The Spectator The Stuyvesant High School Newspaper Opinions
Okay Ladies, Now Let’s Get In Formation
In this issue’s Voices, former Arts & Entertainment editor and senior Liana Chow discusses her experience partaking in the Women’s March at Washington with the theater-based nonprofit organization Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS. see page 4
Volume 107 No. 9
“The Pulse of the Student Body”
“How Bad Was 2016?” Senior Rodda John reflects on the tumult of 2016, and discusses whether the rise of reactionary politics warrants the overwhelming fear and pessimism being exuded by liberals. see page 11
February 3, 2017
Overhaul of Stuyvesant’s Escalators Underway
Thirty-one seniors were nominated for the 2017 U.S. Presidential Scholars program. The Debate Team competed at the Columbia Invitational on Friday, January 20. Senior Zachary Ginsberg and sophomore Leo Flessig won first place in the Public Forum division. Senior Katherine Fennell won first speaker and was a finalist in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates division.
Senior Sharon Lin has been chosen as one of two New York State delegates to attend the annual United States Senate Youth Program held in Washington, D.C. She will attend a week-long study program on the federal government.
Zhen Hong Chen / The Spectator
The Speech team won second overall at the Columbia Speech Invitational. Senior Alec Dai won first place in the Oratory division while seniors Liam Elkind and Kate Johnston won third in Original Oratory. Sophomore Emily Xu won sixth place in the Declamation division. At the Barkley Forum for High Schools Speech and Debate Tournament at Emory University, Dai reached quarterfinals in Oratory and Johnston and Elkind reached quarterfinals in Duo Interpretation. Sophomore William Lohier reached semifinals in Oral Interpretation, and senior Asher Lasday was a finalist in Congressional Debate.
By greg huang and ryan kim All of Stuyvesant’s escalators are undergoing an overhaul program to improve their safety, which requires them to be closed for several weeks at a time. The program is anticipated to be completed by the end of February. The overhaul program is taking place due to new citywide regulations for elevator and escalator safety. Since the regulations affect all of New York City, buildings that are part of city
agencies, like the Stuyvesant building, have been closing and upgrading their escalators. The upgraded escalators will have a device located every five feet that will halt the escalator if anything gets stuck or jammed. The device already exists at the ends of each escalator, but the upgraded escalators have more of them for redundancy. The Otis Elevator Company has been hired to do the overhauls. They were originally expected to be fully complete by the end of the school year, but that has
Following Passage of State Law, Seniors Lag in Vaccination Requirements By Chloe Hanson and sarah osman In recent weeks, Stuyvesant students have been stopped by the scanners because they lack proper vaccinations. A new update in the state health law, Public Health Law 2164, has adjusted immunization requirements for public school students. Most notably, all students entering 12th grade are now mandated by New York State to receive booster vaccinations against four strains of meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease leads to blood infections that can cause inflammation in the lining of the brain and spinal cord, a life-threatening condition called meningitis. The law took effect on September 1, 2016. The administration originally contacted parents and guardians in June of 2016 about the new policy, and contacted seniors on October 18, 2016 notifying them to submit proof of vaccination by November 1. Still, many students have not received the vaccine and continue
to be stopped at the scanners and warned that they will be barred from entering school until they are immunized. (No student has yet reported that they have actually been barred from entrance.) Aside from the meningitis vaccine, the law also includes updates in dosage standards for the polio, mumps, measles, diphtheria, rubella, varicella (chickenpox), Haemophilus influenzae Type B, pertussis, tetanus, and Hepatitis B vaccines. Unlike the meningitis vaccine, these vaccines were previously required by the state, and the updates have not resulted in the same among the student body. Incoming Stuyvesant students will be required to have proof of these immunizations before entering the school building, usually done through a series of letters that must be mailed to the nurse before the school year begins. This update leaves Stuyvesant in a special situation where some students start the school year without all their vaccinations. As of now, students
who have not yet had these vaccinations will either be stopped at scanners or contacted by the administration as a reminder to get the necessary vaccinations. The update in the state law was put into effect based on the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, health experts who develop vaccination policies in the U.S. Students who are unable to receive the vaccine due to personal choices will be examined on a case-by-case basis. While the choice will ultimately be up to the discretion of the member of the administration conducting the investigation, they will be required to follow the typical New York State guidelines provided for such instances. If the conclusion of the investigation deems the choice invalid, the student will be required to get the missing vaccine. Students who wish to hand in proof of immunization and have not already done so may give their immunization records to the school nurse.
been moved ahead to the end of February by using two teams of technicians instead of one. However, the overhauls are meant only to make the escalators safer, not to alleviate the problem of rampant escalator breakdowns. “The best way to keep the escalators running is [to] treat them with respect,” Assistant Principal of Safety, Student Affairs, and Health and Physical Education Brian Moran said. Many escalator stoppages are caused by students who jump off the escalators; doing so triggers a
safety feature that immediately stops the escalator. Other actions that can cause escalator breakdowns include sliding on the handrails, sitting on the escalators, or littering on the escalators. Elevators and escalators citywide are regularly inspected to ensure that they are safe. “I speak with the custodians all the time to make sure that we are up to date with all the inspections, and currently, we are,” Interim Acting Principal Eric Contreras said. “[Elevators and escalators] get inspected on an ongoing basis.”
Administration Streamlines Process for Program Changes By Wen Shan Jiang and Alexia Leong Starting this semester, program changes have been restructured so that students’ schedules are changed the same day they have been requested. With the new process, Assistant Principals (AP) were seated throughout the cafeteria, rather than the theater, after school from Tuesday, January 31, to Thursday, February 2. Once an AP approved a student’s schedule change, the student could go directly to the guidance counselor who would process it and give the student a new schedule immediately. Previously, APs lined up on the stage of the theater and would approve students’ requests with a written form. Students would then need to obtain signatures from their guidance counselors at their offices before the programming office could process the request, which could take over a day. Sometimes, their guidance counselor would not approve
the request, or the class would be filled up by another change that occurred later, and students might not be able to receive the change that the AP approved. “[Now], students will know whether they have the program changes or not rather than going home thinking they might have it, [and] coming in the next day realizing the class was full,” AP of Guidance Casey Pedrick said. In order to keep track of students, numbered tickets were still given out. The change was made by Interim Acting Principal Eric Contreras after observing program changes last September. “[Program changes usually take a long time because] we give students what we call selectives, the ability to create their own options. It means that you have to give a space for making those decisions and for making changes that they might want to make,” Contreras said. continued on page 2
The Spectator ● February 3, 2017
News “Vaclav and Lena” Author Speaks to Freshmen English Students By SARAH OSMAN
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and NASA
Trump issued a temporary ban on people entering the United States from seven Muslim-majority nations on Friday, January 27. The executive order included a 120-day ban on all refugees and an indefinite ban of all Syrian refugees, and caused mass chaos in airports as visitors entered the U.S. The following day, a federal judge in New York temporarily eased the ban to allow people in transit and with visas to enter the country.
Judge Neil Gorsuch is awaiting Senate confirmation to be named
a Supreme Court Justice, following his nomination by the president. The seat on the court has remained vacant since Antonin Scalia’s death and Republican Senators’ subsequent refusal to vote on Barack Obama’s nomination. Trump signed executive orders on Wednesday, January 25, to begin the construction of a wall on America’s border with Mexico and to reduce funding for “sanctuary cities” which harbor undocumented immigrants. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets on Saturday, January 21 in women’s marches across the globe to raise awareness for women’s rights, as well as protest comments that Trump has made about women. The largest demonstration took place in Washington D.C., where approximately 500,000 people took to the streets. Six people were killed on Sunday, January 29 in a shooting during a prayer session at a mosque in Quebec City, Canada. Canadian authorities charged Alexandre Bissonnette, a 27-year-old student known for his far-right views, for the crime. Tennis player Serena Williams defeated her sister Venus Williams in the final of the Australian Open, marking her seventh Australian Open title and record-high 23rd Grand Slam singles title. Swiss tennis player Roger Federer defeated Spaniard Rafael Nadal and won a record 18th Grand Slam men’s singles title. The hit musical film “La La Land” received 14 Academy Award nominations on Tuesday, January 24, which matches the record held by “All About Eve” and “Titanic.” “La La Land” won a record seven Golden Globes earlier in the month.
Caitlin Chao / The Spectator
Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America on Friday, January 20. Protests against the new President broke out across the world during the event. Since then, the newly-elected president has taken a number of divisive actions.
Haley Tanner, author of the novel “Vaclav and Lena,” visited Stuyvesant on Thursday, December 19, speaking to Stuyvesant’s freshman readers and writers. The program was organized by English teachers Emily Moore and Annie Thoms, who read her novel with their Freshman Composition classes. Their students had been given permission to miss their period six class and go to the library for the event. “Vaclav and Lena” tells the tale of two Russian immigrants, a boy, Vaclav, and a girl, Lena, who move to Coney Island as infants. They meet in a second language class at the age of six and become very close friends, despite their differences: Vaclav is raised in a well-kept home with a nurturing father and mother, while Lena grows up in an untidy house with her aunt, who works at a club. At the age of ten, Lena is abused by one of her aunt’s friends. Vaclav’s mother sees this when checking up on Lena and calls the police. Without telling anyone about her location, the police take her out of her house and move her to Park Slope to live with a new mother whom she calls “Em.” Vaclav grows up wondering where Lena is, and on her seventeenth birthday, he finds out. They meet up secretly, and what unfolds is a plan to travel to Russia to discover Lena’s mysterious past. The author started off her visit by reading the section of her novel that takes place on Lena’s birthday, the night she calls Vaclav. She chose this section because it was the section she enjoyed writing the most. Later, she took questions from the audience and went on to shed some insight on the writing process. “[I just wrote] about the two kids I saw on the train,” she said.
English teacher Dr. Emily Moore (right) poses with Haley Tanner, author of “Vaclav & Lena.”
“I thought their Russian accents were really cool. I started imagining their adventures and backgrounds and got a story.” The story started off as homework for her writing class. “The class reads it and they go around the room telling you how bad it is and how it should never be an actual novel […] but I didn’t listen to them.” Students were given the chance to ask the author about the “hidden” secrets and themes of the novel they discussed in class. One student asked how she came up with the symbolism in the novel, and how she planned it all out. “None of the symbolism was intended, it just happened,” Tanner said. “Writing is a little like driving. You know where you want to get to in the end, and you can see about ten feet, or a couple of paragraphs ahead of you, but you really don’t know what’s going to happen in between.” Many students found the author relatable. “She’s young and interesting. I was expecting her to be older and talk about [...] coming up with all the symbolism she put in the
novel, but she really surprised me,” freshman Annie Chen said. “She was just a student, just like us, doing her homework, and then she became an author,” freshman Sharon Zhu said. After questions, Tanner finished off her visit with some final words of advice as well as her own opinions on the writing process. “Whenever you’re stuck and don’t know what to write, give yourself a goal, tell yourself that you’re going to write 100 words today and do it, even if those words come out in editing, even if they are ‘I don’t know what to write’ [over and over again],” Tanner said. “You have to keep writing.” At the end of the period, as students filed out of the library, Tanner autographed books and essays, and took pictures with some of the students. Next year, the Freshman Composition teachers hope to make “Vaclav and Lena” part of the universal freshman curriculum and have Tanner come back to a larger group of students.
Administration Streamlines Process for Program Changes continued from page 1
Contreras suggested that guidance counselors be more involved in the process by having them be in the same room. “I wanted to try a place where I [could] put both the heads of
the departments and the guidance counselors. The theater [wasn’t] big enough but the cafeteria [was],” Contreras said. Students can still go to the guidance office during the day to fix their schedules if they have an error, such as a missing class, and need their
schedules fixed right away. In a survey conducted by The Spectator in September 2016, 86.6 percent of respondents reported that they tried to make changes to their schedule. Few expressed satisfaction with the old method of programming changes, with one respondent
writing, “Why go to program changes and see one department at a time, when you can just go to your guidance counselor and have him/her personally discuss your classes, and change any class in all departments?” “This next change is a step towards improvement,” Pe-
drick said. “When we have gone through the program changes in the past, we always can see room for improvement and hoping that we can make better use of the time of the students rather than spending hours to make a request that doesn’t get [accepted].”
The Spectator ● February 3, 2017
The Spectator ● February 3, 2017
Okay Ladies, Now Let’s Get In Formation
A bus full of Broadway activists
Liana Chow / The Spectator
Well, I sort of walked out in protest. I actually left to get on a bus to the Women’s March on Washington with my mom. My class had looked kind of depressed, especially when compared to my fourth grade class’s joyous viewing of Obama’s inauguration. I felt almost glad that I had avoided watching the fateful moment. Our family friend Valerie, who had organized the bus trip, kicked it off with some call-andresponse: “When I say WE WANT, you say JUSTICE!” “When I say PEOPLE, you say POWER!” And in the middle of that depressing day, the 40 women on the bus perked up. I listened on my phone to Obama’s speech about the origin of his iconic “fired up, ready to go” chant: At a dreary campaigning event in 2008, a woman wearing a “big church hat” piped up with the chant. The room repeated it back. Obama started to feel fired up. That’s how we were on the bus to Washington that rainy New York day, “fired up, ready to go,” energized as Valerie led us through the chants. Amidst this energy, Obama’s voice continued to filter into the background from my phone: “One voice can change a room. And if it can change a room, it can change a city,” he said. “It can change the world.” To me, that speech could eas-
in formation” for me to carry and “Keep America Kind––Fight for it––I stand with John Lewis” for my mom. On my bedside table, I placed “March,” Congressman John Lewis’s graphic novel-memoir about his experiences in the Civil Rights Movement, and a stuffed animal of the Obamas’ dog Bo.
An organic, artsy protest The next day, at the march, I saw signs of the organic nature of the march everywhere. My mom remarked on how unusual it was that all the signs were individually drawn rather than mass-printed. The abundant “pussyhats” that colored the crowd hot pink (named in crafty allusion to Donald Trump’s lewd comments caught by Access Hollywood) were all hand-knit or hand-sewn, as well. I took pictures with a few other young women with Beyonce-inspired posters. (They all happened to be from New York.) Other signs proclaimed, “THE FUTURE IS FEMALE,” “KEEP YOUR TINY HANDS OFF MY RIGHTS,” and “VOLDEMORT IS WORSE THAN UMBRIDGE.” Images of uteruses, a giant tampon, and slogans like “pussy grabs back” were likely the easiest to ridicule for people who disagreed with the march, but they were among the most important. It was a protest against a president that has shamed women’s bodies countless times and even bragged about sexual assault. We stood among the crowd a few blocks away from the stage. Frustratingly, we were not close enough to hear the words of any of my feminist idols– –Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis, Alicia Keys—but the surrounding crowd kept us engaged. We chanted, “Love! Not hate! Makes America Great!” and “We need a leader, not a creepy tweeter!” I had never been in such an enormous, dense crowd of people who shared my beliefs and eagerness to shout about them. After the election, I felt estranged. I realized that there was a half of America I neither knew nor understood. An America that had voted in a man who trampled on the fabric of what made America so great already. But here, strangers conversed, sang together, and complimented each other on their signs. Internet was down, and people were forced to talk to each other (gasp!) to find out what was happening. This was the America I understood: one that stood in solidarity even when under over-
Courtesy of Liana Chow
Like any New York City kid my age, I have these events as the bookends to my childhood: Just before my first memories was the September 11, 2001 attack; Donald Trump’s election serves as the prologue to my coming-of-age. In between was a confusing tangle that included rising bigotry against Muslims; an opposite, liberal force of growing acceptance; a conversation about race under Obama’s presidency; the creation of universal health care; the legalization of gay marriage; and the seeming promise of the first female president. I thought that reproductive freedom was assured and girls would grow up knowing they could become leaders. I was wrong. On Friday, January 20, in the moment before Donald Trump was about to be inaugurated in my government class’s live stream of the event, I walked out in protest.
ily be the story of the Women’s March. We learned two days later that it was one of the largest oneday, worldwide protests ever. It started from a mere Facebook post by a woman in Hawaii and culminated with over 700 gatherings in over 60 countries. There I was, on the bus Valerie had organized for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, a theater-based nonprofit that helps people receive life-saving medication, health care, and other support services. Learning about my fellow bus-riders gave me a picture of the staggeringly wide web that the arts world provides. Trump regularly belittles artists and has reportedly planned to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts, and these were just a few of the people who would be affected by the delegitimization of the arts. We met Renee, who works for a theater curtain and set company. There was Beth, a proprietor of a tavern serving the Broadway crowd, along with the tavern’s manager, Onika. Nancy, who works in advertising. Amy, an actor, playwright, and teacher. We were comfortable, hopeful, and excited as we rolled towards Washington. When we got to Baltimore, we laughed that we should sing Hairspray’s “Good Morning Baltimore.” We had to stay the night in Baltimore because the D.C. hotels had been filled. We ate dinner at a restaurant that was playing the inauguration on its bar T.V., and we felt encouraged, in a sardonic way, that the best act Trump could get was a cellist with bagpipers. But we were still angry. “I want more people to be outraged,”Amy said. Huddled around a table in the restaurant, we discussed our anger at Trump’s attacks on journalism, on the arts, and on the people of our nation. All these threats were quite tangible. During the campaign season, Trump supporters compiled something called “The List” of journalists they believed were trying to rig the election for Hillary Clinton––and my brother is on it, with a red X over his face. While I don’t believe my brother is in any real danger, the nation’s trust in the media is. From the next table, an Iowa woman and her daughter, also headed for the march, called to us, “See you tomorrow, ladies!” Our table erupted in cheer. Everyone else in the restaurant turned around and eyed us critically. At the hotel, I made signs: “Okay ladies, now let’s get
whelming pressures. For several hours, we were stuck in place like sardines. Since it meant the entire march route was filled with protesters, I was glad to stand there and listen to the chants. When we finally moved, it was even better. We booed Trump’s hotel as we passed, and I laughed at the thought of the Trump International Hotel guests being booed for five hours straight as the infinite crowd streamed by. We made ourselves impossible to ignore. Sometimes there were no other Asian Americans in sight, but at least the people around us could see my mom and me.
