Volume 95, Issue 17

Page 1

VOL 95: 17 March 21, 2018 The award-winning independent student newspaper of St. John’s University


st. john's talks school shootings There have been 17 school-related shootings in the U.S. this year. This week, Public Safety discusses SJU's response.

see the story on pages 4 & 5 TORCH DESIGN/STEVEN VERDILE

MEET THE CANDIDATES: Executive Board CANDIDATEs TALK PLATFORMS, GOALS see the story on pages 8 & 9

2 News


Adding to the Clothesline Narrative Ninth grade students shared their personal stories through design Jillian Ortiz The Young Women’s Leadership School of Queens visited the St. John’s Art Gallery on Wednesday, March 14 and their narratives became part of a growing collection known as the Clothesline Project. A young girl and an old t-shirt. She doesn’t wear it, but instead, she draws on it. The marker bleeds with her best interpretation of calligraphy as her colorful story is placed upon a white, 100-percent cotton background. “They call Me weird Names! Like ISIS, Terrorist And All Those Mean Names!” said one shirt, an example of the many types of stories that became pieces of art made by the young women. “They did like an exhibition that represented important movements and important things in life, things that are happening every day that people don’t really talk about,” 14-year-old Saira Ali said. The 60 ninth-grade female students that visited the Dr. M. T. Geoffrey Yeh Art Gallery were not just limited to share their own stories, but had the opportunity to view those of others. Dr. Judith Ryder, associate professor of sociology and anthropology, currently coordinates the annual Clothesline Project on

campus. The project functions as a means to both comfort and educate women and girls alike on violence. “The clothesline actually was one way of making that connection [between women who have experienced violence and who are now criminalized] and showing that we still have a need to address the issues of victimization of women and girls,” Ryder said. Upon entry, visitors are immediately greeted by the Clothesline Project. Gray, white and black t-shirts hang shoulder to shoulder. All in a straight line, almost as if in unity. Portraits, quotes and graphics stand out against their unembellished backgrounds. “They have so many messages to give out but they put it in such a small piece of artwork and it means so much to them,” student Maram Gazali said on the Clothesline Project. “...and it’s really beautiful.” On the other side of the wall stands the “Citizen” exhibit, which “features 20 artists whose work illuminates the concerns expressed by Claudia Rankine in her book of the same title,” according to the Art Gallery’s website. Teaching artist Katie Rainey works once a week with the students on creative writing and art forms during their English class. “The girls are studying ‘Citizen’ by Claudia Rankine, so this is one of the culminating things we’re doing — coming to this mu-


Yulia Tikhonova described some of the pieces in the Yeh art gallery to the young girls.

seum and seeing the exhibit,” Rainey said. After an initial introduction to the Clothesline Project by Dr. Ryder, students were allowed to explore the “Citizen” exhibit on their own. “You can’t really take things at surface value, that’s what the whole book was about, and even a lot of the pictures here,” student attendee Kayla Dike said. “The art gallery on campus is an alternative to the classroom. It is a safe space to talk about such difficult issues as racial tensions, police brutality and microaggressions. I want to expose our students to these issues through the images created by the artists Hanging t-shirts on the walls of the gallery tell the girls’ stories. in [the] ‘Citizen’ exhibition,” Yulia Tikhonova, director of the ranging from violence to female empowerment. Yeh Art Gallery said. Some read, “I’m a female. Fe = Iron. Male After the students explored the Gallery on = Man. Therefore I am Iron Man,” “Rememtheir own, Tikhonova explained the meanber behind every successful man is a strong ing of several pieces as the students lined the woman” and “You have a voice, so use it.” perimeter of the room, listening intently. “One of the teachers was telling me that She discussed issues of oppression and disa lot of [the students] think that we don’t crimination, and explained how these conneed feminism anymore and [that] feminism cepts are explored and portrayed through the really is of a different era,” Ryder said. “I’m featured works. hoping that the young women will see it’s Tikhonova noted the piece titled “The important to use their talents, their art, their Central Park 5” by Brooklyn-based artist Sovoices to talk about the violence that’s going phia Dawson, which used Ghanaian kente on against women and girls.” cloth as the canvas for portraits of “The CenThe Clothesline Project at St. John’s Unitral Park Five,” a group of black and latino versity started in 2008 and has been under teenagers who were wrongly accused of rapthe direction of Ryder for the past 10 years, ing a white woman in Central Park in 1989. but the first rendition in the United States “This young artist dedicated her talent to was created in 1990. The Clothesline Project painting these young kids and other victims is part of the University’s annual Turn Off of police brutality,” Tikhonova said of the the Violence Week and will be on display piece. both in front of and inside the D’Angelo To conclude their visit, the girls then decoCenter next month. rated their own t-shirts that addressed topics




Hurricane Harvey Plunge Program Set For May Students to tackle Vincentian mission by providing aid to devestated city Isabella Bruni Hurricane Harvey devastated the greater Houston area at the start of the fall semester, leaving behind a harsh aftermath. Now St. John’s is standing by its Vincentian roots by plunging into the devastated area in May to provide aid. St. John’s holds Plunge Programs in which students immerse themselves in Vincentian service including but not limited to agricultural projects and housing restoration. Popular plunge programs include locations such as Philadelphia, Panama, Lourdes, Denver, Los Angeles and Niagara Falls, as well as New York City. According to Jordan Bouchard, residence minister for Vincentian Service, students had been going to Campus Ministry to look for ways to help Houston and get involved with hurricane relief. “Campus Ministry had been looking for connections of places that would be able to host a group of students to volunteer in the area after such devastation,” Bouchard said. “A student shared with us about an amazing organization that is helping make that possible.” In association with All Hands and Hearts, a non-profit organization that provides immediate response after natural disasters, the new plunge program was brought to fruition.


Campus ministers Angela Seegel and Dennis Gallgher will lead 13 students to Texas.

Bouchard said, “As a Vincentian university, we are called to respond to the needs of the poor, and the Plunges provide an opportunity to do just that through direct and indirect service, reflection, social justice, and to grow deeper in our faith through these experiences.” Hurricane Harvey reached winds of up to 130 mph, had 51 inches of rain in some areas and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott activated all 12,000 members of the Texas National Guard, according to CNN.

More than 30,000 people needed temporary shelter. In order to help, Bouchard said students must ask themselves, “what must be done?” She says the answer is to serve. Campus ministers Angela Seegel, director of Vincentian Service, and Dennis Gallagher, director of liturgy and faith formation, will lead 13 students, both undergraduate and graduate, to Northeast Houston May 22-27 after the close of the semester. Bouchard said students will be “mucking

and gutting” which is the “removal of mud, muck, milt, and other semi-soiled material from a home because of water inundation, tearing out and removing materials of the homes that were damaged by the water.” “They also will be helping with cleaning any remaining structures of homes to prepare for mold control and treatment, and helping install drywall, insulation, flooring, etc. It will be a busy day of manual work,” Bouchard added. The plunge is grounded in Vincentian charism and Bouchard hopes students take away with them the Catholic identity of solidarity and the Vincentian identity of zeal. He added that key elements of the plunge include community building, spirituality, simple living and service. “I have been inspired by the compassion and loving hearts our students lead with – it is an honor to journey with our SJU students in this way,” Seegel said. “We say that the transformation that happens from a Plunge is when we return home and see a new perspective,” Bouchard said. “That is such a beautiful thing — there is an opportunity for transformation and long term application in their lives.” Following the trend of responding to natural disasters, a plunge program to Puerto Rico will take place in January 2019 in response to Hurricane Maria.

