Varvaro Renee King Crystal Simmons Nina Stefanelli Angela Abbatiello

Christa Calabretta Rasheeda Campbell Nick McCreven Sean Okula Shabib Afzal

Editorial policy

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.

Andreina Rodriguez Marie Bogue Eduardo Alfonzo Alana Bethea

About the Torch

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

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

is also thanks to the students who come to learn. Our News Editor Derrell Bouknight looked into the controversial Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as it was brought to our attention that he had previously received an honorary doctorate of laws. Erdoğan has made worldwide news lately, as his citizens refer to him as a “dictator” and “autocrat,” according to BBC News. When we asked the university for comment about said degree, Spokesperson Brian Browne explained that although the university does review past honorary degrees, they have “not undertaken such a review in regard to Turkish President Erdoğan.” Should a university that prides itself on social justice and Vincentian morals still honor a leader who is being accused of instilling fear in Turkish people? That’s up to the students, administrators and faculty to decide. Tying it back to more local news, our Assistant Features Editor, Dayra Santana, wrote a piece about the Queens District Attorney, Richard Brown’s retirement announcement. His announcement comes as his health is reportedly in decline because of a battle with Parkinson’s disease. During his time in office, Brown has been unwavered to his policies has remained uncontested for 28 years. Times have certainly changed since he first took office in the 90’s, and the Queens for DA Accountability coalition demands include a reform of pre-trial practices that contribute to mass incarceration and the protection of immigrant communities. The Torch will follow this story and have more updates as elections commence and a new DA takes office.



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This week, the new Athletics Director Mike Cragg told the Torch that he has big plans for the university’s staple: Carnesecca Arena. After 58 years of the Lou Carnesecca-dedicated arena being built, and 11 years since its last renovation, it’s safe to say Cragg’s ambition to renovate the Queens campus arena -which has hosted more Big East Conference games than Madison Square Garden has over the past few seasons -- is an understandable one. Our Sports Editor Brendan Myers’ article details how over the next 10 years, St. John’s Deputy Athletic Director John Diffley will work with the Dallas-based real estate development company, The Beck Group, to foresee “facility improvement, renovation, replacement, and new construction.” We believe it is of the utmost importance that the university maintains a level of transparency when it comes to the resources that are dedicated to this athletics project. The cost of a college education is at astronomical levels. Meanwhile, with enrollments dropping nationwide, the cost of doing business for universities is rising, too. Every dollar for everyone involved is at a premium. That’s why the optics are imperative. At a time when students face issues such as power outages in the Townhouses and or flooding from a water main break on campus, this news serves as a reminder that we hope that the university has its eyes on ways to improve the decades-old infrastructure everywhere. There’s no doubt about it, St. John’s athletics program is a huge part of the campus culture -- but the reason the university thrives

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Is Legalizing Marijuana The Right Move for N.Y.? Shabib Afzal Governor Andrew Cuomo announced plans to legalize the recreational use and sale of marijuana in New York State during his inaugural speech on Jan. 1. Ending the prohibition of this substance is a welcomed change by many. However, I worry about certain consequences of this decision. The rise in DUI-related incidents and overall use of the substance is inevitable, as was reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. My main concern has to do with over-regulation, as well as the fiscal irresponsibility involving the revenue created. Take for example the state of California. It was predicted by California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office that the 20172018 revenue for cannabis would be $185 million; it ended up being around $84 million. BDS Analytics found that in 2018, residents of the state spent $500 million less on legal marijuana than they did the previous year, even before the drug was fully legal in California.

The need for regulation contributes to why the industry has not done as well as expected in California. With legalization, retailers and producers have to take certain regulatory precautions. This includes laboratory tests of their products and ensuring that retailers have the right permits to sell, adding to the overall price. Retailers also need a place to store money, but most banks do not accept clients in the cannabis business due to the substance’s federally illegal status. All of these regulatory burdens, in addition to taxes, only add to the overall price, giving consumers incentive to buy off the black market. The extensive regulation needed in this industry is a key reason as to why it has not been as successful in California as expected. In spite of the constraints and costs, some level of regulation is needed to legitimize this industry. New York could definitely use the money generated from legalized marijuana . The MTA could become significantly cleaner and more efficient. The cost of the LIRR could become cheaper. Roads throughout the entire s tate could be smoother and cleaner.