Hear us roar My grandfather wrote a memoir called “Immigrant Son,” carries a Constitution in his wallet, and donates to the American Civil Liberties Union every year. He told me over the phone about his experience at a march during the Civil Rights Movement. He couldn’t remember what it was, but my mom thought it was the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march: “People, including myself, were sleeping on the floor of the old yellow school bus because there were so many people,” he said. “And they sang all the way down to Washington! It was hymns. It was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard. Music has a power to inspire.”
The day after the march, back in New York, I saw a Facebook video of women at the Women’s March on Washington singing a song they had never rehearsed together. “I can’t keep quiet no more,” the song said. The harmonies were beautiful, and the lead singer was an Asian American woman. I wished that I had seen it at the march. I also thought my grandfather would have liked it. I’ve been taking American free speech for granted all my life. Now that the executive branch proclaims the media the “opposition party,” I am genuinely scared. I can only hope that this march will be in future textbooks as an example of a whole lot of Americans effectively exercising their right to free speech, maybe as a defining moment of third wave feminism, or maybe as the beginning of a whole new movement. As something that made journalism more important than ever. I was also comforted by the knowledge that, with the help of the media, most people immediately saw through White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s lies that tried to undermine the march. In a time when the president is trying to sweep truth under a rug, the presence of hundreds of thousands of people in bright pink “pussyhats” is hard for anyone to deny. We were there to be heard. And we were.
Mika Simoncelli / The Spectator
By Liana Chow
The Spectator ● February 3, 2017
Features By Asim Kapparova
Zhen Hong Chen / The Spectator
At 9:34 p.m. on a January evening, a photo of an MTA subway platform is posted in Stuyvesant’s Class of 2020 Advice Group. The photo is obscurely framed, its focus honed on the twisting railroad tracks, the steel pillars that hold the ceiling above, and the shining blue lights illuminating up the interiors of the tunnel. Except for an orange square that forbids the reader from crossing or entering the tracks, there are no visible placards indicating the platform’s station or route. “Guess the station! First correct guess wins 5 collectible MetroCards!” the caption of the photo says, followed by a list of the rules to the game. Immediately after the photo is posted, students flood the comment section with answers entered seconds apart. This game is not new to them, and they are determined to win. Nevertheless, it takes about 135 comments before a person finally guesses correctly, and a trail of 45 more for students to realize that the contest is officially over. Faster than the amount of time it would most likely even take for you to walk to your closest bus or subway station, the contest is finished within a slim window of five minutes. The game was inspired by a similar one posted in a Facebook group junior Greg Huang follows called Transit Photos and Videos. “Strategy is most important, but most people guess randomly with no logic at all,” Huang critiqued his own game contestants. “They guess elevated stations when stations are clearly underground. Just try to observe the photo carefully. You should be able to guess within one try.” The prize, the collectable metrocards, lovingly handed to Huang by his father, an MTA employee, are stored safely in Huang’s room. A binder the size of two marble notebooks preserves the rarest of these cards precisely like an eager boy’s pristine collection of Yu-Gi-Oh cards. “I don’t give those away at any circumstance,” Huang said. “Some date back to 2004 from my 7th grade science teacher. They are in their original blue and gold color scheme that was in circulation 1995-97.”
The Metrocards that are given out weekly are stored hundreds at a time in a cardboard box, replenished every month or so by Huang’s father. “You have to pay a one dollar fee to activate them, but they are collected for plastic and not actual use. They have special designs like advertisements, which [are] in very stark contrast to [the public service announcements] on the back of today’s blue and gold metrocard,” Huang said. For the many students who have never personally met the mysterious creator of this Friday weekly contest, it may be hard to recognize him in the school hallways. His Facebook profile pictures do little to clear up the enigma that is his identity, for his entire album mainly features a collection of buses and trains with only one recent group photo. There is only one main clue, which is the blue Arial font that spells out his name: Greg Huang. From the “RIP Orion V” messages he cryptically leaves on chalkboards during his classes to the thousand plus videos uploaded on his Youtube channel, again featuring all of transit and none of his face, junior Greg Huang is probably Stuyvesant’s most famous transit enthusiast. When he immigrated to the United States from China twelve and a half years ago, Huang immediately became fascinated by the various subway car types and windows. “Back then, there was a car type called the R40,” Huang began the first of many rapid-fire informative lectures. “This car type was retired by 2009, but what made the car type so distinctive is that [it] had a [...] huge window at the front that I could easily look out [from], even though I was really short back then. [In] the other car types, the window was replaced relatively high up, so I couldn’t see out, and my dad had to lift me up. But not the R40. There’s a term for it. It’s called railfan. You can still get a railfan window today on the 7 train, but only three trains out of forty plus have them. Or on every other J or C train.” For a long time, Huang was only a casual observer of the New York City Transit system. However, in 2011, his appreciation for the MTA subways
skyrocketed. He began seriously researching different subway car models, and in a few months, knew the entire subway system along with its line systems. In 2013, Huang expanded his MTA horizons by becoming a serious bus enthusiast. He started to do research, and within half a year, mastered the entire bus MTA system and most of the common bus types in North America. To this day, New York City transit remains his first and only true love. “No other city’s in the world is like it,” he said. “Other advanced transit systems, like Asian stations in Tokyo and Singapore, have almost identical looking stations. I do know a bit about the D.C., London, and Paris systems, but they are nowhere near as interesting as New York City’s.” Huang did not hesitate when asked about his favorite bus models. “My favorite type of car is the rapid transit series, called RTS, which is a huge series of transit buses that has been in service for New York City since 1981. Current models in service are from 1997 to ‘99. That is pretty impressive, because buses usually retire at 14 to 17 years of age,” Huang said. “RTS average age is 18 years. I don’t only like it because it is an icon of New York City, like the red double decker is to London. But it has also been in New York City for so long and has been featured in countless movies, TV shows, etc. Very distinctive design.” On a cold, winter Friday afternoon, when most students would go out with their friends or go home to relish their first good night of sleep in a week, Huang decides to spend his evenings exploring the vast ends of the MTA transit system. This season in particular brings a special treat: MTA vintage buses, retired all year except for a select few days in the winter. We had the special opportunity to tag along with Huang on the search for rare retired MTA bus models. Huang has been riding these vintage buses every year since 2011, yet his excitement to ride them again the day we joined him almost convinced us that our first time would also be his. We almost missed him on the bridge. Huang came rushing out of the bridge doors with his Columbia blue
Zhen Hong Chen / The Spectator
The Walking Transit Wikipedia
jacket, light beige khakis, and his blue wheelie backpack trailing behind him. As we hurried to the Chambers Street subway station, Huang identified every bus model that passed our way. “That is the most common bus model in circulation today,” he said in reference to the passing M22. As Huang breathlessly described the different models of buses we passed throughout the brisk walk, the New York City streets suddenly felt like a living, breathing museum, and the MTA buses were transformed to the main exhibition on display. At the subway station, Huang took out his camera to snap his first photo of our trip, a picture of the one to two railroad track to the uptown Bronx. “This model is an R142 2001,” he added. These photos are taken and collected on his computer to be uploaded weekly for the Guess the Station game, as well as almost daily uploads for his Youtube channel. The Youtube channel, titled “Greg Huang,” houses over one thousand videos of both commonplace and rare bus and subway models, spanning all the way back to July of 2013. “I couldn’t find a more interesting title,”
Huang confessed. The uptown 2 train arrives as Huang is beginning to look more impatient. The time is already past 4:10 p.m., and vintage bus service ends at 5 p.m. “We have to hurry,” Huang said. “It isn’t guaranteed we will catch one.” When we arrive at Times Square, Huang half power-walks, half runs down the block through tourists to reach the awaited bus stop. We barely manage to catch up. At the corner of 42nd and 6th, we stand in the freezing cold, diligently waiting for more buses to come. Luck seems to be on our side, and after one regular service bus and one out of service vintage bus pass, a white vintage bus with rhombus tilted windows arrives. We get on and sit in the back, admiring the antique atmosphere with advertisements that still need to be plastered onto the boards inside. For most of the ride, Huang is silent, focused on his surroundings and intent on videotaping the bus ride for his archives. We admire the old “Stop Requested” sign, the lack of carpeting on the walls and seats, and the peculiar yellow color of the bus interior. The bus makes an old-fashioned ding noise when one grabs a wire to alert the driver that they have requested a stop. However, we never pulled the cord because we get off at the last stop. When we exit, Huang is already eager to wait for another one, scurrying around. He takes pictures, moving so quickly from place to place that it is hard for me to follow him, even with my eyes. He seems so transfixed as he records something that very few people appreciate. In the future, Huang plans to continue spreading his knowledge of the transit system by continuing to run the Stuyvesant Transit Association (STA), which he started during the March of 2015 with fellow transit enthusiasts sophomore Trevor Jensen and junior Shiva Vummidi. The club takes trips together and provides services to the Stuyvesant community. Last summer, the STA put in hours of work into a transit safety manual that was distributed to the incoming class of 2020. “The Transit Association is a good way to help people. If someone needs transit help, I try to give it based on where they live. I also try to help whenever there are delays, by posting in the advice groups. I don’t get any thank you’s, but I hope that the advice helps them,” Huang said.
The Spectator ● February 3, 2017
Features Two issues ago, The Spectator told the stories of Stuyvesant’s youngest actors; now, we turn the spotlight on their mentors: the upperclassmen actors of Stuyvesant.
Emily Ma: A Singer and a SING!-er Movies and television shows have always fascinated senior Emily Ma, even before she developed a passion for acting. Her favorite actresses were, and still are, Jennifer Lawrence and Meryl Streep, because of their ability to fully invest themselves in the various characters they play. Though Ma had an interest in theater and a strong background in music, specifically in piano, she never took part in any productions. SING! changed all of that. On a whim, Ma tried out for cast during her freshman year, and was surprised when she got the lead role, an alien from Pluto named Violet in a story about star-crossed lovers. “It probably was the most definitive moment of my life,” she said. It was difficult at first—she remembered feeling very selfconscious for the first few weeks of rehearsal—but as she got more comfortable, her experience started to change. Acting felt fresh and addictive, and so different from the highly structured academic lifestyle she was used to. “You feel like you’re a part of something that’s so creative and ever-changing,” she said. Year after year, Ma kept coming back for SING!. As a sophomore, she played a toy drummer. Unlike Violet, who was lively and spunky, the toy drummer was the opposite; she was rigid and nervous, and whatever she said was “word vomit,” as Ma described it in an e-mail interview. Even as a junior, she jumped wholeheartedly into the theater; in fact, acting helped relieve some of her stress, and she felt that that year was her best performance so far. Her two years of experience helped her immerse herself into the character she was playing, Billary Linton, based on Hillary Clinton, and despite the difficulty to pull it off successfully, considering that she would be compared to SNL’s renditions, she felt she did very well. “That was the best experience, for other people to see my rendition of Hillary Clinton and to be like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s pretty good, that’s pretty funny,’” she said, smiling. Despite the various changes in the personalities of the characters, one thing that has remained constant is Ma’s approach to
learning the role. To fit her role, she often uses aspects of herself to mirror the character’s thoughts and actions. “The magic happens after I have meticulously analyzed my character and familiarized myself with the entire play, when I perform on stage and completely and naturally exist as my character,” she said in an email interview. Understandably, Ma hasn’t fully explored being an actor because of her other commitments. On top of her schoolwork, she dedicates her time to Young People’s Chorus, and she also practices playing the piano. As a result, she only has time for SING!, and hasn’t had a chance to participate in either the Stuyvesant Theater Community (STC) or outside productions. “Even if I can’t have it complement my education throughout the year, at least I have [SING!] in February,” she said. Ma is looking forward to acting in college, where she feels she would have more time to fully explore theater life. She has started improving her acting already; last summer, she convinced her family to let her take lessons from an acting coach. “I had to beg really hard,” she said, laughing. Her coach mostly worked on her monologues. In past years, she found it difficult to fully invest herself in a character because it made her uncomfortable. “It is actually really scary to inhabit a person who is so different from myself, because my natural instinct is to act like myself,” she said in an e-mail interview. To work through this, her coach taught her to identify with the character by determining their objectives and breaking the monologue into sizable chunks. She was also taught to use her natural instinct to truthfully react to the situations her character would face. Ma feels that she has become a more powerful actress, closer to the ones who inspired her in the very beginning. With her final SING! approaching, she is looking forward to applying all that she has learned to her next character.
Travis Tyson: Finding a Niche in Acting From his recognizable and much-admired hair to his infectious energy, junior Travis Tyson can easily be picked out from Stuyvesant’s crowded hallways. Tyson consistently appears in SING! and is heavily associated with STC productions, so it may come as a surprise to many that before coming to Stuyvesant, Tyson was minimally involved in theater. Instead, he was much more invested in dance, first becoming involved through the National Dance Institute (NDI), an organization that travels to schools, teaches students to dance, and recruits talented performers. “They take the best and brightest of each class and bring them to a different [program]. I did that throughout my middle school ca-
Hayoung Ahn / The Spectator
Augie Murphy: From Small-town Shows to NBC Though most people associate junior August Murphy with acting, singing was her first passion. Like many young kids, she thought that she was going to be a rock star when she grew up. Since before she could remember, Murphy has had the tendency to break out into song. Whether she’s sitting in her room doing homework or in the middle of a conversation, there doesn’t seem to be much that can keep her from music. She has also spent her whole life fawning over musicals—a shared love with her father. However, Murphy didn’t know that this would be a defining part of who she is until fourth grade, where she performed in “A Kid’s Life” as the kid who couldn’t fold a paper airplane. Even though she had already tried her hand at acting in musicals when she was four and played a small role in “The Trial of the Big Bad Wolf,” her fourth grade show marked a defining moment in her acting career. “That was when I realized I loved acting,” she explained. Ever since fourth grade, acting has been an integral part of Murphy’s life. She began to attend a musical theater sleepaway camp the summer following fifth grade and devoted herself to improving her craft. “Finding something you really love and doing it every day just brings so much more energy into your life,” she said. Her passion for acting is reflected in her extensive resume. From partaking in dozens of musicals, to being cast in “Yes, Virginia” and gracing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, to playing a younger version of Téa Leoni’s character in NBC’s hit show “Madam Secretary,” Murphy has done it all, and she’s learned a lot from each experience. “Madam Secretary” was her first time on a network television show, and she saw a flashy side of acting that was unknown to her before. However, her quick ascent into the acting world was not without its challenges. Theater, especially in the professional realm, is all-consuming by nature, and actors have trouble committing to much else because they may be called on short notice. Last spring, Murphy got an agent, and the auditions started rolling in. “I would have to keep missing stuff, and everybody would keep getting mad at me for always being late all the time. But I think of it as less of a sacrifice and more of just choosing what I love,” she explained. Murphy emphasized that though acting is a huge commitment, it is anything but limiting. She has learned many things to supplement her portrayal of her char-
acters, such as learning how to dance for Broadway. However, the most important things she has learned from acting are less tangible. Through acting, Murphy has learned to understand people better. “You get the opportunity to play so many roles, and it’s impossible to play a [character] and not love them the way they love themselves. It’s impossible to not see where they came from and try and understand why they’re making the choices they made,” she said. “Once you’ve had the chance to understand so many people, you’re overwhelmed by this amazing sense of empathy.”
Senior Winston Venderbush (right) plays Juror 4 in the Winter 2015 production of “12 Angry Men.”
