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DEC | 2015
THE INDEPENDENT VOICE OF KEAN UNIVERSITY
HOAX? • Why did Kean stay open? • Farahi at the clock tower
• Student reactions • Ministers demand Farahi’s resignation
Timeline of events and full story on pages 2-3 Kayla-Simone McKelvey, above, participating in a March protest on campus. McKelvey, a self-proclaimed activist, now faces a third degree count of creating a false public alarm after allegedly posting threatening Tweets during a Nov. 17 rally.
Police: McKelvey claims she’s received death threats
Former Student Org prez defends her
Former Student Organization President Gerard Smithwrick defended KaylaSimone McKelvey on his Facebook profile.
By Rebecca Panico The Union Township Police Department confirmed that Kayla-Simone McKelvey called Kean University police on Dec. 1 after she claimed that she received death threats. McKelvey, 24, was charged on a thirddegree count of creating a false public alarm after allegedly posting threats to Twitter that threatened to shoot black students and claimed that a bomb was on campus, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace Park said in a statement Dec. 1. Kean University Police contacted the Union Township police about her claims, said Union Township Police Capt. Scott Breslow, and she was referred to make a report with their department. Capt. Breslow said as of the morning of Dec. 1, she had not done so. “We’re focusing patrols in the area of her home, but it’s not a big post like 24 hours or anything like that,” he said Dec. 1, adding, “Until we get a written report from her we’re not investigating.” McKelvey, a self-proclaimed activist, allegedly left a Nov. 17 rally in support of University of Missouri students, made the Twitter threats on a library computer and then returned to the rally to spread word of the threats, the prosecutor said. Kean University President Dawood Farahi said he was “saddened” by the
Photo: Gerard Smithwrick
prosecutor’s announcement in an email blast on Dec. 1. “As a diverse academic community, we wholeheartedly respect and support activism, however, no cause or issue gives anyone the right to threaten the safety of others,” his statement read. “We hope this information will begin to bring a sense of relief and security to the campus community.” Meanwhile, former Student Organization President Gerard Smithwrick publicly defended McKelvey on his Facebook profile. “KAYLA MCKELVEY IS INNOCENT,” Smithwrick wrote in all caps. “That is my sister, not by blood but in by heart, and I know her very very well. She has been ‘accused’ but there is no specific proof which directly links her to this crime, and of all people, she would NEVER do anything like this.” Smithwrick, who graduated with McKelvey in May, said as soon he heard about her charges he called to see how she was doing. “It’s tough, it’s definitely tough for her,” Smithwrick, who is black, told The Tower. “She’s a Kean graduate. Her name, her reputation is all over the news. It’s only an accusation. She has not been found guilty.” Last March, McKelvey, who was the Pan African Student Union (PASU) president at the time, publicly denounced Smithwrick’s continued on page 4
Photo: Bryan Kuriawa
Diversity panel discussion ends in chaotic scene By Celeste Simmons and Nicole Brown Just hours after authorities charged Kean University alumna Kayla-Simone McKelvey on Dec. 1 with creating racially charged death threats on Twitter during an anti-racism rally, a university panel on diversity escalated into a chaotic event with angry questions from the audience. The university announced via email blast on Nov. 30 a panel to discuss “Conversations on Civility & Acceptance: Diversity, Communication and Safety.” The panel consisted of faculty and students, including those who were involved in the Nov. 17 rally in which McKelvey, who is African American, allegedly participated. But on Dec. 1 the charge against McKelvey was announced and the media descended on campus as it had after the initial Twitter threats surfaced. Several outlets attended the event, including NBC, NJ Advance Media and others. Held in the Little Theatre inside the Miron University Center, the event was filled with a standing room crowd -- so many that people were turned away at the door -- an unusual event for a Kean panel discussion. President Dawood Farahi opened the panel with prepared remarks about tolerance and then left afterwards. “We actively support activism,” said Farahi. “However, no cause or issue
gives anyone the right to threaten the safety of others.” The panel began discussing campus safety, but it quickly escalated into a heated conversation about race. Some students became irate and accused Dr. Charlie Williams, director of the Office of Affirmative Action, of skipping questions because media were present and recording the meeting. Williams, who was one of the moderators , had instructed students to write questions down on notecards that were handed out at the door. Others claimed the panel was not answering the questions he asked. “They weren’t answering our questions because they did not want people’s opinions on the air,” Doreen Burgess, a sophomore public administration major, charged after the meeting. There was a complaint about a lack of communication on the night of the threats. One student asked why the university did not send out an email about the threats until the next day. The Kean University police used its emergency alert system – a text and phone emergency system that alerts participants to emergencies – twice in the night. An email from campus police came at about 5:30 a.m. on Nov. 18 alerting students of the Twitter threats. Another student complained that the email the university did send did continued on page 4
Student Organization President Nigel Donald, fourth from left, spoke during a diversity panel discussion on Dec. 1 in the Miron Student Center.
Photo: Celeste Simmons
2 THE TOWER
Timeline of events
By Yuri Smishkewych
12:32 a.m. Kean University (@KeanUniversity) posts that the “threatening tweets are under investigation by @kupolice. Protest on campus is peaceful.”
9:30 p.m. About ten Kean students gathered peacefully at the clock tower in response to the “racial injustices happening on campus as well as nationally,” said Kristal Noyan, one of the rally organizers and president of the Kean Pan-African Student Union (PASU), adding that there were no faculty present at the protest. The protest was not organized by PASU, she said.
12:37 a.m. Kean police responded to the @KeanUniversity Tweet and added that an investigation is underway and that “additional reports to our dispatch aren’t needed.”
2:27 a.m. A campus alert is issued by Kean University. All those in the campus community within the campus alerts system, which utilizes texting and voicemail, are notiﬁed of the online threats. An e-mail blast from Kean police was also sent around this time.
10:00 p.m. Kean police were observed in the area of the gathering, Noyan said.
10:13 p.m. The ﬁrst of several life-threatening posts were made by an anonymous (@keanuagainstblk) account on Twitter. The violent threats were made towards black students at Kean and also stated that a bomb was on campus.
5:42 a.m. Kean police send out a second security alert, which informs the Kean community via email that classes will be held as scheduled, adding that “we respect your right to use your own best judgment in deciding whether or not to come to campus” and that there will be heightened levels security throughout the day and through the remainder of the week.
10:30-11 p.m. In the following half-hour, the Twitter threats were reposted by concerned students. On-campus, dozens more protesters joined the rally, which moved from the clock tower to the quads (the courtyard which Kean’s four oldest dorms surround), Noyan said.
By 10:00 a.m., regional news media is observed on campus and Kean’s usually packed parking lots are visibly empty.
Noon. Members of the Kean community including administrators, students, police and the media, congregated in front of the clock tower.
1:00 p.m. Kean University President Dr. Dawood Farahi speaks to students and the media at the clock tower. Following his speech, Farahi sends out his ﬁrst statement via email to all students, faculty and staff.
In so far, here are the events that occurred on the night of Nov. 17 and in the days following the threats made against Kean students on Twitter.
Nov. 17 •
Multiple witnesses present at the rally claim that racial slurs were yelled at them from the adjacent dorms surrounding the quads. Kean spokeswomen Margaret McCorry said that police did not receive any complaints or reports of derogatory remarks yelled from the dorms at the protesters. •
A coalition of ministers led by Rev. Ronald Slaughter, senior pastor of Saint James AME Church in Newark, called for Farahi to resign, according to NJ Advance Media.
10:57 p.m. Kean police put out their ﬁrst Tweet stating,“We are aware of the situation on Twitter and it is being looked into.”
Throughout the day classrooms are sparse as many students chose not to attend classes; some faculty members canceled their classes for that day.
In the following hours, multiple posts appeared on the Kean police Twitter page criticizing the lack of communication between Kean University and its community members. •
11:06 p.m. Student Government President Nigel Donald posted on Twitter, “I’m asking Kean students as your student leader to not attend classes tomorrow as recent threats have been made against the campus.”
Evening. The news at Kean reaches national and international newswires including the Associated Press and Reuters and is televised on multiple media outlets in the tri-state area.
Kean remains open the day after threats were made via Twitter By Angel Ospina With school threats becoming a norm in today’s society, the tough decision to remain open is left solely to those in charge of the school, not only at Kean, but other colleges across the country. Many students ignored Kean University’s encouragement to attend class on Wednesday, Nov. 18, as the university remained opened the day after racial threats were made via Twitter. “Kean University is open and operating on a normal schedule, wrote University Relations in a mass email to all students and faculty. “Campus police, in conjunction with local and state authorities, continue to investigate despicably biased threats made via Twitter last night, which continue to be unsubstantiated.” The threats were made by the anonymous Twitter account @keanuagainstblk on Tuesday night, Nov. 17, warning the university of a possible shooting and bombing. “I will kill every black male and female at Kean University,” the account read in one of its many threatening tweets posted on the page. After acknowledgment of the threat, that morning, Kean didn’t feel the need to close the university. “Our campus is open today and operating in full force because that is in the best interest of our community,” President Dawood Farahi wrote in a message sent in a mass email by University Relations. Kean is not the only school who has received threats in the past few months. More than a dozen school threats were made in the month of November. Princeton, Harvard and Cape Cod Community College were among the threats made in the past two weeks alone. Washington College in Maryland did not receive specific threats to the school, but on the morning of Nov. 16 local police notified
the college that sophomore, Jacob Marberger, had retrieved a firearm from his home and was missing. The school decided to close the college the rest of the day and the day after the school issued this statement on its website. “We would like to reiterate that we have not had any direct threats against campus or any members of our community, but in the interest in caution we feel closing campus until the situation changes is the best course of action,” according to Washington College in a statement. Kean decided to remain closed until after the Thanksgiving break and reopen on Nov. 30. According to multiple media reports, Marberger was found dead on Saturday, Nov. 21. The quick decision on whether to close a school after a threat arises is crucial and at times may be life-saving. Not all colleges make the quick decision to close the campus and Umpqua Community College in Roseburg Oregon did not. The day before the shootings in Oregon the anonymous chat board, 4chan.org, has posted threats on the website. “Don’t go to school tomorrow if you are in the Northwest,” wrote the anonymous user on the website. A day later, on Oct. 2, ten people at the community college were killed. Kean’s decision to remain open after the threats caused uproar by many of its students. President of the Students Organization, Nigel Donald was among those upset by the schools refusal to close and even put the responsibility of keeping the students safe into his own hands. “I’m asking Kean students as your student leader to not attend classes tomorrow as recent threats have been made against the campus,” wrote Donald in a tweet the night the threats were made. Donald’s tweet received over 470 retweets
and many students listened to their student leader by not attending classes the following day. “I stand by my decision to send that tweet because I was looking out for the student body,” wrote Donald via email. “My personal safety is a different story, but the safety of commuting students making their way to campus daily as well as residential students is the top most priority as a student leader.” While many students and faculty thought Kean should have remained closed, others felt the appropriate measures were followed when making the decision to keep the school open. “I would agree that keeping the university open was appropriate and the correct decision in my professional opinion,” said Dr. James Drylie, the Executive Director of the Center for Cyber Security at Kean. “There were threats that were made, but the question is whether or not the there was actionable intelligence that would substantiate the threats, and it would appear that there was not,” wrote Drylie via email. Social media sites such as Twitter, Yik Yak and other sites provide a platform to make threats for those who wish to raise concern. Whether those that are threatened will deem that threat viable and determine how to respond to the threat is no easy task. “When threats such as this are made the best course of action is to establish a visible presence of police,” wrote Drylie. “This is evident in NYC and other major cities across the US and around the world.” Police was heightened at the University for the two weeks after the threats were made as the Union County Sheriffs Office provided Kean University Campus Police with extra officers. This story originally appeared on kutower. com on Nov. 24. It has been edited to reflect appropriate dates.
Photo: Rebecca Panico
An anonymous Twitter account made threats against Kean on Tuesday night, Nov. 17.