Our schools could receive better funding. Our state’s economy would prosper. But given New York’s track record for corruption, I am worried that this money will not be put to good use. Sheldon Silver, former New York State Assembly Speaker, was found guilty of receiving money from a law firm specializing in real estate tax reduction for developers. Joseph Percoco, a former top aide for Cuomo, was found guilty of solicitation and taking bribes from executives of companies involved with state business. These are just a few examples of many that involve corruption. Who is to say that the same could not occur within the cannabis industry as well? Regardless of whether corruption becomes an issue, placing higher prices on legal marijuana will motivate consumers to buy off the black market. This especially could be the case if consumers notice the money they spent is being used ineffectively. It seems as if it is only a matter of time before marijuana becomes fully legal in New York. Let’s hope that we go about it correctly.




The Power Behind An Ad

The Gillette ad released on Jan. 13 caused shockwaves around the world. The commerical titled, “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be” has called for men to redeem and improve themselves by letting go of toxic-masculinity. Our writers have their own thoughts and opinons on the thought-provoking ad.

Christa Calabretta Although this new concept of asking men to seriously consider the consequences of their actions is being interpreted as emasculating them, I think that the Gillette ad was a brave step to address the issue of hyper-masculinity. In today’s society, young men are under pressure to portray themselves as tough guys or as ladies’ men, and if they stray from this particular image of masculinity, they are ridiculed. I think that Gillette is trying to target that particular issue by asking men to teach young boys to be kind and respectful to others and to stop using “boys will be boys” as an excuse for harmful behavior. Furthermore I feel that it is smart for Gillette to show how hyper-masculine behavior causes discomfort for women. Approaching women and telling them to smile or following them on the street is not okay, and Gillette conveys that message in their commercial. It is extremely groundbreaking and meaningful for a male-targeted brand to urge men to respect women and their boundaries.

Angela Abbatiello The public response to the Gillette ad and its message has been mixed. Seeing response videos on YouTube in which people speak out against the commercial’s message made me want to speak out in support of it. In no sense is Gillette advocating for the emasculation of men. Instead, they are redefining ‘masculinity’ in the millennial age, a generation defined by its commitment and passion toward social justice. As we experience this rapidly changing enviroment, it is pivotal for Gillette to adapt with the consumer. Gillette embraces such change by challenging their tagline, “The best a man can get,” a key trademark of the brand since 1989. The company proves its willingness to adapt and connect with today’s culture by encouraging men to become a better verison of themselves. The men who have the confidence to stand up to ‘toxic masculinity’ are in popular demand for future generations. As the voice in the ad states, “The boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow.” It is time for some meaningful change and this change needs to happen now.

Rasheeda Campbell This ad and the way it addresses toxic masculinity is what I have been looking for in advertisements for a while now. Even though this commercial is geared toward men, I think that women can learn from it as well. This commercial advocates for men to do better by respecting women, treating their children — especially their sons with more nurturing love, and being admirable role models for the next generation of men. In addition to expressing what men should do to be better, the commercial also reassures women that there are men out there who are creating change by being the best they can be and doing acts of good. To me, this commercial is positive; it simply calls on people, particularly men, to be decent human beings. I don’t see anything wrong with that. Although this company is still making profit from this ad, at least it is speaking out against toxic masculinity. It isn’t anti-men, but it is anti-sexism, anti-bullying and anti-aggression. It is important to understand the difference.

Jillian Ortiz

As a woman, I feel that this advertisement is what millions of men needed to see. Men need to be reminded of what masculinity is not. Those that felt attacked by a commercial that demonstrates that bullying, catcalling and harassment among other things are wrong, fail to realize that they believe that such things uphold the definition of masculinity. Others claim that they don’t need a brand that they purchase their razors from to tell them to be a “good person.” My question is: If they don’t say it, then who will? And if you so strongly feel that way, then tell me what you are doing to encourage others to be a “good person”? Not to mention the fact that this commercial is encouraging men to do the BARE MINIMUM of what it takes to be a decent human being — isn’t that a little telling of the culture that we are a part of now? I believe that the advertisement did what it needed to do, which at the end of the day means that it created a conversation among millions of people. Whether people had something positive to say or something negative to say, they were still saying something.

What did you think? 87%

Just what we needed


It was too much Twitter: @sju_torch




5 Products That Will Save Your Skin This Season Tips to retain moisture and maintain a healthy glow

cleans deep into your pores without drying your skin. It was made for all skin types and costs about $48.