Jenson Foerster / The Spectator
By Asim Kapparova
Spotlight On: Stuyvesant’s Veteran Actors
Senior Emily Ma parodies Hillary Clinton during Junior SING! 2016.
reer. I enjoyed dancing, especially more than all the other kids in my class,” he said. NDI was not Tyson’s only dance program. Near the end of his time with NDI, he noticed an advertisement for a program called Triple Arts, which he participated in the year before high school. “There’s singing, dancing, and acting, so you have a mix of all of them,” he said. However, Tyson’s experience with NDI and Triple Arts ended before he came to Stuyvesant. “Coming to high school, I didn’t really have many extracurriculars, because all of my dancing was done. And then I saw an advertisement for the show ‘Rent.’ I was [...] interested, so I went to try out a couple of days later,” he said. Tyson confessed, “I was actually scared because I didn’t know where it was, and me being a little freshman, I was scared to ask anybody, but I ended up finding it. So I tried out. It was very nervewracking.” However, apart from this being his first major role in a theatrical production, “Rent” was a valuable experience for Tyson in terms of his transition to Stuyvesant. “‘Rent’ was where I made my first real friends in Stuyvesant. With STC, since you end up spending a lot of time with [other people] for a [while], you really get to know them pretty well. That’s where I really found myself in Stuyvesant, where I had a place where I belonged, where I met people,” he said. When asked about his favorite role, Tyson found it difficult to choose between being the Magic-8 Ball in Soph-Frosh SING! and being an ensemble member in the STC production of the “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” Tyson’s role in Putnam County gave him an appealing level of autonomy. “Since it’s not actually written into the script that there’s supposed to be a chorus, we really had freedom to do whatever we wanted during the show. We got to make up our characters,” Tyson explained. However, this by no means compromises his appreciation for SING! “SING! was the next show after “Rent.” [I thought I] may as well try out, especially because the directors for Rent were the same exact ones as the ones for Soph-Frosh SING!,” he said. Tyson described a goofy experience during callback auditions when he tried to sit down on top of a desk, instead epically missing and winding up on the floor. “It was hilarious. The directors kept on laughing, and they [later] said that was when they knew they wanted to cast me as the Magic-8 Ball.” Indeed, SING! proved to be a treasured bonding experience for Tyson. “I got to meet a lot of people. [During SING!] you get to hang out, and you have a lot more time than with STC, so you
have more time to talk with your castmates. You have a lot more time for theater games rather than being on the show 24/7,” he said. However, the anticipation surrounding SING! doesn’t come without a cost for cast members. “SING!’s a lot bigger and a lot more people care about it, so you feel like you have a bit more pressure on you in cast. You feel like you have to do your best for your grade,” Tyson said. Despite Tyson’s experience with the stage, there are certain types of roles and productions that Tyson has not yet partaken in. “I’ve never been in a show that didn’t have singing and dancing in it,” he said, noting his interest in playing a dramatic role in a show without singing. With that said, Tyson enjoys the instant gratification from the audience that being onstage gives him. “It’s nice being on stage, because whenever you say something, the audience is there to react to it,” he said. “It just gives me so much satisfaction.” Winston Venderbush: Creating The Theater Scene from Backstage You’ve probably seen his name on every STC playbill and SING! playbill, and you’ve most likely heard him introduce his grade’s performance on SING! night in the past. Though rarely on the stage himself, senior Winston Venderbush is highly involved in Stuyvesant’s theater scene: not through acting, unlike every other student profiled here, but through production. Though being closely associated with producing as an STC Slate member and a two-time SING! coordinator, Venderbush’s interest in theater first emerged through a few minor acting roles in middle school. Venderbush played the role of King Henry V during eighth grade, which fueled his passion for theater. “I had a lot of fun [in that role], so when I came here, I wanted to continue doing theater,” he said. “I realized I didn’t love being on stage as much, so I ended up getting into producing for “West Side Story,” [and] here I am.” Venderbush considers Emily Ruby (‘15) the person who originally taught him the ropes of producing. “She in many ways was a mentor to me during that first production,” he explained. Venderbush regards “West Side Story,” the fall musical during his freshman year, as a valuable learning experience. “I was new at Stuyvesant, so it was a Stuyvesant learning experience, but it was also a producing [type of] learning experience: learning how the STC itself functions.” The year of West Side Story also ushered in some notable changes, such as being the first year the STC began creating playbills to accompany each show. continued on page 7
The Spectator ● February 3, 2017
Features continued from page 6
Venderbush views a balance between artistic and technical aspects of a show as essential to its success. “I am an artist in many ways, and a singer and an actor as well, so I do love that side of [production], and I have a deep appreciation of it. There’s an important balance to find between just focusing on business and just focusing on the art. If you just focus on one, the other collapses,” he said. Venderbush emphasized the concept of trial-and-error as the key to creating an engaging show. “You never know until it goes on stage. My whole time here has been a learning experience: trial and error, balancing it out to find an equal shot [of both],” he said. Venderbush noted that his show management and style of producing have changed over the years, but perhaps not in the direction one would expect. “I’ve become a lot more relaxed in my ways. I used to be very uptight,” he said. “Some people would disagree and think that I’m still uptight. I have to be, sort of, but I used to be more so.” However, this more relaxed take on production and management is vital to the free exchange
By Archi Das Here are some examples of answers that I received when I conducted an informal survey asking students if they ever considered going to a SPARK club meeting or event: “No.” “Who are they?” “Nope.” “What does that mean?” The fact that the majority of the responses questioned SPARK and what sorts of events they hold is evidence that the SPARK community is highly overlooked and underappreciated in Stuyvesant. Being able to change these perspectives is definitely a difficult task, but it’s one that many of the SPARK clubs, including the ones following, are striving to do. Limitless: The Self-Esteem Dream In the past, junior Marie Ivantechenko did not approach people unless they chose to talk to her first. Many people can relate to limiting themselves due to low self-confidence. At the end of the day, being unable to step out of one’s comfort zone keeps one from making friends and expressing their voice. The new SPARK club, Limitless, hopes to combat this fear. Led by Ivantechenko and junior Alex Wen, Limitless hopes to help people boost their self-confidence by promoting self-care and selflove. Ivantechenko and Wen started this club because of their own issues with self-confidence. They faced problems with body image and speaking up. “My self-confidence issues stemmed from being afraid to talk to people and letting my ideas out. I [thought] that people [were] going to look down [on] me,” Ivantechenko said. They hope sharing their personal experiences in the environment of Limitless will inspire people to seek out help. “We started it with the purpose that if others were going through the same thing that we did, they [would] not [have to feel] alone and they [would] have somewhere they [could] talk,” Wen said. Limitless meets every other week to discuss the mental health topic chosen for that month, such as anxiety or depression. During the meetings, the members discuss what issues they face with the topic, what they hope to accomplish, and steps for improvement. The meetings usually operate through group discussions rather than lectures. “We want the members to learn for themselves rather than us putting words in their mouth,” Ivantechenko said. However, the club is having
of ideas that can be utilized during production, and which Venderbush is known for; highlights of Junior SING! 2016, which he coordinated, include bubbles on the set to cast wintry overtones and a rap battle. Venderbush emphasized that these ideas were in fact not his own, but originated from other SING! participants. “Of course I’m a creative person. I have creative ideas, but a lot of ideas come from the people that I work with, who are all really amazing, creative people,” he said. Venderbush recognized that part of the job is to accept these ideas. However, in something as large as SING!, a lot of people have creative input, and everyone wants the show to be just what they want it to be. “There’s a big aspect of taking ideas from every individual and making sure the ones that are really, really the best make it through,” Venderbush noted. Venderbush cited his struggles with the bubbles on the set of Junior SING! 2016 as an example of an idea that had to be reworked and tried out multiple times before becoming effective. “Originally, we didn’t want to do the bubbles. We had a number of ideas. We wanted to at first drop snow powder from the catwalks.
We made the powder and tried it, [and] it just clumped up and fell in a big mass. Didn’t really work,” he said. “So there was a lot of trial and error involved too, and generating good ideas.” Rather than find it frustrating, Venderbush has a deep appreciation of the work and experimentation that goes into a show. “But that’s the magic of it, right? There’s all this production that goes on in the back, and then the audience gets to see just the good part, which is sort of the fun of it,” he said. A three-time SING! coordinator for the Class of 2017, Venderbush is extremely invested in SING! and begins planning long before SING! season officially starts. “It’s definitely an exciting time of the year. I enjoy working with all the crews. There’s a certain level of energy with being cast. Putting all that on the line, you really have to put your spirit into it,” he said. When asked if he plans to pursue a career in production, Venderbush said, “It’s possible. It’s something I’ve always thought about. Maybe theater production, maybe film production. It’s like a dream of mine. I would love to be a producer. It would be a pleasure, because it’s something I love to do, so if I could do it, I would
trouble with attendance at meetings. The first few meetings had decent attendance, but lately Wen and Ivantechenko were faced with an empty room. In an effort to gain more members, they plan to hold awareness events in February. They feel that they need to distinguish themselves from the other SPARK clubs. “We’re new, and other SPARK clubs have expanded their horizons and [taken] over what we were going to do without realizing it,” Wen said. They believe that in order to improve the effectiveness of SPARK and make them more wellknown, the clubs should work together to promote a unanimous goal. “I think the most effective way is not by having all these clubs, but SPARK as an organization [...] coming together,” Wen said. Though SPARK has been present in Stuyvesant for such a long time, it rarely receives recognition and has minimal involvement. “ We don’t see how it connects to the real world problems,” Ivantechenko said. “Stuyvesant is seen as this excessively nerdy and geeky school, and because of that, a lot of students in [Stuyvesant] are ruled by logic rather than emotion,” Wen said. “It’s harder to look into something that you don’t understand or see as important.” Wen believes the stereotypes of Stuyvesant students limit them to a stoic attitude towards clubs that promote emotional freedom. Wen hopes for students to rise above their apathy. “[Stuyvesant students] need to realize that stepping out of their comfort zone is a big step towards helping themselves recover and addressing their problems,” Wen said.
was like, ‘This is a great cause [and] something we should definitely emphasize.” This interest led to Xu collaborating with Colon in order to restart the club. SADD’s goals encompass most of the issues that Stuyvesant students face: alcohol abuse, drug abuse, sexual assault, and even mental health problems. “We’re activism in the way that we raise awareness and educate the student body,” Xu said. They inform the students on prevalent topics in the Stuyvesant community. They try to keep their topics up-to-date, so that they are issues that students actually want to learn more about. For example, last June, they created a prescription drug abuse booth because of the eleven students that were taken to the hospital because of an overdose on the prescription drug, Xanax. “A lot of the issues such as drug abuse or alcohol abuse in the Stuyvesant community are prevalent,” Xu said. “But it’s not like we’re targeting specific students—we’re just here to say, ‘Hi, we’re here to help. First we’re here to educate you and raise awareness, but we’re also here to help you through your addiction.’” Similar to most SPARK clubs, SADD is currently having trouble with membership. In their facebook group, there are about 50 people; however, at meetings, only 15 to 20 people arrive. Compared to other SPARK clubs, this is a decent turnout. However, most of the current members are seniors. So, unless they gain underclassmen members, the club may die out again. That is where the Director of Expansion, Michael Lin, steps in. Lin works to bring the group together and expand the club to attract newer members. Currently, his plan is to take advantage of the word of mouth. With the new people that are joining, Lin uses bonding activities to strengthen the feeling of community. “Some people that don’t really talk during meetings are playing games with each other,” Lin said. They feel like these activities are the key to gaining more members, because once people realize that the meetings aren’t just ranting about your feelings or putting yourself in an uncomfortable position, meetings become enjoyable. Xu and Lin said that they cannot measure the exact effectiveness of their clubs. All they know is that they are constantly making an effort to raise awareness. Last year, SADD members would enter freshmen classrooms and discuss their mission as a club and how the freshmen could join. “We asked the freshmen how many of them noticed our booths,
Chloe Delfau / The Spectator
Spotlight On: Stuyvesant’s Veteran Actors
Junior August Murphy (left) acts alongside junior Travis Tyson (right) in Soph-Frosh SING! 2016.
never work a day in my life.” In the meantime, Venderbush has to satisfy himself with attending Broadway shows (when asked which his favorite was, he immediately replied, “Hamilton, of course! I’ve seen it twice,”) and hopes to act again someday, despite admitting that he feels he is often typecast. “I always get typecast into a sort of sinister, stern, logical, calculating [character]. That was Henry V, and also Juror 4,” he said. Juror 4 from Stuyvesant’s production of “Twelve Angry Men” is Venderbush’s favorite acting role
A SPARK of Hope
Students Against Destructive Decisions: The Struggling Activism Club When witnessing a problem, many people may just passively step aside and wait for someone else to deal with it. Seniors Rozi Xu and Michael Lin aim to bring attention and raise awareness about many of these issues that are looked over or ignored in Stuyvesant through their SPARK club, Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD). SADD was actually founded a while ago; however, it became inactive because all of the members were seniors and had graduated. SADD President Xu credits the revival to the efforts of co-faculty advisor, Angel Colon, and guidance counselor, Di Wu. “Mr. Wu was talking about it. He had all this merch, and he was saying, ‘How can I restart this club?’ And that’s where I stepped in, and I
and almost everyone did, which means that people do see us, but you can’t really measure whether or not it prevents them from destructive decisions,” Xu said. It’s a struggle that a lot of SPARK clubs are facing. With very little coverage and feedback on their events or meetings, they cannot correctly gauge whether their attempts to help Stuyvesant students are working or not. Without this sort of response, the SPARK community is left in the dark, which is not something that can be easily fixed. Xu and Lin advise students who are struggling with these issues is to talk to someone experienced and understanding, like SPARK coordinator Angel Colon. They also encourage students to face their issues head-on and embrace the communities in Stuyvesant that offer help. “I think some people or scared to come out of their shell and talk about what’s bothering them. They’re kind of intimidated by the faculty and afraid to talk to them about their problems,” Xu said. “And it’s better for them to talk to us than us to approach them.” Venus Nnadi: A Personal Perspective Junior Venus Nnadi represents the minority of black students in Stuyvesant. She is a proud member of the SPARK club Students of Color in Tandem, formerly divided into the Black Students League (BSL) and ASPIRA, which works to increase and celebrate the diversity within Stuyvesant. Nnadi initially joined BSL because she needed a place to talk about how she felt walking into Stuyvesant. “The reason I joined BSL was because I [didn’t] see people like me in school, so [I needed a] safe space where [I could] talk to people about the problems [I had],” Nnadi said. Coming from a predominantly black and Hispanic middle school, Nnadi was very surprised to not be able to interact with someone from the same culture as her at her own school. “I think the first class I had with another black student was [during my] sophomore year,” Nnadi said. “After that, I never had any classes like that again.” Nnadi was aware of the demographics and the fact that Stuyvesant’s racial makeup would be very different from what she was used to, “But it didn’t really hit me until I came.” Students of Color in Tandem helped smooth out Nnadi’s transition from the atmosphere in her middle school to that in high school. Even though she didn’t see people like her throughout the day, she was able to experience
to have had as of yet. However, Venderbush does not try out for cast frequently— perhaps due to a surprising fear of auditions. “I’m really afraid of auditioning; actually, it’s one of my biggest fears. Oh my goodness, I hate it,” Venderbush confessed. His reluctance to audition may be depriving us all of the chance to witness another great talent on the stage, but fortunately, his producing experience has been put to good use over his time at Stuyvesant. He will almost certainly outdo himself when SING! 2017 rolls around again in March.
the community after school. “It was a place where you could talk about your day [or] anything,” Nnadi said. “You could talk with people who had the same culture as you and shared the same tastes in things as you did.” Nnadi wants to dispel the assumptions that people make about culture clubs like BSL. “A lot of people think that our club is about black power or that it’s just for black people,” Nnadi explained. “But, it’s just a safe space for everyone. We speak about many issues that are going on today, like police brutality.” She emphasizes the fact that anyone who is passionate about issues surrounding diversity should join regardless of their race. However, due to low membership. BSL and ASPIRA chose to combine. Nnadi feels that the difference in culture is not a barrier and can bring them together. “Even though people are separated by religions and cultures, we come together for bigger events, and everyone is generally welcoming and supporting because of our mission to help,” she said.“Recently, we talked about Trump’s election, how it made us feel, and how it would affect us because of our race.” Currently, they are planning on going to different schools to reach out to students and discuss the importance of taking the SHSAT. “A lot of people who get accepted to Stuyvesant don’t [attend] because they feel that their numbers are too low,” Nnadi said. But, Nnadi believes that not being born a certain race or religion shouldn’t have an effect on whether or not you join a club that advocates something that you care about. She is an avid supporter of the power of the SPARK clubs. “I do believe [the SPARK clubs] are effective,” Nnadi said. “People have their religion and culture at home and you get to bring that to school and share it with other people.” Time is not an issue when it comes to participating in SPARK clubs. Nnadi has a busy schedule with multiple extracurriculars and barely any free days. “It’s not really hard to balance because it’s not a strict schedule,” Nnadi said. “We have our meetings once a week or once every other week, so it’s very flexible, they’re not super strict on attendance.” Nnadi stresses that the main point is that you shouldn’t deprive yourself of these clubs and resources simply because you feel that you will stick out. “If you feel passionate about whatever topic or whatever issue the club advocates, you should definitely join and voice your opinion,” Nnadi said.
The Spectator ● February 3, 2017
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The Spectator ● February 3, 2017
Editorials Staff Editorial
Lessons From Beyond the Textbook As second semester begins, the tense energy of finals week starts to dissipate. For teachers, the last weeks of January were a crunch time for grades, which meant assigning final projects and exams. During the last week of official classes, students spent long nights studying physics and putting final touches on their drafting projects. And after this barrage of in-class projects and finals came the week full of nothing but tests. Surviving this ordeal is tough, but somehow, Stuyvesant students pull through. We search through the arsenal of knowledge that Stuyvesant has given us—not just facts about cellular respiration or the military might of Napoleon, but skills that have helped us succeed. We’ve learned valuable lessons on how to become the best students we can be. But we’ve also learned quick tricks and hacks that give us a small, but helpful, push toward success. Here are some of the lessons we’ve learned at Stuyvesant, inside and outside the classroom.
Taught by our teachers
o u t g oi n g
e di tori a l
The Spectator The Stuyvesant High School Newspaper
“The Pulse of the Student Body” E DITOR S
Danielle Eisenman* Sonia Epstein* N ews
Learning From Peers Many of us were the smartest kids in our middle schools and expected to continue this trend in high school. But for most, the realization quickly comes that your peers are just as intelligent as you; some are even smarter (!). Maybe one of them has had his experiments sent up in a NASA spaceship, and another might be a published poet. These are the ones you can actually ask for homework help from.
Speaking to Teachers/ Advocating for Ourselves Even if you usually prefer to keep your hand down in class and talk only to your closest friends, most of us are faced with situations where we need to gather our confidence and talk to a teacher. Maybe you’re unhappy with your grade or feel you just do not understand the class material. We’re definitely going to face situations like this in the future, so it’s good to get the initial shock out of the way now.
Quickly Fixing Big Mess Ups When a teacher who rarely collects homework surprises your class with a massive homework check, you learn to avoid your teacher’s wrath, groaning loudly and lamenting over how you “left your folder at home.” When the teacher asks questions based on the homework, you raise your hand and discuss at great length the intelligent responses you included in the great work that you, sadly, “left at home.”
Time Management Procrastination. It haunts us all. But being assigned two essays, a project, and multiple science and language homeworks can definitely kickstart the hard worker in us all. At least we’ll be prepared for the sleepless nights awaiting us in college and beyond.
Taking Care of Ourselves Juggling school, friends, family, sleep, extracurriculars, and whatever other curve balls come your way is both a part of life at Stuyvesant and also really difficult. Many of us have learned how to pay attention to ourselves and realize when we’re just a little too overworked. Maybe you take a “mental health” day or do something special to take your mind off things (draw, listen to music, etc.). These skills are easily translatable to the real world where “school” is replaced with a host of other things.
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Someday, our time at Stuyvesant will simply be a hazy memory. Though the ordeals we have suffered during finals week, the sleepless nights we spent working, and the traumatizing tests we failed will all be in the past, we will always be able to utilize the skills we acquired here.