A Time to SHinE For Student Employees Student workers honored at fourth annual award ceremony Jillian Ortiz The Office of Human Resources held its fourth annual Students Honored in Employment (SHinE) award luncheon Tuesday, March 20 to honor exceptional student workers at St. John’s. Among those in attendance were University Provost Robert Mangione, Executive Vice President for Mission Reverend Bernard Tracey, Vice President for Business Affairs Sharon Watkins as well as several University deans. The University employs more than 1,500 students each year and this year a total of 52 students were nominated for this special recognition, according to Associate Vice President for Human Resources, Nada Llewellyn. Out of the 52 student nominees, there were 16 semifinalists and four final award winners that went home with a plaque and gift bag in honor of their achievement. “It means a lot to me, I’ve been working for the department for four years now,” semifinalist Taylor Pearl of the Department of Art and Design said on her nomination. “I’m always so happy that the students appreciate the recognition and that the supervisors are happy that we recognize them,” Student Employment Manager Mary Cascio said. “I think it’s a wonderful event.” After St. John’s received an award in 2013 from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources based on its student employment program, the SHinE program was erected. “The Program aims to motivate student

workers to take initiative and strive for excellence while honing skills that are important for success in any career,” Cascio said. Nominees are rated based on numerous criteria such as teamwork, attendance, accountability, innovation and several other factors. “This year I was honored to be asked by Mary Cascio to join the SHinE selection committee,” Director of Operations and Data Analysis Christine Randall said. “The experience of reviewing all of the nominations gave me great insight into the wonderful opportunities that all of the supervisors in this room have offered their students.” TORCH PHOTO/JILLIAN ORTIZ Student workers Brian Lin of Conference Services, The University employs more than 1,500 students each year and 52 were nominated for awards this year. Christopher Parnell of the “This is my first year working on campus at very meaningful to me.” University Learning Commons, Kayla Shuler St. John’s,” Lin added. Through the program students are encourof Academic Service Learning VISA and CinSenior Christopher Parnell, who works aged to take initiative and strive for excellence dy Wibisono of Public Safety, Resident Safety at the University Learning Commons as a while honing skills that are important for sucwere the four award recipients honored at the Chemistry tutor was awarded for his out- cess in any career, according to Cascio. event. standing efforts in helping students succeed. “I think it’s an opportunity to really see “This means a lot to me because I’ve always “This award is meaningful for me because what some of our students are doing and considered my work ethic to be one of my best I personally want to go into teaching in the achieving,” Llewellyn said. “This is one of my points and I come from an immigrant family, future and to have success as a tutor it seems favorite events, I just think it’s a wonderful so in a way this kind of represents my family,” to me as if that’s the first step on going toward opportunity to celebrate our student worksenior Brian Lin said. my life’s goals,” Parnell said. “This award is ers.”

school SAFETY

in light of tragedies, public safety talks security initiatives by Isabella Bruni Hardly a week has gone by in 2018 without a school shooting somewhere nationwide. As of March 20 there have been 17 school-related shootings so far, according to CNN. The Parkland school shooting in Florida on Valentine’s Day left 17 dead and 14 injured, and rattled a nation of students, parents and teachers grappling with how to stay safe. There have been more than 300 school shootings in the U.S. since 2013 — an average of about one shooting per week, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization that seeks to reduce gun violence in America. It’s hard not to become numb from the repeatedly scary storylines. There were 10 killed at Umpqua Community College in Oregon in 2015, 26 at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, 32 at Virginia Tech in 2007 and 13 at Columbine in 1999, among many others. Here at St. John’s, students reacted to the recent rash of school shootings nationwide with a range of emotions — some were concerned about their safety while others were frustrated with the lack of legislative action. One student even expressed worry about her decision to make teaching a career. Denise Vencak, executive director for Public Safety, said St. John’s is taking the proper precautions in the wake of the many shootings nationwide. “As threats evolve and change, so do we,” Vencak said in a statement. “Public Safety engages in a regular assessment of emergency protocols and procedures to ensure that we are engaging in best practices to keep the University community safe in responding to evolving threats.”

Junior Tiffani Sookralli lives about 15 minutes away from Parkland, Florida where the largest mass shooting at a school recently occurred. She said she cried for days. “I could relate to them knowing the area, the people and the drills we are regulated to do in Broward County,” Sookralli said. “Nothing can truly prepare you for a situation like this.” A shooting happened again just yesterday morning, Tuesday, March 20, as three students were injured at a Maryland high school. School shootings, including elementary, middle, high school and college, have consistently occurred in the U.S. since the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, the tragedy that sparked decades of heated debate over the need for gun control legislation. Between 2013 and 2015 there have been 76 shootings at colleges, 35 at high schools, 13 at middle schools and 24 at elementary schools, according to Everytown. The Virginia Tech shooting of 2007 is the most notable on a college campus where 33 people were killed and 23 injured. The incident is the third-deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in modern U.S. history.

“There is no reason anyone needs a gun at age 18, meanwhile we can’t have a glass of wine until 21,” Tiongson added. “They need to have stricter tests to make sure that the person is mentally well and they should make sure that the results come back before selling the gun. I don’t blame mental illness for misuse of guns but I blame the system for making guns available to those who are not mentally well.” Freshman Edward Ostuni thinks there should be stronger restrictions on who can get a gun. “I believe gun regulation should be limited because of our right to bear arms but I do believe there should be some type of psychological test to keep the guns out of the hands of mentally unstable people,” Ostuni said. St. John’s is not immune to these situations. In May 2016, just days before the end of the spring semester at St. John’s, three males entered room 510 in Hollis Hall and opened fire with a revolver, according to the Torch. No one was injured.

In response to the event that occured in Hollis in 2016, Vencak said, “Public Safety responded to the scene immediately, and the NYPD was notified. The individuals involved were apprehended Sky Tiongson, a sophomore at St. within minutes.” John’s, hopes to be a kindergarten teacher and said these shootings are a In September 2007, just months after concern of hers moving forward if gun the Virginia Tech shooting, a student legislation does not change. brought a rifle onto the St. John’s campus and was apprehended by a Public “I’m studying to be a teacher and the Safety officer and a student who also idea that I may one day have to hide was a NYPD cadet. my kindergarten students from a gunman is terrifying and is not something The University says it has multiple iniany student should ever be concerned tiatives in place that it is constantly reabout,” she said. viewing. These include Active Shooter Preparedness Trainings, which have be-

come mandatory for incoming freshman for the past three years, and more recently an increase in campus security. Vencak declined to detail Public Safety’s specific safety protocol for these types of situations, saying only that they would respond immediately along with the help of the NYPD. “Concerning prior incidents over the years, similarly, Public Safety and the NYPD engaged in coordinated responses to contain threats,” she added. Ostuni, one of the students who spoke with the Torch, believes that Public Safety does a good job of keeping students safe on campus. But he said “there should be more security getting into buildings and on campus, such as present ID cards or permits to be there.” “Anyone can walk onto the campus which is a little scary,” Sookralli said. Tiongson argued that arming Public Safety officers should be considered. “God forbid a gunman comes on campus, they should be armed,” Tiongson said. “St. John’s is very over the top with their protection and security in some ways that are necessary and some ways that are not in my opinion.” When asked about the possibility of arming Public Safety officers, Vencak responded, “We regularly evaluate and adjust our Public Safety protocols and practices.” Vencak’s advice to students in the event of an active shooter on campus is to familiarize themselves with the video shown at Active Shooter Preparedness Training events, which can be found on the Public Safety web page under “Emergency Preparedness.”

How to Prepare For An Active Shooter By Byron Campbell

Recently, the Office of Public Safety hosted an active-shooter training session on campus. Here are some of the tips and facts they shared at the session, attended by one of our reporters.

According to the officers, there are more than 840 cameras monitoring the St. John’s Queens campus. A Public Safety officer monitors these cameras behind the Public Safety Building near Gate 6, where they have access to a “MIR-3,” — an automated system that alerts students about the presence of a gunman.

Officers urged students that anyone suspicious of someone who might seem odd, should call Public Safety with complete urgency. They added that it is important to identify someone that might cause a shooting and to monitor them. Try to note if they are carrying any suspicious baggage or if they are trying to hide themselves behind any pullovers or masks, then inform the nearest officer.

School shootings last approximately 11 minutes, according to Public Safety. In this event, students in a classroom should barricade the door with desks to stop anyone from entering. Students should also find ballistic cover, like a brick wall that can possibly stop a bullet from penetrating.

Additionally, an officer said each classroom has a telephone that acts as a hotline — a direct first response outreach to Public Safety if an incident were to ever occur. They said to utilize the bright red phone located near the doors of a classroom. If the numbers “5-2-52” are dialed, it will send a direct response to the nearest police department.