University president meets with students at the clock tower By Rebecca Panico Kean University President Dr. Dawood Farahi sat with students outside the Miron Student Center by the clock tower Nov. 18, acknowledging students’ concerns after a peaceful rally on Nov. 17. Farahi also released a statement in the wake of the Nov. 17 Twitter threats, stating that he supported the students and their efforts to put a spotlight racial and social injustices across the country. “…Kean remains supportive of our students’ rights to peacefully demonstrate, and vigilant about ensuring their safety and the safety of the entire Kean community,” he said today in a statement emailed to all students, faculty and staff. “Our campus is open and operating today in full force because that is in the best interest of our community.” Many students and professors stayed home on Nov. 18 even though Kean University remained open after an anonymous Twitter user threatened violence against black students on campus at night on Nov. 17. The online threats were made while students held a sleep-in at 9:30 p.m. on Nov. 17 supporting students at University of Missouri (Mizzou), said
Tanaera Green, 22, a senior who said she helped organize the rally. The threats against Kean made headlines, much like Mizzou students did earlier in November after they organized a movement called #ConcernedStudent1950 to denounce their school’s lack of response to racist events on campus. Some Kean students in the dorms began to yell racial slurs at those who were rallying in the quads, Green said, calling them “monkeys” and using the “n-word” and telling them to “shut up the ‘f’ up.” “And then right around that time, when people were still yelling, that’s when the Tweet threats began,” said Green, who studies English, psychology and political science. “That’s when it became not just pray for Missouri, it’s pray for Kean. It’s happening right here. It can happen anywhere.” An anonymous Twitter account named, @ KeanUAgainstBlk, posted about nine Tweets Nov. 17 around 10:30 p.m., stating that “theres a bomb” on campus and that he or she would “shoot any black person i see at kean university.” According to institutional research from this year, 33 percent of undergraduate students are white; 18 percent are black; 25 percent are Hispanic; 16 percent are Asian; 7 percent are unreported; and
about 1 percent are classified as “multirace.” Between full-time, part-time and adjunct faculty, 138 are black, 944 are white, 128 are Asian, 83 are Hispanic, 12 are “multirace” and 132 are not reported, according to this year’s institutional research. No organization at Kean took responsibility for the rally. Pan-African Student Union spokeswoman Nija Miranda stated that her organization, a funded group on campus, did not organize the rally. PASU’s Instagram donned a photo in support of the rally that was to take place Nov. 17, but it has since been removed. Other photos during that week showed support for the University of Missouri students. Days before the rally, posts were made asking students to wear all black and take photos together in support of Mizzou. Though she was not representing the group, PASU president Kristal Noyan said she was at the rally and noticed that the slurs yelled from dorms were from both black and white students. She said the photo was probably removed out of concern the group would get defunded if people thought PASU had organized it. Many Kean students stayed at home and some professors cancelled classes, but three students who were on campus said they felt safe. Nina
Godbee, 24, said she came to class because she had a paper due. She noticed that there were a lot of empty parking spots, a rare sight on campus. “I figured with the advanced security we’d be okay, but you never really know,” said Nina Godbee, a senior studying sociology. “With everything that’s going on, I figure you’re almost safer if there had been a threat because everyone is on high alert.” Though some students and staff stated that they hadn’t seen an increase in police presence on campus on Nov. 18, Kean University spokeswoman Margaret McCorry stated the Kean police were working with both federal and local law enforcement to address the threats. “This was a serious, serious thing to the [Kean University Police Department],” she said. “There is a thorough investigation and they are working with law enforcement from the federal level on down.” “The reason why the school is open is because the police deemed the Tweets and the threats to be unsubstantiated. The police believe the campus is safe. If there was any question in their mind at all that this campus is not safe, this school would not be open.” This story originally appeared on kutower.com on Nov. 18. It has been edited to reflect appropriate dates and new information.
THE TOWER 3
since rally, Twitter threats Nov. 21-22
According to the announcement, McKelvey was a participant at the student protest on Nov. 17 who momentarily left the rally to use a computer station at the university library from where she allegedly created the Twitter account (@keanuagainstblk) on which numerous lifethreatening Tweets to members of the Kean community where made.
Throughout the weekend the campus remained on heightened security levels, Farahi said in a statement on Nov. 20. Farahi issues two consecutive statements via email on Nov. 20 and Nov. 21 and advises students that the Twitter threats are still under investigation by the Union County Prosecutor’s Ofﬁce.
Nov. 23 •
At a 90-minute meeting organized by State Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D) in Trenton, legislators and ofﬁcials—including President Farahi and the Rev. Ronald Slaughter— met behind closed-doors to discuss the allegations made by the coalition of ministers against Farahi, Rev. told The Tower. The group decided that the Board of Trustees, Kean’s ﬁnal governing body, should vote at their next meeting whether an independent investigation would take place which would look into the school’s hiring and ﬁring processes and how money is spent on African American students, Rev. Slaughter told The Tower. On Nov. 25, McCorry declined to conﬁrm whether the group decided that such a resolution would be voted upon by the Trustees at their next meeting. “Dr. Farahi and members of Kean University Board of Trustees had the opportunity to dialogue today on an important subject – social justice – and the dialogue will continue,” McCorry said in an e-mail on Nov. 25. The next Trustees meeting will take place on Dec. 5 at the Kean Ocean campus in the Gateway Building at Ocean County College in Toms River.
5:12 p.m. Farahi issues his fourth statement via email to all students, faculty and staff stating that the Union County Prosecutor’s ofﬁce is continuing the investigation into the source of the anonymous Twitter account. He stated that he’s in daily contact with the Prosecutor’s ofﬁce and will update, students, faculty and staff when authorized to do so. He reiterates that the campus will remain on heightened security.
3:15 p.m. A panel issues conversations on civility & acceptance, diversity, communication and safety. Farahi makes a statement on camera for news media at the panel.
Dec. 2 •
Afternoon. Union Township Police Department conﬁrms that McKelvey called Kean University police yesterday after she claimed that she received death threats. According to Union Township Police Capt. Scott Breslow, McKelvey did not make a report, as of the morning of Dec. 2, with their department, therefore they are not investigating the report of death threats.
Evening. A coalition of ministers is continuing to call for the resignation of President Farahi. “I called for his resignation after the Twitter feed but not because of the Twitter feed,” said Rev. Ronald Slaughter of the Saint James AME Church in Newark, who has been speaking on behalf of several ministers since Nov. 18. Rev. Slaughter said the coalition wants Farahi to resign because of “the culture of racism and the fact that it trickled down to the students.” In a statement on Nov. 18, the university said Rev. Slaughter was “trying to politicize the important issues of social justice and inequality.” Chair of the Kean’s Board of Trustees Governance Committee Linda Lewis said the coalition “lacks scrutiny.” Rebecca Panico contributed to this report.
Dec. 1 •
She is set to make a ﬁrst appearance in the case on Dec. 14 at the Union County Jail courtroom.
1:20 p.m. In an email to the Kean community, Dr. Farahi announced that the Union County Prosecutor has charged former Kean student KaylaSimone McKelvey, 24, with creating a false public alarm.
This story originally appeared on kutower.com on Nov. 25. It has been edited to reﬂect appropriate dates.
Ministers still demand Farahi’s resignation despite alleged hoax By Rebecca Panico After an African-American Kean graduate was charged in connection with making Twitter threats against black students on Dec. 1, a coalition of ministers is continuing to call for the resignation of President Dawood Farahi. “I called for his resignation after the Twitter feed but not because of the Twitter feed,” said Rev. Ronald Slaughter of the Saint James AME Church in Newark, who has been speaking on behalf of several ministers since Nov. 18. Kayla-Simone McKelvey, 24, was charged on a third-degree count of creating a false public alarm after allegedly posting threats on Twitter that threatened to shoot black students and claimed that a bomb was on campus, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace Park said in a statement Dec. 1. McKelvey – a May 2015 graduate, former head of the Pan African Student Union at Kean and the 2014 Homecoming queen – was a participant in Nov. 17’s rally in support of University of Missouri students. The coalition came out with its demand less than a day after the Twitter threats were made and the university remained open because the Farahi said the threats were “unsubstantiated.” Rev. Slaughter said the coalition wants Farahi to resign because of “the culture of racism and the fact that it trickled down to
Photo: Rev. Ronald Slaughter
Rev. Ronald Slaughter of the Saint James AME Church in Newark
the students.” Slaughter cited a “culture of intimidation” on campus and also referred to discrimination lawsuits, such as the recent legal settlement with a former Kean employee, Sherrell S. Holderman, who claimed she was “coerced” into retirement because of her age, race and gender. In a statement on Nov. 18, the university said Rev. Slaughter was “trying to politicize the important issues of social justice and inequality.” Chair of Kean’s Board of Trustees Governance Committee Linda Lewis said the coalition “lacks scrutiny.” “I am offended that this group would issue such an inflammatory statement continued on page 10
Students, rally organizers react to McKelvey charges By Nicole Brown Many in the Kean community had mixed reactions when they learned via email on Dec. 1 that Kayla-Simone McKelvey, a May 2015 graduate, was charged in connection with making racially-charged threats on Twitter during a campus protest against racism. McKelvey, 24, was one of several students who participated in the demonstration on Nov. 17, the Union County Prosecutor announced. She allegedly left the rally, created an anonymous Twitter account and posted a series of racially charged threats of violence from a computer lab in the Nancy Thompson Library. Kristal Noyan, president of the PanAfrican Student Union (PASU) at Kean, was stunned. She said McKelvey is an assertive individual who went above and beyond to accomplish her dreams and aspirations when she served as president of PASU. “I am shocked and saddened by the
posts on Instagram,” said Noyan, referring to negative posts on social media about PASU after McKelvey was charged with a third degree count of creating a false public alarm. “It is easy for others to post comments about a suspect who has not been proven guilty.” Noyan said on the night of the rally McKelvey was reading the posts aloud during the protest while the Tweets were being posted, and therefore, she didn’t think McKelvey could be guilty. “McKelvey was the first person who alerted the police about the threat on Twitter and asked them to inquire who the person was,” Noyan said. Noyan said that the allegations will not affect future activities of the Pan-African Student Union. “PASU has been around for years and this will not destroy its credibility,” said Noyan. “Those who don’t know about PASU may question its credibility.” Tanaera Green, who said she she was an continued on page 10
Photo: Rebecca Panico
Students were interviewed by news and media outlets on campus on Wednesday, Nov. 18.
Students recount events on campus the morning after Twitter threats By Alyssa Davis Students shared their thoughts about the racially charged Twitter threats and peaceful rally on Tuesday night, Nov. 17, with some feeling safe and others refusing to go to class the day after. Olivia Felder recounted what she saw at the peaceful rally that was in support of University of Missouri’s students. “People were yelling the n-word from the windows at Bartlett Hall,” Felder said about the atmosphere during the rally that took place in the plaza on Tuesday night. Aida Reyes had more to add about the feel during the night, adding that “death metal music was being blasted from the dorms.” She went on to say that she heard shouting that included racial slurs and she heard people yelling “all lives [not just black lives] matter.” Junior Ashley Solla said that there were police escorting people back and forth from the lots to the dorms that night because so many students were leaving campus. “We all just got back to our room after chapter when we saw the tweets so as soon as we saw them we all left and went to the diner and then everyone else slept elsewhere for the night but I just decided to come back,” Solla said. “A police officer drove me from the parking lot to new upper and then I just slept there. I felt safer there then in the quads. I went to my only class today and 4 people showed up and now I’m at work and no one is here either.” Some students were too fearful to attend school on Wednesday, Nov. 18. “I didn’t even go to classes,” Michael
Photo: Rebecca Panico
Students camped out overnight near the clock tower on Kean’s campus on Tuesday, Nov. 17 to Wednesday Nov. 18.