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Being Phony Around Teachers We all say we don’t, but at some point in our time at Stuyvesant, we have all acted in a phony way towards our teachers. For example, maybe you heard about the girl who gave her teacher a present for her kid and got a 96 after skipping class most of the semester. Or maybe you just stop to have a conversation with your teacher after class. At the minimum, an energetic “Good Morning!” isn’t really brown nosing, is it?
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Anne George Julia Ingram* Blythe Zadrozny Facing Failure Many incoming freshmen face their first failed test at Stuyvesant, which comes as a huge shock. But stopping to wallow in self pity isn’t really an option in such a rigorous environment, and we have to learn to move on; one test doesn’t define our value as students or as people.
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The Spectator ● February 3, 2017
Victoria Huang / The Spectator
How Bad Was 2016?
By Rodda John Following the turn of a new year, magazines and newspapers are filled with years in review, social media is flooded by various images and memories, and discussions often turn to the highlights of the previous year. This year, however, there is a noticeably less upbeat tone. We are speaking less of new innovations, new achievements, or new social progress. We are instead talking about the mountain of celebrity deaths, the worsening climate, or, most frequently, the new political climate. This new year has felt different than previous new years. I’m interested in why. I suspect that 2016 will be recorded in history as the end of one era, and the beginning of a new one. All of my life, all of my parents’ lives, and almost all of my grandparents’ lives have been defined by the Second World War and the peace settlement directly thereafter. This settlement pitted communism against capitalism, the West against the East, the United States against Russia. Perhaps more importantly, it established, at least for the West, the values of liberal democracy—namely free trade, open borders, and close military cooperation between the countries of the West. In 2016, these once accepted postulates were
rejected by many democracies across the world. From 1946 to the present, primarily because of the creation of economic partnerships which resulted in the formation of the European Union, Europe has experienced its most peaceful 70 years in recorded history. The European powers have not fought each other, nor have they even felt the need to protect themselves from owing much of their defense to the United States throughout the Cold War. However, the first crack has appeared in the bastion that once was the EU: Brexit. A once far-right position of rejecting free trade, open borders, and close European cooperation was victorious in Britain, surprising Prime Minister David Cameron, but also the world. This once far-right, now, dare I say, mainstream position is not limited to Britain. Germany and France both have increasingly active far right parties which have gained seats in the most recent elections in both countries. In Austria, the far-right candidate Norbert Hoffer came close to winning the Austrian presidency. This phenomenon, however, is not restricted to Europe—this past June, Rodrigo Duterte became the president of the Philippines. Many Americans were horrified at his vulgar use of language, and his anti-American and pro-China rhetoric. Any analysis of the politics of 2016 would not be complete without a mention of Donald Trump. He, like Duterte, surprised many Americans throughout his campaign with his vulgar and lewd remarks, pro-Russia rhetoric, anti-NATO rhetoric, and anti-trade rhetoric. It is worth noting that many of his trade positions fall closely in line with those of Bernie Sanders, the far-left candidate. This is but another indication that perhaps the conventional liberal values
and the conventional conservative values are no longer so cut and dry. The election of Trump is indicative of a larger global shift away from the alliances created after the Second World War. Trump has stated repeatedly that he wishes for the United States to leave NATO, a mainstay of our foreign policy for 70 years, and to thaw relations between the United States and our former Cold War enemies, Russia and China. His anti-trade, anti-press, and wall-building rhetoric also attack the classic liberal belief of the free flow of peoples, information, and ideas. These attacks are common in all these right wing movements. They all attack constructs which we have taken for granted and thought were thoroughly off the discussion table for 70 years. To a liberal, none of this is particularly uplifting. However, some progress, depending on one’s point of view, was made in 2016: the FARC struck a peace deal with the Colombian government, ending a half-century war. Two presidents, of South Korea and Brazil, were both impeached; perhaps we the people do still have some power up our sleeves. Although impeachment is not inherently a liberal nor conservative action, it does demonstrate the power of what a liberal would call sound judgement of the people, somet h i n g m a n y liberals see lacking in the general
populace of the world today. The age since the Second World War has been the age of liberalism. Liberal movements and values such as civil rights, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, free trade, and peace have triumphed. These victories have allowed liberals to lose sight of not only the citizenry of many countries, but also true liberal values. It is understandable why there is growing discontentment with liberals who seemingly force their views upon everybody. Nobody wants to be told what they can or cannot think, say, believe, or do. While I am a very liberal person, I recognize that we will never again be able to ignore the great many people in this country who are upset at liberals for telling them what to do. I’ve heard liberals state that Donald Trump will be the end of America, that this growing far right sentiment will be the end of the world as we know it. Perhaps I’m too optimistic, but I have faith in the republican institutions which have been the firmament of this republic for 200 years.
Furthermore, let this serve as a wake-up call to liberals everywhere. Simple things like how progress is defined, or what core beliefs are, are no longer brutally obvious. Since the Second World War, liberals have been acting on the assumption that eventually what we want and believe in will become a reality. Although I do believe that what we want is what the world wants, it is rather smug and presumptuous of us to assume that we are the only ones with the correct solution. Perhaps more central than any policy issue to a liberal is a rejection of reactionaries and an affirmation of the power of change. It seems that right now, liberals are, perhaps justifiably so, scared of change. Ironically, Obama won his original campaign on the slogan “Change,” which is precisely what liberals are scared of now. Perhaps the true liberalism that has been lost is a belief in the power of change, whether it’s change that we agree with, or disagree with, to create a better world for us all: for the member of UKIP in Britain, for the former steel worker in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, for the liberal academic in Paris, for the terrorist in Syria. The year has now changed, a new era has begun; this we can’t change. How will we move forward, instead of simply pouting about the past?
Klaire Geller/ The Spectator
Top 5 Most Influential Events and Trends of 2016 By Ben Platt Last November, satirical news host John Oliver blew 2016 up. In response to the results of the presidential election, Oliver decided to signify the so-called death and disappointment of the past year by blowing up a sign with the numbers 2016. And this is not without good reason. The world seemed a little bit more dangerous and unfriendly than in past years. Here are just five of the key events from the past year that will make it into the history books. 1. David Bowie, often regarded as one of the most innovative musicians in the world, passed away in early January. One of the first musicians to bring electronicinfused music into the mainstream, he was exalted for his incredible songwriting abilities and has left an indelible mark on the music industry. His ability to shine a light on outcasts in society such as drag queens or junkies inspired many and provided a revolutionary change in scenery from testosterone-dominated Rock and Roll. Another figure who died this past year was Leonard Cohen, renowned for his ability to infuse poetry and fiction into his songs. With a tender voice, he was always easy to recognize in songs because of his melancholic spirit. He is the artist behind one of
the most covered and one of my favorite songs in the world, “Hallelujah.” Other figures that also deserve recognition include Muhammad Ali, Prince, Carrie Fisher, Alan Rickman, Harper Lee, and Phife Dawg. 2. Britain exited the European Union, in a move known colloquially as “Brexit.” Defying polls and the recommendations of economists and politicians, the people of Britain’s narrow vote made Britain the first country ever to attempt to leave the supra state of the EU, setting off global economic fears. The vote was one of the first developments in a tide of populism that is now washing over Europe and the rest of the world. Britain’s vote will result in its preclusion from the passportfree travel within the EU and access to the common market, which now gives them the ability to sell their goods without tariffs or regulations across Europe. This was all done in the name of national sovereignty, as Britain wanted to control their own borders for the sake of preventing illegal immigration, thus dealing a blow to globalism. However, this was likely an overreaction to the issue of illegal immigration and will instead be isolating Britain from the rest of Europe. 3. An extremely frightening trend that appeared in 2016 and will have deep reverberations for the future is the rise of fake news,
which is deliberately promoting misinformation for financial or political gain. This has manifested itself in cases where people often see news that is factually inaccurate or misleading on their Facebook or Twitter feeds, rather than from respected news sources. Additionally, people often see this news from friends who have the same views as they do, creating an echo chamber that further polarizes people on the opposite ends of the political spectrum. A manifestation of this issue presented itself during the 2016 Presidential Election and the issue of “alternative facts” is popping up in the first week of the Trump presidency. In order for responsible discourse to occur on important political issues, people must start off with the same set of basic facts. 4. One of the most chaotic and bloody civil wars of the past decade continued in Syria this past year, and it was characterized by atrocities. Hundreds of thousands of innocent Syrians were forced to flee their homes to escape the ruthless conflict involving the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, ISIS, Syrian rebels, al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra, and others. More than 470,000 people have died in this conflict since it began in 2011 as a popular uprising against the rule of Assad. Many ceasefires have been reached only to have been
broken and ignored. 3.8 million men, women, and children have had to leave their homes and become refugees as a result of the war, with many facing a harrowing struggle to make it to safety in other countries, where they are often greeted by squalid conditions in hastily erected refugee camps. There have been multiple recorded violations of human rights and as many as nine mass killings have been documented by the United Nations. Humanitarian aid has been extremely hard to access for anyone in Syria, and Russia has blown up Red Cross aid convoys in an attempt to force Syrians to starve in a form of siege warfare. 5. And of course, 2016 will be remembered as the year Donald Trump won the presidency of the United States. And like him or not, this was one of the craziest elections in American history. Never has there been such a radical figure who has been able to ascend to one of the most powerful positions in our country. Despite a raft of blunders that would have sunk any other candidate, such as criticizing Senator John McCain who was captured and tortured in the Vietnam War, or calling Mexicans ‘rapists,’ President Trump managed to connect to millions of voters in the U.S. His outright lies, xenophobia, and sexism make him one of the most dangerous figures in
America and on the global stage today. The amount of fear he has instilled across the East and West coasts of the U.S. is unheard of for a major political candidate, which is partly why he entered office with the lowest popularity ratings out of any president. Shunned by many members of his own party and rejected by many celebrities such as Meryl Streep and Madonna, Trump’s main course of action includes repealing or rescinding many of Barack Obama’s achievements. He has already started with actions on restarting the Keystone Pipeline, gutting the Affordable Care Act, and setting America back on the global stage with his ‘America First’ policy, which was originally used by aviator Charles Lindbergh in the leadup to World War II and which has anti-Semitic connotations. At this point, all we can do is attempt to bounce back from the setbacks of 2016 and note that with the bad comes the good Catholic and Orthodox Christian leaders met for the first time in nearly 1000 years, our beautiful National Park System turned 100 years old, and Columbia and rebel group FARC finally reached a peace deal after fifty years of war. Whether or not this year was truly “the worst year ever” will only be a test of time. Here’s to a better 2017, John Oliver.
The Spectator ● February 3, 2017
Opinions Science: An Exercise in Privilege By Jane Rhee A little over a year ago, I spent my entire holiday break stalking professors. As a freshman, I wanted to get involved in molecular biology research and move beyond labeling the parts of a flower. So I started keeping tabs on local labs, poring over research papers, and eventually sent out e-mails to a handful of professors, asking if they had a spot in their lab. Within two weeks, I was rejected twice. It was only a month later that I received an e-mail from a professor, asking me what time I was available for an interview. Fast forward a year, and I’m glad to say that I’ve had an extremely valuable experience working on my own project at a university laboratory. I get to work with P. gingivalis, the bacterium that causes gingivitis, a gum disease that results in inflammation and swelling of the gums. This sort of experience isn’t uncommon among Stuyvesant students because of the support we receive from the administration and alumni. For instance, the Stuyvesant High School Alumni Association hosted its first annual Research Night last month, with Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS) semifinalist alumni and current students talking about their research experiences. Biology teacher Jessica Quenzer teaches a freshman honors research biology class during the spring semester where students receive guidance while tackling their own projects. In fact, one of Interim Acting Principal Eric Contreras’s main objectives is to increase the number of Regeneron Science Talent Search (formerly named the Intel STS) semifinalists by bringing back Regeneron classes, creating a network of alumni for students to contact, and possibly starting a summer program for underclassmen to get a head start. This level of support, however, is unheard of in many other schools. And without preparatory classes, facilitated connections with previous winners, and guidance when it comes to finding mentors, many other students are at a disadvantage. Thus, the students that succeed in science competitions and fairs such as Regeneron can’t simply attribute their success to their creativity and work ethic. Ultimately, these competitions weed out students without access to laboratories and money, therefore choosing privilege over ability. Sarah Scripps, a history professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, told Hana Schank of The Atlantic that these competitions started off as a way for urbanized students to get in touch with nature by observing the natural world and then displaying their findings. However, “After World War II, [the competitions] took on a dimension of national security. Instead of being about children’s learning and general appreciation of science they became more about groom-
ing a workforce.” The focus of science, at least among grade-school children, has morphed from a curious observation of backyard organisms into a cut-throat race for college scholarships and professional careers. At its heart, experimentation and research are about answering questions. But when Regeneron finalists are competing for more than $5 million in awards and the prestige that comes with the title of “finalist,” it becomes more about that fame and the opportunities that being a winner opens up. Yet the students competing for this prize money aren’t the ones that necessarily need it to pay for their college education. A 2009 study of the Canadian
National Science Fair, published in the International Journal of Science Education, found that “Qualification for participation in the fair appears to favour students from advantaged, resource-rich backgrounds.” The study looked at participants and winners of the fair from 2002 to 2008. The majority of the winners came from middle and upper class families and worked in universities and professional laboratories. Their mentors were often family friends. Even earlier studies, from 1992 and 1996, named access to professional laboratories and professional mentors as stronger predictors for success in science fairs than grades in school. In middle school, I experienced this firsthand. When I was fourteen, my school decided to participate in the Future City Competition. This competition dealt mainly with city planning and engineering a “city of the future.” My team had to design a sustainable way to grow and deliver food to the citizens of our city. We worked for months, staying after school late and coming in early, to design a system where we harvested the electricity given off by electric catfish using
electrolytic cells. Compared to what we were learning in school (the parts of a leaf and the food chain), this was extremely advanced and required outside learning. And while we won the regional New York City competition, the national finals in Washington D.C. were very different. There were other students presenting projects where they had in-depth research on genetic engineering and seawater-powered fusion plants. Compared to our hand-drawn posters, their pseudo-research posters seemed like the work of professionals. It was only after our mentors started talking to their mentors that we found out they had been working on their projects for months with the help of bioengineers. All of the students at the finals were in the same age range (most were thirteen), but the winners of the
Klaire Geller/ The Spectator
competition were the ones that had the most support from their school and professionals in their area. There’s also the undeniable race issue. Just like money opens doors, a student’s skin color and even name can close them. In
names. According to a report on the study written by Dolly Chugh and some of her colleagues that worked on the project, “The messages came from students with names like Meredith Roberts, Lamar Washington, Juanita Martinez, Raj Singh and Chang Huang, names that earlier research participants consistently perceived as belonging to either a white, black, Hispanic, Indian or Chinese student.” Chugh and her colleagues then tracked the average response rates for each type of student. They found that “professors were more responsive to white male students than to female, black, Hispanic, Indian or Chinese students in almost every discipline and across all types of universities.” The combination of being barred by race and economic status is what makes science a difficult field for students to break into, but w i t h
proper backing, disadvantaged students have interest and potential. A 2013 study done by Texas A&M University found a connection between STEM-field clubs and science competitions with post-secondary matriculation. The survey study worked with Harmony Public Schools, which implemented a mandatory science fair project for all students in the fourth through 12th grades and encouraged participation in MATHCOUNTS, the American Mathematics Competition [AMC], and Science Olympiad. It concluded that “HPS
Island, New York, who was homeless when she found out she was a 2012 Intel semifinalist. She thanks her chemistry teacher, who fought for and enrolled her in a research program at her high school. Science should reward curiosity and skill as opposed to privilege. But at the same time, it shouldn’t punish students who have the means to take advantage of professional assistance. Trying to find the balance between these two extremes has lead to the field bending in favor of students whose families can fund it, since this is where lucrative deals are made and progress develops quickly. One option in remedying this is to limit the resources students can use to create their projects. For instance, judging “professional” and “home” projects separately would even the playing field. In national competitions such as the Regeneron STS, students are required to have a mentor and even get a recommendation from them in order to enter the competition. Mentors identify how much work the student did in coming up with the project idea and collecting data. This information could be taken into account when judging projects. Another possibility requires work on the part of competition alumni. Like the Stuyvesant Alumni Association’s mentoring program, the alumni of science competitions can offer a support system to students who want to participate, but have no idea where to start. This support can range from advice on finding a lab to recommending students to their colleagues. Organizers of larger science fairs may want to consider reaching out to universities and laboratories in advance so that they can compile a master list of professors and researchers that are willing to work with students. Getting assistance will then be less about finding personal connections and more about how proactive a student is in finding connections. As students attending school in the Greater New York area, where eight out of the ten top schools that send finalists to the Regeneron STS are located, our success in these competitions cannot simply be attributed to a natural inclination towards the STEM field. While my dedication and hard work at the lab allows me to continue working there, it is likely that the name of the
This has led to the focus of science, at least among grade-school children, to switch from a curious observation of the organisms in their backyard into a cut-throat race for college scholarships and professional careers.
a study done by The New York Times, researchers sent emails to 6,500 professors from 259 colleges. The emails were sent from fictional students asking for information about their PhD programs. All of the emails were identical—the only difference was the carefully selected
outperformed the national average in terms of post-secondary admissions and STEM major selections. Multiple years of science fair project competition were positively related with students choosing a post-secondary STEM major.” Another example is Samantha Garvey from Long
school on my resume landed me an interview in the first place. Getting started in the science world depends too much on titles that students can’t always control. It’s time to rid science of elitism.