U.S. School Shootings in 2018 Date






January 20

Winston Salem, North Carolina

Wake Forest University




January 22

Italy, Texas

Italy High School




January 22

Gentilly, Louisiana

NET Charter High School




January 23

Benton, Kentucky

Marshal County High School




February 1

Los Angeles, California

Sal Castro Middle School (Campus shared




February 5

Oxon Hill, Maryland

Oxon Hill High School




February 14

Parkland, Florida

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School




March 2

Mount Pleasant, Michigan

Central Michigan University




March 7

Birmingham, Alabama

Huffman High School




March 14

Birmingham, Alabama

Univeristy of Alabama at Birmingham




March 20

Lexington Park, Maryland

Great Mills High School



with Belmont High School)

6 Entertainment The Little Black Dress That Changed Film


Remembering Givenchy’s contributions to cinema Alexis Gaskin Fashion is an often overlooked detail in films. While the costume designers go into intense detail and commitment to the look at hand, the art of the wardrobe is often missed by the audience. The dedication and passion that a designer puts into wardrobe can be characterized by the immersive outfits that the actors wear, from a simple pajama look to a wedding gown worn by the lead female character for five minutes. Each look is purposefully picked by the designer to create a tone and mood to reflect the voice of the film. This is evident in the designs and styles by the late Hubert De Givenchy in several films starring his personal friend and muse, Audrey Hepburn. The relationship between Hepburn and Givenchy spanned decades and the influence they had on each other was clear in the films that Hepburn starred in. While Givenchy is not credited for designing in these films, he was the personal designer for Hepburn in films like “Funny Face,” “Love in the Afternoon” and “Sabrina,” all starring


Audrey Hepburn donned Hubert De Givenchy’s black dress in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961).

Hepburn. As a vital part of the fashion industry on the runway and on the silver screen, Givenchy is credited with creating immortal pieces like the well-known and well-worn little black dress. First seen in the iconic movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,”

the opening scene shows a glammed up Hepburn eating a scone in a little black dress designed by Givenchy while browsing the expensive Tiffany’s window display. This scene and outfit are known worldwide and will be the Halloween costume of

choice for college students on a budget everywhere. The film includes several other amazing designs by Givenchy and emphasizes the importance of design and fashion in film. While Givenchy never designed for any other films, sticking to the runway and his coveted fashion house, he will forever be known for the creation of the little black dress and his friendship with the equally talented Hepburn. In his years after designing for Hepburn’s films he designed for many more influential women including Grace Kelly and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Givenchy, who placed great emphasis on the body in his designs, said, “The dress must follow the body of a woman, not the body following the shape of the dress.” Creating a large empire of fashion design and parfum, Givenchy leaves behind a legacy of individuality in even the most simplistic of pieces and has people watching the screen for design and fashion. The creation of the little black dress and his influence on design in film is a symbol of the dedication, passion and talent of designers everywhere.

“Once On This Island” Revival Shines, But is Stuck in the Past Angelica Acevedo Yes, there was a live goat and a chicken on a Broadway stage. “Once On This Island,” currently running at the Circle in the Square Theatre, takes you on a lively journey to an island in the French Antilles where temperamental gods control the weather, leaving the people who inhabit it at their mercy. Director Michael Arden said it was important to present the devastating impact that natural disasters have on people, especially those that occur in New Orleans, Haiti and Puerto Rico. Despite this, the people don’t stop danc-


ing, singing and living. Designed by Dane Laffrey, the sand-covered stage beautifully lent itself to the island-life setting with a river flowing from one corner and the walls of the theater covered with clothes as if left out to dry. However, the diverse cast was undeniably the best aspect of the revived musical — written by Lynn Ahrens with composer Stephen Flaherty almost 30 years ago. It was based on Rosa Guy’s novel “My Love, My Love,” published in 1985. They brought to life the otherwise straightforward tale of a forbidden love between impoverished protagonist Ti Moune and rich boy Daniel Beauxhomme; ulti-

mately culminating in a myth about love conquering death. Even with all of the spectacular artistry that undoubtedly radiates from this musical, the plot — to put it simply — isn’t all that great. It felt as though I was watching a live-action version of primary sources I read in my history classes where authors (usually white men) not only fetishize (usually darker) Caribbean women for their exoticness, but also depict them as simple beings. Sure, the overall message is that love is stronger than evil, but why does it have to come at the expense of a loving black woman’s life? Why was it ultimately “beautiful” that Ti Moune died for him and became a tree where he, his fiance (which he neglected to tell her about before he used her for her healing and pleasing body) and their children could later play in? If anything, the musical brings about the discussions that still need to take place when it comes to the ways in which race, gender and culture are portrayed in various art forms. Should we ignore the disparaging language used to describe a certain group of people for the sake of entertainment or should we address it head on? To me, the answer is the latter. In the end, the more nuance a story possesses, especially when tackling the complex themes that inherently come with cultural stories, the better it will be.


Samantha DeNinno March is Women’s History Month and we’re watching women’s history take place in the world around us. But let’s also take a look back to some of the key figures whose words and imagery we sometimes use unknowingly today in the women’s rights movements. Mainly: Frida Kahlo. Frida Kahlo (1907- 1954) was a Latina surrealist painter, Communist, bisexual and disabled person during the early 20th century, who specialized in paintings inspired by her own painful life and Mexican and indigenous culture and nature. Many biopics and biographies have been made in connection to the artist but the one to arguably garner the most awards is 2002’s “Frida,” based on the biography “Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo” by Hayden Herrera. “Frida,” directed by Julie Taymor, was released in 2002 and starred Salma Hayek in the titular role of the Mexican surrealist painter, Frida Kahlo. The film follows her life from childhood to death, hopscotching through various key moments of her life. From her trolley accident that physically affected her for the rest of her life to her passionate, yet tumultuous two marriages to Mexican muralist, Diego Rivera, Hayek shines in this biopic crafted with the artist’s own art style in mind. Taymor’s film was a passion project of Hayek’s, a fact that is palpable in her performance. She transforms into the role, inhibiting Kahlo’s lust for life, sex and art. Stylistically the film is full of references to her paintings, often offering scenes where the actors turn into paintings or vice versa. However, this is also a small fault within the film. While there was a strong sense of Kahlo’s life, there is less of her work. We see her paintings but not so much how she worked, her ambition as an artist. The film highlights more her life and marriage with Diego Rivera, a marriage that was marked by infidelity on both sides. If you are looking for historical accuracy, “The Guardian” rates the film at a “C” on that front. Some have criticized the film for leaving out Kahlo’s polio that she contracted when she was six and affected her leg and body long before her trolley accident at age 18. The film makes references to her painful experiences with her body but possibly too lightly; critics argue that the intense tango scene between Hayek and Ashley Judd’s Tina Modotti showed no evidence of her disability. Which brings us to the next point: keep in mind this film has another point of current relevance. Salma Hayek recently cited the film in her Op-Ed piece titled, “Harvey Weinstein Was My Monster Too,” for the New York Times. I highly recommend reading the piece before or after watching the film to know what fully went on behind the scenes, and perhaps some of the reasons for the film’s faults. It’s important to know where our media is coming from.

Entertainment 7



SJU’s Arisa Ossandon Talks Art and Creativity TORCH PHOTO/ CAROLINA RODRIGUEZ

Carolina Rodriguez Some might say that the art majors have it easier than other students here at St. John’s. For one student, Arisa Ossandon, that perspective couldn’t be more invalid. Arisa is a Long Island native and a graphic design student. She spends her time juggling the challenging art courses here at St. John’s, and working at Paper Source, a store that specializes in stationery. I recently sat down with her to talk coffee and creativity.

Q: What made you want to come to St. John’s? I really love the diversity.

Q: Do you find that diversity is important

in an arts related field? I think so. It helps to keep your mind open. I’m a very open person. I like talking to different people, and experiencing new things.


Have you always been interested in art? Yeah, I feel like everyone in my family does art. Not necessarily graphic design, but my dad plays piano, and my mom also likes to draw little cartoons. Everyone’s involved in art.


What’s the biggest misconception about your major? I hear so many people say, “Oh, art must be easy, right?” That’s so not true.

Q: What’s your favorite class that you’ve

taken here? Currently, the motion graphics class. It’s definitely time consuming and hard and technical, but I get to make really cute videos and stuff. I love it. I didn’t think I would, but I do.

Q: What kind of art do you gravitate towards?