Gonzales, who dorms, said. Others believed that education comes before everything else. “Either way I still have to get my education,” Senior Jawuan Gilliam said. “I was taught nothing stops you from getting your education.” Some initially viewed the threats as a hoax, like Arielle Baiza, a freshman speech pathology major. “At first when my friend told me I thought it was a joke then I went online and it was a little scary,” Baiza said. She still attended her classes as usual. “I feel pretty safe,” Baiza said. “The police are doing their job. Kean is very diverse so it is really stupid that this is happening.” Others took it seriously right away, like Jasleen Molina. “I take it seriously but I feel like the police won’t let anything bad happen,” Molina said. Molina’s professors did not cancel class, but they sent emails reassuring students that they did not need to come if they felt continued on page 9
4 THE TOWER
Daytime television comes to Kean University By Rose Marie Kitchen An unusual bus trip has found its way to Kean University, and for years has left its mark while bringing students to day time television. The Steve Wilkos show has gained an unexpected relationship with Kean University. Since 2011, the Steve Wilkos show has actively run a bus trip from Kean University to its studio in Stamford, Conn. This bus trip was first organized in 2011 by alumnus Jamar Dorsey, who at the time was a senior media and film major. Dorsey is founder of the Elite Media Association club at Kean University and was a host for one of the many radio shows that played on Kean University’s radio station, WKNJ 90.3 FM. Dorsey met with the audience coordinator, who at the time was Adam Nechamkin, for the Steve Wilkos show, and was extended an invitation to attend the show with at least 15 people. Nechamkin told Dorsey that if he found 15 people that wanted to attend the show then the show would send a bus to pick everyone up. The Steve Wilkos show has kept its partnership with Kean University even after Dorsey has graduated. Once a semester, The Steve Wilkos show sends emails to students and/or have a tabling event in the Miron Student Center (MSC) atrium offering a bus
ride to the show. The latest bus trip was on October 20, 2015. “I never would’ve thought Kean University would be chosen to have a trip to the Steve Wilkos show,” said Juilan Kennebrew, sophomore communication major. “It felt surreal.” Once a student shows interest in the Steve Wilkos show they will receive an email from Rachel Long, who works for “NBC Universal” and the audience department for the Steve Wilkos show. Long’s email consists of information regarding departure times and ticket information. Students are told to request individual tickets on the Steve Wilkos show website. The trip is free to students and pizza will be served. “As a film major I thought it would be fun for me to go to a real television set and see how everything worked,” said Dawlat Chebly, sophomore film major, “Part of me got so
Tickets to the Steve Wilkos show
excited seeing the camera equipment and set, more than seeing the actual celebrity.” There is no initial reason why the Steve Wilkos show chose to have a bus trip from Kean University, other than the fact that its target audience is college students. The show focuses on topics addressing adultery, domestic abuse, paternity, disrespectful children, teenage pregnancy and other topics similar. The Steve Wilkos show began after Wilkos’ departure as director of security on “The Jerry Springer Show.” “Not only did I get to enjoy a free show and dinner with my friends, [but] I got to see how a real television set is and learn some new things,” said Chebly. “It’s an experience I’d be more than excited to relive.” Any students interested in tickets or more information can call the audience department at 203-564-5235 or may visit the Steve Wilkos show website.
Above: The set of the Steve Wilkos show Below: Steve Wilkos during his show. photos by: Jailene Burgos
International education week reflects Kean ’s values of diversity By Bhriana Smith Kean University’s International Student Association hosted international education week from Nov 16 to Nov 20. The week consisted of a myriad of events, starting with an international photo booth on monday Nov. 16. The rest of activities throughout the week included international desert day, international flags and artifacts day, a study abroad information session, a trip to the United Nations headquarters in New York and ice skating at Bryant Park. The on-campus events were held on the first floor of the Center for Academic Success Building. “I think it’s great that Kean acknowledges this week,” said Zenzile Liggins, a graduate student in speech and language pathology. “It is a great reflection of what this university tries to promote.” The aforementioned activities were planned and executed by the International Student Association president, Allan Meria. Meria is an exchange student from Brazil and a junior at Kean ,who made the once dormant International Student Association active again as of the fall 2015 semester. The week-long activities were not just geared towards international students, but for anyone that was interested, said Meria. “I am a very passionate about different cultures, diversity, and traveling to different
places,” said Meria. “I was born and raised in Belo Horizonte, Brazil and I have been in America now for three years. I am delighted to lead and support a group which is committed to providing students with the opportunity to explore all the different cultures we have on campus” “Our diverse executive board is committed to engage education and social learning to a variety of fun activities and programs. I am thrilled of being part of such a special group, with ISA [International Student Association] I am able to live my international passion right here at Kean University.”continued Meria The trip to the United Nations ,which was held on Nov 21, took the diversity awareness to a global level. The students who were in attendance arrived to the headquarters around 11am, where they were met by a tour guide. One of the students who was excited about the trip was Jessica Torres, a senior english major at Kean. “I loved the role the UN has in mediating international issues,” said Torres. “I’m actually applying for the internships that they have available.” According to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, International Education Week is a national opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. The week of awareness
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population to the threat, but then told students to use their own judgment about whether to attend class. An African American student in the crowd yelled out a question regarding the university’s decision to remain open after the Twitter threats were made. “If the threat had been against white students on campus, do you think the school would have been shut down?” he charged. After that question things started to get a little heated. Other students yelled out in agreement Executive Director of the School of Justice and Public Administration Dr. James Drylie, a former police captain who was a speaker on the panel, said safety was never compromised. “The police look at the facts that they have at the time,” Drylie said. “Police officers plan for things like these and pre-planning allowed them to make a decision. The threat was not imminent.” As Drylie spoke, students were still yelling out, re-asking the question, saying the panel needed to answer that one before they would move on to another. Students as well as some faculty members started walking out. Others were yelling out and some were walking towards the stage. Following the event, Tanaera Green, a student panelist who was also one of the rally’s organizers, accused Drylie of avoiding the question regarding campus closures. “I think his reasoning in averting that question was because he wants to keep his position or because he understands his white privilege and he doesn’t want to speak on it without getting attacked by everyone here.” She added: “If this was a threat against white students, the school would have been shut down. I do think that.” Reached by email to respond, Drylie wrote that he didn’t avoid any question and noted about her remark, for a response, that the question-answer format answer drifted to “something more spontaneous.” “I do not see this as an argument, and I would hope that this is seen as a way to learn from each other and to strengthen the university overall.” Other members on the panel included Director of Africana Studies Department and Associate Professor of Anthropology Dr. James Conyers, Kean student and resident assistant Michelle Diaz, Student Organization President Nigel Donald and Graduate/ Part-Time Student Council President Chazz Fellenz; Kristal Noyan, president of the PanAfrican Student Union, and Dr. Yvonne Segars, Esq., a lecturer in the School of Criminal Justice & Public Administration.
Students on tour of UN Headquarters listen to UN tour guide talk about the mission statement of the UN.
is a joint initiative between the Department of Education and the US Department of State. The week of cultural awareness has been acknowledged by many people in the higher political echelons of society, including first
Photos: Bhriana Smith
lady Michelle Obama, who wrote, “Investing in the potential of all young people, through access to a well-rounded, world-class global education, is an investment in our collective future” in a letter found on the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs website.
The Kean Federation of Teachers is offering scholarships to full-time and part-time undergraduate and graduate students next semester. The awards range in size from $750-$1,200. Application deadline is Feb. 18 at 5 p.m. For more information, go to www.KFT2187.org
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office at a protest when she claimed that the Student Organization denied her requests to fund trips during Black History Month. She also claimed that an unnamed psychology professor at Kean made racially charged remarks to an unnamed student. Smithwrick said the two had been friends before that protest. After the March protest the two remained friends because they had had conversations that were “just really positive.” Administrators and McKelvey both confirmed last semester that she had not filled out any paperwork requesting the trips. McKelvey said she did not fill out the paperwork because PASU’s professional staffer, Vice President of Student Affairs Janice Murray-Laury, had told her it would be difficult to receive additional funds. Neither administrators nor last semester’s protesters revealed the name of the accused psychology professor or the name of the student. “There was certainly some misunderstanding — there was a miscommunication — but it has been addressed directly,” Laury said last March, adding that the professor faced no disciplinary action. McKelvey was voted Homecoming queen last year. She graduated with a degree in physical education, a university spokeswoman said. McKelvey is set to make a first appearance in the case on Dec. 14 at the Union County Jail courtroom. This story originally appeared on kutower.com on Dec. 2. It has been edited to reflect appropriate dates.
THE TOWER 5
Dr. Lokuta’s photographs in governor’s residence By Anthony N. Muccigrossi Dr. Donald Lokuta, Professor of Photography at Kean University, is among nine photographers who were selected to photograph ‘Eighteen New Jersey Heroes’ for the exhibit, “Inspire: Everyday People Changing New Jersey,” at Drumthwacket, the governor’s official private residence in Princeton, according to a press release by the Office Of the Governor. Two of Lokuta’s photographs are currently being showcased. “This new exhibit partners New Jersey Heroes and the Drumthwacket Foundation in celebrating the artistry of our Garden State photographers in capturing the essence of 18 amazing heroes,” said First Lady Mary Pat Christie. According to the non-profit website, newjerseyheroes.org, an individual must be nominated to be considered for the award. The website also points out that each calendar year, about eight heroes are selected for the award. Lokuta described the selection process as pairing each photographer with two individuals to photograph. “None of these people were known to me, and I didn’t even know who the other photographers were that were also asked,” Lokuta said. “I was given a list and they asked me if I would choose three or four of those people, knowing that I would only get two.” Among the 18 individuals and nine photographers, Lokuta was paired with Kate Dowd of Glassroots, Inc. in Newark, N.J. and Alan Weinstein of Community Soup Kitchen in Morristown, N.J. “I wanted a visual photographic
experience, of course, because photography is visual,” Lokuta said. “I didn’t want to do just a portrait of somebody against a white background.” Speaking about the opening of the exhibit, Lokuta reflected on the opportunity for the photographers to walk around the exhibit with the First Lady and spoke about the work. “Her background is not in the fine arts, but she seemed to understand exactly what was going on,” said Lokuta about the First Lady’s interaction with the photographers. Lokuta described the project as being one where no profit was made. However, the photographers were given a budget and were reimbursed for the cost of printing the photographs, which Lokuta described as being as large as 30 by 40 inches. All of the photographs in the exhibit were not in full color but rather black and white prints. “If you’re focusing on the person, colors just get in the way sometimes,” said Lokuta, speaking about the emotional aspects of black and white photography. While this was the first time Lokuta’s photographs were featured in Drumthwacket, his work has been featured in over 300 shows. Last semester, Lokuta’s work was featured at the Zimmerli Art Museum on the Rutgers University New Brunswick Campus. His exhibit, “George Segal in Black and White,” was on display from Feb. 14 to Jul. 31, 2015, according to the museum’s website. Photographer Melissa Tomich, Lokuta’s wife, assisted with lighting in both photograph sessions. Among his many photography exhibits,
Photos by: Melissa Tomich, wife of Dr. Lokuta
Dr. Donald Lokuta with First Lady Mary Pat Christie
Lokuta was awarded four prestigious New Jersey Council on the Arts Fellowship Awards, as well as 12 photography grants, according to his biography on his website. Lokuta’s biography also shows that prior to earning his master’s degree and Ph.D. he earned his B.A. Degree at Newark State College, which at the present time is Kean University.
The photography exhibit will be on display at Drumthwacket until July 27, 2016. To visit the Governor’s official residence and see the photography exhibit up-close, you can make a reservation at Drumthwacket. org. The website states tours occur at 1:00p.m. on most Wednesdays.
Kean’s coveted tote bag steals the show By Marco Rodriguez
A sample letter to a veteran.