Nina Stefanelli If you want to keep your skin glowing, fresh and moisturized during the cold winter months, follow these tips below. Many people are under the belief that water is the solution to all skin care problems, but some of us are don’t have great luck and haven’t attained perfect skin. After doing some research, I’ve found some of the best products to use when trying to keep your skin soft and hydrated during the cold, harsh winter. Laneige Sleep Face Mask/ Lip Mask: This face/lip mask is made for dry skin or cracked



First Step Prep Moisture Reset Cream by Tarte: This little jar of heaven is vegan, hydrates and preps skin for makeup, but doesnt leave you feeling sticky. It’s clinically proven to increase moisture levels and give you a healthy glow. It’s a moisturizer that I live by. This product was made for all skin types and costs about $35. I hope these tips leave your skin glowing, hydrated and soft all season, and even all year long.

lips. Leave the mask on overnight and it will hydrate and soothe your skin and lips. This product was made for dryness and costs about $20. FRESH Rose Face Mask: This is a silky gel mask that hydrates and tones skin, giving you that dewy look. It’s made for all skin types and costs about $24. Kiehl's Lip Balm: This product moisturizes lips with Aloe Vera and Vitamin E. This product has been around for ages and costs about $10.


iS Clinical Cleanser: This product is a cream cleanser, which is better for your skin during those winter months because it’s gentler and already has moisture built-in. This cleanser


Overcoming the Inevitable: “Senioritis”

Our features editor has compiled a list of tips for senior success Ahh, senior year. Everyone’s counting down to graduation; your courses have either gotten more work-intensive or you’ve saved a lighter load for your last year and you’re probably interning on full-force to try to a secure a job after graduation. In the midst of finding a balance between work, classes and a social life that includes savoring every last minute with friends you might never see again, it’s easy to get lost in a hefty schedule and lose the drive to push through the semester. Some call it laziness, others call it plain exhaustion, but students call it “senioritis.” The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines senioritis as: “an ebbing of motivation and effort by school seniors as evidenced by tardiness, absences, and lower grades.” In an attempt to help students better understand how to make the best of their senior year, our features editor, Beverly Danquah, has compiled a list of tips for senior success.

If you're applying or have applied for grad school, law school or medical school, grades still matter!

C’s get degrees, but A’s & B’s are more likely to secure the best possible post-undergrad school outcomes.

Think of college as a way to practice discipline before you enter the real world.

Think of St. John’s as the pre-game before the party. You’re preparing yourself for a lifetime of successes that you’ll reap as a result of your work ethic. Why not start now? Life’s just getting started. Keep yourself motivated and check in on your friends to ensure they're motivated too.

We’re all in this together. Imagine how great it’s going to feel when you pose for your squad photo on graduation day. (continued on pg. 8)


Beverly Danquah

Students attend the Women in Entrepreneurship event in DAC last semester.




Meet Student Leader: Matt Macatula

The San Diego native has big hopes for the future of SGI Alexis Gaskin Being a student leader on campus is all about direction, organization and above all, the desire to reach your goals. That’s what Matt Macatula stresses is the importance of his role as a student leader at St. John’s University. Originally from San Diego, Macatula is a third-year Information Technology and Computer Science double major. Besides the study-intensive majors, Macatula also represents a wide variety of organizations and populations on campus. As a RA in Century Hall, Manager for the Operations Staff, Student Government Inc. Chair of Organizations, Catholic Scholar and full-time student, Macatula juggles both his St. John’s and personal responsibilities in hopes of a successful future in the technology industry. “I want to get into the (tech) field because that’s where our future is headed, and I want to be a part of that,” Macatula said as he discussed his majors. Even though Macatula hates coding, he laughs that it’s the future prospects of tech that keep him invested. Greek Life was also a big part of Macatula’s time on campus, having previously been an e-board member for the now unrecognized fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi. On the subject of his fraternity, Macatula said, “It was a shock, we were a 4x fraternity of the year on campus and we really held our brothers accountable, to hear that we were essentially being kicked off campus with other organizations that didn’t hold to our standards was upsetting.” Even with a full plate of responsibilities, Macatula stays cool under pressure and pushes to be the best that he can be, with ambitions that reach all the way to the United Nations. “I think it all comes down to time management - you know scheduling is important but it’s the motivation to keep going that pushes me,” Macatula describes in a matter-of-fact manner. He continues, “Through it all, we just love what we’re doing and keep going, even when it gets tough. And it gets tough.” While Macatula gives St. John’s praise in its opportunities for students, he notes that he’s not ignorant to the fact that the classes themselves don’t necessarily prepare him.

(continued from pg. 7) Checking in on your friends to ensure that they are getting their work done as well will inadvertently motivate you. An accountability partner always helps. Set realistic and timely goals for yourself.