Support for Women Behind the Camera Samantha DeNinno

es bold, risky and stylish film voices.” “These new perspectives, with diversity of Tribeca Film Festival 2018’s schedule has tone and approach, may inspire people to been released and it’s more exciting than expand their opinions and offer some exever. Out of the 8,789 submissions, 96 fea- citing visions of our world today,” Artistic ture length films have been selected to daz- Director Frederic Boyer said. Why is this important? zle audiences beginning April 18 through In 2017, U.S.C.-Annenberg released April 29. Seventy-five world premieres, five inter- a study that analyzed the top 100 highnational premieres, nine North American est-grossing films since 2007 and found premieres, three U.S. premieres and four that out of those 1,000 films, only 44 were directed by women. New York premieres The statistics for compose the specialwomen of color were ly curated schedule even less: out of 57 which includes films black directors, three from 30 countries. ...highest percent- were female; out of 34 This year marks the age of female directors Asian directors, three highest percentage of in the Tribeca Festival were female; and there female directors in Lineup at a whopping was only one Latina dithe Tribeca Festival 46 percent... rector. lineup at a whopThe statistics can be ping 46 percent. broken down even far“We are proud to ther to career length, present a lineup that celebrates American diversity and welcomes age differences, production companies and new international voices in a time of cultur- more. Tribeca Film Festival’s inclusion of feal and social activism,” Tribeca Enterprises Executive Vice President Paula Weinstein male voices is important, in this time where said in the press release. “Our films succeed women behind the camera struggle to have in being both entertaining and illuminating their voices heard. The lineup is showcasing their skills as which is what you desire from great storywell as offering possible financial support tellers.” “For our program this year, we have cu- in future endeavors. Many of the films will rated a selection of filmmakers whose dis- compete for a $165,000 cash prize and arttinct voices illuminate the world around us. work from the Artists Award program. This year also marks the year of the 6th Audiences can choose their cinematic journeys to faraway places or closer to home, to annual Nora Ephron Award, an award that discover unique stories told with audacity is presented for excellence in storytelling and emotion and to get to know heroic, by a female writer or director and rewards $25,000 to a woman who “embodies the flawed and lovable characters. Our International Competition showcas- spirit and boldness of the late filmmaker.”

Anything colorful. I also really like illusions.

Q: Do you feel like art is something you

ideas. Getting their opinion really helps.

Q: Have you ever been discouraged with art in the past? Not necessarily discouraged, but I’ve felt like I could’ve done something differently. But not discouraged.


If you weren’t studying graphic design, what would you be studying? Piano. But if it wasn’t art in general, I’ve always liked teaching. So, maybe something with languages too. I’m bilingual. I speak Japanese. So maybe teach Japanese or be an interpreter.

Q: What’s your dream job?

To work in Disney. I absolutely love Disney.

can learn? I think so. It’s like riding a bike, it might be hard at first, but you can do it. It definitely takes time and patience.

Q: What would you say to anyone study-

Q: Who are some of your influences?

Q: How do you like your coffee?

Definitely my parents. They’re very creative. I look up to both of them. I usually ask them their opinion on my pieces. My other classmates influence me, too. Because everyone is so different and we all have different

ing an art-related field? Go for it. It’s a lot of work and it’s very time consuming, but it’s worth it. It depends, but recently I’ve been really obsessed with macchiatos. Coffee is my ritual. I love coffee. View Arisa’s work at torchonline.com.

SGI Elections

RODERICK JACKSON Junior | President

Meet the faces behind the ballots Suzanne Ciechalski Thursday afternoon, the candidates for the upcoming Student Government Inc. executive board election will face off in a common hour debate. Students will have the opportunity to ask the candidates questions about their platforms and goals; but before that happens, the Torch sat down with each ticket, SEED and PLUG, as well as the independent sophomore senator candidate Hannah Sesay to discuss their positions on a number of campus issues, including communication between SGI/faculty and administration and the student body, aiding student organizations better, and incorporating more initiatives related to diversity and inclusion. Here’s what they said: DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION One major aspect of the PLUG ticket platform that aims to incorporate the theme of diversity and inclusion within the university is to advocate for the addition of two non-voting members of the student body to the board of trustees. This would include the SGI president, and a member of a marginalized community on campus. “Given recent events that have happened on campus, it is clear that the students do see that, unfortunately, at some point there is a cap on...your access to power on campus,” Atem Tazi, the presidential candidate for PLUG, said. She believes that adding two non-voting members of the student body to the board of trustees could change the way decisions regarding the student body are made when students are actually in the room. Carley Germain, the sophomore senator candidate for the SEED ticket said she wants to focus on bringing more diversity to SGI, while Alissa Santolo, the vice-presidential candidate for SEED, said they would like to ensure that SJU continues some of the initiatives it’s already working

on, like bringing in more diverse hires.” “We’ve seen [diversity and inclusion are] such an important push from students,” Santolo said.

rather than coming in for a semester, trying to learn everything and kind of reinventing the wheel all over again,” he said.

Sesay said one way she hopes to incorporate diversity and inclusivity into her role is by implementing more educational events on campus, as well as working with administrators to better inform the student body on what’s being done to address their concerns regarding diversity.


STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS Sesay pointed to advertisement for events as a major issue student organizations run into, and said it’s one she’d like resolve through initiatives like a Twitter feed within the SJU app for cell phones that shows a listing of different events happening on campus. Torrent Cannon, the SEED candidate for treasurer said one of his goals is to help students see where the SGI budget goes, and how it benefits them. “And thus encourage them to approach SGI with their voices and ideas so that the executive board can more effectively give support to said students, whatever their propensity for ‘leadership’ might be,” Cannon said. Additionally, the ticket said it would work to implement things like programming, fundraising and recruitment packets to better aid student leaders. “The programming packet would definitely be something beneficial to people like...a smaller org, that’s big on membership, but not big on programming, I think something like that would benefit them,” Roderick Jackson, the presidential candidate for SEED, said. Meanwhile, Christopher Stephens, the vice-presidential candidate for the PLUG ticket, spoke extensively about reworking the way executive boards transition each year. To do this, he said he’s working to develop classes for newly-elected eboards to take, “that way they can hit the ground running


ANTHONY ROMEO Junior | Senior Senator

Ensuring improved relationships among students, faculty and administrators is a major theme among the candidates’ platforms. Sesay said encouraging faculty and administrators to meet with SGI to discuss what they’re working on in regard to student concerns. “That will really connect the student body with them, and it’s not just two separate things,” she said. She added that town hall events with SGI from time to time is one way she’d attempt to better inform students of what the group is working on. Meanwhile, the SEED ticket said one of its specific ideas to improve relationships would be through a bonding program that would allow faculty and students to get to know each other on a more personal level. “One of the reasons why I came to St. John’s was because of the sense of community, and after spending two years here, I believe that we could definitely help to improve the community and relations between each other,” Stefanie Bassaragh, SEED’s secretarial candidate, said.

ATEMKENG TAZI Junior | President

The PLUG ticket said one of its goals is to institute a university-wide address to the student body each semester to update them on what’s going on at SGI. Additionally, the ticket spoke about ideas that would enrich the relationship between SGI and the student body, including a common hour session for students to come speak to the executive board about their concerns. “I think that just letting people know that I’m one of you and you’re one of me...That’s what I want to do,” junior senator candidate Johnny Wiley said.