Photos by: Nicole Brown
Kean students write to heroes By Nicole Brown “Dear hero, you wear your uniform with so much pride, your bravery is known far and wide. The job you’re doing is worthwhile; you have made a lot of people proud. Thank you,” wrote Geysel Davila, a freshman student at Kean University. This was one of several messages a group of Speech Communication as Critical Citizenship students wrote on postal cards to veterans expressing their gratitude. The technology revolution exploded and for many a hand written letter is a thing of the past. But for this group of students, a hand written card adds an “indescribable personal touch” to the message. “We get the opportunity to touch a group of people to remind them that all their efforts are not unnoticed,” said Juliet Miranda, a Health and Information Management student. “A hand written card is more heart felt. It shows compassion and gratitude.” Students huddled together in small groups and neatly wrote thoughtprovoking messages and drew graphics that complemented the content of the cards. From images of the flag of the United States of America expressing patriotism, to the Thanksgiving turkey, the students spent time carefully decorating their cards. For others it was a nostalgic moment. “I feel great to be a part of this project. The crayons and crafting materials in the baskets reminds me of Kindergarten,” said T’liyyah Johnson-Parris, a freshman student. “The whole school should do this.” The idea to write postal cards to veterans surfaced when Allison Suarez, a double major in English writing and Criminal Justice, delivered her informative
speech on letter writing. It was then that Donna lee Goldberg, adjunct professor of Communication, thought it would be a great idea for the students to participate in letter writing. “The idea made sense so I told Dr. Sargent about it and he suggested that it would be great if the students write postal cards to veterans,” said Goldberg. “I reached out to the Veteran Student Services and they agreed.” Goldberg said the project allowed the students to take a break from the technology and communicate with the people around them. “Students are in class and they are checking their phones,” said Goldberberg. “They don’t talk to the person next to them, let alone even know the neighbor’s name.” According to Goldberg, the Speech Communication as Critical Citizenship class embodies the students’ kind gesture to send card to veterans. “This was a great opportunity for the students to do some community service within the framework of the course,” said Goldberg. “The students did a noble and kind act of citizenship by sending the thank you notes.” About fifty cards were delivered in person the Monday after Thanksgiving to the US Department of Veteran Affairs VA New Jersey Health Care System, and already Goldberg is planning how she can incorporate acts of citizenship for future courses. “I try to be creative,” said Goldberg. “I look to change things up when I can. The students need variety and as do I.” The spontaneous gesture came in a few weeks after Kean University celebrated Veterans Day.
Novembers usually end with people carrying lots of bags home from retailers as they take advantage of discounts and deals in preparation for the holiday season. If you visited the Atlantic City Convention Center at the start of November however, you’d also see thousands of people walking around with bags. The bags are not just any bags; they’re Kean University’s everpopular tote bag. The New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), the union representing K-12 teachers in the state, holds its annual convention every year in Atlantic City to inform and equip teachers and administrators in the state. Since teachers and administrators play a critical role in the college decision process for students, Kean and its College of Education make their presence known at the convention every year. Such is the role that Kean plays in the convention every year that according to Susan Kayne, Vice President of University Relations for the university, Kean has become the official tote bag provider for the event. An estimated 30,000 tote bags are produced and distributed every year as the attendants make their way in to the convention center. Until this year, the tote bags were made of navy blue nylon with the handles of different colors to reflect a cause such as pink for breast cancer awareness or yellow for veterans. This year, however, the bags were made of environmentally friendly cotton canvas. According to Kayne, the tote bags have traveled far and wide as the university has received photos of teachers carrying the bags on the Great Wall in
China, in Rome, London and on the beaches of the Caribbean. “I believe the bag’s success is due to the fact that teachers — and everyone — like really nice freebies,” said Kayne. “Plus they come in very handy to hold all of the marketing material and giveaways provided by the exhibitors.” Kean has been a major sponsor of the NJEA for more than a decade with the university not only giving away freebies but also hosting informational sessions. This year, the university had a booth in the exhibit hall where they promoted their graduate and undergraduate programs to teachers. According to Kayne the booth is twofold, as the university makes sure that Kean is on top of every teacher’s minds when discussing college with students, and also to ensure that teachers are aware of graduate school programs in education for themselves. “Historically, Kean has its roots as a teacher’s college,” Kayne said. “Many of the teachers at NJEA are Kean alumni. We host a reception for our alumni to acknowledge their many contributions to education in New Jersey.” Throughout the years, Kean has been a leader in the state at producing K-12 teachers. Furthermore, the 2012-2014 New Jersey Teachers of the Year have all been Kean graduates. This year the convention was held on Nov. 5-6 and featured workshops and professional development classroom sessions for teachers and administrators. Among the featured speakers was journalist and author Dana Goldstein, whose book “The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession” is a New York Times bestseller.
NJEA convention attendees display their new Kean University tote bags.
Photos by: Karina Leon
ARTS & CULTURE
6 THE TOWER
Kean profs’ 20-year collaboration displays Holocaust through art and poetry By Yuri Smishkewych Auschwitz, Belsen, Dachau, Sobibor…these were just a few of the places where murder occurred by the millions and, for those who survived the death camps, a lifetime of recurring nightmares were born. The victims were Jewish, Roma, homosexuals, or broadly labeled “political dissidents.” This was the Holocaust, and all this happened a little more than 70 years ago. And, for over 20 of those years, artists Jo Jochnowitz and Dr. Susana Rich have worked collaboratively as a response to those harrowing events: bringing to life on to paper—via different mediums—the experiences they heard as told by those who were there. ”I grew up during the war, and all those anxieties [about the Holocaust] I heard went into a closet. And then, as I got older that closet burst open: I was ready to draw,” said Jochnowitz, a Kean professor of fine arts, as he stood beside a charcoal drawing of dozens of babies cling onto a woman who holds her hands up to the sky in despair, her face, creased and mangled— torn up by torrents of tears. “It was either going to the shrink or drawing,” he added. For Rich, inspiration to write poetry came from the interviews she conducted of Holocaust survivors as part of the archives of Kean’s Holocaust Resource Center. “I felt that poetry would embody what I was hearing [from the survivors],” said Rich, who is a professor in Kean’s School of English Studies and a recipient of the Presidential Excellence Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2001. In the selected poems at the exhibit, Rich’s poetry conjures mental images of the viciousness of the Holocaust. In one particular poem entitled “Numbers,” Rich writes “Always the waiting/Always the fear of becoming one:/ one of two to be shot;/one alone by the fence;/one to go, or one to stay behind.” At present, the two artists’ works are on display in an exhibit titled
Photo by: Yuri Smishkewych
Professor Jochnowitz standing beside one of his drawings at the James Howe Gallery.
“Ashes, ashes: An artist and a poet respond to Holocaust” at the James Howe Gallery in the Vaughn-Eames building, where approximately 21 of Jochnowitz’s charcoal drawings stand beside award-winning poetry written by Rich. Past exhibits by the pair included a ‘94 showing in South Orange and at Ryder University in ‘95. “A lot of people have come to see the show and it’s the same reaction— they’re awestruck,” said Marlene Ferreira, a Kean student majoring in Art History and Interior Design, who works at the James Howe Gallery. The “Ashes, ashes” exhibit held its opening night and panel discussion on Nov. 12, 2015 and is on display until Dec. 22. The show is co-sponsored by Kean University’s Human Rights Institute, Department of Fine Arts, School of English Studies and the Kean University Foundation.
Former model creates game-changing campaign against social media By Yayonah Bangura
Photo by: Ben Gancsos
Above: Children participate in the Gingerbread House Workshop. Below: “Breakfast with Santa” event in Liberty Hall.
Photo by: Jerry Casciano
‘Tis the Season at Kean By Gabrielle Gale Prendatt-Carter There is a lot scheduled on Kean University’s campus this year to keep students both focused and entertained throughout the holiday season. In the midst of the pressure during crunch time, the season of giving is in full effect and finals are quickly approaching. Just in time for finals and in order to relieve some stress, Kean University’s Student Government will host a “Stress No More” social on Thursday, December 10, 2015 from 12:30PM until 4:30 PM in the Miron Student Center’s Little Theatre. A professional masseuse will be present during the social in order to ease some tension. For the students that need a study break, the Graduate and Part-time Student Council will host a Broadway Show Bus Trip to see “Chicago” the Musical at the Ambassador Theatre in NYC on Saturday, December 12, 2015, departing Kean University at 12PM. Also on December 12th, a Gingerbread House Workshop will be held in two sessions at Liberty Hall Museum from 10AM to 11:30AM, and then again from 1PM until 2:30PM. At the workshop, children will be provided with the materials they need to decorate a gingerbread house. Liberty Hall’s “How the Grinch Stole Lunch Feast” will be held on Sunday, December 13, 2015 from 11:30AM to 1:30PM with such delicacies as “Roastbeast on a Bun,” “Seuss Spuds,” and “Cindy Lou Who Cider.” Liberty Hall Museum is also collecting new toys for children between the ages of one to 17 years old until Tuesday, December 15, 2015 for “Toys for Tots.” On Sunday, December 20, 2015, Liberty Hall will host a “Breakfast with Santa” social in two sessions from 9AM to 11AM, and then again from 11:30AM until 1:30 PM, with a breakfast buffet and an opportunity for children to take a picture with Santa Claus. For more information on reservations and ticketing for events happening on Kean University’s campus, visit: https://kean.collegiatelink.net/events
closer look, one may find several similarities. On the internet, users curate their lives and only show the world what they want people to see. It’s At the age of 12, instead of playing outdoors with simple to look at someone’s Facebook statuses and friends and experiencing what would be considered Instagram pictures and think that you know their a normal preteen life, Australian native Essena lives through those networks. O’Neill was googling model body measurements and Active social media users can probably attest to at comparing them to her own. least one time where they’ve seen someone’s online Stalking famous celebrities and models online, she profile and thought, “Wow, they look so happy, their hoped to one day be like them and convinced herself life must be perfect.” that only an internet following would bring her There are people who have unknowingly let happiness and popularity. themselves become attached to likes and followers At 16 she became a model and successfully pursued on social media. that life until 18, when she suddenly deleted her I have friends who will delete pictures they’ve social networks and gave up her career because she posted on Instagram if they don’t receive the amount was unhappy with herself and the things she had of likes they desire, or will stop wearing their hair a done to maintain her image. certain way if they post a photo and very few people In the day and age of social media, it’s so easy to get like or comment on the change. caught up in the whirlwind of likes, comments, and There are people, including myself at one point, favorites— where users tend to hand us rose-colored who have deleted certain social networks because glasses to view the best parts of their online lives. they felt like they couldn’t keep up with the images But as some know, not everything seen on the and lifestyles they saw being portrayed and idolized. internet is real— which was the message O’Neill was It’s of no fault to the people portraying said trying to push out. lifestyles, but one can’t She changed the help but wonder why captions of her some of us secretly feel photos on Instagram, the need to uphold an admitting to her unrealistic standard of followers how she a perfect, completely starved herself to keep happy life. her physique, was paid It doesn’t seem to promote products like much now, but it she never used and becomes an issue when spent days with you realize that people strangers capturing the are allowing other’s perfect “effortless” and opinions of them “candid” photos to post online to dictate their online. self-esteem. On the day O’Neill O’Neill changed the captions of her Instagram posts to express O’Neill’s mindset quit modeling she her true emotions. (From Essena O’Neill’s Instagram) might not be too far posted a video on her off, and it seems even more logical considering YouTube channel explaining her decision. how impressionable young teens are. This is what is “I let myself be defined by numbers,” said O’Neill. “I deemed as a factor in their everyday lives, this is what spent ages 12 to 16 wishing I was this perfect person shapes them. online. And then I spent 16 to 18 proving my life on In October of this year, CNN did a social media social media, perfecting myself enough to be that study on 200 eighth graders across America titled person.” ‘#Being13: Inside the Secret World of Teens,’ where In tears, she revealed that her only satisfaction the teens gave child development experts the came from the thousands of likes and comments permission to have their social media account feeds she would get on her photos, and even then it wasn’t studied. enough for her. With 600,000 Instagram followers The study revealed that the more teens viewed and 300,000 YouTube subscribers, she craved social media, the more distressed they became and more— more likes, more follows, more acceptance. those who used social media the most admitted to She abandoned hobbies and passions she had as a checking their feeds over 100 times a day. child to sign to an Australian modeling agency and “I definitely feel pressure to look perfect on pursue the career she thought she wanted. Instagram,” said one teen participant. “What goes Now, O’Neill has become an advocate for better through my mind as I’m posting a picture about living oﬄine. myself is, ‘What will people think of this? Are they Taking a stand with her campaign “Let’s Be Game going to think I’m ugly, are they going to think Changers,” she encourages her followers to go out I’m pretty? I’m thinking all these things and I’m and enjoy real life instead of obsessing over social comparing myself to others.” media. She promotes environmental causes, proper Understanding the impact that social media has mental, physical and spiritual health, online integrity on its users, especially the young, who are more and honest connections with others. susceptible to influence, is the first step. O’Neill was While some understand what O’Neill is fighting only 12 years old when she made the decision to alter for and support her actions, others have said that she her entire life because of what she saw online. over-reacted and allowed social media to take over It’s important that we teach growing teens her life on her own accord. about social media and how to successfully separate But despite the fact that the lives of other social media users don’t all mimic O’Neill’s to the T, with a themselves from the online world when necessary.
