The Torch 101:03 — 2023 Year In Review

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INSIDE THE ISSUE torchonline.com VOL. 101:03 The award-winning independent student newspaper of St. John’s University 2023 King Disease III Review: A Master Lyricist Remains at the Top of his Craft Stormin' Loud 2023 Stormin' Loud 2023 Year in review St. John's University Celebrates its "Best Last Day Ever" Mike Anderson out at st. john's amid disappointing results
Take Your Studies to the Skies: The Benefits Of Studying Abroad
Torch Photo / Olivia Rainson Torch Photo / Sara Kiernan

Unable To Provide Air Conditioning, St. John’s Offers Resident Students Ice Cream Instead

The University’s decision came after a three-day heatwave.

The St. John’s University Office of Residence Life offered free ice cream for resident students in response to a lack of air conditioning in the residence halls during the three-day heatwave. Two ice cream trucks were set up across Montgoris Dining Hall and behind Donovan Hall from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on April 14.

Temperatures on the Queens campus have reached highs of 86 degrees the week of April 9 and have left students hot and uncomfortable in their rooms.

“My room has been extremely hot this week. Even after using a fan, it hasn’t made the temperature any better,” said O’Connor Hall resident Sophie Folman in a text. “It’s frustrating that with the money students pay to live on campus, the school’s heating and cooling can’t afford to keep up with the weather.”

The announcement was made in an email sent to all resident students from Vice President of Student Success and Retention Strategy Sarah Kelly at 2 p.m. on April 16.

“I know for students who live on campus, the temperature variations over the next few weeks will be particularly challenging. I also know that this week many of you have been experiencing uncomfortably warm conditions in your rooms, and I’m sorry for that,” said Kelly in the email. “Unfortunately, Facilities is not able to quickly

move air conditioning and heat given out physical plant.” “Making the campuswide switch from heating to air conditioning is a time-consuming process,” said Brian Browne, University spokesperson. “Once the switch is made, it cannot be simply switched back to heating.”

“The Facilities Department monitors the longrange weather forecast and schedules the campus-wide transition when there are sustained daytime temperatures in the 70s or more,” Browne added. “This unusual three-day heatwave is an anomaly for early April, and we need to preserve the ability to provide heat when cooler temperatures return, as is anticipated for next week.”

“It’s very typical,” said junior Adrianna Diab of the University’s decision to offer ice cream to students. “It’s a nice distraction, but I think [the school] is avoiding confrontation through ice cream.”

“Ice cream and vegan ices were provided as a gesture of goodwill,” said Browne.

“It’s not a fair trade-off to give students one free ice cream cone for air conditioning, but if they’re not going to turn on the AC, I’d rather get free ice cream,” McCarthy said.

According to Browne, the Facilities Services department will provide air-conditioning in the buildings no later than May 8, just three days before most students must move out of the residence halls.

“I think that it’s nice on their part, and it’s a great way to cool off in this heat,” said sophomore Bella Batrez.

“I realize it is not the same as providing air conditioning, but I hope it is a helpful respite for at least a bit,” said Kelly in the email.

The University currently has two buildings that offer air conditioning in the Tobin College of Business and Carnesecca Arena. The building hours have been extended until 8 p.m. [on April 16] to keep students cool.

Browne said that most University buildings can only run to provide either heating or cooling services at a time.

“Making the campuswide switch from heating to air conditioning is a time-consuming and complicated process that requires draining pipes, filling them with chilled water, testing the overall system for leaks, checking the system functionality, making any necessary repairs to pipes and valves, which require the assistance of external vendors,” Browne noted. “It is important to realize that once the switch to air conditioning is made, it cannot be simply switched back to heating.”

Following record-high temperatures across New York City on the week of April 12, temperatures will fall into the 60-degree range starting April 17, according to AccuWeather. Temperatures are not expected to exceed 70 degrees until mid-May.

CCPS Opens Deckinger Center for Integrated Advertising Communications

The Deckinger family’s contributions advance the University’s advertising program.

The Drs. E. Lawrence and Adele V. Deckinger Center for Integrated Advertising Communications at St. John’s University opened Sept. 20, making it the newest addition to the Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies (CCPS). The center is equipped with Mac stations, Cintiq drawing monitors, format printers and video display screens.

Dorah Ganchoso, senior advertising communications major and president of Category 5 — the student-run ad agency at St. John’s — shared her experience with The Torch. “The opening ceremony of the new Deckinger Center consisted of immense gratitude and inspiration. It was great to hear multiple CCPS faculty speak so highly of the advertising and PR programs that St. John’s offers,” Ganchoso said. “The Deckinger Center is exactly what Category 5 needs in order to be in the right direction. I’m excited to lead this agency knowing that we have the tools and resources to succeed.”

The late Adele V. Deckinger and Elliot Lawrence Deckinger, Ph.D. — who studied and taught at St. John’s — passed away in 2002 and 2008. A year before his death, the Deckinger family founded the E. Lawrence and Adele V. Deckinger Advertising Fund.

“We are so thankful to the Deckinger family for their generous donation, as well as their faith in St. John’s, its advertising program and most importantly its students,” Ganchoso said. “This specialized learning environment gives students the opportunity to receive hands-on experience like you would in any advertising agency.”

Deckinger worked for the Biow Company and Grey Advertising from 1937 until 1982, when he became a Marketing professor at the University, retiring in 2007, about one year before his passing. While teaching at the University, Deckinger managed to aid in bringing the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) to the University. Deckinger was awarded for his efforts with the President’s Medal.

Ganchoso was part of the NSAC at the University last year. “That was a great experience and such a wonderful opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the advertising industry,” Ganchoso explained. Her team placed third in the region.

Following the center’s opening,

associate professor John A. Swan Jr. announced the new Advancing Advertising Scholarship Fund. The center is intended to further opportunities in the field while honoring the late professor and his wife for their contributions to the University.

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Olivia Seaman | april 14, 2023 Dea HOxHa |
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St. John’s Plan To Retain Staten Island Students

The Staten Island campus will shut its doors in Spring 2024, but the University hopes to transition students to Queens.

When St. John’s University’s Staten Island campus closes after the Spring 2024 semester, the school’s administration hopes the freshmen and sophomores currently studying there will relocate to the Queens campus. The University has operated a satellite campus in Staten Island for the last 50 years, with the main campus located in Jamaica, Queens.

To make that proposition feasible for Staten Island students, St. John’s is offering a financial aid package that goes beyond what the University typically offers. The aid is supported by the “Staten Island Heritage Endowment Fund,” which allocates $1 million in scholarships to Staten Island students who transition to Queens, the University announced in a press release.

“We’re putting together a pretty enticing package for them to be able to come,” said St. John’s President Brian Shanley on the likelihood of Staten Island students continuing their studies in Queens, in a January 2023 interview. “If we’re going to get them to stay at St. John’s and graduate, we think we’re going to have to find a way to get them to live here.”

University spokesperson Brian Browne said that St. John’s is “more or less” offering free housing to Staten Island students who want to live on the Queens campus starting in the Fall 2024 semester, but noted that the details were still being ironed out as of January 2023.

The University is conducting focus groups and student surveys to gauge interest, but Shanley said it was too soon to tell how many students will take up the offer.

When contacted in April 2023, the University would not confirm that Staten Island students are being offered free housing, despite Browne’s earlier comments.

“It is hard to speak of specific benefits as each student and their situation varies,” Browne said in an email. “Regular outreach and engagement with impacted students are ongoing, and the University is making various accommodations for Staten Island Campus students based upon feedback from impacted students and their families during multiple listening sessions.”

The University hopes that the transition from Staten Island to Queens will be smooth, since all academic programs offered on Staten Island are simultaneously offered on the Queens campus. To limit the disruption of students’ academic careers, St. John’s is offering accelerated degree programs, five-year programs and summer courses to Staten Island students.

“The Academic Task Force and multiple members of the St. John’s community are working individually with each student to make the transition to Queens as smooth and transparent as possible either as a new resident student in Queens or as a commuter,” Browne added.

“From a lot of the underclassmen that I’ve heard from, if they’ve not had the opportunity to graduate early, they are seriously thinking and probably going to the Queens campus,” said Ang Brusgard, secretary of The Bolt, the student multimedia production organization of the Staten Island campus, in a February 2023 phone interview.

Staten Island students are being told that their tuition — which is significantly cheaper than that of students on the Queens campus — will remain the same if they relocate. This reflects the University’s initial statement on an FAQ page titled “Staten Island Teach-Out,” where St. John’s says students will keep their current tuition, including aid for any program-specific rate differentials, if they remain continuously-enrolled in a degree

program.