NOEL BALL Junior | Senior Senator

ALISSA SANTOLO Junior | Vice President

KRISTEN LABRUNA Sophomore | Junior Senator

CHRISTOPHER STEPHENS Junior | Vice President

JOHNNY WILEY Sophomore | Junior Senator

STEFANIE BASSARAGH Sophomore | Secretary

CARLEY GERMAIN Freshman | Sophomore Senator

CLARE SORIA Junior | Secretary

AMEL VIAUD Freshman | Sophomore Senator

TORRENT CANNON Junior | Treasurer

HANNAH SESAY Freshman | Sophomore Senator

HENRY STITZEL Junior | Treasurer

10 Features


Sustaining the Future

Student launches Sustain, eco-centered magazine Erin Bola

It’s not easy being green. Organic food is often expensive, and it can be hard to reduce waste in our increasingly materialistic society. So how can the average millennial live a sustainable lifestyle while juggling a tight budget and a busy schedule? A desire to make sustainability more easily accessible is what inspired St. John’s senior Reza Moreno to establish “Sustain The Mag.” Moreno, who is a former features editor at the Torch, says she modeled the new digital publication to be a “Refinery29 for eco-conscious warriors.” “We’re not experts on sustainability. But that’s the whole point — we want to make it seem like we are on this journey with you. We are all learning together,” Moreno said. The journalism major’s vision for Sustain emerged last May, when she realized that the topic of sustainability was mainly being covered for older generations and not for younger people like herself. “When you think of [sustainability], you think of middle-aged moms that do yoga and drink smoothies,” She said. “Yeah, that’s sustainability, but what about the low-income community and kids at school that don’t have access to that lifestyle?” Along with co-founder Carissa Herb, Moreno began to assemble ideas for Sustain. After a logo was created, she posted an Instagram story asking for any potentially interested writers. A majority of the writers who now contribute to Sustain are St. John’s students or alumni, although Moreno was also able to PHOTOS COURTESY/REZA MORENO

recruit staff from places such as California and London. Writer Alyssa Ford, a senior communication arts and sociology major at St. John’s, says she wanted to work with Sustain because of its unique mission and the impact that it can have in today’s society. “Especially because of the political climate we currently find ourselves in, a lot of us are lost on how we can make a difference,” Ford said. “I’m happy that I get to make an impact and educate others through my writing.” Moreno credits her previous experience in blogging for giving her the appropriate resources to create content for the magazine. “Photographers, videographers, I already had all of that — but to run a media site, it was all a learning process,” she said. Sustain officially launched last month with a video collaboration with Los Angeles-based Sloane & Tate, a sustainable lingerie brand. “That was my vision, and I’m just so Top left to right: Kate Puthota, Fiona Palmer, Alyssa Ford. Bottom left to right: Carissa happy with how it came out,” Moreno Herb, Reza Moreno. said. “It is actually what I’m the most “The writer made her own graphic, and it’s lowing her college graduation. proud of, since it was the best way to launch our most-clicked article, actually,” she said. “I want it to be an empire,” she said. “I do our website with a storytelling video.” Sustain has also published features on oth- really want to see it printed one day, but in The magazine focuses on a variety of suser digital publishers, including activist and an eco-friendly way. I have a lot more ideas tainability topics, such as style, food and fashion blogger Hoda Katebi. to come, but those won’t be discussed until wellness. Moreno expressed a desire to collaborate the future.” Currently published pieces include features with other influential figures in the sustainMoreno isn’t the only one who wants to on eco-friendly restaurants and businesses in ability movement in the future. see Sustain grow in the near future. New York City and guides on uncommon “I would love to work Lauren Singer “I already have PR people emailing us, I’ve ways to easily reduce, reuse and recycle. from the Package Free Shop in Brooklyn,” had writers and a potential intern message One story in particular that Moreno said she said. “There are some nonprofits that I me,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of people at St. stood out is on sustainably-sourced tampons, would love to work with, like Adrian Greni- John’s come up to me and say, ‘I really love which are made from 100% organic cotton. er’s Lonely Whale.” what you’re doing, it makes me want to get While the sustainabil- more into sustainability.’” ity movement has been The team at Sustain have a lot to teach the growing rapidly among world about sustainability, and they’re ready young people and in ur- to spread the word. ban centers, there is still Ford hopes that readers will see just how work to be done when easy it can be to be environmentally conit comes to protecting scious in their daily lives. the environment on a “I want our readers to learn that sustainnational level. ability begins with steps like being mindful So what does the fu- of the companies you support and reducing ture hold for Sustain? your use of toxic things for the environment Moreno hopes to trans- like plastic,” Ford said. “If everyone takes form the magazine into these small steps, we will be that much closer a full-time career fol- to a sustainable future.”

Above, Sustain the Mag’s logo. From left to right: Alexis Gaskin, Sam Baselice, Nora Mitchell, Bridgette Rohl.

Opinion 11


Flames of the Torch

SGI e-board candidates need to challenge the status quo Managing Board XCV


Suzanne Ciechalski, Editor-in-Chief Angelica Acevedo, Managing Editor


Ariana Ortiz News Editor Isabella Bruni News Editor Derrell Bouknight Sports Editor Ariana Ortiz Features Editor Michael Ambrosino Entertainment Editor Morgan Mullings Opinion Editor Steven Verdile Design Editor Courtney Dixon Chief Copy Editor

Amanda Negretti Photo Editor Nick Bello Photo Editor Erin Bola Social Media Manager Jillian Ortiz Asst. News Editor Brendan Myers Asst. Sports Editor Samantha DeNinno Asst. Entertainment 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 Erin Sakalis Byron Campbell Helga Golemi Nneka Anozie Tauhid Dewam

Carolina Rodriguez Alexis Gaskin Rasheeda Campbell Amber Borden

Dr. Natalie Byfield Beatriz da Costa Madelyn Starks Naomi Arnot

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

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.

Election season is now upon us. With new an overarching call for change from stue-boards emerging to serve for the 2018- dents — many of which say the University 2019 academic year that will undoubtedly has perpetuated racism and bigotry through impact the climate on campus — and fur- its policies and the practices of some of its ther guide where it’s going — this is one of employees, among other concerns. the most important times, if not the most This goes back to a common theme we’ve important, in the year. covered and heard discussed throughout One of the most significant of these elec- the year: Students need more communications is that of Student Government Inc. tion and accountability from the Universi(SGI). ty — and one major way of ensuring that While many may not realize this, SGI is a is through the student body’s interactions huge force behind the student experience at with SGI. St. John’s and the most recognized organiWe can’t help but agree that elevating the zation on campus when it comes to repre- voices, concerns and goals of the student senting students’ voices to the University’s body is indeed the most important thing administration. that any e-board will tackle next year. On April 5 and 6, A lot has been said we will get to vote and promised, but into office those who there is much to be will represent our done, and it is our job ... if these leaders student body. And as students to hold choose inaction and this is not a simple our representatives empty words, the decision, nor is it accountable. status quo will only one we should take At the end of the remain. lightly. day, their influence Last week, we did a as leaders in SGI can story on the P.L.U.G. make real change hapand S.E.E.D. tickets, pen, as they work dithe first opposing tickets since the 2015- rectly with administration and faculty. 2016 academic year, as well as the indepenBut if these leaders choose inaction and dent sophomore senator Hannah Sesay. empty words, the status quo will only reWe were truly impressed to hear these main. candidates and their goals; especially beWe encourage all students who will be on cause a common theme among all of them campus tomorrow during common hour is the importance of inclusion, diversity to go to the DAC living room for the SGI and transparency. debate, which will be moderated by our edThis year, we have seen an increasing itor-in-chief, Suzanne Ciechalski. number of students take to organizing to Learn more about what these candidates challenge the status quo at the University. value, and what they can offer you; this is There have been protests and demonstra- an important step in letting your voices be tions, but most importantly, there has been heard.

Women’s History Month: The Man’s Role as a Feminist Erin Sakalis I recently saw a vintage Superman comic that was edited in order to get an important point across. Superman was pictured conversing with a female reporter. Superman’s speech bubble read, “So what is my role as a man in feminism?” and the reporter responded, “Simply put, your role is to listen to women’s concerns, challenge your male privilege, and hold other men accountable.” The more I thought about this comic, the more I realized that it perfectly addressed and simplified a societal issue. I am going to use the edited Superman comic as a template. Feminism is not an exclusive club in which men must have allotted spots. If a man wishes to support gender equality, he can use the power and the voice that he has already been privileged with. So how can men be feminists? If you truly want to listen to women, you cannot invalidate their feelings or experiences. You do not get to decide what sexism is and isn’t. You also can’t decide which causes

are worth fighting for. Lots of male anti-feminists ask why we feminists aren’t marching in Iran or Saudi Arabia. Most of us don’t have the resources to travel to foreign countries to try to create change in languages we don’t speak. But we do elevate the voices of women of all countries and colors as feminists. If you engage in those types of comparisons that purposely bring feminists down, you most likely don’t care about any women and you are part of the problem. We also have to acknowledge that although things aren’t perfect for men—including men of color, LGBT men and men living in poverty — being a man in itself holds unique privilege. There are layers of privilege that don’t cancel each other out. Multiple privileges can combine, just as disadvantages can. There are valid problems for men regarding incarceration (women are often given shorter prison sentences than men for equal crimes) and child custody, which generally tends to favor mothers, but in the strides towards equality, we seek to solve those