THE TOWER 7
OP-ED Stop the hate By Tykime Davis In 2015 alone, police in the United States have shot and killed 31 unarmed black people, according to statistics by The Washington Post. “A year after Michael Brown’s fatal shooting, unarmed black men are seven times more likely than whites to die by police gunfire,” states The Post, which is compiling a database of every fatal shooting this year in the U.S. by police. Clearly, the African-American community has a lot of fear, pain, anger and confusion. African-Americans contribute so much to this country – think of art, music, sports, literature, poetry and more -- but we are still fighting for respect from other races especially from the white race. This fall, at the University of Missouri, administrators were not making changes to stop a pattern of awful threats and racism against African-American students. Several students and the university football team took a stand against racism and had strikes and a huge protest, which made the college president and the chancellor step down. This was just the beginning of progress.
On November 18, on our own campus, 70 Kean University students gathered in a peaceful protest by the clock tower to raise the community’s consciousness about racial and social injustices that plague our society. An hour later, an anonymous Twitter account began sending Tweets stating, “Black people at Kean University will die” and “I will kill all the blacks tonight, tomorrow and any other day if they go to Kean University” and other disturbing threats. President Dawood Farahi, campus administrators, state, county, and campus police acted on this threat immediately, but that didn’t take the fear away from the African-American students attending college here. That Wednesday, I received a text from a fellow classmate who sent me a screen shot of the Twitter threats and warned me to be careful. I also received an email from President Farahi and the campus police. Even though all of this was enough to make me not want to go
to class, I still decided to go because I didn’t want that one coward to think he or she could stop me from getting my education. The weather on that Wednesday was a perfectly sunny day. On any other sunny day, the campus would be filled with students from every culture but it wasn’t that Wednesday. When I walked into the university center, it was also quiet with a few students, most of them white. Honestly, I did have fear walking on campus, but my pride did not allow me to show it. When I walked into my classroom, three students were in a course that is usually filled with over 20 students. It was funny because all three of those students, and the professor, were shocked to see me. When I walked in, it was like they saw a ghost. The professor allowed me to go back home since so many students didn’t attend. Most of the AfricanAmerican students were more cautious than I was, and they were warning
Image: Creative Commons
The FIFA ﬁasco: restoring the “beautiful game”
other students to not attend school until everything calmed down. Telaya Willingham, a sophomore working towards a degree in science to become a doctor, was on campus that day too and she couldn’t believe that anyone at such a diverse college would feel that way against a particular race. It made her think about the company she kept. She said if she were able to tell the person who threatened black students she would tell them: “The black community is not your enemy and there’s no reason to hate the black community. The only difference between them and us is the opportunity they have and their skin color.” As an African-American student at Kean University, I am thankful for getting my education in a school that embraces different cultures. So to the person who made threats to my race, sorry but your threats don’t hurt educated people who want to be heard. We can’t stop, and we won’t stop. Editor’s note: Last week, police charged an African-American student who was part of the rally with being behind the threats, and the university says the campus was never in danger.
Daily fantasy sports sites are forms of online gambling
By Marco Rodriguez
By Alyssa Davis
On May 27, Swiss police raided a Zurich hotel and arrested many high-ranking soccer officials. I opened up Twitter that morning and was bombarded with posts and news headlines all stating the same thing: Eduardo Li was among those arrested. While a part of me was in shock and disbelief, the other part of me thought this was now the new norm when it came to professional soccer’s governing body, Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). Li, the former president of Costa Rica’s soccer federation and FIFA executive committee member, was among seven people who were arrested by police after a US Department of Justice investigation charged them with accepting over $100 million in bribes. Li’s arrest personally hit home for me on two fronts. Firstly, I am Costa Rican, and the news of a high profile figure from my country being arrested on bribery charges was embarrassing. Secondly, my family and I met Li two years ago after a Costa Rican soccer game, and generally thought well of him. As we made our way out of the stadium that night in Connecticut, we approached one of the stadium entrances that was heavily guarded by security. Immediately the doors swung open and out walked Li with an entourage of people. We called out his name and he approached us and asked what we thought about the game. He answered every fan’s question, signed jerseys and took pictures with everyone who requested one before walking over to his limousine. The exchange was very pleasant and the national soccer team had greatly improved during his presidency, which left many of us optimistic for the future. Therefore, the headlines that Wednesday in May came as a total shock to all of us. Soccer, or “the beautiful game” as it is sometimes called, has gotten ugly. Take for example, the debacle surrounding a $10 million bribe that a FIFA official accepted in exchange for a vote of support in South Africa’s pursuit to host soccer’s biggest tournament, the FIFA World Cup, back in 2010. Jack Warner, the former president of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), accepted the bribe from the South African government, as well as the country’s soccer federation, in hopes to have him cast a vote for their country as host of the first ever World Cup in Africa. While the government and federation admit that a $10 million payment to Warner was made at a press conference in June of this year, they claimed that the funds were to be used for developing soccer for people of all ages in the Caribbean. A BBC investigation, however, states otherwise. The investigation reports that payments were made to Warner in 2008 and 2009 and were used as cash withdrawals, credit card and personal loan payments by and for Warner. Warner, who is still incarcerated in Switzerland with Li, now faces extradition to the United States on charges of wire fraud, racketeering, and money laundering during his time as president of CONCACAF. Often corruption starts at the top. In this case, the top is FIFA President, Joseph Blatter. Blatter has been president of FIFA for 17 years now and has himself been under a lot of scrutiny for his comments and actions throughout the years. Recently, Blatter has been in the news for a $2 million, conflict of interest, payment he made to fellow executive member Michel Platini in 2011 for his work as Blatter’s adviser from 1998 to 2002. The pressure from inside, and outside, of FIFA
What’s the difference between a day at the horse track and a round of daily fantasy sports? The former operates with a gambling license while the latter does not. In any case, they’re both gambling and they’re both sports betting. DraftKings and FanDuel, the two leading daily fantasy sports companies operate without a gambling license under a federal law passed in 2006 that allows fantasy sports to participate in online wagering. The multibillion dollar industry argues that it takes more skill than luck to be successful in their games which places them outside of the gambling umbrella. Fantasy sports take no more skill than horse betting. In both the gambling hopefuls research statistical data and choose what they deem to be well-rounded subjects with the end goal being to win money. But, odds don’t always produce results and no matter how good a horse or a player looks on paper, off days are inevitable. This is what makes both activities gambling. Recently the New York State attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, sent cease-and-desist notices to DraftKings and FanDuel saying that their companies’ games were forms of illegal gambling. A New York Times article quoted Schneiderman as saying: “It is clear that DraftKings and FanDuel are the leaders of a massive, multibillion-dollar scheme intended to evade the law and fleece sports fans across the country. Today we have sent a clear message: not in New York, and not on my watch.” In that same article the New York Times reported on an investigation of their own which yielded results involving DraftKing and FanDuel employees. “...operators of online gambling sites had begun investing in fantasy companies and that some of DraftKings’ senior managers came from online gambling companies or were professional poker players,” the news organization said. If DraftKings and FanDuel games are not online gambling the New York attorney general would not get involved and people in the gambling industry would not be so inclined to work for said organizations. Another interesting fact is that during week three of the NFL both sites were put under the microscope and were accused of insider trading after an employee of DraftKings, Ethan Haskell, accidentally released inside information before the finalization of the week’s lineups. The data showed which players were most utilized in all the lineups for DraftKings’ Millionaire Maker contest. Having this information could provide an unfair advantage. That same week Haskell won $350,000 on the competitor site, FanDuel. It’s more than coincidence that Haskell won big bucks on a site similar to the one that he works for because he can easily use private company information access to help him pick a winning team. The kind of private information that increased his odds of winning. No amount of skill or depth of research that an average fantasy sports player possesses can equal the detailed insider information that employees like Haskell have at their finger tips. This in itself makes fantasy sports participation more like casino gambling then a game of skill. In October the State of Nevada said that daily fantasy sports should be considered gambling, rather than a game of skill, and ordered the websites to suspend operations until they pursued state gambling licenses. Through all of this DraftKings and FanDuel remain hellbent on separating themselves from the description of gambling sites. This has to do with one thing – their bottom line. Until Schneiderman sent cease-and-desist notices, the companies were able to operate in all 50 states. The minute they identify themselves as gambling organizations they will no longer be able to do business countrywide as there are states that don’t allow online gambling and/or sports betting. This will greatly effect their earnings, taking a huge bite out of the multi-billion dollar corporate pay day. DraftKings and FanDuel should embrace what they are and stop trying to beat the system. They had a good run while it lasted but now it is time to call a spade a spade. As every gambler knows sooner or later the odds will turn against you. They will have to decide whether to take their winnings and walk away or play by the rules and let it ride.
Photo by: Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)
FIFA, professional soccer’s governing body, has been rocked by scandals.
led to Blatter temporarily stepping down as the organization’s president. In 2004, his comments on how to increase the popularity of women’s soccer created a big controversy. “Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball. They could, for example, have tighter shorts.” He also made inappropriate comments about gay soccer fans travelling to Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal, for the 2022 World Cup. “I’d say they [gay fans] should refrain from any sexual activities.” While he may have temporarily stepped down as president, Blatter’s actions are still under heavy review. An investigation is under way from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to see if any corruption took place under Blatter’s watch for the election of Russia and Qatar as World Cup hosts in 2018 and 2022 respectively. All of these damaging comments and incidents tarnish the reputation of the sport that I love. It is imperative that FIFA take steps to restore trust in the world’s most popular sport. A detailed investigation on past, current, and future business actions and decisions must be conducted on every single executive committee member. Those found guilty of FIFA corruption should be fired immediately and never be allowed back into the organization. Secondly, soccer federations from around the world need to pressure the multi-million dollar corporations that sponsor FIFA events to reduce or eliminate support until significant changes are made in FIFA. A drop in viewership FIFA could survive, but a significant drop or end in the influx of money that television and marketing companies provide would signal serious trouble for FIFA. Lastly, soccer federations favoring reform in FIFA must be willing to protest the organization by not sending their teams to participate in FIFA sponsored events. No teams equal no tournament, which I believe would be the clearest way to call for change. American author Stephen Covey once said about life that, “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” In FIFA’s case, the main thing is the integrity of the game and nothing else. Corrupt businessmen and women should not be the center of attention at FIFA, but rather the sport, its fans, and its players should be the ones making headlines. FIFA must be willing to take these kinds of dramatic steps to restore the public trust, and allow “the beautiful game” to regain its beauty.