The Spectator ● February 3, 2017
Kaia Waxenburg / The Spectator
A Beautiful Thing: Sex and Sexual Ethics
By Stiven Peter Two weeks ago, I put on a suit and walked to a wedding ceremony. When the best men starting walking up the aisle, I began to realize how special this event was. No other parties or ceremonies could replicate this intensity of emotion. When the bride began to walk, I started to cry. I understood that they wouldn’t be the same after the wedding. From then on, they would be man and woman, “one flesh.” In my last article, “The Good Life,” I proposed that we have biological and spiritual ends and that the good life consists of fulfilling those ends morally through our relationships. This model challenges us to ground our ideas of sex, gender, and marriage in the biological reality of the two sexes. By doing this, we acknowledge that humans are a unity of body and mind, in which the body is as much a part of a person’s identity as their mind. Ultimately, this view concludes that sex is biologically determined, gender is how one expresses one’s sex, and that marriage is a comprehensive union of two persons. A fundamental truth about being human is the reality of sexual difference imposed by nature. To be human is to be one of two. One is born either male or female, with one sex opposite to, but inseparable from, and complementing the other. Gender is how we communicate this fundamental truth of ourselves to others. This communication begins from the first days of birth with colors corresponding to an infant’s sex. In this sense, gender is social in that particular gestures expressing gender depend on culture. However, these sets of gestures
correspond to the two sexes. Gender norms can be good or bad depending on the particular set of practices. Regardless, gender norms are inescapable because of sexual differences. From sexual differences emerge emotional, mental, and social characteristics that come almost innately to a child. History teacher Matthew Polazzo mentions this when he talks about his own children, who are naturally drawn to either masculine toys like cars or feminine toys like dolls, with almost no guidance from him. In short, gender flows from sex. However, this view is disputed by those who believe that gender does not flow from one’s sex but is rather entirely social and psychological. A transgender person’s sex, for instance, may be biologically male, but her gender is female. Moreover, some also propose that a person’s gender truly represents them and thus a transgender person should be treated just like any person of the gender with which they associate. This view believes that persons are simply consciousnesses. The body is just the medium through which the mind communicates—the body is the car and the mind is the driver. Under this view, the body is not counted as part of someone’s person, but rather an accidental medium. If persons are simply minds then it makes sense to support transgenders as they are attempting to express who they really are as persons. This support can even go to the extent of using medicine and technology to hinder the sexual development of a transgender’s body. However, this view violates a foundational tenet established in “The Good Life,” that humans are a unity of body and mind. A human is not a mind inhabiting a body, but rather a unity of the two. Our bodies are not merely instruments our minds use but a fundamental aspect of our personhood. Take, for example, the act of seeing. Seeing is a bodily act that is carried out by animals. We, however, as more than animals, do not just see or sense, but also use that data to gain understanding and self-awareness. The mental act of self-awareness is not truthfully possible without the biological sense data. In this way, human beings are unities of body and mind. To treat the body as merely a vessel and
not essential to identity is to degrade human personality, which is what transgenderism does. The disastrous effects of such degradation are evident from the high rate of suicide among the population. A study by the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden looked at a group of 324 sex-reassigned persons in Sweden, a place accepting of transgenders, from 1973-2003 in comparison to a control group. The study found that sex-reassigned persons had substantially higher rates of death from cardiovascular disease and suicide, and higher rates of attempted suicide compared to the random control group. In short, a misunderstanding of the importance of sexual difference and a duality of mind and body is not only philosophically faulty but may have practical, harmful effects. Instead of using technology to stop the progression of sexual development and artificially gender a person to his or her preference, we should aim to align the mental and emotional state of the person with his or her sex. In some cases, this just requires letting puberty take its course and letting the child develop. In other cases, one must hope that psychiatric care and therapy can help mitigate the torment the person is facing. Now with an understanding of sex and gender as they relate to one individual, it is fitting that we consider the sexes in regards to marriage and sexual acts. A balanced understanding of sex and marriage requires these ideas to be put into the context of relationships and love. First, marriage is a union of persons. When a man is romantically in love with someone, he longs to be connected with his beloved at all aspects of his personhood: emotionally, mentally, spiritually, bodily. Marriages should preferably be couples who long to be united in this way. Marriage, therefore, should not be thought of as a stepping stone but rather as good for its own sake. Moreover, since personhood is a duality of body and mind, a marriage consists of not only emotional and mental union, but also biological union. In the act of coitus, a man and woman become one biological unit, which participates in the kind of acts that produce children. This biological union makes marriage qualitatively different from other relationships.
Particularly, marriage can only be between a man and woman because only a man and woman can become a biological unit. Claiming that a same-sex couple can be considered married is to once again prize emotion and mind over the body. In this way, same-sex marriage commits the same mistake as transgenderism. It considers biological reality negligible or even fungible. Just as transgenderism disregards biological sex and prizes the mental gender, same-sex marriage disregards sexual union and prizes emotional union. One could say that these views make humans out to be gods who use their minds and sheer will to overcome nature. Juxtaposed to this conception, the view of marriage proposed here is that of comprehensive bodily, spiritual, and emotional union. Marriage achieves this by making sexual union the bedrock, or root, of the relationship. From this root, the unique emotional, mental, and spiritual union emerges as the marriage progresses. From this comprehensive union, the marriage is naturally fulfilled by the raising and caring of children. The raising of children comes naturally to the spiritual and biological oneness of marriage. This does not mean the purpose of marriage is to have children, since that would reduce marriage as a means to an end. Rather, because of the loving, comprehensive relationship present in marriage, spouses are able to fully realize the life producing acts of sex. We can now apply our understanding of loving relationships and marriage to the broader realm of sexual activity. First, like marriage, sex should be treated as something good in and of itself, not as a means to an end. As such, sex for the purpose of pleasure is immoral as it reduces sex to a pleasuring act. Surprisingly, sex for the sole purpose of having children is immoral for the same reason. This is not to say that we should not feel pleasure during sex or desire children, but rather that sexual acts should not reduce sex to that end. We could say that sex is a sign or symbol of affection, which would not reduce sex. However, this modern view is guilty of the same flaw of transgenderism and same-sex marriage: it disconnects emotional and biological reality. Sex is a symbol of affection, but only because it is
an act in which persons become biologically united. To disregard sex’s life-producing role, or to use technology to hinder it, is to fight our natural ends. It is only marriage that realizes the biological and mental aspects of sex. Marriage treats sex not as a means to pleasure but as the foundation for a comprehensive union. Moreover, it is within marriage that sex’s natural, life-producing effect can be properly realized, as marriages are apt for childrearing. Sexual acts are only moral in the context of marriage. These conclusions map out a strict ethic which sounds draconian to our modern ears. Many of us wish to be autonomous and for sex to only require consent. Many of us wish for homosexuals and transgenders to be able to express who they are. These desires come out of a sense of freedom and compassion for others. However, our good intentions do not change the morality of their acts and beliefs. As such, we should not even encourage neutrality towards these views as we cannot be neutral towards immorality. As I elaborated in, “Renewing America Part 2,” adopting liberal social views harms the poorest in our society by absolving them of any moral direction. While the richest can afford to navigate a world of blurred moral lines, the disadvantaged cannot. Not proclaiming the goodness of marriage and the immorality of nonmarital sex increases the rate of single-parenthood. Children then raised without their parents have a high risk of staying in poverty and becoming singleparents as well, perpetuating the cycle. Therefore, taking a stand for the views espoused here is not only taking a stand for morality but also for the poor. Ultimately, when we commit to a view of humanity as both mind and body we not only get a view of gender, marriage, and sex that takes into account human biology, but also allow that biology to blossom into a beautiful structure of intimacy. Yes, this structure places a great deal of restrictions on what we can and cannot be, but these restriction arise from a comprehensive understanding of human dignity and purpose. It is only from this understanding that I can say the couple I watched two weeks ago became one.
The Spectator ● February 3, 2017
Arts and Entertainment Book Review of
“The Underground Railroad”
By SARAh kim
of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”
By Benjamin Shapiro Back in December of 2015, “Star Wars” fans were abuzz with excitement from the release of the first new “Star Wars” movie in 10 years. Much of the fanbase was thrilled, and after watching “Star Wars: Episode VII,” (the second most recent “Star Wars” movie before “Rogue One”) everybody I talked to or discussed it with had only good things to say. I shared the same positive opinion. After watching it, I felt it was one of the best movies I had ever seen. It was action-packed, touching, and even a little romantic, like many of the classic “Star Wars” films were. The months gradually passed, and the year went on. The hype surrounding Episode VII gradually faded as people moved on to other things. Over time, I began to have a change in opinion about the movie. It seemed that the negativity from others who had realized the movie’s great flaws had quickly eroded my own positivity about the movie. Looking back at Episode VII, I found it was incredibly one-sided and linear. The characters, while they were played well, were cliché and lacked substance. They just seemed like copies of characters from the original trilogy. Rey, for example, our heroic female protagonist, reminded me far too much of Luke Skywalker— young, ambitious, fond of droids,
though it takes place in 1850, I’m allowed to rove in these different kind of modes and bring in a lot of different aspects of American history in a way that I couldn’t if I was . . . sticking to the facts.” While the railroad lends Whitehead a powerful literary tool, it simultaneously makes Cora’s escape less thrilling. The trip from one hidden station to another is almost too easy, too magical, the complete opposite of what a real trip on the historical underground railroad was like. Ridgeway, the terrifying slave catcher chasing her heels, is arguably the sole character keeping the plot suspenseful. Still, Cora’s realization of the inescapable nature of her chains is executed well. Even as the protagonist travels farther away from the plantation, she never feels truly free, with a powerful understanding that she is forever branded, not only by her master, but also by memories of the plantation and of her perilous escape. Cora’s only physical scar is from a blow to the temple by Randall’s cane, and she initially considers herself lucky that her skin was never burned with a puckering mark, as slaves on other plantations were. However, as Cora’s journey progresses through the border states, taking on a darker tone, she thinks, “But we have all been branded even if you can’t see it, inside if not without.” Cora’s thoughts affirm that Whitehead’s detailed descriptions of the barbarism are not gratuitous moments included for the sake of moving the plot; the detached, matter-of-fact manner in which the scenes are narrated suggest that the author himself is unwilling to look too closely into the horrific violence. On the plantation, Cora witnesses her master torturing a runaway slave. Randall’s visitors sip spiced rum as Big Anthony is
“doused with oil and roasted . . . spared his screams, as his manhood had been cut off on the first day, stuffed in his mouth, and sewn in.” South Carolina, her first stop, is ostensibly a haven, where she is able to find work as a nanny and build a new life with a new name, Bessie Carpenter. However, she uncovers that the neighborhood of free blacks is unknowingly part of an insidious human experiment and that she had played a part. North Carolina is no better; as she rides into the town hidden in the wagon of the conductor, she sees streams of hanged black people swinging on branches, cruelly dubbed the “Freedom Trail” by the white denizens, who intend on completely exterminating the race in their state. Although the book’s graphic scenes are utterly unforgettable, the characters are not. At each step of Cora’s symbolic re-building of herself, new characters are introduced, and others fade into the background, but they all seem strangely indistinctive, contrary to what the author appears to be attempting by naming most of the chapters after a character: crafting individual stories that come together, not a chunk of history. Whitehead does the greatest injustice to Cora, who should have been better fleshed out: at the end of the 306 pages, we still lack a sense of what she stands for. Her emotions are rarely described. We know Cora is rather pessimistic, distrustful of religion and of what she thinks are meaningless prayers, but she also doesn’t trust herself or anyone else. In addition, the nature of Cora’s relationship with Caesar is ambiguous, and her small romantic fling in Indiana feels like a filler, lacking any real substance. This lack of character development takes a toll on the story.
Perhaps we only follow Cora because we are more attached to the freedom we want for her, rather than to her as a human, taking away from the reader’s investment into the characters and giving off the sense that the plot is lagging. Ultimately, however, the essence of the story and the questions it raises make it a rewarding, necessary read. Stories like these matter not just to African Americans, but to everyone, not only because of the frightening consequences slavery has on our country’s contemporary issues but also, on a more hypothetical note, because it could have been anyone at the whipping post. The book isn’t perfect, but Whitehead’s words skillfully encapsulate America’s rotten, embarrassing history that history textbooks gloss over: “The whites came to this land for a fresh start
and to escape the tyranny of their masters, just as the freemen had fled theirs. But the ideals they held up for themselves, they had denied others . . . Stolen bodies working stolen land.” It’s important to remember that living in this country should make us proud, but looking back at our mistakes is just as critical, because our country is branded, just as Cora and other slaves were. We can’t ever fully scrub off the repercussions of slavery, although we had thoroughly convinced ourselves that we could. It’s easy to separate the content of our personal bookshelves from current events, but maybe it’s our responsibility as the younger generation to occasionally close our romance novels and open a book describing what our ancestors have done wrong, in all its ugly details, and promise to do better.
Rachel Zhang / The Spectator
The unforeseen return of intense racial tensions in the United States, exacerbated by Trump’s hotly discussed presidential campaign and victory, invited impassioned disputes that often blew up into nothing but bitter namecalling. In the midst of these debates, a story emerged that revisited the roots of the race issue, prodding the human conscience more than any argument could. It soon garnered an incredible amount of critical acclaim. On the day of its publication, the book clinched a spot on Oprah’s Book Club for the month, and two months later, it nabbed the 2016 National Book Award for Fiction. “The Underground Railroad,” Colson Whitehead’s latest work of historical fiction, turns the metaphor of an underground railroad into a reality. Set in the antebellum South, Cora, a young teenage slave blooming into womanhood and discovering its burden, escapes from the infernal Randall cotton plantation in Georgia and her master’s chilling sexual eye with a fellow slave, Caesar, through the use of a secret underground circuitry of railroad tracks and trains. Constructed and manned by people of all skin colors sympathetic to the abolitionist cause, the underground railroad branches throughout the South to the North, taking Cora on a wild ride to freedom. Whitehead’s decision to use a literal railroad adds an element of magic realism to Cora’s story, allowing him to play around with fantasy grounded in truth throughout the book. “And so I bring in the Tuskegee experiments. I bring in [some] sort of Nazism and white supremacy,” the author explained in an interview at the BookExpo America in Chicago. “And even
“The Underground Railroad”: A Newfangled Re-Telling of the United States’ Tragic Sin
Rogue One: Return of the Franchise stuck on a desert planet, and without knowledge of who her real parents are. Poe Dameron, the hotshot resistance pilot, resembled Han Solo, perhaps with slightly better morals. As it turned out, this was sort of what Disney was going for—a new generation of the heroes we know and love from Episodes IVVI. Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, the production company behind “Star Wars,” said, “Rey is the new generation’s Luke Skywalker.” But perhaps copying them so exactly was going a bit too far. There’s a difference between reinventing a story for a new generation and copying that story outright. The plot, too, was a copy of the original storyline: an evil empire rises, led by a masked villain with a questionable past, and it threatens all life and freedom in the “Star Wars” galaxy. A good storyline, originally, but the creation of a whole new movie following the same storyline and having incredibly similar characters doesn’t seem very i m -
pressive to me. Did Disney simply make this new movie for profit, or did they have the entertainment of viewers in mind, too? “Episode VII” was cliché, lacked substance and, looking back on it, felt more of a corporate scheme to boost profits more than something genuinely designed to entertain viewers. To many people, Episode VII had turned out to be just another bad modern “Star Wars” movie, like Episodes I, II, and III (1999, 2002, 2005) had been. There seemed to be no hope for a new, modern, well-made “Star Wars” movie. It appeared as though the fans would have to survive on TV shows and videogames forever—something such a massive series just couldn’t survive on—especially one such as “Star Wars,” whose movies were the lifeblood of the franchise. It all seemed to be doomed, until the time leading up to the release of “Rogue One” on December 16, 2016. “Rogue One” was advertised as a standalone story, and it was set to take place as a mini-prequel to the
Lauren Mei / The Spectator
original trilogy. It features a whole new cast of characters—ones that we knew nothing about. “Rogue One” is a movie full of potential to break away from the problems faced by the other movies. Once the movie was out, all the hopes of it being different were fulfilled. Our main character, Jyn Erso, is most definitely not a copy of Luke Skywalker. She’s a criminal and a rogue Imperial citizen when we meet her in the present day of the movie. The resident pilot of the movie, Cassian Andor, is not wild like Han Solo— he’s a loyal soldier, dedicated to his cause and willing to die for the Rebellion. Even the droid of the group is unique—he’s clever, witty, and a little rude. As for the story, it’s an entirely different animal. It features themes of corrupt politics, radical beliefs, and dying (brutally, at that) for your cause. We watch character after character die, but die proudly, in the movie. These themes were present in Episodes IV-VI, but “Rogue One” went much further with this—the whole movie was based off of the internal conflicts of the Empire and Rebellion. “Rogue One,” overall, is much darker than other “Star Wars” movies. All the characters we learn to love in the 133 minutes of the film are tragically dead by the end. “Star Wars” has always featured tragic deaths, yes, but not once have they even come
close to killing off the entire cast of a movie. “Rogue One,” however, went there, and by doing so, it brought “Star Wars” to a whole new level of storytelling, expressing the heroic themes presented in the movie much more intensely than they would’ve otherwise been expressed. “Rogue One” is definitely worth seeing because it does so much for the series. It restores faith in the series, proving that there can, in fact, be an original storyline in a “Star Wars” film, and that Disney isn’t afraid to try something new. “Rogue One” is dark, brutal, and action-packed, yet also heroic, touching, and even funny at times. That’s the way a “Star Wars” movie should be: not too rough, yet not too sappy. The Star Wars universe itself is like that—intense, yet soft in some parts. There may be brutal battles and violent deaths, such as the death of Mace Windu at the hands of Darth Sidious. However, there are also sweet and touching moments that make the story feel more human, like Luke and his father’s last and only moments together. “Rogue One” hit that exact sweet spot. It was nearly perfectly balanced, and it came out to be a great movie. Most importantly, it may have saved the trust of millions of “Star Wars” fans in the ability of Lucasfilm to make a good movie in the modern age.