problems as well, even if they don’t benefit women directly. Holding other men accountable for their negative (or even violent) behavior may be the most important thing that men can do to support women’s rights and safety. If you see a friend continuously propositioning an uncomfortable woman at a party, confront him. If a male coworker is often “accidentally” grazing against the body of a female coworker, the rest of the men should collectively disapprove and confront him! No man should let this type of behavior slide. Don’t protect other men when you know that they are contributing to the problem. If you choose to have children, be a good dad. Raise your boys and girls with the same manners, values, and respect for each other. Instead of threatening your future daughter’s boyfriend with a shotgun, play an active role in creating a generation of sons that respects women and their boundaries. You also shouldn’t need a female child, mother, sister, girlfriend or wife to care about women’s rights — because women

should be defined as human individuals before they are defined by their relationship to you. Lastly, use your votes. Now more than ever, the stability of women’s relatively recently earned rights are eroding. Many feminists say that we don’t need men to support our cause in order to be successful, but the unfortunate reality is that often, when men are involved, women’s causes are taken more seriously. The majority of our government officials are men, and we need their support too. Essentially, Superman isn’t being asked to picket on the streets or to wear a pink cat hat, but he is being asked to respect and listen to women. He is being asked to realize that although things aren’t ideal for all men, that we must level that playing field first and then focus on perfecting conditions for society as a whole. He is, most importantly, being asked to do his part to stop the toxic mentalities and behaviors that have become all too tolerated in our society. We need men to help us and partner with us to break that chain.

12 Opinion

T H E C A R D I B E FFECT b y M a d e l y n S t a rk s A few months ago, a video surfaced of Cardi B discussing why she, as a Dominican-Trinidadian woman, is allowed to use the n-word, in her music and in her daily dialect. In an interview with DJ Vlad, Cardi did not identify as black, even though she is, but also stated that other minorities should be able to say it because all minorities were treated horribly by white and European populations, during the time the word was introduced.

then be categorized as Afro-Latina, because her race is black but she has a Hispanic heritage.

This response sparked a debate on social media on whether it’s appropriate for Latinx or Hispanic people to use the word. According to the American Sociological Association, race is a social construct in order to categorize humans into specific populations. Race can be determined by a person’s physical appearance, family history or ancestral geographic location. Ethnicity is normally based upon a common trait of a specific area or group of people, such as a culture, heritage, language or dialect. Cardi B would

Due to social class, institutionalized racism and slavery, the n-word was used as a degrading term in order to psychologically enslave black people into thinking they were less than human. Today, black people (especially in the Hip-Hop/Rap industry) use the word with an “-a,” in order to prove that black people are no longer psychologically enslaved and we choose to profit and give power to the word the same way white people profited and powered off of our bodies and labor.

As a black American, I honestly don’t care if Cardi does not personally identify as black. But how is she then going to associate with all the cultural benefits of being black? Due to this understanding, if you are not of the black race, you are not allowed to say the n word (this also includes all non-black minorities).

A C T I V E L Y E N D I NG IT by Amber Borden Last April I handed in a research assignment that has led me on a journey to fighting for black empowerment. “The Notorious Ubiquity of N---er” was a compilation of reports from 100 St. John’s students (black and non-black/ male and female) expressing to me their history with the n-word and the reasoning as to why they say it or choose not to. The answers students shared with me were shocking. A majority of students were comfortable using the n-word, or they believed that it was wrong to say but still chose to say it. A minority of the students who did not say the n-word or thought that it is wrong to say gave me the push that I needed in knowing that I was not alone in my stance. Over summer 2017, I took my re-

Black History Month may be over, but the conversation continues long after February. This word, perhaps the most heinous in the entire English language, regularly appears in pop culture and in regular conversation among people of various races and cultures. Is that okay? When four Opinion writers and one sociology professor — all black women — came to me with their viewpoints on the use of the n-word, I felt compelled to share the conversation with the rest of the student body. After all, as a black woman on a very diverse campus, not a day goes by where I don’t hear the n-word. Yet, even in 2018, it’s not “just a word.”

— Morgan Mullings, Opinon Editor

search assignment further and decided to create a campaign called “Ban The N-Word.” I made a video series on YouTube that shows the viewer the problem and a solution. This video series corresponded with a website fleshing out the history of the n-word and ways to #breakthehabit. The NAACP’s (National Association of the Advancement of Colored People) “Bury The N-word” campaign in 2007 symbolically buried the n-word in Detroit during its annual convention. The beautiful truth is that I am not the first person to create a campaign or a website wanting to ban the n-word. Even though banning the n-word is not popular because people make their own choices, I believe it is needed.

N O T E V E N I N A SONG? b y B e a t r i z d a Co s t a Would the world be better as a whole if nobody, regardless of race, said it? I feel comfortable saying probably. However, as a sophomore in college I realize how unrealistic it is to ask the world’s population to not say it. Consequently, I also understand that expecting only black people to use the n-word is unrealistic as well. I understand that a lot of people truly “don’t see color” so they don’t see the harm in using the term despite not being black.

However, as a person who has heard the n-word too many times to count from people who aren’t black, whether it was a part of a song or not, the first thing I feel is dread, and soon after that I feel uncomfortable. I see how my words may be confusing, however, this won’t take away the feelings a Black person has when a non-Black person says “my n***a” or anything similar. Among us, when a black person uses it I don’t believe the black

Opinion community is reminded of the inhumane actions their ancestors suffered. However, when it leaves the mouth of a non-black person I do think that the discrimination black people suffered is one of many things that pops into a black person’s mind. The fact that my generation’s favorite artists use it frequently in their music doesn’t help either but it is a testament to how strongly the black community feels. I just believe that the

safest route in the increasingly troubling times we live in is that if anyone is going to use it, it should be black people who want to reclaim its meaning. No matter the excuses people may have for using it, whether it’s because their black friends gave them the “okay,” or because they want to and they won’t stop using it, it usually ends in the estrangement among friends and the questioning of one’s real intentions behind the use of the word.

IT CA N’ T B E R E C L A I M E D b y Rasheeda Campbell My grandparents hate this word, my parents hate this word, and so do I. No one, not even black people, should use the n-word. Using this word with an “a” at the end of it, is just the same as using it with an “er” at the end of it. I understand where people of my race are coming from when they say that they are trying to take back the word and make it our own, but the way I see it, the word is always demeaning. I also do not see the getting upset at other using the word because they are probably just

logic in races for for one, trying to

imitate us, and two, I find it much worse for a person within the same race as mine to call me this word than for someone of a different race to. It cannot be detached from its history. What happened to the honor and pride we had when we would just call each other brothers and sisters? There are countless other words in the dictionary that we can use instead of the n-word. The way we treat each other and the things that we say to one another has an effect on how we progress in this world. Can’t we just call our friends, “my friends” instead of “my n***as”?

THE P OL IT I C S O F T H E N - W O R D b y Dr. Nata lie P. Byfield A s s ociate P rofessor, Depa r t m e n t o f S o c iology & Anthropology When the word n****r or its derivative n***a comes out of the mouth of a black person, I let them flow around me, mostly because I get it. Black people did not create this socio-economic and political global system that produces anti-blackness, so their use of the original word or its spawn does not violate other black people. Some black people argue that our position in this global system has advanced so much since the slave trade and slavery that we can reclaim the word, give it new meaning. We end it with the letter “a” to signify a friend, blow it up in our music and call it our own. But, the use of the original n-word by white people symbolically represents the dehumanization, oppression, subjugation and the denial of personhood that black people globally have endured and resisted for hundreds of years. I recall as a child in Jamaica my parents trying to take some of the hurt out of this kind of white violence by telling me, “look it up in the dictionary, you’ll see, you don’t have to be black to be a n****r.” After moving to the U.S., I learned that black kids here were told something similar:

“N****rs ain’t always colored people.” It still hurt deeply. Not even the “-a” at the end can remove the violence when it flows from the lips of a white person, whether friend or foe. Not even the “-a” at the end when we use it in our music gives me enough space from the original intent. The constant flow of the words n****r and n***a in the ether that is the national culture of America or the culture of the community that produces each of us, or our individual consciousness confuses some white people who want the right to say it to black people to unleash more violence or because the black person is “a friend.” To this I say no. I have a similar but less strong reaction when other people of color use it, particularly those who only see blackness in mono and can’t see blackness in stereo. When black people use those words, I let them flow, mostly because I get it. But, inside I still cringe. The lashes of dehumanization, oppression, subjugation and the denial of personhood haven’t been forgotten and the global system that produced them still exists, so my body still anticipates the pain when the whip meets the skin.