8 THE TOWER
HEALTH December is HIV/AIDS Awareness Month
By Dr. Josh Palgi HIV is the Human Immunodeficiency virus. It attacks your body’s immune system. The virus destroys CD 4 cells which help your body fight diseases. HIV can severely damage your immune system and lead to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (AIDs). Unlike some other viruses, the human body cannot get rid of HIV. That means once you have HIV, you have it for life. However, with proper medical care, HIV can be controlled. HIV first appeared in the United States in the early 1980’s and since its discovery HIV/AIDS has killed more than 25 million people. CDC estimates that 1,218,400 persons aged 13 years and older are living with HIV infection, including 156,300 (12.8%) who are unaware of their infection. Over the past decades, the number of people living with HIV has increased, while the annual number of new HIV infections has remained relatively stable. Still, the pace of new infections continues at far too high a level-particularly among certain groups. HIV incidences (new infections): The estimated incidence of HIV has remained stable overall in recent years, at about 50,000 new HIV infections per year. Deaths: An estimated 13,712 people with an AIDS diagnosis died in 2012, and approximately 658,507 people in the United States with an AIDS diagnosis have died overall. The deaths of the persons with an AIDS diagnosis can be due to any cause-that is, the death may or may not be related to AIDS. According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 34 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, the majority of them in sub-Saharan Africa. One tenth of HIV/AIDS sufferers are children (3.4 million) under the age of 15, with over 1,000 becoming infected every day. Without treatment, half of all infants with HIV will die before their second birthday. HIV is spread through contact with certain body fluid from a person infected with HIV. These body fluids include: blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, vaginal fluids, rectal fluid and breast milk. The spread of HIV from person to person is called HIV transmission. The spread of HIV from an HIV-infected woman to her child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding is called mother –to-child transmission HIV. HIV is not spread by air or water, insects, including mosquitos or ticks, saliva, tears, or sweat, casual contact, like shaking hands, hugging or sharing dishes/drinking glasses, drinking fountain or sharing toilet seats. SYMPTOMS While some people may develop symptoms similar to flu within the first two or three weeks of catching the virus, others may not show symptoms for many years while the virus slowly replicates. Once the initial flu-like symptoms disappear, HIV will not show any further symptoms from many years. The only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested. The following criteria are used to determine if a person infected with HIV has AIDS: The person’s immune system is severely damaged as indicated by a CD4 count of less than 200 cells/ mm3. A CD4 count measures the number of CD4 cells in a sample of blood. The CD4 count of a
healthy person ranges from 500 to 1,600 cells/ mm 3. And/ or the person has one or more opportunistic infections. The centers for disease control and prevention (CDC) recommend that everyone 13 to 64 years old get tested for HIV at least once and that people at high risk of infection get tested more often. Factors that increase the risk of HIV infection include: having vaginal or anal sex without using a condom with someone who is HIV positive or whose HIV status you don’t know, injecting drugs and sharing needles, syringes, or other drug equipment with others, exchanging sex for money or drugs, having a sexually transmitted disease (STD), such as syphilis, having hepatitis or tuberculosis or having sex with anyone who has any of the HIV risk factors stated. To reduce your risk of getting HIV through sexual contact are: choose less risky sexual behavior, use condoms consistently and correctly, reduce the number of people you have sex with, get tested and treated for other sexually transmitted diseases and encourage your partner to do the same. If your partner is HIV-positive encourage your partner to get and stay on HIV treatment. You can also reduce your risk by not having sex. WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR HIV? The use of HIV medicine to treat HIV infection is called antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART involves taking a combination of HIV medicines (called an HIV regimen) every day. (HIV medicines are often called antiretroviral or ARVs.) ART prevents HIV from multiplying and reduces the level of HIV in the body. Having less HIV in the body protects the immune system and prevents HIV infection from advancing to AIDS. ART can’t cure HIV, but it can help people infected with HIV live longer, healthier lives, ART also reduces the risk of HIV transmission. The New York Times on Wednesday, November 2 reported that the International Health Agencies continue to lose ground in the struggle against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS: Each year the report claims the number of people who become infected outpace the number of people starting treatment for the virus. That is discouraging given that the opportunities to control the spread of the virus have never been better, scientifically and financially. Even in the United States, where great progress has been made, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention warned that hundreds of thousands of people with diagnosed infection are not receiving drug treatment or other care and are transmitting the virus. The long term goal is to virtually end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. A daunting task given that almost 37 million people are infected and roughly half are unaware of it. Awareness days provides an opportunity to draw attention to the HIV epidemic around the world. Many people choose to organize an event on or around December to raise awareness of HIV, to rememeber loved ones who have died to show solidarity with people living with HIV, to celebrate survival and health, and raise money or HIV and related causes.
To stop the HIV epidemic we must:
A. B. C. D.
Prevent it Test for it Treat it All of the above
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Letters to the editor Why we are calling for President Farahi to step down? By Rev. Ronald Slaughter As the chairman of a coalition of black ministers calling for the resignation of President Dawood Farahi, I would like to offer our reasons for demanding a change in leadership at Kean University. First, let me say that our position to call for President Farahi’s resignation solidified long before an anonymous Twitter user sent messages threatening to shoot black students on November 17. But we felt it was important to go public with our call for him to step down at the time because we believe the way the Farahi administration handled the situation demonstrated a callus disregard for black students and epitomized a culture of structural racism at the university. President Farahi clearly failed to grasp how this death threat unnerved many black students on campus when he refused to cancel classes the next day and dismissed the seriousness of the threat by urging students to “continue in your normal routines.” This doesn’t change even knowing what we know today about the alleged perpetrator. President Farahi’s tone deafness sheds light on his colossal failure to grasp the very different experience of minority students on campus. It might seem counterintuitive at first to say racism exists on a campus as diverse as Kean’s. In its public relations response following the incident, the Farahi administration pointed out that Kean is among the most diverse campuses in the United States, with a student population that is 20 percent African American and 30 percent Hispanic. The implication in touting such statistics is that racism cannot possibly exist on a campus that is so diverse, where whites make up only 31 percent. But such faulty reasoning belies the ways in which the structural racism that permeates the university under the Farahi administration hurts minority students at Kean in ways that they may not even realize. Under the Farahi administration, operating funds have been diverted from the classroom to build vanity projects that most students are not allowed to use and that sit largely vacant. To pay for these projects, the faculty size has been dramatically cut, college advisors were eliminated, and funds for critical academic and student support services have been reduced. President Farahi’s policies mean that Kean’s students don’t receive the same quality of education that students get at our sister institutions such as Montclair State University. In the last decade, the number of full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty dropped 36% from 384 to 244 even as student full-time equivalents increased from 9,405 to 10,103. These full-time faculty have been replaced by adjuncts and lecturers who lack the advanced degrees required of full-time faculty and who have no job security. Between 2002 and 2015, adjunct numbers more than doubled from 455 to 1100, while lecturer numbers went from 0 to 67. Several years ago, President Farahi eliminated the academic advisors based in the colleges as a cost savings measure. The number of tutors in the Center for Academic success has been reduced, especially in the sciences while Career Services has been reduced to one employee. In 2011, President Farahi laid off 12 professional staff members from offices providing student support. Now, he threatens to lay off dozens more concentrated in offices serving our most vulnerable students: the library, the Center for Academic Success, and the Educational Opportunities Center, which houses the EOF/EEO program. Many of Kean’s students, especially minority students, come from disadvantaged backgrounds. It’s clear all these cuts in academic support disproportionately impact minority students. We believe minority students at Kean deserve better. If you agree, please join our rally at noon on Dec. 11 on Morris Avenue to call for the ouster of President Farahi.
The Rev. Ronald Slaughter, Senior Pastor, Saint James AME Church
Kean University Department of Public Safety Police blotter 10/26/15
Technology Building Theft: Police reported that ﬁve laptops were stolen from an oﬃce at 7:45 a.m. The padlock and padlock key were also stolen as well. 11/04/15
Hutchinson Hall: According to police, “an unknown actor damaged the top of [a] vending machine and tried to pry open the area where the money is entered.” The report was ﬁled at 10 a.m. This was the second time in the span of 17 days that a vending machine at Hutchinson was deliberately damaged. 11/09/15
Theft: According to police an unknown person stole a purse from the roof of the victim’s car. The incident took place in the Vaughn Eames parking lot at approximately 8:30 p.m. 11/13/15
Weird stuﬀ on Friday the 13th: Police discovered a person sleeping in a room in the CSN building at 7:50 a.m. The identity of the snoozer, who faces a criminal trespassing charge, was not disclosed in the police report. 11/15/15
Vaughn Eames Lot: Police reported that at midnight, an “unknown actor punched out [the] front door locks and ignition on [a] victim’s vehicle.” 11/17/15
Police investigate numerous life-threatening “terroristic threats” that were posted to Twitter shortly after 10 p.m. *See story on pages 1-3. 11/18/15
Theft: A victim’s basketball tracksuit jacket was stolen from the Bartlett Hall laundry room. ***
Theft by the Numbers: In the span of two months there were 36 total incidents of theft on campus. These thefts ranged from a stolen car to cell phones and, in one case, hand sanitizer from the UC Hall lobby. The most commonly stolen items were laptops. A total of eight separate incidents of one or more stolen laptops were reported to police in this time period. By: Yuri Smishkewych
THE TOWER 9
A statement from President Farahi Dr. Dawood Farahi’s Remarks: Conversation Civility and Acceptance Dec. 1, 2015 at 5:30pm The Kean Community is relieved to learn today from Union County prosecutor Grace Park that the individual who sent the abhorrent tweets two weeks ago has been identified and charged. We are saddened to learn that the person allegedly responsible was an active participant in the rally that took place on campus on Tuesday, November 17 and is a former student of Kean. As a diverse academic community, we wholeheartedly respect and support activism, however, no cause or issue gives anyone the right to threaten the safety of others. We hope this information will begin to bring a sense of relief and security to the campus community. I want you to know the threat assessment that took place immediately upon learning of the situation determined that the tweets did not pose a significant threat to the safety of our campus or our students. I wish I could have told you this sooner, but until now, it could have compromised the investigation. This conversation today is valuable, important and a reflection of who we are.
We need to keep talking. Kean remains a place of diversity, of openness to all. These horrible tweets tried to tear us apart and tarnish our reputation, but they have failed. We continue to be united – working together always – in our mission to offer a worldclass education to students from all backgrounds. The full statement from the county prosecutor’s office has been sent to the campus community, and will provide you with more insight into this heinous crime. Two weeks ago students gathered to advocate for social justice and equal rights for everyone, everywhere. This is who we are. This is who, together, we will continue to be. We are deeply grateful to faculty, students and staff who have worked hard over the years to make our campus one of the most racially diverse campuses in this country, and to our alumni whose support have made possible our ongoing efforts to promote social justice and human rights. Thank you for your dedication to strengthening our community.
Students protest termination of professor as full-time faculty numbers drop By Kristen DeMatos Dr. Michael Chattalas, a tenure-track professor who teaches marketing at Kean, faces the chopping block, according to a new student petition that has emerged online. The latest numbers from the university indicate that he’s not alone. The student-created petition states, “This is a petition to let our President and Board know that we, as a Kean Community, vehemently oppose the dismissal of Dr. Chattalas and see this as a significant loss, one that will adversely affect the future of Kean’s Global Business School and the College of Business.” The number of tenured faculty has been on a steady decline since 2011, according to institutional research from the university. In 2011, there were 261 tenured members of faculty, compared to the 216 tenured in the fall of 2015. Kean Federation of Teachers President Dr. James Castiglione, who represents full-time faculty and staff, said the decline in numbers is “creating a severe shortage that undermines our ability to provide a quality education to our students,” in an e-mail. In the last few years, the number of tenured professors has fallen while the number of lecturers has risen. According to the office of institutional research, the Union campus had 95 “full professors” in the fall of 2014. That number has fallen to 83 as of the fall of 2015. In the fall of 2014, there were 91 lecturers on the Union campus, and that number has risen to 122 in the fall of 2015. Meanwhile, the number of adjuncts, or part-time professors remains at about 1000. “We have many high quality adjuncts here at the university,” Castiglione said. “But with that said, adjuncts are limited course by course and don’t have the same
responsibilities as full-time professors. They don’t have impact on advisement, they don’t do grant writing, they don’t have offices and therefore don’t have office hours to meet with students.” Kean spokeswoman Margaret McCorry noted that adjuncts often work full-time within their fields, which brings realworld experience to students. “Kean students are taught by a highlyqualified group of professors made up of full-time faculty, full-time lecturers and adjuncts,” she said. ”Each is a vital member of our academic community. Adjunct faculty often are working fulltime within their fields, and they bring that real-world experience and outlook to campus.” For the students of Chattalas, these drops in numbers are causing them to lose a professor they feel is essential to their learning, their program, and the university as a whole. “He took me under his wing when he saw my struggle at the beginning of my college career,” said Global Business Major Jonatan Fernandez. “He saw my potential and recruited me to the Global Business Program.” Another student, Evelyn Roque, had high praises for him as well. “The amount of knowledge that he shares cannot be obtained in any other class,” she said. “He comes with real world experience, he has traveled to different countries teaching in different universities” Marketing major Jairo Ramirez, a student of Chattalas, does not understand why the university would let go of a professor with “expertise in the international marketing, global business, and cross-cultural consumer behavior.” “His professionalism and respect for students as an educator was far beyond what any professor at Kean University has offered,” said Ramirez.