The Spectator ● February 3, 2017
Arts and Entertainment The Marvel Cinematic Universe: A Symptom of All That is Wrong With Hollywood
Film Insights By Anton Solodkov The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is one of the most successful, popular movie franchises of all time. It’s bright, colorful, and creative. It’s an original and innovative creation that we all can’t be any more thankful for. Right? Dead wrong. The MCU signals the destruction of the art of cinema. It is a horrifying harbinger of the future, where art is pedaled to the lowest denominator. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has corroded Hollywood and has left us with what we have today. In a study done in September, of the 50 highest grossing movies of 2016 at that point, only 12 are original properties. The rest are sequels and remakes, such as “Star Wars: the Force Awakens” (essentially a soft reboot of “A New Hope” (1977)), “The Jungle Book” (a remake of a book adaptation), “Finding Dory,” “Kung Fu Panda 3,” and “Jason Bourne.” Even the 12 original properties aren’t very original themselves, featuring such formulaic and derivative works such as “The Secret Life of Pets,” which has a strikingly similar plot to that of “Toy Story” (1995). Compare this with 2000, when 31 of the 50 highest grossing movies were original properties. Go back even farther, and the mere idea of a sequel would not be a common sight in Hollywood. Cinema is still a young art form, barely a century old, and it’s been in the last few decades that studios have figured out what the audience wants and how to formulize movies well. There’s nothing wrong with formula, until it starts to put originality at risk, and that’s what we’re seeing. Producers and companies are no longer willing to put money into ideas that are risky because they want profit, and the
public still wants to see movies, bad or not. In the eyes of the people behind the scenes of Hollywood, as long as it’s good enough or bloated enough that we’d see a sequel, it’s good enough. The art of fine-tuning that line, of getting the quality as bad as possible without it jeopardizing sales, has been perfected by the MCU. The MCU is the epitome of this creative downfall. It is the ultimate success of the formulaic series. Its success is only because of its big budget, which allows for leading-edge special effects and
while big money-earners, justly earn criticisms of being riddled with plot holes, being formulaic and dumbed down for audiences and overcompensating with eye candy. This is exactly why I have not given them flak, because they already receive it. They are profitable, but flaws are addressed. The MCU, on the other hand, is not overbearingly bad. And that’s the horror of it—its flaws, while not as grievous, are not acknowledged. Hum a tune from any MCU movie. It’s likely that you can’t. Now hum a theme from “Star
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a horrifying harbinger of the future, where art is pedaled to the lowest denominator. top tier sex symbols (à la Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr., and basically every cast member). The MCU is a visual orgy, full of topnotch special effects and A-list actors which means it’s hard for it to produce a bad film, but that also means that they don’t have to worry about producing a great film. Original stories, creative and innovative uses of cinematography, visuals, and audio are all but nonexistent in the MCU. I haven’t mentioned the DC Extended Universe (DCEU—for some reason DC Cinematic Universe was too mainstream for them), which is widely considered the bad twin of the two hegemon superhero movie brands (the other being the MCU), with its recent releases of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad” both being critically panned despite commercial success. These two movies,
Playlist From the death of David Bowie and Prince, to the death of Harambe and America, 2016 was certainly a year. While we all struggled and cried, no one can deny that there were good times. Whether it was memes, Beyoncé, or constantly dabbing, all of us found a way to make it through the year. Despite, or perhaps in spite of, all that happened in 2016, there was definitely some incredible music made from people of all genders, races, sexualities, and political affiliations in every genre and style, proving once again that music is truly a universal language. So even though it’s February, let’s talk a walk down memory lane and turn up to some of our favorite songs of 2016. Love, A&E
Wars” (1977-present), “Jaws” (1975), “Jurassic Park” (1993), or “Lord of the Rings” (2001-2003). Chances are that something will pop up into your head, some iconic tune or another. This is because the MCU has filler music. The recent attitude in the movie industry is that music is meant to complement without being noticeable, and the MCU follows that approach. The music is meant to set the mood and not be much in and of itself. But while that in itself is a reasonable approach, that does not mean it is the right way, especially if, as with much of the MCU, the music does not complement the mood, but rather serves as a way to artificially induce it. Cinema has no wrong way, and to limit oneself in such a way is detrimental to the art as a whole; art and thus cinema is meant to challenge and innovate.
Cinema is arguably the ultimate artistic medium, melding story and music and visuals, and to reduce such an art form to formula is sad. The MCU’s music is not simply filler. It is not what it is due to a choice of artistic taste, but rather one of convenience. Digital editing has allowed for a greater range of audio in movies, but it has had the unfortunate downside of making it easier to cheat, in a word. Temporary music, or “temp music,” is music that directors pair with their footage until an original score is produced. But it’s all too easy to simply slightly alter the original soundtrack and place it in as your own. You can find this done in almost any big studio movie, and it is extremely prevalent in the MCU. As an example, “Hammer Found,” a piece from 2011’s Thor’s soundtrack, is a slightly edited version of “Einstein’s Wrong” from 2009’s Transformers’ soundtrack. Picture a shot that astounded you in its subtlety. I bet you can’t. Just as with music, the MCU uses shots that are completely utilitarian, simply using the camera as a way to record the story and not utilizing it to enhance or frame the story in any extraordinary way. And while it has its few slowmotion or wide-angle epic shots, those are only a few per movie. The camera is not a present and powerful player for most parts of the movies. Marvel pumps out products at an intense rate, assembling and spitting them out onto the conveyor belt. This is without even factoring in their four currently running TV Shows (“Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage,” and “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) and the six to be released within the next two years. Four MCU movies were seen in
The Best of 2016 The foreign songs for all those moments you were just done with America:
The songs for when you had too much work to have a significant other:
“Duele El Corazón” Enrique Iglesias (ft. Wisin) Latin Pop
“Versace on the Floor” Bruno Mars Pop
“Last Dance” Big Bang K-pop “Watch Me Dance” Tom Misch Alternative/Indie
The songs for all those times you turned up and then made bad decisions: “Cheap Thrills” Sia Pop “One Dance” Drake (ft. Wizkid and Kyla) Hip-hop “Light it Up” Major Lazer Dance/Electronic “No Problem” Chance the Rapper (ft. 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne) Rap “Caroline” Animé Rap
2016. Three have been scheduled for 2017: “Spiderman: Homecoming,” “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2,” and “Thor: Ragnarok.” This frenetic pace of production means the studio gets three times as much money, but it also means that they have to write, shoot, and edit the movies at a brisk pace. This is a major contributor to the lack of originality we see in them, in terms of story, soundtrack, cinematic style, and theme. And having this many movies also eliminates drama—there is little that can happen in one film that will be consequential to the next; cities are destroyed to be rebuilt by the next movie, and we already know that most of the characters cannot die, because they have to be in the upcoming movies in the next few years. Audiences are lulled into a sense of comfort, and the MCU capitalizes. Once it has established a connection with the audience, who feels invested, the MCU panders and gives the audience what has already been given—essentially, “cozy” action movies. But art is not best served under capitalism, necessarily. While producing something that the consumer wants is obviously profitable, it is not optimal for art, for the consumer is not the artist. The greatest ideas are those that even the consumer did not know they wanted. Art, at least sometimes, should challenge. The MCU is not bad, and that’s the scary part. They are mediocrely good enough and financially successful enough that they are not left alone. They have become the gold standard for Hollywood, the perfect culmination of the money-making formula. And it is the ruin of the glorious art of cinema. It is no longer the goal of the director or the studio to produce art. Now it is money that talks, and its words are being heard loud and clear.
The songs that were just really good that were also Contemporary R&B: “All Night” Beyoncé Contemporary R&B “Starboy” The Weeknd (ft. Daft Punk) Contemporary R&B “Formation” Beyoncé Contemporary R&B “Love on the Brain” Rihanna Contemporary R&B
“Body” Dreezy (ft. Jeremih) Hip-hop “Closer” The Chainsmokers (ft. Halsey) Dance/Electronic
The songs that were also memes: “Juju On That Beat” Zay Hilfigerrr and Zayion McCall Rap “Bad and Boujee” Migos (ft. Lil Uzi Vert) Rap
The songs you listened to when you were more cultured than everyone else: “Earth to Heaven” Esperanza Spalding Jazz “Everyone Wants to Love You” Japanese Breakfast Alternative/Indie
The Spectator ● February 3, 2017
Arts and Entertainment Media Insights By chelsea cheung As we begin our 45th president’s first term, it’s likely that if you were to open a news publication site or a newspaper, you’d encounter a multitude of articles on various new and controversial social and economic policies. Among them is climate change, with a constant stream of reports of politicians debating its existence, or even just the record-breaking temperatures of the year. Though it appears to be a high-profile topic with news journalists, the conversation of climate change appears to be absent in pop culture, especially when it comes to one powerful tool: music. There is a lack of music artists who take on that subject in their songs, and the few that do don’t seem to have much success with it. “Love Song to the Earth” is one such unfortunate pop song concerning climate change that comes to mind. It was released in December of 2015 and was sung by a variety of renowned music artists, including Paul McCartney, Fergie, and Natasha Bedingfield (along with 12 other international singers). A great attempt to garner popularity was made as the UN, along with these big-name celebrities, promoted “Love Song to the Earth” avidly on social media, and the song was even performed at the 2015 Climate Change Conference in Paris. This plan should have gained it fame, but all in all, the song failed to be as popular as they hoped. Additionally, while the singers, such as Bedingfield, have stated that “Love Song to the Earth” was written to speak out
Webseries Review of “One Day at a Time”
By Eliana Kavouriadis With the rise of the alt-right and four years of a Donald Trump presidency ahead of us, it’s easy to have a pessimistic outlook on the social progress of our country. However, art thrives even in dark times, and our current political state has not hindered upon this golden age of television. As television producers often say, diversity is “in,” and fresh narratives are gracing our screens like never before. “Orange is the New Black” (2013-present), “Empire” (2015-present), and “Grey’s Anatomy” (2005-present) with their diverse casts have been television game-changers. The 2017 Netflix reboot of the classic ‘70s sitcom “One Day at a Time” (1975-1984) is the freshest thing on the market. It centers on three generations of a Cuban family living in the same house in Los Angeles, featuring single mother Penelope Álvarez (Justina Machado), her mother Lydia Riera (Rita Moreno), and her two kids, Elena and Alex (Isabella Gomez and Marcel Ruiz). Their interactions with each other and with several hilarious side-characters give the show its authenticity and heart. The show is filled to the brim with truly hilarious moments, and each character has his or
The Lack of Climate Change Representation in Pop Culture
on climate change, the lyrics prove otherwise. The lyrics do not mention climate change once; they only go so far as to say that Earth is “fragile,” it is a “diamond in the universe,” and it is our job to protect this “tiny blue marble.” Though the imagery provided by the lyrics is decent enough, depth to the direness of climate change is not, which is a facet that has contributed to the lack of success in achieving the song’s original intent. Like “Love Song to the Earth,” rock artist Neil Young’s latest album isn’t faring exceptionally well. Attached to Young’s name is a famous history of proactively putting out protest songs and being a supporter in many human rights movements. The four-time Grammy winner released “Peace Trail,” a protest album that speaks out against a myriad of societal issues, including climate change, on December 6. Yet many fans’ high hopes were let down, and the album has mostly received mediocre reviews. “The Rolling Stones” calls out Young for making “music for the news cycle” in comparison to his past hits, that were “for the ages,” while “The Guardian” bluntly asserts that Young “punctures this knockedtogether protest project with half-formed songs full of confused platitudes.” “Peace Trail” is Neil Young’s 37th album and was allegedly written in only a few days. The main impressions given off by the album are half-heartedness and a lack of complexity, and his use of politics and social issues in his new songs come off as
trite and unoriginal compared to his past hits. Songs made to raise awareness for climate change weren’t always received so poorly, though. For example, Young’s 1989 hit, “Rockin’ in the Free World,” rawly and genuinely discusses the politics of the ‘80s, painti n g
mentary of the decade. Artists in the past decades were able to produce more specific songs on climate change, unlike today where many artists are afraid to mention the words in the work. Sang by Jackson Browne in 1974, “Before the Deluge” speaks directly about climate change in a threatening fashion through what some may suggest to be a futuristic apocalyptic ending: “Some of them were angry/ At the way the earth was abused/By the men who learned how to
various pictures of the gruesomeness of many people’s lives during that decade. At one point, he sings, forge her “We got department beauty stores and toilet pa- Wenny Liu / The Spectator into power/And per/Got styrofoam they struggled to boxes for the ozone layer.” In protect her from them/Only to comparison to his latest songs, be confused/By the magnitude his past hits were more carefully of her fury in the final hour.” composed and thought out, and The question that arises then they have been praised as musi- is: why is it so hard to have a cal masterpieces of social com- song about climate change now?
It seems that when we need to draw the most attention to the issue, music artists are shying away from it more than ever. The few that pursue it, however, don’t touch on the issue with enough justice. In a phone interview with BBC news, the Grammy-winning songwriter Toby Gad who wrote “Love Song to the Earth,” and has written well-known songs like “All of Me” by John Legend and “If I were a Boy” by Beyoncé, says writing “Love Song to the Earth” was “a complete struggle.” He says that though he wanted to write a song that greatly brings attention to climate change on our planet, “it;s hard not to make it a doomsday scenario.” Gad shows how many artists feel as if they have to compromise their message with the likeability of a song so as to not lose followers and make their fans unhappy listening to their music. This in turn becomes their main dilemma: do they speak with candor and create unpleasant images that may possibly repel fans or compromise to keep most of them happy and maintain a certain image? Climate change has become the elephant in the room in pop culture. It’s hard to ingrain it into songs when artists see that it isn’t a topic that will make their listeners particularly happy. However, merging climate change with pop culture is one of the only ways to continue keeping the conversation going, and as more and more of government advisor seats are filled with climate change skeptics, it becomes more and more important that the issue is brought up to a bigger audience.
Netflix Kicks Off 2017 With Groundbreaking Sitcom “One Day At A Time” her fair share of hilarious oneliners. The jokes are original and refreshing, and the strong, talented cast hits every comedic beat, leaving the audience sore from excessive laughter. The thing that makes “One Day at a Time” a true standout among modern sitcoms is the touching, dramatic moments that are so well-intertwined with the hilarity. Much of the show’s heart comes from the way it uses the characters to touch upon contemporary issues. Penelope Álvarez is an army veteran in her late 30s who is trying to overcome the stigma surrounding mental illness in the Cuban community by seeking professional help. 15-year-old Elena Álvarez has to take care of a friend, Carmen (Ariela Barer), whose family was deported. The focus on contemporary issues doesn’t stop there. The show celebrates LGBTQ+ people of color, discusses wage inequality, and touches upon what it means to be a feminist, among other things. “One Day at a Time” proves that political awareness and humor do not have to be mutually exclusive. Most importantly, these issues are tackled from a Cuban-American lens. Instead of a sitcom depicting the classic white representation of the “all-American family,” we get
a sitcom depicting the “all-Cuban-American family,” where Lydia’s infatuation for the Pope and unawareness of her thick accent are casually joked about. The sitcom also comments on white ignorance in the form of Schneider (Todd Grinnell), the hipster landlord and neighbor to the family, whose casual cultural appropriation is treated as a running joke. In fact, many of the show’s most successful jokes are left in
The generational differences in Cuban-Americans are also well portrayed in the show. Elena’s reluctance to having a quinceñera is met with opposition from her mother and grandmother because Elena’s modern values are at odds with their tradition. In addition, when Elena comes out as gay, the rest of the family has to take time to adjust, because the Catholic-influenced Cuban culture is typically not very tolerant of homosexuality.
United States in 2017. As the original “One Day at a Time” was considered progressive in its depiction of a family raised by a single mother, the reboot takes this idea and adds onto it to make it progressive in terms of 2017. With brilliant writing and an extraordinarily talented cast, the “One Day at a Time” reboot successfully takes the model of the all-American sitcom and modernizes it like never before.
Many of the show’s most successful jokes are left in Spanish because calling someone a “comemierda” en inglés just isn’t the same. Spanish because calling someone a “comemierda” en inglés just isn’t the same. While this may leave a non-Spanish speaking viewer feeling a bit out of the loop at times, the show makes a statement in not catering to the white audience member. It’s not that “One Day at a Time” does not intend to attract a white audience—it just gives a true, unfiltered representation of what goes on in a Cuban home.
Many immigrant cultures share perspectives that are different from the general American population, and the fact that this show addresses this makes it resonate with many different cultural groups. Cultural minority groups, as a whole, are a large part of what America is. If anything, “One Day at a Time” is, in fact, a depiction of the “allAmerican family,” as a voice for a cultural minority living in the
Simultaneously classic and avant-garde, “One Day at a Time” is a must-watch and is likely to go down in the ranks with “Seinfeld” (1989-1998) and “Arrested Development” (20032006, 2013) as a crown jewel of the sitcom genre. Take a study break, grab your plántanos, and turn on Netflix because you will laugh, you will cry, and you will enjoy every minute of it.