“It’s the freshman and sophomores that we’re concerned about,” Shanley said. “We want to retain those students.”

The decision to close the Staten Island campus was preceded by internal discussions regarding the campus’ future that spanned at least a decade, according to Shanley. Before that, the University did not renew the lease on its Hauppauge campus in Long Island in July 2022 — which replaced the Oakdale campus that was sold in 2016 for $22.5 million.

“We still have a footprint in Manhattan,” Shanley said. “And I think we need to think about the viability of that footprint going forward.”

St. John’s is shifting its focus towards the Queens campus, but it remains to be seen whether freshman and sophomore Staten Island students will finish their programs at the University.

“I think that the University’s resources are better used in Queens than Staten Island, given the number of students on Staten Island,” Shanley said.

St. John’s Unveils LGBTQ+ Center’s New Home

The center provides an open environment for queer students on campus.

The St. John’s University LGBTQ+ Center opened Sept. 30. Located in St. John’s Hall Room 216, the center provides an open and welcoming environment for queer students on campus.

The center is a “University-wide resource and research hub for students, faculty and employees,” according to the University’s website, “Its purpose is to organize, coordinate, and innovate LGBTQIA+ issues in the St. John’s University ecosystem to create and sustain an open and welcoming environment for LGBTQIA+ students, faculty and employees.”

Founded and co-directed by Drs. Candice Roberts and Shanté Paradigm Smalls, the LGBTQ+ center is the fruition of their efforts. As the “faces of the center,” Roberts and Smalls have spent years assessing the needs of queer students that failed to be met on campus, they told The Torch.

“In 2019, we started to want a cohesive, connected and visible LGBTQ presence on campus,” Roberts said. “We wanted to do something bigger. We wanted to do a little bit more.”

The center was officially named in Fall 2021, but did not have a home until today. “Last year was our year of trying to get our name out there and trying to do more events,” they continued. Many

of the LGBTQ+ Center’s events included film screenings and gatherings in conjunction with the LGBTQ+ student organization Spectrum. The center not only is a space for queer students, but also is a place of employment. The center offers work-study and graduate assistantships for interested students. The positions are open to all eligible students regardless of orientation, but employees must “demonstrate knowledge (or desire to learn) of marginalized communities and historically underrepresented groups,” according to the employment listing.

Sophomore undecided major Irene Barlis is an undergraduate student worker for the LGBTQ+ center.

“I usually sit at the front desk, and if anyone needs anything they come in for any resources they need,” Barlis told The Torch at the center’s opening. Some of these needs include instructing students on the school’s chosen name policy, providing an all-gender bathroom and being a sanctuary on campus.

“Students can do their work if they want to, or if they need a breath throughout the day. If they feel there’s anything we can add

to our space, they can do that too,” Barlis continued. “I hope it keeps growing. I honestly didn’t know about it until I applied to work here, so I hope it grows and people can know about and utilize it more.”

As for the center’s future, Dr. Roberts believes it is bright. “We’re looking forward to building something with all the St. John’s community members.”

They shared their vision, which includes increasing their resources in order to “create and innovate” a research hub for St. John’s students as well as visiting scholars.

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Olivia Seaman | Sept. 30, 2022 Brady Snyder | april 19, 2023 Torch Photo / Brady Snyder Torch Photo / Olivia Seaman

Relay For Life: Students Walk to Combat Cancer

St. John’s University teamed up with the American Cancer Society to raise over $40,000.

St. John’s University and the American Cancer Society (ACS) held its 18th annual Relay For Life event on April 21 in Carnesecca Arena. One of the world’s largest peer-to-peer fundraising events, Relay For Life takes place across the nation and has been raising money for 35 years. From 6 p.m. to midnight, students from various organizations at St. John’s relayed in Carnesecca Arena to raise over $40,000, according to Relay for Life chair Kayla Fittipaldi.

Fittipaldi shared a statement to The Torch about why she is so devoted to the mission of cancer research.

“I started relaying eight years ago after both my

grandparents were diagnosed with cancer. To me, Relay means hope and healing, and it builds strong bonds within a community,” Fittipaldi said. “Overall, I couldn’t be more proud of how this year’s event turned out.” Fittipaldi said this year’s Relay for Life had almost 500 participants.

Anne Baghdadi, a senior club member of Relay For Life, has been involved with ACS since she was 15 years old.

“Relay For Life is a school-wide event where all clubs and organizations are encouraged to come and fundraise in support of the American Cancer Society. We like to highlight the survivors and caretakers of our community by having laps for them,” Baghdadi said. “It’s great to have the community come together and fundraise for something so much bigger than St. John’s.”

Before the walking began, Relay For Life’s ACS Staff Partner Danni Frank also announced Delta Phi Epsilon raised the most money for a single organization at St. John’s with a total of $6,630.

Another speech was given by the Student Government, Inc. (SGi) President-Elect, Nawsin Kamal, who described the event as “a time where we come together

as a community to remember those we have lost and to support those fighting cancer today.”

To kick off the walk, a presentation honoring those lost to cancer, survivors and fighters was shown to remind of everyone the event’s purpose.

Members of the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity — Liam Canavan and Dylan Owen-Cessna — described why they relay.

“We are staying the whole time to fundraise as much as possible, but the main point we are here for is to show support,” Canavan said. “This event is really a testament to everyone’s will.

When asked why his organization is participating in this event, Owen-Cessna said “we walk for everybody who can’t walk with us.”

Sophomores Erin McRae and Kate Nietsch walked for “Anna’s Army”— a group dedicated to their friend who is currently battling cancer. “We have been using Facebook fundraising and receiving support from our family and friends,” Nietsch said. “We raised a lot more than expected so I am really proud of everyone.”

Zach Simpson, a junior and member of the Sigma Pi fraternity, gave a statement on why he participated in Relay For Life. “I know we have all been affected by cancer, either ourselves or our family, and this event is perfect to raise awareness and see all the good we have done over the last few weeks come to fruition here.”

Towards the end of the night, various groups, including Sigma Pi, participated in games — such as volleyball — in the center of the arena while waiting out the home stretch.

Due to the help of on-campus organizations, Relay For Life was able to raise a significant amount to be donated towards the fight against cancer.

Stormin’ Loud 2023: SJU’s “Best Last Day Ever”

The rain didn’t stop St. John’s University students from celebrating this year’s festivities.

The St. John’s community bore the rain on April 28 to celebrate the second annual “Stormin’ Loud” festival on the Great Lawn, featuring food and goods vendors, carnival rides, art installations and live performances by multiple artists, including Jay Critch, Lola Brooke and King Combs.

The event — marketed as “The Best Last Day Ever” — ran from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and was sponsored by the Student Programming Board, Haraya and Resident Student Association in collaboration with Student Government, Inc. and Campus Activities.

The event was exclusive for current St. John’s students, accepted students and alumni. This year, current students were offered the option to bring one invited guest for an additional $25 fee. Current students were offered a selection of three ticket tiers. For students opting for general admission at no cost, the package includes admission, access to rides and the opportunity to enter free giveaways. The Silver Package included one general admission ticket to the event, a “special edition Stormin’ Loud white t-shirt” and tote bag for the cost of $25. The Gold Package was worth $55 and included a ticket, a “special edition black t-shirt,” a cap and tote bag.

While supplies lasted, all ticket holders received one food and one refreshment voucher for the vendors at the events. BetterBurger, Island Empanada, Big Mozz Truck and Stuf’d Sliders offered food options while Andy’s Ice offered Italian ice and TwoCrepes offered bubble tea.

St. John’s students and their guests secured their ticket wristbands at Marillac Terrace A from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the day of the event. Accepted students and alumni were able to retrieve their wristbands at 4 p.m. on Friday at Marillac Terrace A and the Carnesecca Arena Box Office, respectively.

To begin the event, a pre-show was held on the main stage, with performances by LIVE Dance Crew, Sensación, KidFlare, HDBeenDope and more. After the pre-show, headliners King Combs, Lola Brooke and Jay Critch took the stage to conclude the festivities.

Similar to the 2022 festival, Stormin’ Loud featured another 75-foot ferris wheel, along with a tornado ride and swings. This year did not see “skip the line” ride passes.

With the last day of classes on May 1 and final exams beginning on May 4, Stormin’ Loud was a great way to connect the St. John’s community before the end of the 2022-2023 academic year.