Ensure that you accomplish all of your collegiate goals before you graduate. Freshman-year-trajectories for college have definitely changed,


Matt Macatula (middle) is pictured with fellow SGI members Clyde Drayton (left) and Anthony Romeo (right).

“Technically I wouldn’t say we have the best programs, but the networking opportunities and outside connections are very helpful,” he said. For his senior year, Macatula will be interning at the United Nations, a gig that he acquired through the Catholic Scholars program, where he will be a liaison and assistant to the congregation of the mission, the Vincentian representative at the UN. According to Macatula, he will, “be a liaison between the Vincentian NGO and the UN. I’ll get to sit in on big conferences regarding tech and global issues.” In accordance with being a student leader, he has big hopes for SGI in ways of his Organizations committee. “We’re doing a lot of new things, we just welcomed six new amazing clubs and are working towards a transition class between e-boards so that the organizations on campus are better prepared

but that doesn’t mean that all of your general goals have as well. It’s not too late to get more involved and meet new people, just make sure that your schedule can handle it. There are three months left!

The finish line is right there! The harder you work, the greater you’ll feel when you cross the finish line. Your family is counting on you and proud of your achievements.

Why stop now? Continue to make

for leadership roles and have longevity at St. John’s,” he said. Even during this interview several students stopped by to talk to Macatula and just say “Hi,” which he happily greeted back.

Michel continued to exclaim that the best thing about working with Macatula was the energy, “He brings so much energy.” As a student leader and an employee of St. John’s University, Macatula recognizes the sometimes difficult balance between being a student and working for the University. “Seeing both sides of the coin gives We’re doing a lot of new things... me more belief and hope that they’re so that the organizations on [St. John’s] doing the best they can,” campus are better preparedfor Macatula described carefully. leadership roles and have “At the end of the day the students come first and I believe that’s how it longevity at St. John’s. should be at any higher level commu-Matt Macatula nity.” With his “students first” attitude, Macatula has ambitions and bigger plans Operations co-worker and St. for his time as a student leader at St. John’s student, Ryan Michel had John’s. nothing but praise for Macatula. What exactly these plans are, Macat“He’s so charismatic with everybody ula says that he’s, “Not ready to show and he gets along with everyone.” [his] hand yet.”

your loved ones proud as you progress through the school year. Plan your time.

Between applying for jobs, completing assignments and attending class, make sure you’re planning your time so you don’t get overwhelmed. Prepare yourself for your busier days. Your planner is your best friend this year. Treat yourself. it's your final year. Have fun.

Enjoying yourself will help you get through senior year, but having so much fun that you’re too tired to go to class or complete assignments is a huge no-no. Find a balance. It’s the final stretch! You’ve made it through freshman, sophomore and junior year; some students have even completed extra semesters to fulfill graduation requirements. Don’t let the strains of senioritis set you back. Use the hurdles ahead to propel you forward.




A New Wave of Funk

Rising popstar Francesco Yates opens for Justin Timberlake Crystal Simmons Unbeknownst to some and adored by many, Toronto native singer and musician Francesco Yates is generating a new wave of pop-funk. At 23 years old, this young performer has already worked with artists such as Pharrell Williams and has recently opened for Justin Timberlake’s “Man of the Woods” tour. Yates has also worked with German DJ Robin Schulz on the hit song “Sugar,” which made its debut on the American Billboard charts after it became a sensation throughout Europe. He has been writing music since the age of 11, when the 2003 musical comedy “School of Rock” (starring Jack Black), sparked his creativity; igniting a passion and allowing for his immersion into the music world. “The spirit of the kids in the movie made me think to myself, man, they started in one world and ended up [in a] completely different world. They were bold and they were fearless with it and even though they didn’t win the competition they still stayed in. Sometimes it’s easy to forget the spirit of why you started in the first place,” Yates said in an interview with the Torch. Whenever he is overwhelmed by the pressures of the music business he watches the movie that started it all. After releasing his self-titled EP (co-produced by Pharrell and Robin Hannibal), and generating a lot of buzz with “Sugar,” he became very quiet in the music industry. “For the longest time, I was too much of a perfectionist with my music so I wouldn’t put it out,” Yates recalls. “Now I think I want to start releasing more tunes more frequently. Gary V [Yates had watched a video of the entrepreneur known for his digital marketing and social media advice] said that good content is subjective at the end of the day and instead of having me decide I’d rather let the people decide and let my creation be what it is.” In today’s market, there is often a pressure for artists to look for the next big hit and to be willfully aggressive in pushing their art to the top of the charts. However, Yates did not seem to indicate this sense of urgency. “When you’re an artist you’re always looking for what’s going to be the grand thing but sometimes you never know what that could be. That’s kind of my new philosophy and to be consistent with that.” Like many artists, Yates had his own personal experience of being molded by the music of soul legends like Otis Redding and Smokey Robinson, and his fascination with the falsetto male voice has influenced his sound tremendously.