The Spectator ● February 3, 2017
Arts and Entertainment Get a Life: The Cultured Edition
Concert “Red Hot Chili Peppers Tour” @ Madison Square Garden until 2/18/2017
Concert “Songs for Lovers” @ Lincoln Center
Book Release “King’s Cage” by Victoria Aveyard @ Barnes & Noble
Exhibition Opening “The Orchid Show” @ New York Botanical Garden
ONGOING Food “NYC Restaurant Week” @ Participating Restaurants until 2/10/2017 Art Show “Jan Dibbets” @ Peter Freeman, Inc. until 2/18/2017
Art Show “Circa 1970” @ Studio Museum in Harlem Performance Art “Made In China” @ 59E59 Theaters
Television Premiere “24: Legacy” @ Fox Channel Parade “Lunar New Year Parade” @ Chinatown
Live Radio Show Performance RadioLoveFest @ BAM until 2/11/2017 Television Premiere “Legion” @ FX Channel
Film Release “A United Kingdom” @ Select Theaters
Film Release “ John Wick: Chapter 2” @ Select Theaters
Film Screening “Film Comment Selects” @ Walter Reed Theater
Film Release “ The Lego Batman Movie” @ Select Theaters
Exhibition Opening “Seurat’s Circus Sideshow” @ The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Concert “Eric B. & Rakim Reunion Tour” @ Radio City Music Hall
The Spectator â—? February 3, 2017
Art In Memoriam: Figures We Lost in 2016
Zsa Zsa Gabor (Sally Chen)
Muhammad Ali (Yujie Fu)
Prince (Karen Lai)
Harper Lee (Jenny Gao)
Gene Wilder (Nikita Borisov)
David Bowie (Minseo Kim)
Nancy Reagan (Annie He)
George Michael (Yujie Fu)
Elie Wiesel (Yu Xin Zheng)
Debbie Reynolds (Lynne Wang) Fidel Castro (Mandy Mai)
Carrie Fisher (Joyce Gao)
Alan Rickman (Klaire Geller)
The Spectator ● February 3, 2017
S U M M E R 2
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The Spectator ● February 3, 2017
The Spectator ● February 3, 2017
The Spectator ● February 3, 2017
Humor These articles are works of fiction. All quotes are libel and slander.
Trump and Putin Plan their First Date By Marie Ivantechenko
The following is a series of e-mail interactions between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President: To: Donald Trump <firstname.lastname@example.org> From: Vladimir Putin <email@example.com> Subject: Re: Talk Russian to Me
To: Vladimir Putin <putinmyselfontop@ notahiddenemailserver.com> From: Donald Trump <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: Re: Talk Russian to Me
Vlady, My e-mail address may not seem familiar to you, but it is me: The Donald. I had to make my e-mail something completely unrecognizable, so that if this “unclassified system” were to ever be discovered, I could claim that this isn’t my personal e-mail. After all, everyone knows that I’m number one in everything, not number two. Now that that’s over with, the main reason I e-mailed you was so that we could discuss alleviating the existing tensions between our countries. I was thinking that we could celebrate our one-month anniversary by building twin walls around our countries to show our unity. Or maybe we could suppress some minorities or nationalities together?
The Donald, Thanks for the clarification. I don’t think I would’ve been able to tell otherwise. You claim to want to bring our countries closer together through this wall-building, but to me it seems like you want to show your admiration for China. I must admit that your wall-building desires hurt me more than Ukraine’s rejection of my love. I will, however, take you up on the suppressing minorities part. I need to take out some of the frustration I’ve been feeling in certain areas. I think you would agree with me that blocking their representation in the government is the best way to brighten a day. Getting back to what I was saying, I thought we had something special between us, but it seems to me that you desire China’s admiration more than my own. And what have they done for you? You wouldn’t be anything without my help! If you love China so much, go engage in an alliance with her.
Vlady, Now Putin-pie, you know that I can’t stand to be without your company. I want you by my side as we dominate the world with our wall-building abilities. I have built the yugest wall around my heart, and you are slowly tearing it down. Imagine the things we could do together! We could knock out ISIS with our combined nuclear power! I think we should meet in person to further discuss our future plans together. I suggest the Law Library of Congress because even if we were seen there, no one would believe it’s us, considering our lack of knowledge of the law in both our countries.
Donald Trump Attempts to Appoint Captain America for Secretary of State By Amanda Piasecki In a speech delivered last week, president Donald Trump expressed his shock and disappointment after discovering that Captain America is a movie and comic-book character. Trump had previously intended to appoint Captain America for Secretary of State, following a careful analysis for a potential bipartisan nominee. “This tragic discovery is very bad for the people of the United States,” Trump asserted. “Captain America would have used his Super-Soldier Serum against ISIS. His shield would have been a temporary solution to the illegals. Just whack them back!” Trump first learned about the nonexistence of Captain America after he no-showed to a Congressional confirmation meeting, though he noted that it was of suspicious nature that Captain America never responded to his
calls. “I did not elect to inform President Trump about the inability to appoint Captain America as I have the utmost faith in his judgement and authority,” Senator Marco Rubio recalled. “We did wait for Captain America for several minutes, and finally packed up after Mitch McConnell fell asleep.” Soon, following the incident, Trump went on a Twitter rant against Marvel, criticizing their audacity to even deny the existence of Captain America. “He was key to #MAGA and those idiots at Marvel want to tell me he doesn’t exist! SAD!” Trump tweeted. Trump continued his tirade against Marvel in a rally that—according to Trump—was attended by more people than
A Guide to Final Exams By Gabrielle Umanova and Alexandra Wen
ensure that you have down every single moment of stress.
Finals week might be over, but we all have some takeaways. Here’s our fantastic and simple guide to study for next term’s finals, whether you have 10 or 11 finals:
Late Morning: Have a mental breakdown. At some point, you will realize that you know absolutely nothing and have no hope of ever learning anything. Comfort yourself with a long 24-hour nap.
Week before finals week:
Open your 27 textbooks, lay out your 92 study guides, and hope that you have every possible resource available. Make sure that you still have notes from that second Wednesday in September, because—just maybe—your history final has a question about the number of bricks in Versailles. Sit down and start looking over your material. Be that kid that bugs all of his or her classmates to send their notes and study guides: go big or go home.
Weekend before finals week:
Go on Facebook for a few hours and write a couple hundred posts about how you should really be studying, while having YouTube open on the other tab. It’s obviously Crash Course.
Day before final:
Morning: Be sure to ponder about the difficulty of your life. Make a study chart on all of the sources of stress in your life. Be sure to check over your journal to
Day of final:
Sometime around noon, but we’re not certain because “this cannot be real”: Oh drat! You finally wake up from your long slumber. You’re right on time for your final, and you hastily grab your bag as you start running to the subway. On the platform: You’re waiting, craning your head over the station platform like a giraffe, when— naturally—it is announced that there will be no subway service to Manhattan. You desperately hail a cab that, hopefully, will get you to school only 10 minutes late. In the cab: Start studying. Challenge yourself with a Quizlet flash card pack. Inevitably, you’ll break down into tears after getting a five percent. That’s OKAY. Give up. Who cares? All you are is a speck of dirt in the vastness of the universe. Go storm into that final, and never lose confidence in your ability to fail.
the population of Earth. “I now forbid Melania from watching any Marvel movie. Instead, she can watch all of DC’s documentaries, which have been appropriately analyzed for alternative facts,” Trump passionately declared. “#FreeMelania? Not under my watch.”
Zhengnan Li / The Spectator
Christine Jegarl / The Spectator
To: Vladimir Putin <putinmyselfontop@ notahiddenemailserver.com> From: Donald Trump <email@example.com> Subject: Talk Russian to Me
To: Donald Trump <firstname.lastname@example.org> From: Vladimir Putin <email@example.com> Subject: Re: Re: Re: Talk Russian to Me The Donald, I agree, let’s meet on Valentine’s Day to talk about our future relations. However, let’s meet at the Mexican Supreme Court Law Library because it’ll be even more unbelievable that we chose to go to Mexico together in the first place. Can’t wait until then!
Heartfelt Letters Between Putin and Trump By Alexandra Wen
Dear Vladimir, As we expected, the election would go just the way we wanted. The masses were angry at the electoral college, and they’re still unsure of what will happen after my inauguration. But, to be fair, so am I. Because of the challenges our countries may have to face in the coming years, we will have to work together to build a more stable foundation. We could build walls for both of our countries, and hopefully we can help the rich from both of our countries become richer. My apologies for not getting you a Christmas present; I was busy during New Years because I was arguing with Pence about the opinions I plan to hold for my first 100 days. I hope the best for the next year, wishing that we can make America great again. Best, The Donald
Dear The Donald, Luckily, everything went as planned—I originally worried about the election results, though I will never admit this. But Clinton’s concession speech was quite nice. Through the right steps towards collaboration, relations between Russia and the U.S. will continue to improve. The situation with the Middle East has become more violent, but hopefully we can work together to arrange plans for that. Needless to say, our countries must work on an international level to achieve stability. No worries about the Christmas present. The challenges that we will face will be enough. I hope that we can discuss further plans before your inauguration. Love, Vladimir
Senioritis—Making Seniors Human Again By Wasif Zaman STUYVESANT HIGH SCHOOL—Senior Deepak Ali was working diligently on his particle accelerator this past Thursday when, all of a sudden, his inner circuitry started acting out. He initially figured that his hard drive must have been scratched or that his motherboard was heating up—but he would soon discover how wrong he truly was. “It was really weird,” Ali reported. “First, there was this thump-thump noise coming from my chest, and my eyes did this really weird thing— water started to come out of them. I consulted WebMD to see if anything was wrong, and the ‘most probable diagnosis’ stated that I was having a stroke which was triggered by a long history of diarrhea. Given the credibility of WebMD, I figured that was it. But when my mother forced me to visit my doctor, he told me that my ‘heart’ was beating and that I was ‘crying.’ I didn’t
believe him, so I did some more research online, and it turns out that I actually have a minor case of senioritis. They really grow stupid doctors these days, don’t they?”
Alex Lin / The Spectator
Ali is not the only senior to have experienced this biological anomaly. Many other students have noted a serious decline in their work ethic, as well as the
strange desire to do “human things,” such as cry while watching a beautiful sunset or other “silly mundanities.” Senior Daniel Johnson was spotted crying on the floor when he could not read at his usual top speed of 95,000 * 10^6 words per minute. Having caught on with the mass hysteria, Assistant Principal of Health, Safety, and Student Affairs Brian Moran has decided to take charge. Starting next week, therapy sessions, led by Moran himself, will take place in his office. “I’m just doing my duty,” Moran said, wearing a long, black monk robe that he keeps in school just in case anything like this should arise. “These students can’t afford to be human now, not while they’re at their academic prime—I believe there is a demonic force at play here. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an exorcism, I mean a therapy session, to conduct.”
The Spectator ● February 3, 2017
DARTMOUTH COLLEGE, COSTA RICA, CUBA, ECUADOR & THE GALAPAGOS
The Spectator ● February 3, 2017
The Spectator ● February 3, 2017
The Spectator ● February 3, 2017
Sports Super Bowl
Super Bowl LI: Tale of the Tape
continued from page 28
For starters, Atlanta must get pressure on Brady. Since the Steelers consistently blitzed three, they were only able to succeed when their coverage was strong for a long period of time, something that is nearly impossible when Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels are drawing up plays and Brady is throwing passes. Instead, Atlanta will need to send a variety of blitzes, which they’ve done successfully in the playoffs this year, as they’ve reached the quarterback for five sacks in two games. Next, they need to mix in man-to-man coverage. Brady feasts on finding the openings between zones, and wide receivers Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan are great at sitting in the holes of zone defenses, so a constant zone scheme is ineffective. In the beginning of the season, Atlanta’s young defense struggled under a cover three scheme, but throughout the season they made man-to-man a staple of their scheme, and the team has benefited greatly. Since the Patriots don’t have star tight end Rob
Gronkowski due to injury, they don’t have any premier receivers who will consistently beat oneon-one coverage, so Atlanta’s best shot to slow down Brady and the New England offense is by relying on a man coverage scheme.
Battle of the Trenches While Brady and Ryan have been on the headlines of their teams, Atlanta and New England finished fifth and seventh, respectively, in team rushing yards. The Falcons will look to set the tone with their young tandem of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Freeman brings a shifty running style and can turn bad blocking into a positive, while Coleman is much more of a onecut, downhill runner that will burst through the hole without looking back. Both are proficient receivers, so Patriots linebackers will have to be on their toes throughout the game. For New England, the key to stopping Freeman is similar to what they did against Pittsburgh, and that is to choke the running lanes and keep the runner from making too many moves. Freeman, similar to Pittsburgh’s run-
ning backs, feasts on backdoor lanes and changing directions, so if the Patriots apply a similar strategy to slowing down Freeman, they should be successful. Coleman provides a different challenge, as he won’t take much time to run upfield. The key to stopping him is to get early penetration on the line, and prevent him from getting a huge burst through a big running lane. If he is forced to stay in the backfield and wait for a running lane to develop, he’ll often struggle and be stuffed without much gain. While the strategies for both appear straightforward and are very possible for a defense of New England’s caliber, it will be no easy task considering the Patriots also have to worry about Ryan and Atlanta’s air attack. On the other side of the ball, New England’s backfield is oftentimes a bit of a mystery. Throughout the postseason, Belichick has opted to use a combination of leading-rusher LeGarrette Blount, elusive runner Dion Lewis, and even pass catching back James White. Come Super Bowl Sunday, it’s very likely that he’ll elect to go with Blount, the most powerful and experienced of the group.
While they’re improving, Atlanta’s defense is still young and inexperienced, and will be presented with a very tough challenge when they face Blount, one of the toughest runners in the league. In the regular season, the Falcons struggled against the run, as they finished 26th in the league in yards per carry allowed (4.5). In order to slow down Blount, they’re strategy is very simple: they need to tackle well. Despite such an easy solution, things likely won’t be this easy for the young defense. Blount can drag defenders and shake off weak tackles with ease, so Atlanta’s defenders need to gang tackle and hit hard if they’re going to have a shot at stopping Blount. If they can stop him, then New England will likely call on Lewis and White, but they’re much more dangerous catching the ball and shouldn’t play a huge factor in the run game.
The Verdict Both offenses appear unstoppable. New England and Atlanta tied for the least amount of turnovers in the regular season (11), and the playoffs hasn’t shown us
anything other than dominance for both teams. The key will be forcing punts for both teams, and possibly even a turnover or two. While Atlanta’s offense has a slight advantage over New England’s offense, New England’s defense has proven itself much more over the course of the season. While the Falcons were successful against the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers this postseason, holding them to 20 and 21 points, respectively, they were able to do this by forcing mistakes by the quarterback and forcing turnovers, something that will be nearly impossible to do against Brady and the Patriots. On the other hand, the Patriots’ defense was able to slow down the prolific Pittsburgh offense by forcing punts and limiting big plays, the latter of which Atlanta relies on heavily. The Falcons are on a fantastic run, but unfortunately it will end here, against what will be arguably the greatest dynasty in football history after they win yet another Super Bowl. New England wins, 34-28.
Boys’ Table Tennis
Titans Remain Undefeated with Late-Season Win By Jared Asch, Allison Eng, and Celina Liu Stuyvesant’s boys’ varsity table tennis team, the Titans, remains undefeated for the third year in a row, finishing the season with a 14-0 record in the Central Manhattan Division. The Titans ended their regular season with a swift 5-0 victory over Jacqueline K. Onassis Inter Careers High School on Friday, January 20. The boys have no doubts of their capabilities and are looking to take home the PSAL championship banner again this year. Senior and co-captain William Yao, who plays first doubles this year, feels particularly confident about the team’s bid for the
championship. “Our team really has the best chances of winning the PSAL championships with the help of such a strong starting lineup and an incredibly solid bench,” Yao said. Since many starting players were unable to make Friday’s game, Yao stepped up to play first singles. With his experience as a singles player in previous years, Yao was quickly able to defeat his opponent, Erick Fierro Cruz, in three straight sets, with scores of 11-3, 11-4, and 11-7. Led by seniors and co-captains Eric Amstislavskiy and Alston Wang, the singles lineup was especially strong this year. Other members used Friday’s game to gain more experience and utilize playing time. Sopho-
more Mark Amstislavskiy won his game three sets to none, while reserves (players not in the starting lineup) senior Ken Li and freshman Jeremy Lee, who both played first doubles, also won in straight sets. This year, the team was successful in filling the spots left by last year’s seniors. Junior and rookie Nicholas Pustilnik has filled such a spot, playing second doubles. On Friday’s game, Pustilnik played third singles, sweeping his opponent in three sets. He believes the positive atmosphere fostered his development as a player. “Over the past few months, I’ve met a fantastic group of people that have helped nurture me as an individual and a team player,” said Pustilnik, re-
flecting on the season and his improvements. Many of the players attribute their success to their coach, Dr. Bernard Feigenbaum, who has put much effort into helping the team grow. “He really brings the team together. Without him, we wouldn’t be able to play,” junior Alvin Chen said. As many of the current seniors fill top lineup spots, the underclassmen will need to step up in order for the team to succeed next year. Many of the top players on the team are already working with them, teaching them skills that will improve their performances. “I expect them to be able to continue the legacy our current generation of players [has] created,” Chen said. “As a veteran, I will try
to teach them proper techniques to add to their arsenal of skills.” All in all, the Titans have performed well for the past three years, and will look to take another championship win on February 5. But, in order to remain on top after that, they must push the underclassmen to continue their legacy. Freshman Raymond Guo understands his responsibility as a young player and has high hopes for next year. “Currently, my goal is to constantly improve in order to contribute more to the team,” he said. “Overall, the team’s performance really surprised me, and I hope that I will be able to contribute more and more throughout [my] high school years.”
With Team Finals Approaching, Felines on Bronx Science’s Tail By MUHIB KHAN
meet, the Felines have competed in six other regular meets this season, winning three of them. “Other than Bronx Science we don’t really have a lot of competition in our league,” Stempel said. The portion of the team who normally do not compete are becoming more involved and experienced during meets. “The past two weeks, we have had a lot of underclassmen step up and compete, which is always nice to see,” Stempel said. “A lot of people who don’t usually compete competed like [sophomore Florence Luo] and [Xu] on beam and bars and [junior] Joey [Chen] and [freshman] Lucy [Lu] on floor,” Pacheco said. This helps other members of the team understand the feeling of competing, so in future seasons they will contribute even more significantly to the team. “ The more experience they get under pressure, the better,” Stempel said. Looking ahead, the Felines hope to achieve success by fixing the few things that are giving them trouble. “I want to see everyone improve their form: straighter legs, pointed toes, no wobbles on beam. We give away a
Courtesy of Lucy Lu
After a loss by barely one point against Bronx Science earlier in the season, the Felines, Stuyvesant’s girls’ gymnastics team, faced their rivals in their last regular season meet on Friday, January 27, at the end of finals week. At this meet, however, the team’s goal was not to win. Having already qualified for the Team Championships, the team used this last meet as a chance to give less-experienced gymnasts who hadn’t competed as often during the season a time to perform. Sophomores Xinyue Nam and Veronika Starodubets both competed on vault and floor, with Starodubets performing a beautiful routine that earned her a 6.80 and a spot at the Individual Championships. Freshman Kelsey Xu performed on balance beam, earning an admirable 6.40 with an entirely stuck routine. Beam was a highlight for the team, which usually struggles with falls. “[Senior and co-captain] Julia Ingram, did really well as she didn’t fall at all on beam and she got her highest score,” sophomore Lee-Ann Rushlow said.