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Olivia RainsOn | apRil 23, 2023 Olivia seaman | apRil 29, 2023 Torch Photo / Olivia Rainson Torch Photo / Olivia Rainson

Traveling Made Easy: The Best Multi-Purpose Items That Will Keep Your Luggage Minimal and Organized

Packing for a trip is not easy for everyone — here are some ways to keep your luggage organized, light and multi-purposed.

Whether you’re traveling across the world, country, state or around the block, packing clothes, shoes, accessories and more is not an easy feat, especially when wanting to maintain an organized, light luggage. While it would be ideal to bring everything you own, as most people reason “just in case,” it’s not the best choice when trying to keep packing as minimal as possible. Listed below are multi-purpose items that will allow your travels this summer to be easy and lightweight!

Make a Check List

Packing can be extremely stressful when your “must pack” list is only in your head. To combat potentially forgotten items, make a check-list of clothing and accessories that may come with you on vacation. This list allows you to see everything written down so all the information and reminders are not jumbled in your head. It is also beneficial toward reducing the stress of possibly forgetting something. Creating a check-list several days in advance will bring calmness and preparation to your packing experience. While creating a check-list is a great thing to refer back to in order to keep yourself and your luggage organized, it also gives you the chance to weed out what items are absolutely necessary to bring on vacation versus what can be left at home. For example, when going on a week-long vacation, iPads and laptops are not essential — simply bring your phone and its charger.

Additionally, seeing the essentials written down on a piece of paper helps figure out how much of each item should be brought and helps reduce the chance of overpacking. Limiting “just in case” items is just as important as figuring out the amount of one

item to bring as well. Chances are, if you are staying in a hotel or an AirBnB-style rental, your hosts will supply certain items like shampoo and pillows. Bring Versatile Options

Packing smart is key when it comes to a lightweight suitcase or carry-on. With clothing, it can be easy to simply throw all your items into your luggage; however, when rushing to find a specific outfit on vacation, this way of packing is clearly not your friend. These packing cubes from Amazon are extremely helpful when it comes to sorting out the contents of your suitcase. Especially when you keep pre-planned outfits together, these cubes will help keep everything orderly.

Versatility is another option that will maintain a small and properly arranged luggage. For example, using the same pair of jeans for more than one outfit allows you to lose several pairs of pants that take up lots of space when packing. Finding clothing that is versatile will minimize the room that excess numbers of items take up. This same rule can apply to shoes, which are normally bulky and take up space in your luggage that could be used for more necessary items. Simply pack one or two pairs of shoes that can be used for more than one occasion. Makeup travel bags as well as multi-product makeup palettes will reduce the amount of space taken up by cosmetic items. This small makeup travel kit with built-in dividers allows for products to be kept in their own compartments without worrying about spillage. Another way to reduce cosmetic products is to utilize makeup palettes that contain more than one product. This all-inone face palette by Anastasia Beverly Hills

provides a portable and versatile makeup option.

Keep “Travel” in Travel-Sized Purchasing travel-sized items from your local drugstore is a great way to increase space in your luggage. Though small in size, these items are big in convenience; they not only save space, but they are the exact same product with a cheaper price that one would normally buy. There is also less at stake when it comes to leaving travel-sized items in hotel rooms or losing them because they are normally only a few dollars.

Travel-sized items are ideal when it comes to flying. These 3 ounce bottles are approved by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), so they can be easily brought in a carry-on bag without the fear of confiscation. Another great benefit to bringing these tiny options with you on the plane is that you are easily able to access your toiletries, so no last-minute items need to be purchased for triple the normal price.

Additionally, if you cannot find the exact product you are looking for in travel-size, these reusable travel-sized bottles are extremely convenient! Simply pour your desired product into these containers, and you can bring any item you want without having to bring the big bottle or sacrifice your hair or skin for a less desired brand. Travel-sized items are also extremely beneficial in the way that they do not force you to prioritize the products that you want to bring — you can simply bring them all just in a tinier format. No matter the occasion, these tips on traveling will make your packing process easier, your luggage more organized and your trip less stressful.

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AbigAil grieco | April 23, 2023 Photo Courtesy / Unsplash Arnel Hasanovic

Take Your Studies to the Skies: The Benefits of Studying Abroad

St. John’s University students share their experiences studying abroad.

For years, studying abroad has been considered a staple “rite of passage” for travel-hungry college students. Studying abroad may in fact be the experience of a lifetime, and while the beautiful scenery and exciting social life is immensely appealing, there are many other benefits to studying abroad. From exposure to cultural diversities to taking courses in a foreign country, studying abroad can increase self-confidence, impact students’ worldviews and aid in personal maturity and independence.

The process of applying for a studying abroad program can be intimidating, especially when aligning credits with requirements. However, this factor should not deter students.

“Plan the process as soon as possible — make a spreadsheet or a to-do list to keep everything in order,” says senior Molly Shaughnessy. “It may be tedious at first, but it will help in the long run leading up to your travels.”

Shaughnessy traveled to Rome in Spring 2022, saying that one of her top priorities was “meeting with my advisor to ensure credits were in order and understanding where required courses are offered. This really helped me a lot when transitioning into studying abroad.”

With 42.3 percent of St. John’s University students studying abroad, the University’s program has a wide range of short-term and long-term options, offered in Costa Rica, Paris and Rome. While the Costa Rica study abroad provides students with the opportunity to live with a host family for either 12 or 16 weeks, the Paris and

Rome opportunity is semester-long. The latter two, however, have some major-oriented limitations, so students must be sure to do significant research prior to applying.

Freshman Quinn McNelis expresses what he is looking forward to as he plans to travel to Paris for a two-week duration in Summer 2023.

“I’m excited to go because I have never experienced foreign culture before, and I would like to see how different it is from here,” said McNelis. Despite anxieties about being distract-

ed with the fascinations of the “French world” around him, McNelis also stated that “going abroad will help me actually experience the French language in person other than my classroom; I think this will be a big help for me when continuing to learn the language.”

Taking a risk by stepping out of comfort zones and traveling to a foreign country has the potential to foster personal growth in students while being welcomed with open arms, as noted by junior Kristen Tague, who traveled to Paris, Rome and

Limerick

with the three-country program in Fall 2022.

“Studying abroad opened my eyes to how quickly places you’d never been could become home and bring you so many happy memories as well as lessons,” said Tague.

Senior Grace Coyne shared her experience while studying abroad twice — first during the Winter of 2019-2020 in Rome and second during the Summer of 2022 in Rome again.

“While I had a great time in Rome twice, I really couldn’t ignore the downsides. I thought it was an SJU summer program, but somehow things got messed up, and it was a University of Florida program,” said Coyne. “I was forced to live with students from the other university, which wasn’t ideal, but my roommate turned out to be really nice, so it all worked out.”

“Despite the mix-ups, I still wouldn’t change either of my abroad experiences,” says Coyne.

Studying abroad experiences like Coyne’s allows students to develop highly-valued skills including adaptability and multicultural communication. Interestingly enough, these outcomes of studying abroad can give students an upper hand when it comes to prospective employers. In fact, 41 percent of employers are more likely to offer a higher job or salary to students who studied abroad during college, according to CNBC.

Whether you study abroad for one semester, two semesters or even for the two-week program, a travel experience during college years can be extremely beneficial, highly memorable and personally enriching.

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AbigAil grieco | April 12, 2023
Photo Courtesy / Molly Shaughnessy

SJU Students Share Their Experiences With Emotional Support Animals On Campus

From dogs to bunnies, animals can provide endless comfort — here are the stories of St. John’s students and their animals.

It has been proven that over time, animals provide both mental and physical health benefits for many. Service animals have been around since the 1920s and continue to provide comfort to people with disabilities today. St. John’s University students with emotional support or service animals shared their stories in an interview with The Torch.

Senior Isabel Clarke, described the process of bringing her cat, Kirara, with her to campus. “First, you have to get them registered as an emotional support animal,” Clarke said. “Some people have them for depression, or, in my case, anxiety.”

The process begins when a student’s personal therapist — or anyone that can aid with mental health — deems that “an emotional support animal would be beneficial.”

“You go through a Disability Housing screening process, and then you are accepted or not,” Clarke said “After the University gives approval, you have to get your animal all of its shots and an ID. Then, a letter is sent to Disability Services, and you meet with them to discuss the conditions of living.”