Francesco Yates opened for Justin Timberlake at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 31.


“I look down through history of all the singers that have had falsetto like Smokey Robinson and Prince and they always have this crazy reaction when you hear their voice,” Yates said. Yates attributes his pop and soul sound to his greatly admired influence, Prince. “I did see one of Prince’s final shows,” Yates recollects. “Me and my bass player went to go see one in Toronto where it was just him with the piano and the microphone. We saw it front row and we saw the whole thing with him in the flesh. It was different for me when he died because that showed me it’s crazy. You could be here today and gone tomorrow and that life is precious,” he said. Yates has been learning more about himself as a musician and a performer by opening for Justin Timberlake on his “Man of the Woods” tour. “You have to kind of remove yourself, watch it and then go back into it. I’ve kind of learn to do that and watching the subtle tricks to recover from mistakes on stage and make it seem like nothing happened. I’ve watched Justin and how he does that — even it freaks me out. He’s so good at it you wouldn’t know,” Yates said. The audience can witness the pop and nuances of soul come alive during this young performer’s set. This was especially visible when he effortlessly worked the stage at Madison Square Garden last Thursday evening with his talented and eclectic band members supporting him. Yates possesses the energy to command the audience’s gaze. What sticks out the most about his performance is the confidence that he exudes while belting effortless runs all while intertwining his falsetto. As this young star continues his music career, he hopes to work with producers like Timbaland or even cross over into the Hip-Hop sphere to work with Metro Boomin. “You never know what type of swing you can bring to it and when two people come together, you never know what new sound might be created,” Yates said. He hasn’t mentioned any concrete dates for an album release, but he says that toward the end of the year some of his most recent singles such as “Somebody Like You” could find themselves on a larger body of work. Timberlake’s “Man of the Woods” tour continues to hit the stage in multiple cities across North America into the spring, where Yates will continue to share his new wave of funk with audiences across the continent.




New Projects in Independent Music Renee King

Girlpool’s latest record, “What Chaos is Imaginary,” begins with a thud. It is a thud, a crash and a woozy reverberating guitar that signals the album’s beginning on the opening track “Lucy’s,” and with this, it marks a career shift for the still-young Los Angeles based duo. A lot has changed over the years for Girlpool. They have seen the release of two fulllength records, moved between hometowns and made their own personal realizations. “What Chaos is Imaginary” is the first project released by friends Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker, upon Tucker coming out as a transgender man and beginning hormone replacement therapy. On the single “Hire” he sings, “Will I make the matinée with my newest life and be that bright time?” This self-actualization is something that makes their latest feel so much more complete than their past projects. The most notable difference is that their classic indie-guitar-rock style has matured into a gauzy, Beach House-sounding dreamscape. Full string sections, echoing chords and booming drum machines that cut in and out allow this difference to be heard (the title track and “Roses” demonstrate this with nostalgic detail). Aside from this, there is an emotional quality and a newfound distinction between the


Girlpool is comprised of friends Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker.

acclaim, including a handful of solo albums by their founding member, Avey Tare (real name David Portner). The recent was 2017’s “Eucalyptus,” which pared down on Animal Collective’s electronic and frenetic rhythms in exchange for hypnotic acoustic-driven tracks inspired by mornings in Hawaii and California’s Big Sur Mountains. During the time in which “Eucalyptus” was recorded, Portner wrote another album, and if the lead single “Saturdays (Again)” indicates anything, it could be an even better full-length. The song begins with a droning buzz — almost a mooing noise — and the hollow acoustic guitar that shone through his previous solo work morphs into a work with a much faster and steadier tempo that is steeped in nostalgia and percussion samples. The addition of more guitar and bass work on this track harkens back to former Animal Collective projects — in particular the woozy lushness of their 2005 record, “Feels.” Avey Tare of Animal Collective recently It is catchy, but still emotional and comreleased his solo single “Saturdays (Again).” plex in music and word. Portner whispers as he recalls time passed: “But I do know why/It would never quite function for Mondays/’Cause they remind me of those SaturAvey Tare: "Saturdays days.” “Saturdays (Again)” is a song that exists in (again)" the giant, abstract shadow of its legacy from It has been 10 years since the classic exper- all of those years ago, but it still stands on its imental group, Animal Collective, released own as a nod to the past and a glimpse into their stunning indie-pop breakthrough, the future. The album, “Cows on Hourglass Pond,” “Merriweather Post Pavilion.” which features “Saturdays (Again),” will be During the past 10 years, the band has released plenty of projects to varying critical released on March 22 via Domino Records. PHOTO COURTESY/FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS/ JUAN BENDANA