The team’s final score was a 103.65 to Bronx Science’s 109.25. Still, it was a solid score considering the line-up was filled with rookies and senior and co-captain Grace Stempel, a top scorer of the team, only competed in one event . A closer match-up between Stuyvesant and Bronx Science occurred at the annual Marilyn Cross Invitational, where the Felines won second place in the Manhattan/Bronx Division behind Bronx Science. “Bronx Science [is] led by the best gymnast in the city, so even though the Felines have more depth, we have to be perfect to beat them,” Stempel said. But the day—the snowiest this season—held complications. “We took a couple falls on beam, and one of our best all-arounders was sick, so we definitely have room to improve for team finals,” Stempel said. There were highlights of the day, however. “[Senior and cocaptain Sonia Epstein’s] beam routine was very solid and [Stempel] was amazing on floor. [Stempel] did a back handspring on beam, too,” Pacheco said. Aside from the divisional
Sophomore Lee-Ann Rushlow dismounts from the beam with a front tuck at the Marilyn Cross Divisional Competition.
lot of unnecessary points that can be fixed with just a little focus,” Stempel said. “In a sport like gymnastics, and as we have learned the hard way, 0.075 can be the difference between first and second place,” Stempel said, referring to last year’s divisional meet, where the Felines trailed Bronx Science by 0.075. With these fixes they hope to beat their rivals and place in the top three at team finals. “We want to beat Bronx Science, who [have] always beat us by one or two points [this season],” Pacheco
said. “It’s not going to be easy, but I have faith that our team will keep improving and hit when it counts at team finals,” Stempel said. Team Finals are scheduled for February 15 this year, a later date than usual that will test the team’s endurance. “The team will be practicing seriously for the next couple weeks, but considering that we got a decently high team score while using our star player just once [at the meet on January 27], I’m confident that we will do well at finals,” Rushlow said.
The Spectator ● February 3, 2017
MLB Hall of Fame Class of 2017 By Jeremy Rubin The crowd fell silent. In the front row, potential Hall of Fame inductees anxiously waited for the results to be announced. After what felt like an eternity, the ballots were counted, and the announcement was made. Outfielder Jeff Bagwell (86.2 percent of votes), outfielder Tim Raines (86 percent of votes), and catcher Ivan Rodriguez (76 percent of votes) were elected into the baseball’s Hall of Fame on Wednesday, January 18, after clearing the threshold of 75 percent needed for induction. They have all impacted baseball in profound ways, and they now join the ranks of the hall with baseball greats such as Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, and Cy Young. In order to even qualify for voting, a player must have played at least ten years in the league and must have waited at least five years after he retired. Then, every member of the Baseball Writer’s Association of America can vote for up to 10 players every year.
Jeff Bagwell Jeff Bagwell, along with Hall of Fame second baseman Craig Biggio and perennial all-star first baseman Lance Berkman, formed the dangerous “Killer B’s” of the Houston Astros that left
opposing pitchers and fans alike in awe during the late ’90s and early ’00s. They led the Astros on eight playoff runs, including a World Series appearance in 2005, and were hailed hometown heros in Houston. Looking at career stats, he is an absolute monster, compiling 449 home runs, a .297 career average, and an on-base-percentage (OBP) at .406. He was a four time all-star, and won the National League Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in 1994. On top of that, only two players had multiple seasons with 40 home runs and 30 stolen bases (1997 and 1999)—he was one of them (Barry Bonds was the other). These stats speak for themselves and make it clear that he is a worthy inductee.
Tim Raines After ten years on the ballot, Tim Raines finally got his turn. Although he does not have the best power numbers (170 career home runs), the left fielder was an easy choice even while lacking the conventional stats. His prowess as a leadoff hitter for the Montreal Expos, Chicago White Sox, and New York Yankees over a 23-year career made him one of the most consistent faces in baseball from 1979-’99. Over his 23-year career,
Raines had 1,330 walks and a career OBP of .385. He consistently got on base, where he flew, compiling 808 stolen bases, which put him at fifth all time. He also has the highest successful stolen base percentage of players with more than 500 steals (84.7 percent). This combination of getting on base and stealing bases at will helped him become one of the best leadoff hitters of all time. With his on-base abilities and his three World Series rings, seven all-star appearances, and a 1986 National Le=ague batting title, Raines is a Hall-worthy player.
Ivan Rodriguez For Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, it was only a matter of time. While it is slightly surprising he made it in on his first year on the ballot, it goes to show how much of an impact he had on the game of baseball, and he is a welldeserved addition to the Hall in terms of both his offense and defense aptitude. The catcher made the all-star team in two-thirds of his career (14 appearances in 21 seasons). On offense, Pudge compiled 2,844 hits, 500 more than any other catcher in the Hall, a .294 average, and is the only catcher to ever have 300 home runs and 500 doubles. As a defender, Rodriguez was a 13-time gold glove
winner (best defensive catcher in the league) and his career caught stealing percentage is 45.6. During Rodriguez’s MVP winning season (1999), runners would be too afraid to even risk stealing bases on him in fear of getting thrown out. Not only does “Pudge” have impressive stats, but also he, along with Hall member Nolan Ryan, was the face of the franchise in the ‘90s. He turned the Rangers’ reputation around and helped them win their division for the first time in franchise history in 1994. Five years later, after winning the MVP in 1999, he led the Rangers to a 95-67 record and a hard fought American League Division Series loss to the Yankees.
Notable Snubs (Who Will Soon Get In) • Trevor Hoffman (74 percent of votes) Hoffman fell short of his Hall of Fame plaque this year by just five votes. He has the secondmost saves all time at 601 and was a model of consistency throughout his 18-year career. He averaged 39 saves a season and is one of two players with 500, let alone 600, saves (Mariano Rivera has the record for most saves all-time at 652). He will get in at some point, even if this year
wasn’t it. Only a handful of players get nominated on their first or second time around, so Hoffman is still almost a guarantee. • Vladimir Guerrero (71.7 percent of votes) Not only does Guerrero have a .318 batting average, 449 home runs, and 1496 runs batted in, but he also was the 2004 MVP and has made nine all-star appearances. He had stellar defense and has a cannon for an arm. “Vlad” hit for an average over .290 for 15 of his 16 seasons in the league and was one of the most feared hitters in the game during the late 1990s and 2000s. Though there were many candidates deserving of votes and he was a first-timer on the ballot, he deserved to be inducted. • Barry Bonds (53.8 percent) and Roger Clemens (54.1 percent) These two elite players who admitted to taking performanceenhancing drugs (PEDs) will eventually make it. Their numbers have been climbing every year, and at some point they will meet the threshold. PEDs have no place in Major League Baseball today, but back in Bonds’s and Clemens’s era, when the rules were more lenient, players were not penalized for such actions. Since Bonds and Clemens were two of the greatest players of their era, they deserve to be honored among the other greats.
The NFL Relocation Game: Los Angeles Chargers and Oakland Raiders By Dimitriy Leksanov
While the focus of the National Football League (NFL) is currently on the playoffs and the Super Bowl, some of the biggest moves are happening off the field. Following the 2015 relocation of the Los Angeles Rams from St. Louis, the San Diego Chargers have decided to move to Los Angeles as well, and the Oakland Raiders are considering a move to Las Vegas. While both plans appear to be huge moneymakers, there are clear downfalls which raise the question as to whether these decisions are worthwhile.
San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers In 2016, the San Diego Chargers were dead last in the NFL in total home attendance, down by close to 80,000 total fans from the season before. With a drop this significant, one would expect the franchise to be a disastrous trainwreck of a team. However, the Chargers are far from talentless. Despite an injury marring the 5-11 campaign, this year still saw the emergence of many young players, such as rookie defensive end Joey Bosa and second-year running back Melvin Gordon. However, no matter the amount of young talent a team may possess, fan participation can only be drawn if the team
takes action to incite excitement about said young talent. In San Diego’s history, the front office has struggled while negotiating with young stars such as running back LaDainian Tomlinson in 2001, quarterback Philip Rivers in 2004, and Bosa in 2016. With the back-and-forth contract talks often dragging on for months, there is a stigma around these players, which often leads to them being viewed as lacking talent. Considering the front office problems and this toxicity in the fan base, it makes sense that the Chargers began looking for a fresh start. Ultimately, they gravitated towards relocation. However, what likely sold them on the idea was the state of their outdated venue, Qualcomm Stadium. It is relatively small, with its maximum capacity of 70,561 fans, which is actually less than over a third of NFL teams’ average game attendance this year. It is also one of the few NFL stadiums to still have real grass, which has recently been correlated to season-long injury issues. Furthermore, with the stadium having existed since 1967, and with the stadium’s other tenant, Major League Baseball’s San Diego Padres, moving out in 2003, the Chargers themselves became due for a new stadium. Then, when a San Diego County referendum to allocate money towards a new stadium was voted
down this past fall, the Chargers’ only real choice became to seek a new home elsewhere. With a stadium being built in Los Angeles for the recently-relocated Rams, a move to Los Angeles was all but inevitable. Even though Los Angeles seems like an easy fix with Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park already in the works, the decision is questionable. Unlike the Rams, who moved into Los Angeles in 2016 with the luxury of playing home games in the enormous Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum while Los Angeles Stadium is still being built, the Chargers do not have the same opportunity. Instead, the Chargers will play their games in the StubHub Center, which seats a microscopic 30,000 fans, amounting to just over half of the Chargers’ average 2016 attendance. This is less than a third of the max capacity of the Los Angeles Coliseum, which has been a godsend for the Rams as they have gone from dead last to second overall in fan attendance, despite being a poor team. Though the move is almost guaranteed to pay off in a big way once the stadium is built in 2019, the sheer amount of money that the Chargers will lose over the next two to three years will be innumerable, making this a potentially disastrous move for the team’s financial future.
Oakland Raiders Following suit with both the Los Angeles Rams and the nowLos Angeles Chargers, the Oakland Raiders are looking to move to Las Vegas, despite having just enjoyed their best season in years. While this seems inexplicable at first, it makes sense below the surface. Despite their notoriously
dium size. The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is even smaller than Qualcomm Stadium, with a max capacity of 63,123 fans— something that does not bode well with the low turnout and ticket prices. Oakland Coliseum has also been around since the 1960s, and is also surfaced with real grass. The Coliseum is still the venue for Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics, which
Football is a business, and moving is the best way for both of these teams to further their business.
passionate “Black Hole” fan base, for close to a decade, the Raiders have finished each season in the bottom five of teams in total home attendance. Their average ticket prices this past season have been among the lowest in the league, which translates to very little income for the organization. This was coupled with the fact that the Raiders are in a very similar situation as the Chargers when it comes to their sta-
creates a displeasing aesthetic during games, with its misshapen field and occasional patches of infield dirt peeking out during games. Luckily, the Raiders have two options for the future. A plan has already been approved for the Raiders to have a stadium built in Paradise, Nevada by 2020 if the move to Las Vegas is allowed. Alameda County officials have also agreed to fund a one billion dollar stadium if the Raiders stay in Oakland.
Though, what makes a Raiders move less of a risk than the Chargers move is the plan for the present. The Chargers will indubitably lose millions of dollars as their new stadium is built in Los Angeles while the Raiders still have the Oakland Coliseum, which is over twice the capacity of StubHub Center and they plan to play in it until a potential Las Vegas venue is complete. Thus, while there will not be significant gains until 2020, this move seems like a low-risk, high-reward type of plan, unlike what the Chargers are doing. However, football is a business, and moving is the best way for both of these teams to further their business. Both teams have tired fan bases, worn out stadiums, and consistently low profits, so taking this kind of risk may prove to be valuable in the future.
February 3, 2017
The Spectator SpoRts Boys’ Track
Greyducks Race for a Spot at City Championships
Varsity Boys’ Basketball vs. Hunter College High School Hunter College H.S.
Sunday Boys’ and Girls’ Indoor Track: Manhattan Borough Championships Armory Track
Courtesy of Aren Tucker
Monday Varsity Girls’ Basketball vs. School of the Future Home
Senior Eric Cao runs the 4x200-meter relay.
By Nikki Daniels On a cool, Saturday morning at Ocean Breeze Track in Staten Island, the Greyducks, Stuyvesant’s boys’ indoor track team, competed against other top Manhattan schools in a variety of events at the Public School Athletic League (PSAL) Open Invitational Meet. The team excelled, with many racers placing near or at the top of their respective races. In what was one of the most impressive feats this year, senior and co-captain Kiyan Tavangar broke Stuyvesant’s record for the 1000-meter run (2:37.04). His time earned him first place in his race by more than five seconds. He will be a major asset to the team in its quest to place at the City Championships. The week before, at the Martin Luther King Games, the 4x800m team got the leading time in the city (8:25.39). Unfortunately, also at that meet, one of the team’s best sprinters, senior Moses Oh, was injured. He will be out for the rest of the season. This is a devastating blow for the team, as he was expected to play a major role in the team’s future meets. Luckily, some up-and-com-
ing freshmen will try to counteract the loss of Oh. Freshmen Jacob Olin and Alex Li have shown vast improvements over the course of the season. At the PSAL Open, Olin finished fourth in the 1600-meter run with a time of 5:19.77, and Li placed fourth in the 1000-meter race with a time of 3:10.55. Li shaved three seconds off his 1000-meter time from the last meet he ran in, and Olin finished a full 11 seconds ahead of his previous best. Freshman Baird Johnson raced in the varsity category, and, along with qualifying for City’s, ran an impressive 4:45.19 in the 1600-meter run, fast enough for fifth overall. The season is beginning to wind down, and the City Championships on February 19 will mark its conclusion. Before reaching the City Championships, the team will have to advance past the Borough Championships on February 5, but senior and co-captain Gregory Dudick is not worried. “In the borough, we’re by far the best. The saying is that we don’t actually win Borough’s unless we score more points than all the other teams combined,” he said. For over a decade, the Greyducks have brought home a Manhat-
tan Championships win, and this year should be no different. However, City Championships will be a much tougher challenge because of steeper competition against teams such as McKee/Staten Island Technical High School. The team is not deterred, though, and after placing fourth in the city last year, aiming for a top three finish does not seem out of reach. In order to prepare for the upcoming meets, Dudick emphasized a strict work ethic. “We need to train smarter,” he said. “We need to make sure we have good communication among each other to ensure the team’s morale won’t crack.” With practices five times a week and runners training outside of practice, the team is locked in for the final meets of the year. The Greyducks will be looking to secure a statement finish on February 19. With a strong freshman class and a determined team, a top three finish is a definite possibility for the Greyducks. “Overall, the team looks strong heading into the final weeks of the season,” Tavangar said. “We are optimistic about our chances at City’s.”
Varsity Boys’ Basketball vs. Norman Thomas High School Home
Varsity Girls’ Basketball vs. Seward Park High School Seward Park H.S.
WRAPUP Stuyvesant’s girls’ table tennis team, the Peglegs, concluded its undefeated season on Friday, January 20, with a 4-1 victory against Seward Park Campus. The Peglegs finished with a 12-0 record and won their division by two games over Seward Park.
The Lemurs, Stuyvesant’s boys’ gymnastics team, narrowly edged out John F. Kennedy Campus on Thursday, January 19, by a score of 115.00-114.90. With the win, the Lemurs moved to 2-0 and are tied for first place in their division.
By Max Onderdonk After 20 weeks of high-stakes football, Super Bowl LI is finally set. The game will feature the American Football Conference (AFC) champion, the New England Patriots (16-2), pitted against the National Football Conference (NFC) champion, the Atlanta Falcons (13-5). With this set, we will surely be witnessing a game that will be recalled as a classic.
Containing Atlanta’s Offense When it comes to shutting
Super Bowl LI: Tale of the Tape
down a team that has one of the best offenses of all time, there is no better team than the New England Patriots. During their AFC championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Patriots limited Steelers star wide receiver Antonio Brown to just seven catches for 77 yards. By having number one cornerback Malcolm Butler and free safety Devin McCourty double-team Brown, New England forced Pittsburgh to use lesser weapons, who had several key drops and had trouble getting open. Falcons star wide receiver Julio Jones is at a very similar talent
level to Brown, but containing him requires a much different strategy. While Brown is the best player in the league at getting open, Jones can catch a one-on-one jump ball as well as anyone in the league, and he is a strong physical receiver off the press. Instead of jamming him up on the line as Butler did with Brown, New England should instead look to run with him step-for-step, and limit easy releases and one-on-one situations. McCourty will once again play a primary role in limiting the deep routes, which should be more effective against Jones as he is much more of a vertical threat
than Brown. If Jones is successfully bottled up, Atlanta will have to turn to wide receivers Taylor Gabriel and Mohamed Sanu. Cornerback Logan Ryan will line up opposite Butler, so one of these receivers will have a tough matchup with him because Ryan is among the best number-two cornerbacks in the league. If New England is successfully able to shut down Jones, quarterback Matt Ryan will be forced to look to his running backs and mediocre tight ends. Subsequently, he will have focus on their other outside target, creating a tough environment for At-
lanta to move the ball.
Slowing Down Brady Against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Brady was able to pick apart their cover-two defense as they only rushed three players regularly and gave him time to find the open man. This defense played perfectly into Brady’s strengths, so Atlanta will need to learn from Pittsburgh’s mistakes and give New England different perspectives on defense. continued on page 26