According to Clarke, “the process was actually pretty easy. You fill out the application form online and you even get a kit with a chip, ID and collar for your pet.” Clarke’s roommates keep Kirara company, making it easier for Clarke to go to class or work since cats are “not as independent as people think.”

“Emotional support animals can’t go everywhere with you because they aren’t trained like service

animals are to go to class with you and comfort you if you need it,” Clarke said. “Emotional support is more leaving your animal in the room to have with you.”

Despite the location restrictions for emotional support animals, Clarke expressed that having her cat in the room has been a beneficial experience overall, especially regarding her anxiety.

Sophomore Gregory Jones described his experience bringing his rabbit, Cloud, to school as an emotional support animal — a similar experience to Clarke’s.

“It wasn’t difficult. I had seen that other people had [an emotional support animal], and I had the idea of getting one for a while,” Jones said. “When I applied, it was pretty simple.”

Additionally, Jones described similar sentiments to Clarke about the obligations that come with having an emotional support animal. “He’s sort of like a cat, he can do a lot by himself and he doesn’t make a lot of noise, which is good, so he doesn’t bother anyone. It’s nice to have someone to be responsible for, but he doesn’t take all of my time away from my work.”

Sophomore Sav Smith has a service dog, Bailey, with them on campus. There is a crucial difference between emotional support and service animals, which Smith defines:

“Emotional support animals don’t have to be trained, and they’re only for at-home use. They do not have public access. Service animals are task-trained for a specific disability and they are

granted access into public buildings.”

Smith described the process of bringing their service animal to campus, and again, the process seemed smooth. “I just emailed the Office of Disability when I was a freshman, told them I would be on campus and that I am a service dog handler. I didn’t need a vet’s note about shots since I live in my own apartment. They cannot make you prove training because there is no federal or state registry for animals.”

Despite the benefits of service animals, Smith expressed the prejudice they sometimes face when out with Bailey. “I face ableism a lot, I can’t take buses because they don’t let me on with Bailey. I even tried to pursue legal action against the MTA because service animals are supposed to have public access.” However, it is clear to Smith that the process has been worthwhile.

“She had a natural alert for [my] panic attacks, and so we had her trained to be able to be a service animal since she was 3 months old,” says Smith. “I have autism and a dissociative disorder, and because of her, I can exist more fully. She knows my routine, where I live and even the stop I get off at. Moving here, if I did not have her, I would not have been able to do so.”

Emotional support and service animals on campus have provided comfort to many St. John’s students. To learn more about registering an animal, check out the Office of Disability Services website for the proper forms.

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Sav Smith’s dog, Bailey (right). Photo Courtesy / Sav Smith Isabel Clarke’s cat, Kirara. Photo Courtesy / Isabel Clarke Gregory Jones’ rabbit, Cloud. Photo Courtesy / Gregory Smith

Why You Should Be Paying Attention to the Feds’ Investigation of Hunter Biden

New revelations demand serious questions about the President’s son.

When accused of a crime or indicted in this country, everyone is presumed innocent before being proven guilty by a jury of one’s peers. Hunter Biden is no exception. But evidence has emerged as of late to suggest that federal investigations into the taxes of the president’s son may be being mishandled by the administration. New evidence also suggests the Biden campaign interfered to kill the younger Biden’s laptop story. The Wall Street Journal reports that a criminal supervisory special agent at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is requesting whistleblower protections to present evidence to the former. According to a letter sent by the currently anonymous IRS agent, they claim to have evidence of “preferential treatment and politics improperly infecting decisions and protocols that would normally be followed by career law enforcement professionals in similar circumstances if the subject were not politically connected”.

CBS News reports that the case the agent is referring to is an investigation into Hunter Biden’s finances by the Department of Justice. The FBI collected what it believes to be significant evidence to charge Biden with tax crimes and false statements when making a gun purchase. After sending that evidence to the U.S. District Attorney in Delaware in 2022, nothing about the case has been publicly disclosed since.

To be clear, that does not insinuate that Hunter Biden is guilty, only that they believe they have enough evidence

for him to be charged. It’s still too early to tell what the agent could say, but if the Biden administration really is trying to bury an investigation into the president’s son, it should give Americans pause as to if he really is the right choice for 2024. Such behavior would be disqualifying.

On the topic of campaigns, evidence has surfaced from the Republican-led House Committee on the Judiciary and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that suggests former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell was contacted by the Biden team regarding the New York Post’s story on Hunter Biden’s laptop.

Though many unfairly pounced on sensitive details of Hunter’s life such as his struggle with addiction and the loss of his mother and brother, emails from the laptop lend credence to claims that the younger Biden used his father’s role as Vice President to secure foreign business deals in Ukraine and China.

Some may argue that the Post might not be a reliable source given its conservative slant, but the contents have been confirmed by independent experts and outlets with a more liberal audience such as CBS and the New York Times. This is not like Trump’s lies about “rigged voting machines”.

Five days after the Post released the story, 51 senior intelligence officials signed a letter saying that the story had “all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” Interviewed under oath by the committees, Morell said that he

did not have intent to write the statement before being contacted by Antony Blinken, currently Secretary of State but a member of Biden’s campaign.

Morell further explained that Blinken triggered the intent. He also admits that he was instructed by the campaign to send the letter to a particular Washington Post reporter and then thanked for his efforts.

Judiciary Democrats have fired back by claiming that Republicans have cherry picked Morell’s testimony by issuing a miniature press release. Irony is a bit of a new concept for them. In the release, Democrats make no direct rebuttals of what Morell said, rather point to a line that shows Blinken did not explicitly tell Morell to draft the letter rather he wanted Morell’s opinion on the Post story. It is worth noting that Morell was a private citizen at the time and so was Blinken. But given that the contents of the laptop have been independently verified and that Morell openly admits wanting to help Biden, Democrats’ claims fall flat.

The real questions should be, where did the Russian narrative come from? Why did so many former intelligence officials sign on? Are we really a democracy if misinformation plays such a crucial role in our elections?

Let’s set our feelings about Biden and Trump aside for a moment and demand full transparency from our government and the candidates who run to represent us.

torchonline.com Opinion 8
Sergio Padilla | aPril 26, 2023 Photo Courtesy / YouTube Sky News

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Why It Shouldn’t Take Months for Controversial Politicians to Resign

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Queens just can’t seem to catch a break from sleazy politicians misleading their voters.

Over the past few months, two high-profile cases have surfaced in New York politics where a politician is all but proven to have committed an atrocity against their constituents, only for that same politician to refuse to resign.

Congressman George Santos of Queens and Long Island admitted to the New York Post that most of his resume is a farce, and later came on the airwaves of Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” to tell guest host Tulsi Gabbard that he can’t explain his alleged private equity background because it would “fly over the heads” of regular Americans. Santos has faced bipartisan pressure to resign, especially from his New York colleagues.

More recently, the Queens Chronicle unearthed allegations of gross sexual misconduct against New York State Assemblyman Juan Ardila, who also happens to represent parts of Queens. Ardila has faced pressure from Governor Kathy Hochul and State

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins to step down as a result.

But how has Ardila responded to these claims? What he considers taking responsibility for his actions by more or less blowing off his accusers.

In a statement, Ardila more or less confirms the allegations, states that he believes in “restorative justice” and asks his constituents for a second chance — to the disgust of those he represents.

Ardila and Santos show that you don’t need to be a Democrat or a Republican to be a politician with no shame. You just need to have the egotistical drive to hold power at any cost.

The two are setting a dangerous example for the next politician who gets caught in their tracks for being unfit for office. It normalizes the practice of sitting and praying the negative attention goes away and makes them unaccountable to their real bosses: the voters who cast their ballots to elect them and could just as easily remove them.

Russia Must Immediately Free Journalist Evan Gershkovich

Journalism

As the war in Ukraine enters its second year, Russia again is further distancing itself from the rest of the developed world. This time for the arrest of a journalist doing his job.

Evan Gershkovich, a Russian correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, was arrested by Russian authorities on March 29 under bogus accusations of espionage by Russia’s Federal Security Bureau.

Gershkovich was on assignment in Yekaterinburg, a town in the Urals region of Russia, before he was ultimately apprehended at a steakhouse by authorities. His arrest has been condemned by the White House and the State Department, which also deny the false claims that Gershkovich was spying. Since the arrest, western news outlets have begun taking their reporters out of Russia, with some deeming it unsafe for journalism. The incident highlights the insecurity of Putin’s regime in Russia. Autocracies will never match up to nations with competent leaders because competent leaders aren’t afraid of transparency. This incident shows the rest of the world how scared Putin is about finding

out what’s really happening in his administration.