Girlpool: "What chaos is imaginary"

vocals and lyrics of each member’s songs. In between walls of sweet noise, the pair — who are known for layering themselves on every track — become even more unified in finding their own distinct styles and learning to sing individually. “I’m not a dreamer in their prime/I’m consistently not worth your time,” Tividad says on the bitter but relatable “Pretty.” They discuss tough topics and bounce back and forth, expressing it to each other like the friends that they are. It is a new beginning for Girlpool, but it still feels like old times.

Netflix’s Deadly Art: “Velvet Buzzsaw” Alexis Gaskin What can be best described as the Hope Diamond curse meets the art world; the Netflix Original, “Velvet Buzzsaw,” is a weird and intense story of the egotistical and money hungry people behind the scenes of the art industry. Simply put, the characters in this film meet the deadly and graphic demise of unseen supernatural beings when the work of an unknown artist is profited off of. With an all-star cast featuring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Toni Collette, Natalia Dyer, Daveed Diggs, John Malkovich and more, the two-hour film may leave you skipping your next trip to the Met. With a mix of strong personalities and the desire to get rich, the often one-dimensional characters are seen throughout the film worried more about money than morals, even when a supernatural phenomenon starts killing them off. Writer and director Dan Gilroy is no stranger to unusual and odd films, having previously written and directed “Nightcrawler,” which also features Gyllenhaal. Gilroy’s attention to detail in the plot

is ravenous, as all actions of the characters, even those from the very beginning, are important. Gyllenhaal brings back his “Brokeback Mountain” days, playing the sexually open Morf Vanderwalt, an eccentric art critic who is equally egotistical and dissatisfied with everything around him. Brilliantly played, Gyllenhaal shows that he is an actor of many talents with this role that is very uncanny to what we’re used to seeing him play. Another standout performance goes to Zawe Ashton, who plays Josephina, the protégé to art gallery owner Russo. Whilst also being the love interest of both Gyllenhaal and Diggs, Ashton’s character is more concerned with getting ahead in her career and will do anything to get there. Ashton has you wanting her character to succeed, all the while satisfied for her demise. The film is a welcomed addition to Netflix, which houses many other strange and thought-provoking films.The juxtaposition of its name reigns true as the seemingly simple story unfolds to be as complicated and twisted as the cursed paintings.

Jake Gyllenhaal (below) and John Malkovich (right) star in Netflix’s luxury art-horror “Velvet Buzzsaw.”


Sports 11


A.D. Cragg Announces New Vision for Athletics

Cragg wants to improve student-athlete experience Brendan Myers What’s in store for the future of Carnesecca Arena? Athletic director Mike Cragg refused to rule out any possibility, saying in a phone interview with The Torch, “without question, it certainly needs to be addressed.” Improving the 58-year-old arena is among a series of new goals and initiatives regarding the future of St. John’s Athletics that Cragg unveiled Monday night in a press release. “It’s the hub of St. John’s Athletics,” Cragg said. “Something needs to be done — insides, outsides, fan amenities.” Cragg said The Beck Group, a Dallas-based real estate development company, will be tasked with working with Deputy Athletic Director John Diffley and looking for “facility improvement, renovation, replacement, and new construction over the next 10 years.” The Beck Group is no stranger to Cragg, as the two worked together during his time as deputy athletic director at Duke in North Carolina. The development company was involved in several Duke projects including construction on football team’s practice facility and an enhancement to its basketball arena Cameron Indoor Stadium. Any upgrade at Carnesecca Arena will be part of Cragg’s ambitious master plan. The tasks he laid out for St. John’s Athletics involve upgrades to facilities, developing a new vision for the Athletic Department and improving the satisfaction of student-athletes that represent the Red Storm across the school’s 17 Division I athletic programs. “Our student-athletes need to have a great experience,” Cragg said. The University will be aided by two outside firms in order to help fulfill the goals laid out