Students Recount Events
(Continued from page 3)
unsafe. Her sorority, Theta Phi Alpha, moved its meeting to an off-campus location for Wednesday night, Nov. 18, because some of the sisters felt unsafe. Molina stated that some students did not come to campus because they were concerned for their safety, while others didn’t show simply because they did not want to come to class. Delia Solis, who works at the Rockin’ Joe Cafe at the Union Train Station, which is frequently visited by Kean students and faculty alike, immediately noticed something was askew on-campus in the early morning hours on the day after the threats were made. “I didn’t see a lot of people getting off the train today (Wednesday),” she said. Annalise Knudson, Yuri Smishkewych and Daris Mendez contributed to this story. This story originally appeared on kutower.com on Nov. 18. It has been edited to reflect appropriate dates.
10 THE TOWER
Dr. Christopher Bellitto: the historian; the journalist By Gabrielle Gale Prendatt-Carter Dr. Christopher Bellitto, associate professor, public speaker, media commentator, historian, and journalist, is considered to be one of the most respected papal experts in the world. The former chair of Kean University’s History Department, Bellitto is most recently credited for his coverage on Pope Francis’ visit to the United States. He has been quoted in The New York Times, the Washington Post, et al., and has appeared on The History Channel, CNN, MSNBC, PBS’ News Hour, NPR, and various other local radio and TV stations. Bellitto received his Bachelor of Arts degree from New York University, where he double majored in Journalism and Politics, and double minored in Classics and Religion. He also received his Master of Arts degree and Doctorate in History from Fordham University. Bellitto has been working at Kean University since 2004 and is very passionate about teaching. He is married to wife, Karen, and they have a 10 year-old daughter named Grace. The Tower recently sat down with Bellitto when the Pope came to town this past September. Q: Can you please touch on your coverage of the Pope? A: Sure. When the Pope was in Cuba, and then came to North America, went to Washington, New York, Philadelphia, it was a whirlwind. From two Wednesday’s ago until Sunday night, I was on set 23 hours total. Most of that was with Time Warner Cable’s national pope channel and they were broadcasting out of the offices of NY One. Then I did the coverage of the Pope’s Mass in Madison Square Garden for WNBC and his visit to a Harlem school. Then I did one other hit. But in between what I was doing, I did an interview with the NY Times. My mother made this point while watching me that some times I’m called upon to be a church historian and some times I’m called upon to answer a question as a Catholic. Q: Are you Catholic? A: I am of the progressive school. If people are
handing out communion at Madison Square Garden, I’m not interested in converting anyone but, that’s the moment to explain what’s happening; and to explain what’s happening, you have to explain what Catholics believe about the Eucharist. I happened to have lunch with Austin Ivory, who wrote the best biography of Pope Francis called “The Great Reformer.” He was saying the very same thing; that you’re always teaching. Some times you’re the biographer or some times you’re the church historian, some times you’re the Catholic, some times you’re the critic. It’s very gratifying to be able to help inform; help teach. I see all of this media stuff as just another form of teaching. I had great teachers who put their arm around me. Great teachers have great mentors, and I think that’s why I like working with media today. I hope that the media likes working with me because I’ve been a journalist. This history department is outstanding for many reasons. And, one of them is that, we all believe that history doesn’t belong in a lecture hall only. So many of us in the department do about 50 public lectures a year, adding us up; libraries, parishes, synagogues, local historical centers, societies, because we believe history is relevant and history has to be out there. We have so many great live wires because we’re teachers. We love to teach. Informed by scholarship, but we love to teach. Q: Why is journalism such an influence? A: When a reporter calls me, my goal is not to get quoted. My goal is to teach the reporter. I was a Journalism major. The dirty little secret of my life is that I was not a history major. I was a muggle. Back in my day, which was the mid ‘80s, I was at NYU. We had clappity-clap typewriters. Professors would give you a fact sheet and you had to write a story about a fire in 45 minutes or something. There was a big sign that said, “Better Never Than Late,” and that’s how I learned about deadlines. I would never ever give up my Journalism degree because it helped me so much in other parts of my life. It taught me that kind of focus to ask a really good question and it taught me that sense of precision and discipline; but there was always this call of being a teacher. My mother was a teacher.
Q: Which subject did she teach? A: She taught for 12 years in Catholic School; St. Lucy’s Grammar School in the Bronx. She taught a range of things, but social studies was her favorite. My mother always wanted to be a teacher but in the ‘60s and ‘70s, you stayed home and raised a family. It was kind of the way things were. When I went to Kindergarten, she went back to get her Master’s degree. So I’m a teacher for a number of reasons. One of them is my mother. My father was a trial attorney. There’s a little bit of performance art in teaching, and you have to be a bit of a performance artist to be a Litigator. That’s how I got into teaching. Q: What made you decide to come to Kean University? A: I had worked in Catholic institutions and wasn’t all that comfortable there because I am a bit more on the progressive wing. Some times you have to censor what you’re working on and saying and that made me uncomfortable. I very much enjoy doing what I do at a state institution. I’m not in any way trying to convert people. I’m not in any way trying to evangelize or prophetalize, but at the same time, in order to understand the middle ages, you have to understand a lot about
New escorts on campus
“It is an extra layer of security and virtually connects people on campus with the KUPD.”
Photos by: Juliana Laury Photography
Dr. Bellitto being interviewed on CNN about the Pope.
The new Elert See Say app helps students feel safer on campus. Photos by: Celeste Simmons
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. What I do is very much along the line of history of ideas, history of reform, history of religion, and of course, the middle ages. I really like doing interreligious dialogue. In fact, I have a friend who is a Rabbi; Brook Susman and I do a lot of work together on the history of Jews and Christians, even though that’s a very difficult history. Our notion, and what we hope, is that people will see the great respect that the two of us have. There is an Islamic dialogue partner with whom we’ve worked before. Instead of being a duo, we’ll be a trinity of a Jewish, a Muslim, and a Christian voice meeting together to talk about our commonalities. The course is called the Crusades, but in my mind, it’s the Crusades: Judaism, Christianity, Islam. Q: How many classes do you teach at Kean now? And which ones are your favorites? A: We all teach four classes, but I have a rotation of about 10 classes. Which are my favorite courses? Whatever I’m teaching now, because I owe my student 120%. The goal of the teacher is just to disappear. I tell people, the goal of the teacher is to die empty, with nothing left. Everything you have, you’ve given away.
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without knowing anything about Dr. Farahi or Kean University. I take it as a personal insult,” Lewis said in a statement. “This coalition lacks scrutiny. I don’t know them or who they represent, and no one listed as a member has ever approached me to find out a single thing about Kean.” The ministers’ charges got the attention of state legislators who held a closed-door meeting with them, Farahi and members of Kean’s board of Trustees in Trenton on Nov. 21. Rev. Slaughter claims that the group decided that the Trustees would vote on a resolution at its next meeting on Dec. 5 to investigate hiring and firing practices at Kean and how money has been allocated to African American students. The university did not confirm that such a decision was reached. “Dr. Farahi and members of Kean University Board of Trustees had the opportunity to dialogue today on an important subject – social justice – and the dialogue will continue,” Kean spokesperson Margaret McCorry said in an e-mail on Nov. 25. McKelvey, a self-proclaimed activist, allegedly left the Nov. 17 rally to walk to the campus library and use a computer to make the Twitter threats, the prosecutor said. “After making the posts, McKelvey immediately returned to the rally and attempted to spread awareness of the threats she allegedly had just fabricated,” the prosecutor’s statement read. In a statement emailed to all students on Dec. 1, Farahi said he was “saddened” by the prosecutor’s announcement. “As a diverse academic community, we wholeheartedly respect and support activism, however, no cause or issue gives anyone the right to threaten the safety of others,” his statement read. “We hope this information will begin to bring a sense of relief and security to the campus community.” Rev. Slaughter, who said that several Kean students are members of his church, said he was not familiar with McKelvey, but “if Kayla did that she is downright wrong for doing that.” McKelvey is set to make a first appearance in the case on Dec. 14 at the Union County Jail courtroom. This story originally appeared on kutower.com on Dec. 2. It has been edited to reflect appropriate dates.
By Celeste Simmons After the racially charged threats that took place on the night of Nov 17, campus security has been a major topic at Kean. The Elert See Say app may help students feel safer on campus. The escort service on the app works by pressing down on a little circle until you have reached your destination. If you let go of the circle, the KUPD is notified of your current location and will come to assist you. “The Kean University Police Department sees this as a supplement to the more traditional walking escort service we provide on campus.” said Lieutenant Vincent Kearney of the Kean University Police Department “It is an extra layer of security and virtually connects people on campus with the KUPD.” The app was created in 2012 by ELERTS and recently came to Kean this year. It has many functions besides providing an escort service. The app can call the KUPD for you. You can also report a problem on campus via text while simultaneously informing the KUPD where the issue is taking place through gps. You can send them a picture of what is going on. The app also has a function called skywriter that shows your current location and gives you the option of informing the KUPD of your location and let them know if you are okay or alert them if you need help. “The app is very effective at the two tasks it is designed to handle: Text based reports to the police and GPS based virtual escorts.” said Lieutenant Kearny. Senior Manisha Howard, who is an early childhood education major, said that she feels unsafe on campus after 10pm so she downloaded the app. She says it is very helpful and she started using the app this semester. You can download the app on any Android or iPhone. All you need is a valid Kean University email address. The KUPD reports that there have been around 300 downloads of the app to date. “We hope to see more downloads over time with more publicity for the app.” said Lieutenant Kearny “We also encourage people to call for the in-person escorts as well.”
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organizer of the Nov. 17 rally, said she will be devastated if McKelvey is found guilty. “I haven’t completely processed what is going on,” said Green. “I don’t want to believe she is accountable, but if she is, she should be held responsible.” Some students decided to stay home after the Tweets were made and the university remained open. But some students, like Alaysha Daniels, did not pursue that option out of concern of being penalized. “I was outraged that the campus was not closed,” said Daniels, an early education major. “I was forced to go to class or else it would affect my attendance points.” Carol Bernal, a junior, said she is upset by McKelvey’s alleged action, but is at ease that she no longer has to be fearful about coming to campus. “She allegedly caused an unnecessary amount of chaos and fear among Kean students,” Bernal said “I hope she is reprimanded and learns from her action.” Natasha McDowell, a communication major, hopes if she committed the crime she will be found guilty for stirring up the chaos. “Why would she go as far as to cause all of this chaos at Kean University and then have the plan blow up in her face,”said McDowell.
How did we do this season?
THE TOWER 11
A Recap of Kean’s teams
By Ryan Norton & Jaime Alicea III
* Team Records as of deadline
Head Coach: Dan Garrett, tenth season
Head Coach: Brian Doherty, sixteenth season
Head Coach: Don Perkins, seventh season
Head Coach: Rob Kurzinsky, ninth season
Staff: Keith Migliorino, John Liberato, Joe Martucci, David Galante, George Williams, Chris Suozzo, Gary Andrewshetsko, Dan Wollman, Nick Graff, Chris VanFechtmann, Billy Kvalheim, Nick Fuentes 2014 Record: 2-8 2015 Record: 8-3
Staff: Michelle Zuber, Randy Velasco, Jaime Manjarres 2014 Record: 10-7-2 2015 Record: 10-7-3
Staff: Audrey O’ Donnell 2014 Record: 17-18 2015 Record: 21-18 Recap: Don Perkins has so far enjoyed success as the head coach of the women’s volleyball team. In his seven seasons as the head of the program, Perkins has had winning seasons in five. The winning trend continued in the 2015 season, as the women’s volleyball team was three games above the .500 mark, finishing 21-18. The Cougars played their best volleyball of the season on home turf, finishing with a 12-7 record at home. This was also the third season under Perkins that the team had made it to the ECAC Tournament. Of the 39 matches played this season, the team averaged 11.18 kills, 10.29 assists, 15.08 digs, and 1.84 blocks per set respectively.