If it weren’t for Gershkovich’s reporting, the rest of the world wouldn’t know that Putin has no idea what’s happening in the war. Like a child, he can’t stand the truth about the consequences of his actions, so he demands only the positives when receiving briefings from his advisors.

The following quote from his reporting tells you all you need to know: “Through the summer, delegations of military experts and arms manufacturers emerged from presidential meetings questioning whether Mr. Putin understood the reality on the battleground…”

Though it likely won’t, it should also show Americans with sympathy towards Russia that Putin is entirely opposed to the values Americans hold dear. Freedom of speech and press is enshrined into our first amendment. Don’t expect a 70-year-old man with the insecurity of a teenager to respect the rest of our nation’s values.

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Sergio Padilla | aPril 12, 2023 Congressman George Santos and Assemblyman Juan Ardila are setting a dangerous example. Photo Courtesy / YouTube Wall Street Journal Photo Courtesy / YouTube Fox 5 New York Torch Design / Daniela Yarahuan

Why Record-Breaking Temperatures Represent A Need For Change

November has shown increasing temperatures that are highly unusual for this time of year. Why is this occurring, and what can we do to help?

Although many St. John’s University students are ready to break out their heavy winter sweaters, the temperature outside calls for shorts and skirts instead. Despite it being November, temperatures are climbing into the 70s in the tri-state area, breaking temperature records from as far back as the 1990s. The areas most affected by these high temperatures are the Northeast and Midwest, with average temperatures for the month still being seen in the West. At JFK airport, the temperature was 80 degrees on Nov. 7 – the warmest observed in over 50 years.

Students are concerned about the climbing temperatures and turn to professionals with questions about why it feels like summer in November. A zone of high pressure, often referred to as a heat dome, surged the eastern United States and created higher temperatures. However, the record breaking temperatures and humidity has been exacerbated by human caused climate change.

The United States is not the only place in the world to be concerningly warm — Europe has had a continued surge in temperatures due to extreme changes in the jet stream and the effects of global

warming. Although the temperatures are expected to decrease, the plunge of the jet stream in the West sends temperatures soaring across the United States. The trend for the rest of November is still uncertain, according to meteorologists, but a block of high pressure from Greenland may lead to colder air.

These temperatures have proven to be a frustration to students at the University. Ready to dress for cooler weather and jump into the winter season, students have been forced to dress as if it was September again.

A large problem at the University is the lack of air conditioning, since the AC units are turned off after mid-October. “The weather has been ridiculous. One day it is 50 degrees, the next it’s 70, and realistically, it should be colder than that in November,” said sophomore Briana Ledan. “I walk into class unable to pay attention because I feel like I’m melting. It’s making everything very difficult.”

Another issue is the increasing temperature of the dorms, since the heat has been switched on. “My room was so hot that it made it hard to sleep and then I had to go right into a hot classroom,” said

O’Connor Hall resident student Molly Downs. Sophomore Madison Coombs describes sitting in the Montgoris Dining Hall as being in a “swamp.” “It is not enjoyable to eat dinner while you and your friends are breaking a sweat because the heat is blasting.”

A factor contributing to the rising outdoor temperatures is the ongoing effect of global climate change. New York is seeing higher temperatures as a trend due to increases in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses. According to the Nature Conservancy, New York is in danger of rising sea levels destroying infrastructure, declining drinking water quality and quantity and degradation in air quality. New Yorkers, as well as the rest of the country, should view these high temperatures as a wake up call for the dangers of climate change. Despite the overwhelming impact this phenomenon has on the world, it is possible to make lifestyle changes to become more eco-friendly. Simple steps such as using a reusable water bottle, walking or biking when possible and, most importantly, voting to enact change in government are all ways to contribute.

The NFL’s Concussion Problem Is Impossible To Ignore Following Tua Tagovailoa’s Injury

in a game against the Buffalo Bills, and stumbled while returning to the line of scrimmage.

Tagovailoa was medically cleared and returned in the second half. The Dolphins later cited back and ankle injuries, omitting any notion of a potential concussion.

After the Bengals game, the Dolphins faced a hailstorm of questions and accusations.

search showed clear signs of CTE.

When paired with the NFL’s yearly concussion rate of over 170 reported cases a season every year since 2015, the numbers become hard to ignore. A disease linked to repeated blows to the head is impossible to prevent within the sport, even with the technological advancements of helmets and the science surrounding proper tackling techniques.

When Tua Tagovailoa was stretchered off the field during the Dolphins’ Thursday Night Football game against the Bengals and taken to a local Cincinnati area hospital in an ambulance for further testing, the immediate fear was that Tagovailoa had suffered a traumatic brain injury.

After the collision, Tagovailoa then assumed what’s referred to as the “Fencing Response”, where a person’s forearms remain suspended in the air and their fingers curl involuntarily. The Fencing Response occurs when someone suffers a severe brain injury, like a concussion, which Tagovailoa was subsequently diagnosed with.

The diagnosis came on the heels of a similarly-alarming episode four days earlier, where Tagovailoa had broken his fall by landing on his head

They responded to the turbulence with the denial of any wrongdoing and the repeated insistence of organizational and medical competency. Despite this stance, the Dolphins later fired the doctor who evaluated Tagovailoa, leading to more questions of medical malpractice.

The discourse surrounding the NFL and concussions is longstanding, with the most notable example being Hall Of Famer Junior Seau. Seau battled a cognitive disease called “chronic traumatic encephalopathy” commonly referred to as “CTE”, took his own life at the age of 43 in 2012. His family filed a wrongful death lawsuit and later reached an undisclosed settlement with the NFL.

There’s a pattern here, with a growing list of former players committing suicide as a bi-productive of the degenerative disease. In a study at Boston University in 2017, 99 percent of deceased NFL players who donated their brains for medical re-

These data points raise further questions of ethicality, in a league that already operates in a constant state of moral ambiguity. Is it inherently unethical to support a sport this violent?

Evidently not, as ratings continue to soar, and the firestorm surrounding the Dolphins begins to taper off.

It felt like an hour before we knew if Tagovailoa had any feeling in his extremities, concussion rumors dominated the headlines. With Tagovailoa being released from the hospital and the NFL season continuing, the conversation has quickly faded into the chorus of betting lines and fantasy football lineups.

All fandom and parlays aside, these brain injuries continue to impact the lives of players and their families. At the very least, the NFL needs to publicly acknowledge its medical shortcomings and the need for growth in its concussion procedures.

torchonline.com Opinion 10
Weston Greene | nov. 1, 2022
olivia rainson | nov. 29, 2022
Tagovailoa became the subject of a conversation the NFL refuses to have.
Photo Courtesy / Unsplash CHUTTERSNAP Photo Courtesy / YouTube Highlight Heaven

“Tár:” Classical Music and Power Dynamics

Todd Field and Cate Blanchett challenge audiences with an unrelenting new film.

“Tár,” is now available for audiences to stream on Peacock, the film was written and directed by Todd Field, a name that many people may not have heard. Field went sixteen years in between directorial credits, his last feature film was the Oscar-Nominated “Little Children,” in 2006.

In the intervening years, Field directed a handful of commercials, and worked on screenplays. He returned to movies in 2022 with a sprawling script, and two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett in the starring role.

“Tár” is an act of provocation, a purposefully-agitational story made up of entirely jagged edges. For 157 minutes, Field shoves his audience into tense conversations about the one percent, cancel culture, power dynamics, artists and obsession.

Field earned two Oscar nominations for best director and best original screenplay. But for as lifelike and dense as Field’s script is, the entire project orbits around a mammoth, Oscar-nominated performance by Cate Blanchett.

Blanchett inhabits the vividly rendered fictional central character Lydia Tár. Lydia is a classically trained and critically-lauded classical music conductor; she’s also a mother, a wife, an adjunct professor at Juilliard, and a quasi-celebrity.

Blanchett plays Lydia with a collection of tics, jitters, and contortive facial expressions that camouflage, or reveal a wide range of emotions throughout the film.

The film opens, with the closing credits. A montage that lasts a handful of minutes and highlights the behind-the-scenes employees of “Tár,” everyone from camera operators to executive producers. From there, we jump to a fic-

tionalized New Yorker talk with Lydia Tár, and Adam Gopnik. The scene briskly and effectively places the audience into Field’s highfalutin world of wealth and classical music, also serving as a much-needed introductory exposition.