by Cragg. The Nevada based Pictor Group will be involved in researching industry trends to help lay out what the department is calling “The Strategic Plan for Red Storm Athletics.” This new plan will “reinforce the department’s mission and vision and establishes measurable goals and objectives,” according to the release. Another facet of the new goals include facility renovations. Cragg noted that he believes that St. John’s is behind in regards to facilities of their Big East competitors – such as Providence, where they are in the process of opening up a new practice facility, and DePaul, who opened a new basketball arena last season. Cragg told The Torch he wanted to “articulate” the goals and visions that he has for the Athletic Department after the recent turnover that St. John’s Athletics has seen. Former Director of Athletics Anton Goff left the University last June after just two years in charge. Kathy Meehan served as an interim athletic director during the span between Goff and Cragg’s hire in September, filling an interim role she also worked in prior to Goff. The constant flux at the top of the department has made for a somewhat stagnant era in terms of tangible improvements for athletic facilities. Cragg feels that the stabilization was necessary in order to make a plan and fix issues that arise along the way. He sees this as a big step so that St. John’s can continue to move forward with new initiatives to the program and keep all administrators on the same page regarding the future progression of athletics. “It’s not a good methodology to to just pick and choose [as you go along],” Cragg said. “It’s important to state very clearly.” With talk on facility upgrades at St. John’s


Mike Cragg (right) has lofty goals and visions for the St. John’s Athletic Department.

comes curiosity from fans about Carnesecca Arena. The on-campus arena can hold up to 5,602 people and has hosted more Big East Conference games than Madison Square Garden has over the past few seasons. It most recently underwent a $30-million renovation that took place over three years in which the lobby was expanded, new ticket windows were added and a new center-hung scoreboard was unveiled. The renovation was finished in 2008. Some St. John’s fans have taken to social media to voice their complaints, saying that seating is uncomfortable and tight quarters make it difficult to purchase concessions. Cragg made it clear that it will be addressed but did not go into specifics. While he remains committed to improving the quality of the experience for student-athletes, Cragg sees the importance of not for-

getting about the Red Storm fans. “This is a community that’s excited and very proud of their school,” he said. After being hired in late September, Cragg says he’s been active in meeting with players and coaches across all the programs to gauge their opinions on how different aspects can be improved. The new Athletic Director constantly says that he believes St. John’s can, and should be competing for Big East championships in every sport. “[St. John’s] was in need of being able to articulate our goals,” Cragg said. Cragg said the goals right now are bold, and results won’t be seen overnight, but he won’t let that stop him from making his visions for Red Storm Athletics appear. “I can bring a lot,” he said. “I know what a championship program looks like.”

Bob Guerriero to Begin Coaching Career Sean Okula Coach Bob Guerriero is a hands-off evil genius. That’s evil only to the opposition. The longtime assistant specializes in hitting, with a focus on feedback by request. His first three years in Queens saw offensive futility turn into a swift .856 OPS-driven barrage. Now he’s been handed the key to the St. John’s softball kingdom. Coach Amy Kvilhaug stepped down in September to pursue a performance coaching career. Guerriero was her top lieutenant and logical replacement, made official in early January. He plans to take the Kvilhaug culture and shape it in line with his own philosophies. They share a fiery competitive spirit, and Guerriero painstakingly recounts undoings of recent postseasons. He’s confident this group can restore the regional success of 2015. The Torch caught up with the first-time head coach before the team set course for Florida and the start of a new season. THE TORCH: From a leadership perspective, how do you adapt the role you had as an assistant or associate coach? GUERRIERO: I want them to have fun. But at the end of each game, I want every

opponent to know that they just played St. John’s. I want them to know that they don’t ever want to have to play St. John’s again. I want to leave an impression on our opponents that win, lose, or draw, that was a tough game. Who just ran us over? That was St. John’s. T: How do you impart that kind of dominance? Is that on the field or more about how you carry yourself as a team? G: I think it’s all of that. It’s attitude on the bench, not that you have to be a “rah-rah, cheer-cheer” kind of team. But you have to be into the game. Into the game covers a lot of things. You’re watching pre-game to see certain types of pitches and arm strengths of the outfielders and infielders as they warm up, all to complement our scouting reports. Yeah, on the field you have to backup your talk with your actions. T: Have you been in contact with Coach Kvilhaug? Has she given you any advice? G: I’ve had some administrative questions that we’ve talked about. I’ve also talked to her, as coaches do, to vent with one another. With recruiting too, she still has contacts. It’s bittersweet that she’s not here anymore because she gave me a chance to keep my career going at a time when I had no other doors opening.