The N-Word Throughout History by Morgan Mullings 1619-1775 Colonial settlers used the n-word to describe enslaved blacks and taunt weaker white people. 1900 In the early 1900s, the word is used by the Klu Klux Klan against black people in the north & segregated south. Songs, advertisements and pop culture include the word in the lyrics and in the title, accompanied by the rise of the use of blackface. 1966 Muhammad Ali refuses to be drafted. “They never called me n****r.” 1972 “Superfly” movie included black actors using the n-word in a comedic fashion. 1979 Richard Pryor’s comedy album is titled “Supern****r.” 1988 N***az Wit Attitude (N.W.A.) released their first album “Straight Outta Compton” which featured 46 uses of the n-word with an “-a.” 1994 The movie “Pulp Fiction” included a white actor using the n-word with an “-er.” 1995 O.J. Simpson’s murder trial turns in his favor after audiotapes aired investigator Mark Furhman regularly using the n-word. 2005 Kanye West releases “Gold Digger” with the lyric, “But she ain’t messin’ with no broke n***as.” 2006 Michael Richards, best known as Kramer from “Seinfeld,” goes on a racist rant during his standup using n-word with an “-er.” 2007 NAACP holds a funeral for the n-word. 2014 NFL starts penalizing use of n-word on the field, but not other slurs. 2015 President Obama uses the n-word publicly to discuss the issue during a podcast. 2017 Piers Morgan blames hip hop for spread of the n-word. 2017 Bill Maher, white late-night host on HBO, says, “Work in the fields? Senator, I’m a house n****r. No, it’s a joke.” 2018 White Princeton University professor uses the n-word in a class exercise.


14 Features


Introducing Nyla Smith

The St. John’s alumna heading the Hustle Hard Campaign Morgan Mullings Being away from home for college puts a lot of pressure on students. Nyla Smith, 22, came to St. John’s prepared for that pressure, on top of the challenges that her mental and physical disabilities sometimes present. But she didn’t let that stop her from succeeding. She graduated in 2016 — she says she’s the youngest student to ever graduate from the University at 19 — and now she is the founder and director of her own non-profit to help students who are going through the same thing. The Hustle Hard Campaign is Smith’s initiative to help students with disabilities. Smith has been diagnosed with ADHD, panic disorder, major depression, OCD and Chrohn’s Disease. “I spent my first year at St. John’s faking it,” Smith said. She didn’t want to ask for accommodations, even though the culture shock of being away from home was preventing her from doing well in school. “It just wasn’t worth it,” she said. During her second year at SJU, effectively her senior year, she says she became a “504 student.” This means that her needs were completely met based on her disability — she took all of her tests in private rooms, was given extra time, had homework extensions, and was not penalized for being tardy or absent from class. “St. John’s has some of the best resources for those with disabilities, so that helped as a model for Hustle Hard,” Smith said. One of her sorority sisters had a connection with a high school principal who wanted Smith to speak at an assembly. “Everybody was crying,” she said. “I thought ‘wow, I can’t just let this sit.’” Her first speaking event propelled her into what she now calls her ministry. With the help of her family, Smith founded the Hustle Hard Campaign and it became a 501c3 — also known as a non-profit organization — in 2017. The organization creates resources for students with disabilities in middle school, high school and college. Hustle Hard facilitates student-run clubs where they have support groups and raise awareness for the many health issues that hinder the educational experience. Smith feels that she was destined to do a lot of things, but because of her condition, a teacher told her to pick something other than the sciences. “How dare you, first of all.” she responded. In high school, she enrolled in a college program at Richland Collegiate in Dallas, Texas, where she earned her associate’s degree in science. “Being on a community college campus, it was mostly immigrants and first-generation students. They had a different type of hunger. They checked my privilege,” Smith said. She decided that her disability would not be a barrier. “Whatever God has for me, I don’t have to ‘fight’ for it… I have to be diligent. I don’t believe in excuses.” Smith says she is glad that God has called her to so many different things.

At Hustle Hard, she wants to make sure that kids with disabilities have someone to talk to, that they have the home and support system that they need. She says that many of them suffer from trying to fit into a social structure that just isn’t built for them. “I don’t care what city I’m in. If I’m able, I will make my way out there,” she said. As a child, Smith saw herself being a famous actor, an author or a scientist. She wrote poems, starred in school plays, and did science experiments with her mother at home. “I’ve always been a nerd,” she says, adding that her learning disabilities never stopped her from entering St. John’s, degree in hand, and graduating at the age of 19. Now, she’s just been accepted to a medical program at the University of Vermont. Despite the new journey, Hustle Hard is still her primary project and she sees the organization in every school in the U.S., with multiple partnerships with educational companies. “People have to put their health on the back burner,” Smith says. There’s no way that she’s going to let a PHOTO COURTESY/NYLA SMITH physical or mental health issue stop students around her from being given the tools to Nyla Smith, right, aims to support students who have disabilities with her non-profit. hustle hard.

Women’s Health

helga golemi

In honor of March being Women’s History Month, this week’s column is going to focus specifically on women’s health. Keep reading to clarify any misconceptions you may have had regarding your overall well-being.

“Wearing bras causes breast cancer.” Fiction. This myth is by far the most widely accepted by all women. According to the American Cancer Society, there is absolutely no sufficient evidence to prove that bras accelerate or cause breast cancer in women. A 2014 study published by the American Association for Cancer Research supported no claims that breast cancer risk was linked to underwire bras. The study did find, however, that overweight women were more at risk of developing breast cancer and women who are overweight tend to have larger breasts and wear a bra, giving an insight as to why this myth may have grown of proportion.

Dispelling the myths “Women should start seeing a gynecologist after age 21.” Fiction. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that young ladies take their first trip to the gynecologist’s office around the ages of 13 and 15 years old. Why so young? Well, most girls start their menstrual cycle as early as 10 years old. Once we get our period, our bodies undergo tremendous physical changes. Therefore, seeing the gynecologist is especially important not only for understanding our new bodies, but also crucial to becoming well informed about the safe and preventive measures we can take when choosing to engage in intimate interaction. In addition, a visit to the gynecologist every year can reduce your risk for most cervical cancers through vaccination against human papillomavirus, or HPV, a sexually transmitted infection generally linked to these types of cancers. While most doctors recommend per-

forming a pap smear (an examination to detect the early onset of cervical cancer) after the age of 21, that doesn’t mean you should wait that long to visit your Ob/ Gyn.

“The risks of mortality after a heart attack are becoming more common among young women.”

Fact. Although most cases of heart attacks are generally seen in older men, new studies have shown that there is an increased risk for developing heart disease in young women over the age of 20. This is due to lifestyle habits in early life such as smoking, drinking, or unhealthy eating habits that leads to the onset of heart disease. Furthermore, seeing as heart attacks in women yield symptoms much different than those in men, a woman could be having a heart attack and not even know it, making it far deadlier than cancer due to its difficulty to detect.

Sports 15


The Future of St. John’s at Madison Square Garden

Concerns from fans have grown about the Red Storm’s MSG presence Nick Bello

then No. 4 Duke, a game in which the RedStorm upset the Blue Devils, nearly 20,000 fans watched as St. John’s walked away with a four-point victory. These worries from fans are also partly due to misinformation about the process which St. John’s uses to obtain these games. “MSG games are scheduled on a year to year basis,” St. John’s Athletic Director Anton Goff said in a statement to The Torch. “It is a combination of who we play and the availability of the Garden.” With the Garden hosting numerous other college games this season, as well as being the home arena for both the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers, the scheduling process was difficult. The day St. John’s played Seton Hall, the Knicks also had a game against the Boston Celtics five hours after the players walked off the court. For years, the Garden has been a part of the

culture at St. John’s. It plays a big factor in recruiting players, many of whom come to St. John’s dreaming of playing at one of the biggest arenas in all of sports. For fans, the experience is one of the best in college basketball. Thousands flock from all over the country to witness a Red Storm basketball game at Madison Square Garden, where renovations finished in 2013. This gives the Red Storm a major advantage over their opponent, one that Mullin knows all too well. When asked about the Garden crowd after the loss to Seton Hall, Mullin stated his love for the arena. “It was a great crowd and I wish we would have given [the crowd] a little more to cheer about,” he said. “I don’t know what else you’d rather do on a Saturday afternoon than play at Madison Square Garden. I can’t think of anything in the world.”