The film becomes markedly more ambiguous from here, as we follow Lydia’s personal and professional spiral into controversy and chaos without further exposition or simplified language. “Tár” is littered with a litany of technical terms, and long-winded conversations about “Berstein” and “Bach.” Jargon and dialogue that’s likely indecipherable to most audience members, but a creative choice that makes the character seem all the more realistic.

Lydia is unrelenting, some would argue sociopathic, and unconcerned with emotions, people, and opinions she views as beneath her. Very much cut from the same archetypal “Type A,” cloth as a number of formerly powerful men canceled or imprisoned during the “Me Too,” movement, Lydia’s gender and sexual orientation seem calculated, and pointed.

“Tár” is, at its core, a story about immensely talented, narcissistic people, and how these people leverage their power in an effort to maintain their superior societal footing, and positions of power. Moral dissonance and corruption can happen in any professional context, whether that person is gay or straight, male or female, isn’t relevant. What is relevant are their actions.

The skeleton key to understanding Tár,” and where the movie turns on its head, is a scene in the classroom at Julliard. A scene where Lydia confronts a student about “Bach,” and the relevancy of the artist’s personal life, when consider-

ing his work.

Blanchett berates the student while playing Bach on the piano, and menacingly walks around the classroom. The facade of Lyida’s public persona begins to crack, and the audience can clearly see the aggression underneath. Some of Field’s best writing is showcased here, with razor-sharp lines like, “If Bach’s talent can be reduced to his gender, birth county, religion sexuality, and so on, then so can yours,” and “Unfortunately the architect of your soul appears to be social media” being fired toward the student at a rapid, staccato pace.

The academic undressing contributes to the cancel culture portion of the screenplay and leads to the most unpredictable third act in recent memory. A sequence that sparked a surplus of think pieces, and conspiracy theories, all of which miss the broader point.

When discussing Bach in the classroom, Lydia says, “He knows that it’s always the question that involves the listener. It’s never the answer, right?”

This is the only line in the film that feels closer to Field than it does Lydia Tár. Almost as if Field is commenting on the opacity of his own artistic output.

“Tár” is chalked full of questions, the sparsity of its answers is what makes it so unique. What happens to Lydia Tár is ultimately open to interpretation, as is the resonance of Field’s overall message. Still, the puzzle pieces are there for anyone who wants to attempt to analyze or assemble them.

Culture 11 torchonline.com
Weston Greene | March 17, 2023 Photo Courtesy / YouTube Focus Features

King Disease III: A Master Lyricist Remains at the Top of His Craft

Nas is an inarguable rap icon, with critically-acclaimed albums in four separate decades and a Grammy to boot, his legacy within the genre is almost unsaleable. His most prevalent musical adversary, Jay-Z, is the only other living artist who can rival the mix of critical praise and lyrical longevity.

In the intervening five years since Jay-Z’s last solo album “4:44”, Nas has churned out five fulllength albums, with “Kings Disease III” marking his fourth project in two years.

All 54 songs across the sprawling LPs, “King’s Disease,” “King’s Disease II,” “Magic” and now “King’s Disease III” were entirely produced by Hit-Boy, known for producing hits for Kendrick Lamar and Travis Scott, among others. The two have an obvious musical synchronicity that gives Nas an updated flair while managing to preserve his ’90s rap essence. The production vacillates between jazzy and trap-inspired samples and beats that allow Nas to showcase his evergreen lyricism and technical proficiency in a modern-day wrapping.

The album opens with the track “Ghetto Reporter,” which features snippets from an Alan Watts lecture and a Richard Pryor stand up special. Nas loves to open his albums with a mix of social commentary and rap braggadocio, and “Ghetto Re-

Last

porter” is no different.

Reinforced by bombastic drums, Nas reflects on the state of the music industry, his own success and the potency of the project audiences are about to listen to. Artists praising their own music is nothing new, and rap especially has no shortage of self-aggrandizing genius claims.

The main difference with Nas — and “KD III” — is that he happens to be right about the quality of his own work. This album is incredibly impressive, and both Nas and Hit-Boy are understand-

A legacy artist who is eighteen albums into a decades-long career displaying this level of creative fervor is almost unheard of. Most rappers of this caliber are either retired, or putting out mediocre projects that complicate their discographies. Eminem and Lil Wayne are similarly renowned artists that are still active, but they’ve both released critically-reviled albums that seem closer to cash grabs than they do earnestly creative endeavors.

Nas is far from the rock bottom of his contemporaries: “Magic,” and the “King’s Disease” trilogy, represent reinvention and modernization. An artist evolving with the trends without losing sight of what made him so successful in the first place — his writing.

He’s always had a knack for constructing vivid stories that place his audience in the world of Queensbridge, containing lyrical prose that’s often imitated, but never replicated. The best showcase of writing on “KD III” is the song “Beef,” where Nas embodies the concept and examines why human beings are so eager to hurt each other over perceived slights.

ably high on their own melodic supply.

Without a single feature, Nas stays razor-sharp lyrically, thematically and technically, carrying the album from front to back with his writing and charisma. He sounds motivated and energized, with an almost youthful exuberance for the music.

Societal analysis and reflection from the perspective of an artist who has seen a large number of his colleagues killed, from Biggie Smalls in 1997 to Takeoff in 2022. Luckily for us, Nas is still here, and he’s still in his musical prime.

is a Stellar Video Game Adaptation

The show relies on emotional performances and visual effects to recreate a virtual world.

With the conclusion of HBO’s “The Last of Us’” first season, viewers are left reeling after an ultimate cliffhanger. The show has left an indelible mark on television and paves the way for a new era of video game adaptations.

“The Last of Us” is a nine-episode series that explores a powerful journey through post-apocalyptic America. The show follows Joel (Pedro Pascal), a smuggler tasked with escorting Ellie (Bella Ramsey), a young girl who holds the key to a cure for a deadly virus that has decimated the world.

Pascal delivers a poignant performance as a grieving father tasked with a life-or-death task. His chemistry with Ramsey is apparent, and the two share emotional scenes that bring a heartwarming aspect to a dark series. Newcomer Ramsey cements herself as a leading woman and shows promise for upcoming installments. The show’s supporting cast adds intensity to the story, including Gabriel Luna as Joel’s brother Tommy and Merle Dandridge as the leader of the Fireflies.

The show’s writing almost mirrors that of the game and expands on the world written by Neil Druckman and Craig Mazin, who also served as writers for the show. The show carries themes such as loss, love and survival. The third episode, “Long, Long Time,” takes a break from Joel and Ellie’s story and highlights supporting characters Bill and Frank, played by Nick Offerman and “The White Lotus” Murray Bartlett. The episode dives deep into the relationship between the two and helps keep the pace of the larger story.

The show’s design and visual effects are a television wonder. HBO gives viewers a hyper-realistic perspective of a post-apocalyptic America with abandoned buildings and picturesque west coast views.

“The Last of Us” does not lack in the action aspect. The show features gruesome zombies and convincingly taps into the violence and brutality of the game. The action scenes leave viewers anticipating what comes next and are well-placed in

the episodes.

The series has garnered widespread critical praise. The Daily Beast’s Nick Schager writes, “As heartbreakingly faithful as it is riveting and suspenseful, The Last of Us is a triumph that ends any further debate about the all-time best video game adaptation.”

“The Last of Us” isn’t the first video game adaptation to reach the big screen, but it surely tops any list. “Tomb Raider,” “Resident Evil” and “Uncharted” are just a few of the adaptations that have been bested by “The Last of Us.”

The show has already surpassed HBO’s Game of Thrones spinoff “House of the Dragon” in full-season viewership, marking a new high for the streaming service facing “lackluster subscriptions.” The service is reportedly merging with Discovery+ this spring to become “MAX.”

The show has been renewed for a second season, which will be based on the game’s second part. No details have yet been released.

In his fourth project in two years, Nas cements himself as a rap icon.
“The
of Us”
Culture 12 torchonline.com
Olivia Seaman | march 22, 2023 WeStOn Greene | Feb. 1, 2023 Photo Courtesy / YouTube Nas

“Creed III:” Out of Rocky’s Shadow

It has been 47 years since “Rocky” released, and the legacy of the iconic film carries on today: the theme song, the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and now the “Creed” trilogy.

Ultimately a spinoff of the original boxing saga, these newer projects follow Adonis Creed, son of Apollo from “Rocky.” Starring Michael B. Jordan in the titular role, both “Creed” and “Creed II” capitalized on the nostalgia of the franchise by utilizing Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa as a central figure in the plot.