I want them to know that they don’t ever want to have to play St. John’s again. Bob Guerriero

I’ll be forever indebted to her for that. T: Last year, the team tore the cover off the ball. 62 homers, double any total since you came here [in 2013]. What is your offensive philosophy? G: I tell the girls, “if it isn’t broken then I won’t break it.” I like to ask how adjustments feel. I’m not always the tech-savvy, micro-management, breakdown the swing type. I’ll just observe how they swing. If there’s something I see that’s affecting the outcome on the ball, then I’ll say something. I don’t have a cookie-cutter approach. All hitters aren’t clones. They all have their own individual style. As long as they’re not physically hurting themselves with some sort of contorted swing, then I’ll leave them pretty much on their own. T: [Senior pitcher] Madison Morris gave

you plenty of innings last year, but had some problems with the home run ball. That’ll be for her and the soon-to-be-named pitching coach to work on? G: Yeah, without tipping our hand, Maddie has worked on pitches to complement her riseball. We expect her to do a few different things that the hitters won’t have in their scouting reports. Maddie’s very eager to get it going, and so am I. She’s used these other pitches on our hitters in practice and they’ve been very effective. T: The season opens up against Sixth-ranked Georgia on Friday. What are you looking forward to in playing a team with that kind of talent? G: A realistic result. We have a good core to work with. This core has played in plenty of big games over the years. They have plenty of experience and have faced upper echelon teams. I want them to go out and I want them to compete as hard as they can. Again, when that game is done, whether it’s Georgia or Bethune Cookman or a conference team, at the end of that game I want everyone to know that they played St. John’s. If we win, great. That’s a great feather in our cap. But it’s our first game out. I’m going to be realistic about things, too.


Keep Moving Forward


February 6, 2019 | VOLUME 96, ISSUE 12

From St. John's to CBS Sports

LACROSSE aims to build from previous season Nick McCreven The 2019 St. John’s Men’s Lacrosse season will kick off on Feb. 9 when Rutgers comes into Queens, but as the players and coaches trudge out to DaSilva Field for practice in the frigid winter temperatures, their minds remain on the practice at hand. After a few seasons that yielded wins sparingly, the Johnnies bounced back in 2018 going 6-8, while taking some highly ranked teams to the very end of close games. In 2019, their focus is on the day-to-day work that will establish rock solid habits and hopefully keep the momentum of winning culture moving forward. “I think the biggest reason that we had more success last year was the players holding themselves to a higher standard, a higher degree of accountability, being better teammates, differentiating between being a teammate and being a friend, and understanding that there’s a difference there. I think if I

had to pick one thing that was the reason we won a few more games last year I would say that is definitely it,” Head Coach Jason Miller told the Torch. Coach Miller’s thoughts seemed to be centered around one idea in particular: Setting the standard of the team’s work ethic high. He wants his team to focus on what they are all putting into practice everyday, rather than dreaming of success at the end of games or the end of the season. “They have to commit to the process, understand that what we put into it will yield what we get out of it. We can’t really focus on results but what we’re doing day in and day out and setting the best standards that we can, the best work ethic that we can everyday,” Coach Miller elaborated. The Red Storm took some of the country’s elite collegiate lacrosse teams to the bitter end last year, losing to 10th ranked UNC by just one goal at Chapel Hill and 16th ranked Villanova by two at home, while stealing a

win against 19th ranked Hofstra. They lost to Stony Brook by just two last season. They suffered a narrow loss in overtime to Big East rival, Marquette. The heart-wrenchingly close games became a pattern over the last year, but Coach Miller wants that to be the difference in 2019. “We’re going to need the guys to be frustrated about being close. No one really likes being close and we felt like the difference between a couple games under .500 or a couple games over .500 is a very small margin. But if we’re going to do anything about that, then I think the guys really have to be convinced of the fact that being close is no fun. So, if we can put all of those things together, if we can stay healthy, that we should hopefully be in a position to get over the hump,” he asserted. The schedule this season can’t be called forgiving, either. They are set to play a few preseason ranked squads including No. 12 Rutgers, No. 20 Michigan, No. 8 Denver

and No. 18 Georgetown. The Johnnies know they can compete with anyone throughout a game, but part of what Coach Miller will urge his players to do come gameday is to finish off the games that go down to the wire. This team is confident. They want to achieve a winning record and succeed in postseason play. They believe they can do just that. But for now, as Coach Miller says, they are honed in on giving it their all every practice and constantly working to improve.

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