It’s a late Saturday afternoon as Chris Mullin, head coach of the St. John’s basketball team, strolls into the media room at Madison Square Garden. His team has just lost in overtime to Big East rival Seton Hall in front of a packed crowd at the arena. What’s better than traveling to Midtown Manhattan and playing basketball at the World’s Most Famous Arena on a weekend? Mullin asks himself the question, then smiles as he tries to formulate an answer. The game was one of five regular season matches that the Red Storm played at Madison Square Garden this season. St. John’s, who plays the majority of its home games at Carnesecca Arena on campus, has played at the Garden since 1931. In some years, the Red Storm have played a good portion of their games at the Garden. In the 1950-51 season, the team played 19 TORCH PHOTO/NICK BELLO TORCH PHOTO/NICK BELLO games there. In recent years, the most games St. John’s has played at the Garden was 10 in the 201011 season. With the Red Storm playing just five of its 16 home games at Madison Square Garden this season, fans have expressed their concerns about future games there. Many of the complaints come as a result of a Red Storm team that has failed to produce like it has in the past. This year the Red Storm finished with a 2-3 record at the Garden, the losses coming from big-name conference opponents like Georgetown, Villanova and Seton Hall. These three games were closely contested, drawing over 45,000 combined attendees who were not disappointed with the quality of basketball they got to witness. Strong crowds for the games at the Garden shouldn’t worry fans. At this year’s highly-profiled matchup between St. John’s and Shamorie Ponds pumps up the Madison Square Garden crowd during their win over Duke.

Looking Ahead •

March 22: Women’s Basketball vs. Duquesne

March 22: Day One: Fencing NCAA Championships, University Park, PA.

March 23: Baseball vs. Binghamton

March 24: Track & Field, Penn Challenge

March 24: Men’s Tennis vs. Wagner at National Tennis Center

March 24: Women’s Tennis at Penn

March 24: Men’s Lacrosse vs. Hofstra

March 24: Men’s Tennis vs. Marquette (National Tennis Center)

March 24: Baseball vs. Binghamton

March 24: Softball Doubleheader vs. Creighton

March 25: Creighton



March 31: Providence



April 7: Day One: Men’s Golf Towson Spring Invitational (Grasonville, MD.)

Winning Mentality Starts With Team Positivity Gina Varvaro

The St. John’s University men’s basketball team started off the 2017-18 season with a bang. Their 10-2 record was the program’s second-best start to a season in 32 years. But their success was fleeting. The team eventually spiraled into an 11-game losing streak, putting them in last place in the Big East. They were not able to win a game for six weeks. The team always knew its potential, but getting all the parts to come together was something they struggled with. “We always work hard, always believed in each other,” said junior forward Kassoum Yakwe. “We know that we have a team that can make it far. But sometimes things happen.” At a sold out Madison Square Garden on Feb. 3, St. John’s faced off with No. 4 Duke. The Red Storm and the Blue Devils kept the game close, with multiple lead changes and swings taking the game down to the last second. St. John’s stunned the crowd of over 19,000 fans with an 81-77 win, putting an end to their month-long skid. The season-changing wins didn’t stop there. Four days later, the

Red Storm stunned No. 1 Villanova with a 79-75 victory on the road. In the three weeks that followed, St John’s secured wins against Marquette, DePaul and Butler. They went from a team that couldn’t win a single game in conference play to defeating some of the best teams in the country. “We got off to a good start and went on a losing streak, part of it was selfishness because players didn’t trust each other,” said senior guard Bashir Ahmed, who has started in both years since transferring to St. John’s. “We weren’t playing together as a team.” Team work and positivity is nothing new when it comes to winning. Experts in the field of psychology argue that mental attitudes are directly tied into a winning mindset. Psychologist Jim Taylor, who is also a former athlete and renowned writer, believes every team should create a culture that sets the values, attitudes and goals. “All of these qualities of a culture have real implications for how the team functions, how its members get along, and, crucially, how the athletes on the team perform and the results they produce individually and collectively,” Taylor wrote in a 2016 article for PsychologyToday.com. “When a team


St. John’s coaching staff cheers on the team during a game against Providence.

has a defined culture that is understood and accepted by all of its members, they feel an implicit pressure (in the good sense) to support that culture.” Members of the athletic department who were around the team stressed the importance of positive team morale. “Mindset should always be positive, because the mind drives the body,” said Michael Compton, who has been the team’s strength and conditioning coach since 2014. “The more mentally prepared and ready a team is on game day, the bigger the chance

they come away with a victory.” Two weeks removed from the end of the season, the Red Storm will soon focus its attention on next year, Chris Mullin’s fourth as head coach. “The biggest thing the team is striving for next season is to play hard but smart,” said freshman forward Boubacar Diakite. “Play together as a team and win games.” Taylor went on to assert that team culture should be established for everybody, not just small groups. Having subsets of dominant players can create exclusivity and negativity.



Women Move on to Round of 16 in WNIT Derrell Bouknight With the score favoring St. John’s by three points with eight seconds remaining in regulation, Lauren Whitlatch rose into the air with the ball in her hand. A minute earlier, she hit a long shot after a steal to cut a six-point deficit in half. After scoring 12 of Penn’s first 24 points, the crowd held its breath as the senior from Indiana released the game’s biggest shot, one that would tie the game and give the Quakers a chance to possibly advance in the postseason. Instead of the bottom of the net, the ball fell into the hands of Tiana England, who raced up the court and evaded defenders as the clock expired in the Red Storm’s 53-48 win at Carnesecca Arena Monday night. With the win, St. John’s (18-14) will move on to host Duquesne in the WNIT Round of 16 on Thursday. “I thought we did a terrific job at really staying poised at times even though we could have lost our composure,” Head Coach Joe Tartamella said after the game. “In a big moment, it’s a big win.” In a game in which both teams failed to shoot above 40 percent from the field, the Red Storm found ways to overcome their struggles.

Led by 12 points from Big East Freshman of the Year Qadashah Hoppie, the team was able to come out on top despite a game Tartamella called “ugly.” St. John’s jumped out to a 14-8 lead at the end of the first period, an advantage that quickly disappeared over the next 10 minutes.

I thought we did a terrific job at really staying poised at times even though we could have lost our composure. Joe Tartamella

Whitlatch and the low post combination of Eleah Parker and Michelle Nwokedi forced turnovers and used their length to disrupt the Red Storm, a reason for their eight points and five turnovers in the quarter. “We weren’t scoring well,” Tartamella said of his team’s performance. “Their length bothered us a bit, but I thought we adjusted enough.”

Akina Wellere, who scored seven of her 10 points in the second half, credited conference play as a way the Red Storm viewed Penn. “Like any other team in the Big East, they’re going to have a post that’s a lot bigger than the post that we have or they’re going to be bigger than our guards,” she said. “It’s about always using our speed. We had to utilize it by getting around them and looking for the other post players to step up and drop off other guards who were open.” In the second half, Tartamella elected to use a full-court press. The result were positive, as it forced many of Penn’s 17 turnovers. While it did not stop the Quakers from scoring, it did limit them. Parker finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds, but Whitlatch was held to just three points on 1-4 shooting in the final 20 minutes of action. The Red Storm also raked up four more steals after halftime and eight for the game. “I thought we did a good job [with the pressure],” Tartamella said. “Their point guard is a veteran kid who is very good. But we felt we could hurt them a little bit if we didn’t allow her to bring it up. I thought we did a good enough job there.” Thursday’s bout with Duquesne will be just the third all time between the two schools.

The last meeting was at Carnesecca Arena on Nov. 16, 2016. The Dukes won that game 71-65, as well as the previous year’s match up at home in Pittsburgh. But for Tartamella, now in his sixth season at St. John’s, a win at this point in the year represents an opportunity for growth and experience. “Any time in the postseason for these players in that locker room to get more opportunities in situations like this where they have to make plays and be ready for postseason to be able to survive and move on to the next round, it’s important.”

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

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.