“Creed III,” which hit theaters on March 3, decided to pivot away from this iconic character. This seismic shift comes in lockstep with lead star Jordan taking over directorial duties – his behind the camera debut. Needless to say, these gambles represent a leap of faith for a trilogy looking to escape the shadow of one of cinema’s most iconic franchises.

“Creed III” did just that.

This latest release eclipses the shortcomings of the preceding “Creed” entries, establishing a stronger plot and greater character depth right from the opening minutes. “Creed III” benefits from a time jump after the second film, removing the main characters from the circumstances of the prior installment.

This allows the latest entry to truly isolate itself from the others, making this an Adonis Creed story rather than a continuation of a Rocky Balboa plotline.

From a directorial perspective, Jordan’s first project was an incredible accomplishment given his lack of experience in the role. The visuals were stunning and the fight scene cinematography did not disappoint. While it becomes somewhat unconventional at times during the third act, the unique approach to boxing scenes was a breath of fresh air and truly amplified the moment. While some older audiences, perhaps those dedicated to the original “Rocky” product, may gawk at the use of slow motion and fast camera cuts during the fight, fans of different genres such as anime will certainly pick up on Jordan’s vision.

As if there was any doubt, Jordan continues to dominate the screen with his acting ability while taking on these additional responsibilities. From emotional scenes to those involving boxing, Jordan’s dynamic nature allows him to carry every scene. There are very few moments where he is not on screen, and rightfully so with how he performed.

Kudos to the writers of this film for creating such depth to the character of

Creed, balancing him as a father and husband on top of being a boxer.

The rest of the cast turn in serviceable performances as well, but outside of Jonathan Majors’s Damian, the others were not given enough screen time to truly leave their mark on the film. Damian is given a strong backstory, but is flawed in that his present-day self is very much just another very strong, very muscular foe in the ring. Yes, there is certainly plenty of depth to the role, but it is not uncovered enough outside of the flashback scenes. Others like Tessa Thompson and Wood Harris perform well, but contribute much more to the overall product in earlier “Creed” films. This is more indicative of the writers, however– not so much their acting ability.

For fans of boxing movies, “Creed III” is a must see in theaters. The IMAX experience is one to behold, especially in the third act as every punch lands. The film’s impressive soundtrack is also much more prominent in a theater setting, something that truly contributed to the goosebumps felt throughout the final act.

“Creed III” is currently playing in theaters. Previous “Creed” films can be found streaming on HBO Max.

Michael B. Jordan’s directorial debut redefines the boxing franchise as we know it.
Culture 13 torchonline.com
Connor riChards | MarCh 15, 2023 Photo Courtesy / YouTube MGM Photo Courtesy / YouTube MGM

St. John’s Rick Pitino Plans to Elevate the Johnny Image

The 70-year-old coach is taking the Big East by storm.

Rick Pitino has officially become the 22nd head coach of the St. John’s University Men’s Basketball team. The 70-year-old signed a six-year coaching deal on March 21.

Pitino’s career spans almost five decades between the NBA, international teams and collegiate Division I programs. He’s made seven trips to the Final Four and won two NCAA championships, one at Kentucky (1996) and Louisville (2013). He most recently brought Iona University to the NCAA tournament in 2021 and 2023.

The program missed four straight NCAA Tournaments under Mike Anderson and has not won an NCAA Tournament game in 23 years.

The coach returned to Madison Square Garden where he once coached the Knicks – for his first official press conference on Tuesday.

It was University President Brian Shanley who made the decision to hire Pitino. “Rick knows Big East basketball and is determined to take and keep the Red Storm program where we know it belongs,” Shanley said in a statement at Tuesday’s press conference.

When asked if he would take the job if Shanley were not the president of the University, Pitino quickly answered, “probably not.”

Over the next six years, Pitino hopes to create a new culture at St. John’s. One of his first orders was to name senior center Joel Soriano as the

team’s captain. “I asked about the character of the basketball team. I didn’t get glowing reports, but I did get a glowing report on Joel Soriano,” Pitino told The Torch. “We’re gonna bring him to a level he didn’t even think he could reach.” The only other player Pitino mentioned his full commitment to was sophomore forward Drissa Traore.

He also shared his hopes to bring in “six to eight” more players for the 2023-2024 season. As of May 2, seven players have committed to playing for the Red Storm.

Among the seven include Daniss Jenkins, Sean Conway, Cruz Davis, Nahiem Alleyne, Quinn Slazinski, Brady Dunlap and Glenn Taylor Jr.

Along with bringing in new players, Pitino is bringing his entire Iona staff with him. The only St. John’s basketball staff member who will be remaining with the team as an assistant coach is Van Macon.

Pitino shared his plans to expand the games played at The Garden. “My vision is to play every game at Madison Square Garden, conference-wise. It has to be at a major facility,” Pitino said.

The Red Storm is already confirmed to play multiple Big East games at Madison Square Garden. In addition, those games will include a December matchup against Fordham.

“Carnesecca Arena is not big enough for the brand of basketball we’re gonna build.”

With legendary St. John’s coach Lou Carnesseca in the audience, Pitino shared his love and appreciation for him.

“Lou built a legendary program, and we will get back to those days by exemplifying everything he did,” Pitino said of the 98-year-old.

Pitino knows of the hard work that’s ahead and will approach it with a basketball-first mindset. “I’m all in for everything St. John’s stands for. It’s going to start with a culture of work.”

Mike Anderson Out At St. John’s Amid Disappointing Results & Internal Turmoil

Anderson’s four years in Queens were marked by a 30-46 Big East record and no NCAA tournament appearances.

St. John’s University parted ways with former Men’s Basketball head coach Mike Anderson on March 10, and conducted a national search for the program’s new leadership. Rick Pitino — who is the only coach in history to win NCAA national championships (one vacated) at two schools —was named head coach on March 20.

The move came less than a day after St. John’s was eliminated from the Big East Tournament after squandering a 14-point lead over Marquette in the quarterfinals. With the loss, the program was officially eliminated from NCAA tournament contention. After not receiving a NIT selection, the Johnnies’ failure to make the semifinal round of their conference tournament ended their 2022-23 campaign.

“After fully evaluating the men’s basketball program, our University has decided a change is needed in both the leadership and direction of St. John’s Basketball,” said Mike Cragg, the St. John’s athletics director, in a press release. “We wish coach Mike Anderson and his family the best in their future.”

Anderson led St. John’s to a 68-56 overall record in his four seasons as head coach with no NCAA tournament appearances. Under his leadership, the Red Storm had a 30-46 record in

conference play. Following a promising 202021 season that saw the Johnnies capture a winning record in league play, St. John’s extended Anderson to a six-year contract.

Beyond the team’s on-court performance during his tenure, there have been questions about the program’s internal turmoil as well. A lawsuit filed by former St. John’s basketball coach Steve DeMeo in 2021 alleged that Anderson lost control of the team at the end of the 2020-21 season. “The public success of the St. John’s men’s basketball team on the court masked a tumultuous end to the season,” the suit stated. “Mr. Anderson lost control of the team and the players nearly revolted against him before the end of the season.”

At the time, the University categorically denied all allegations of wrongdoing, but declined to further comment on the pending litigation.

This season, Anderson issued multiple suspensions to St. John’s players for “not adhering to team standards.” Junior guard Andre Curbelo was suspended twice and did not travel with the team for one of their away games and sophomore guard Raphael Pinzon was indefinitely suspended for the rest of the season. When Curbelo was asked why he wasn’t playing, he told reporters

he didn’t know. Anderson declined to provide additional comment on the suspensions as well.

St. John’s President Brian Shanley, who has expressed his displeasure with the program’s oncourt performance, told The Torch that he was “completely committed right now” to helping Anderson be successful in a January 2023 interview. However, he added that “we have to figure out how to win more games.”

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Sara Kiernan | March 22, 2023 Brady Snyder | March 10, 2023 Torch Photo / Sara Kiernan Torch Photo/ Sara Kiernan

St. John’s Cheer Protests Lack of Recognition on National Women and Girls in Sports Day

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The St. John’s University Athletics Department did not recognize two female-dominant teams on National Women and Girls in Sports Day, held Feb. 1. The University’s Cheer and Dance teams performed during the Men’s Basketball game against Seton Hall that same day, leading the Cheer squad to protest by writing “We Are Women In Sports” on their t-shirts and refusing to perform one of their normally-scheduled routines.

The Cheer and Dance teams were not recognized by the Athletic Department’s main Instagram page, Red Storm Sports, when nine women’s sports programs were posted.

“St. John’s Athletics participated in the National Girls & Women in Sports Day celebration on Wednesday, Feb. 1. The department recognized its female student-athletes and athletic teams with a social media post, along with an all-inclusive, in-game video board message and public address announcement to honor female athletes,” said University spokesperson Brian Browne in a statement to The Torch.

“There was an inadvertent photo omission of the University’s Dance and Cheerleading teams in the social media post,” Browne said. “St. John’s University and the Department of Athletics value the dedicated contributions to the University made by all students and are com-

mitted to celebrating their achievements.”

According to the Athletics Department’s website, the teams are considered spirit squads, who perform at men’s and women’s basketball, soccer and volleyball games. The last update for the Dance team’s page was made after the team won a national Division One hip-hop title in 2020, while the Cheer team’s page was last updated in 2018.

The St. John’s Dance team is one of few teams to have placed and ranked nationally consistently over the past five years. The Dance team competed last month at the Universal Dance Association (UDA) Nationals in Orlando, Fla., placing second overall in Division I hiphop and ninth overall in Division I jazz.

The cheer and dance teams united for the first time last month to compete in the game day category, earning second overall and fell only 0.2 points short of a national victory.

During the Men’s Basketball game against Seton Hall on the day of the incident, the Cheer team wrote on the back of their shirts “WE ARE WOMEN AND SPORTS” and stood in a line together during one of the final media timeouts, linking arms. They stood in solidarity while showing the back of their shirts to the crowd in a moment of silence.

“We are ATHLETES too and deserve recognition for our GRIND,” said senior cheer captain Jaslyn Laguna on Instagram.

“[Cheerleading] goes far beyond standing on [the] sidelines and cheering for other people. Everything we do, we do for ourselves. The passion each individual has for this sport should not go unnoticed. When given less, we strive for more. We deserve recognition just the same as every other ATHLETE,” said second-year cheerleader Alison McCann via Instagram.

Following the incident, the University says there has been “ongoing and productive dialogue” between the Cheer team and the Athletics Department. Additionally, Browne said several administrators from the Athletics Department, its social media team and athletics director Mike Cragg have communicated with the team.

“To be clear, after the inadvertent omission of cheer and dance from a social media post on Wednesday, the Athletics Department has apologized and continues to champion the efforts of all of our student-athletes,” said Carolyn Renda, the head coach of the St. John’s Cheer team, in a statement to The Torch. “We are grateful to be part of a Division I athletics program that acknowledges our hard work and wants to be part of the positive change to the sport of cheerleading.”

A 13-game losing streak. Three wins across the last three seasons. When head coach Justin Turri took over this past offseason, it served as a glimmer of hope. Finally, the St. John’s lacrosse pro

Turri’s Turnaround Season: What Didn’t Happen?

A 13-game losing streak. Three wins across the last three seasons. When head coach Justin Turri took over this past offseason, it served as a glimmer of hope. Finally, the St. John’s lacrosse program would start to head in the right direction.

Turri previously proved his success at a collegiate level. He’s contributed to college lacrosse at the highest level. During his playing career at Duke, he was a twotime All-American, as well as a National Champion. As the offensive coordinator at Michigan in the 2022 season, Turri guided the team to a 7-0 start.

Early in the season, this team showed promise. While they were still not getting the results they wanted, they were competing much more than they did last season. Twenty-one goal losses were turning into eight goal losses. Turri had his players playing well in the first half, but falling apart in the second. It has now been over two months since the Red Storm fell to Delaware, and their 0-5 record has turned into an even-uglier 0-13. One of the team’s recent contests offered them their best chance to win, but they ultimately fell to No. 12 ranked Denver 10-12.

What has gone wrong?

The team won’t magically receive an invite to the Big East Tournament just based on the Turri hire. That being said, come April, the team was expected to at least have recorded a victory.

Turri needs time to build his culture. He should not be written off through 13 games. At this point, personnel needs to come into question. This is not saying that the current players on the roster lack talent, but instead suggesting that the current roster may not fit Turri’s view for the program.

Turri inherited a roster that was largely built by former head coach Jason Miller. He was able to land graduate student midfielder Sean Duffy in the transfer portal, who has been a difference maker on the offensive end this season. Duffy is third on the team in goals this season with 16.

Turri has also been essential in the development of sophomore midfielder Caiden Vlasimsky, who has taken a major step in his second season with the Red Storm. After a freshman season that only saw Vlasimsky score one point with no goals, he has been able to produce 19 points with 13 goals in his sophomore season. These are positive signs of what the young head coach can do with his roster.

The key to success for the future of St. John’s lacrosse is roster development. With the transfer portal beginning to dominate college athletics, it is entirely possible to change the landscape of a program in one season. If Turri hopes to change the fortunes of this team, he will have to be a major player in the portal come the offseason.

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Torch Photo / Sara Kiernan Sara Kiernan | Feb. 4, 2023 Kyler Fox | March 8, 2023
The cheer and dance teams were omitted by the University’s Athletic Department, leading to the Cheer squad’s decision to protest.

SJu WINS EMPIRE CLASSIC

Shuts down syracuse 76-69

The St. John’s Men’s Basketball team overcame their offensive struggles against an effective Syracuse zone defense to win the Empire Classic championship in overtime, 76-69, at the Barclays Center on Tuesday, Nov. 22. Following the win against the old-Big East rival, the Johnnies moved to 6-0 on the season and showcased their late-game prowess.

The game started just like any other Red Storm basketball game — with slow and inefficient play from the Red Storm. Syracuse employed their zone defense in an attempt to thwart the Johnnies’ fastpaced offense, and for the better part of the game, it worked.

St. John’s failed to find a consistent rhythm through regulation. Although the team trimmed the Orange lead at times, never letting Syracuse pull away, the Red Storm never fully closed the gap in the first half. With less than eight minutes remaining in the opening period, the Red Storm had just four made field goals on 19 shots.

More importantly, Syracuse was playing up to the Johnnies’ speed, and they were doing it well. That forced St. John’s to rush their ball movement, resulting in nine first-half turnovers that led to eight Syracuse points.

When the two teams returned from the locker rooms, the Johnnies’ play didn’t look much better. Syracuse extended their lead to ten points quickly

in the second half, and St. John’s had trouble keeping up.

Their early-season trend of overcoming obstacles and erasing deficits had become hard to ignore. “[Syracuse] came out and had us down early in the game, but we know that our tendency right now is to be a second half team,” said head coach Mike Anderson in a postgame media conference. “We’ve played some of our better basketball [in the second half].”

With roughly ten minutes remaining in the second half, the Johnnies began to close the gap. Junior forward David Jones finally broke the barrier with a forceful drive to the basket, securing the bucket and the foul, putting the finishing touches on a 16-2 scoring run. After Jones knocked down the free throw, St. John’s retook the lead and never looked back.

The finish wasn’t without dramatics. Syracuse tied the game at 65 with 1:38 remaining in regulation, and neither team scored in the final minutes. The Red Storm defense kept the team in the game, and didn’t let the Orange get a good look before the buzzer, forcing overtime. “We just tried to keep spacing and be aware of the shooters,” Anderson said. “I’m not married to one system, I’m married to winning.

Junior point guard Andre Curbelo proved to be clutch in the added time, creating a steal in the

game’s last moments and scoring a career-high 23 points. Jones sealed the win with one, final blow — a corner three-pointer that put the Johnnies up by seven.

“They’re not scared of big moments. They both like that [pressure],” Anderson said of Curbelo and Jones. “That has been trickling through our basketball team.”

Senior center Joel Soriano led the team’s paint presence with 19 points and 14 rebounds, which earned him his fifth double-double in six games, a figure that leads the NCAA.

Part of this team’s identity was to be the last team standing. They did just that against Temple, setting the stage for the championship thriller Tuesday. The team pulled off an even more impressive come-from-behind victory in the Empire Classic title game.

“I think it was a great team win,” Curbelo said. “As the games go by, we continue to get better down the stretch and we are going to use that second half and make it better in both halves.”

Following the overtime win against Syracuse, the St. John’s Men’s Basketball team had finished with six wins and a championship trophy to begin their 2022-23 season.

SPORTS VOLUME 101:03, 2023 YEAR-IN-REVIEW ISSUE | TORCHONLINE.COM
Brady Snyder | nov. 23, 2022
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