Staff: Mike Shaughnessy, Kyle Taylor, Tim Steward 2014 Record: 6-19 2015 Record*: 0-6
Recap: After finishing the 2014 season with a 2-8 record, Coach Garrett and his team had a complete turnaround season in 2015, finishing with a record of 8-3, including a win in the ECAC Presidents Bowl. After turning in a perfect 3-0 record in the month of September, the Cougars staggered a bit in the month of October, only winning two of their five games. By the time November came around, Kean got back to in the swing of things, by winning their last three games. In the final game of the season, Kean competed in its first ECAC Bowl game since 2009, and defeated Worcester Polytechnic Institute by the score of 24-6. The ECAC Bowl win was the fourth in program history, and third under Coach Garrett.
Recap: The Kean University women’s soccer team had a pretty up and down season. The team was expecting a better record with the talent that they had, but finished with a 10-7-3 record for the 2015 season. On a brighter note, the team had six players receive New Jersey Athletic Conference all-conference recognition. Sophomore Kaitlyn Palitto received first team honors, while fellow sophomores teammates Emily Jurcsek, Kelly Williamson, and senior Angie Lopez received second team honors. Also Seniors Emily Martinelli and KC Nunez received honorable mention honors. The team lost in a shootout to Bard College, which could have advanced them to face number three ranked Rutgers, but the shootout ended in a 4-2 win for Bard College.
Women’s Field Hockey
Head Coach: Jodi Valenti, third season
Head Coach: Leslie LaFronz, sixth season
Head Coach: Rob Irvine, second season
Head Coach: Mandy King, fourth season
Staff: Carlos Baltodano, Jorge Tuesta, Merlin Villagomez
Staff: Brian Erickson, Melissa Scott, Liz Imbriacco
2014 Record: 12-8-1 2015 Record: 14-6
2014 Record: 12-13 2015 Record*: 4-2
Recap: The men’s soccer team started off on a hot streak winning that began Sept. 8 and lasted until Oct. 4, where the team went on a 10 game winning streak. The team coached under Robert Irvine was well improved this season, with the addition of new fresh legs adding depth to the roster and the emergence of freshman star goalie Chidi Iloka, who had 11 victories and five shutouts. Unfortunately due to various injuries there miracle season was cut short as they lost their last three games and a 3-0 loss to Rowan University, knocking them out of the NCAA tournament.
Recap: Mandy King has begun her fourth season as head coach of the women’s basketball team. In her second year as head coach back in the 2013-2014 season, King led the Cougars to an ECAC championship. After finishing the 20142015 campaign with a 12-13 record, King and her girls are hoping to get back to their winning ways. In their first six games of the season, the Cougars have a 4-2 record, including wins over Hunter College, Brooklyn College, College of Staten Island, and Ramapo College. In their first six games, the team is averaging 71.8 points per game, 38.7 rebounds per game, and a field goal percentage of 41.
Staff: Jaelynn Lee, assistant coach 2014 Record: 8-5 2015 Record: 8-5 Recap: In her third season, Jodi Valenti and her girls played with more aggression and physicality, which showed on the tennis court. This is probably a very big reason why Valenti was selected by her peers as the Flo Labenski New Jersey Athletic Conference Coach of the Year. As the team continues its winning record of 8-5 under Valenti, who is currently 22-18 in her three seasons, highlighted her coaching with star playing from Rose Hughes and Alyssa Petersen, who made it all the way to the doubles Final for the NJAIAW tournament, where they finished second in a hard fought tournament.
Staff: Diane Bocella, Catherine Beaudoin 2014 Record: 13-8 2015 Record: 14-7 Recap: Leslie Lafronz has done it again, with a new determined squad; the field hockey team fielded one of its best teams in the programs history. The team led by seniors Marissa Robinson and Chelsea Mann, started the season on a 10 game winning streak, while also winning their third straight Connie Harnum Championship and the Wilson College Invitational. Coach Lafronz also added a personal milestone by winning her 100th field hockey game on Sept. 12 with a victory over Keuka College.
Recap: Entering in his ninth season as the head coach of the men’s basketball team, Rob Kurzinsky has done well for himself. As head coach, Kurzinsky has won 84 games, and has brought his teams to the NJAC Tournament six times, and won the NJAC South Division title back in the 2010-11 season. After a difficult 2014 season and finishing 6-19, Kurzinsky and his team hope to bounce back in 2015. Despite losing their first five games this season, the Cougars have played competitively in all games, only losing by 12 points or less in most games. The team is averaging 69.7 points per game, along with 36.3 rebounds per game, and a field goal percentage of 36.6.
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12 THE TOWER
Cougar football tastes success
Photos by: Larry Levanti
The ECAC Presidents Bowl victory was the first for the Cougars since 2009.
By Alyssa Davis After two long seasons of consecutive 2-8 records in 2013 and 2014, Kean’s football team has finally seen it’s hard work, dedication and patience come to fruition. In 2015 the Cougars posted an impressive 8-3 record; the best they have managed since 2011. “I think the group of guys that have been with me now for the last two years are very resilient, but most importantly I think the fact that they still bought in and did everything they were asked of them since last December to where we are today was a big factor,” head coach Dan Garrett said about his team’s success. After obtaining a new signal caller in transfer student Tyler Rodriguez, things looked positive. Rodriguez led his ranks to two straight season-opening wins to head into a game against William Patterson. One play almost undid all of that. Rodriguez got hit in the hand with a helmet, which broke his third metacarpal bone – a season-ending injury requiring surgery.
Standing at 5-foot-10, small stature for collegiate football players, sophomore Charles App stepped in and was able to successfully fill Rodriguez’s shoes. The game came down to a successful Cougar field goal attempt to give them a walk-off win, and to put them at 3-0 for the season. From there App helped his team earn five wins and only three losses. “When his time came he was ready,” Garrett said. “He’s very determined because I think a lot of people said he couldn’t play quarterback in college because he is undersized, but Charlie (App) has a really good football IQ and he’s a tough kid and a competitor.” App also managed his offense to a 24-6 landslide victory in the ECAC Presidents Bowl Kean football team photo.
against Worcester Polytechnic Institute. On the season, App amassed 1616 total yards and 16 touchdowns. “It was very rewarding,” App said about the season. “Our coaches prepared us very well going into the season. Having a great offense and a defense that can really bail you out – that really put me in a comfortable situation and made my life a whole lot easier.” Junior Robert Meade started his college tenure as a quarterback. Coming into this season Garrett moved him to defense into the linebacker position. Meade did so well that he earned himself a first team all-conference spot. He posted 102 tackles and a sack in 10 games played. “I think it just says a lot about him and his trust in me because when you play quarterback your whole life and then your coach
tells you you’re moving to linebacker, it’s an awkward conversation,” Garrett said. Other honorable mentions on the defensive side are Dave Coleman who tallied 71 tackles and an interception, LeRon Dilliard who contributed with 60 tackles, a sack and four interceptions, Austin Davis who posted 27 tackles and nine interceptions and David Jimerson who had 52 tackles and an interception. “All those guys are coming back,” Garrett said. “So it’s going to be fun to watch next year.” On the offensive side, running back Damian Corredor amassed 1239 rushing yards and six touchdowns. Tight end Jonathan Schmitt contributed with a total of 591 yards and three touchdowns. Wide receiver Quadir Johnson had 516 yards and three touchdowns. All of this paved the way so the Cougars could walk the road to success. “They all bought in,” Garret said. “They all were tremendous in getting this program back on the map.”
Tennis coach Jodi Valenti named NJAC Coach of the Year By Angel Ospina “Never settle for less than your best,” a motto that Head Coach of Kean’s Women’s Tennis team Jodi Valenti says she lives by every day, and teaches her players to do the same. Not settling for less has propelled Valenti as one of the best coaches in New Jersey, as she recently received the Flo Labenski New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Coach of the Year award. “It’s an amazing feeling and something to be very proud of,” Valenti said. “It’s motivating as well to keep getting better and better every year.” Valenti, an alumna of Kean, received her Bachelors Degree in Health and Physical Education in 2003 and received her Masters degree in Educational Administrational from the university in 2009. “It’s nice to coach and teach where I received my education,” Valenti said. “Kean University and Kean Athletics is a great program, so it’s good to give back to where I gained a lot of my knowledge from.” Valenti played for four years as an undergraduate, and is currently the record holder at Kean with 20 wins in a season for singles competition. Valenti’s knowledge of the game from the perspective of a coach and player is a recipe for great coaching, a recipe her players adore. “Growing through the ranks first as a player, assistant coach, and finally present day as a head coach, she is able to put herself in her players’ shoes,” said Senior Shruti Nadkarni speaking of her coach’s strengths. Valenti has been with Kean for the past ten years and just finished her third year as the teams head coach. “She is able to seam together the team, harvest each players strengths, all while keeping a positive mind and encouraging each of us to play to our maximum potential,” said Nadkarni. Valenti’s passion for the sport and positive attitude brings out the best in her players.
Photo: Larry Levanti Photo: Larry Levanti
In her three years as head coach, Valenti has an overall record of 22-18.
“Coach Valenti’s tenacity, coupled with her love for the sport are two of the many strengths she has as a coach,” said captain of the women’s tennis team, Christy Verdi. “I have become a better tennis player and person. I am so happy that she received Coach of the Year, she truly deserves it.” Valenti’s journey to her latest achievement started when her Physical Education teacher advised her to play tennis her sophomore year of high school. “She got me motivated to play,” Valenti said. “At first I didn’t start, but it taught me to never give up and gave me drive to actually want to coach one day and help others,” The advice led her to a great career as a tennis player and now coach. Ironically, she is currently a Physical Education teacher for Roosevelt Elementary School in Bergen County. “Sports sets the tone for a persons personality because it gives a lot of leadership skills and teaches you to work hard,” Valenti said as she discussed the importance of sports and physical education. Valenti hopes to provide advice to her students and players, similar to the advice she obtained at a young age that helped shaped her career. “Sports just keeps kids on the right path, and I know for myself it sure did” she said.
The men’s volleyball team finished with a 31-6 record last season, and won the NCAA Division III Championship.
Men’s volleyball looking to continue success in 2016 By Joel Joly Kean volleyball had a dominant 2015 season, finishing with a record of 316. Despite losing five senior starters coming into the new season due to graduation, Coach Charlie Ginex feels confident about the team. He sees the potential through his players, and is looking to continue their dominance. Coach Ginex spoke highly of senior Tommy Rosario, who Ginex feels can make a major impact this season. “He’s that model athlete,” Ginex said. “He wasn’t heavily recruited out of high school. Nobody really knew who he was. He’s just really worked hard over his career, as a sophomore he led the country in blocking, last year he finished third in blocking. He has been one of the top players in country for a couple years now”. Kean volleyball’s previous season was fantastic. They were named Skyline Conference Regular Season Champions, Skyline Conference Tournament Champions, and won the NCAA Division
III Championship. Coach Ginex has big expectations of his team, and is looking to bring the same momentum going into this season. “Our goal is to win the conference championship,” Coach Charlie said. “At this point we are one of two teams in the entire country, and there is one other team that has been to the quarter finals every year. That’s something to be proud of, our goal is to win the conference tournament”. Coach Ginex spoke highly on his freshman players, and sees potential in them. This is the tallest team he ever had. “We have the potential to have a really, really good year from a performance standpoint on the court,” Coach Charlie said. “We’re pretty excited actually, we have some pretty good freshmen, we have kids from three or four different states. There’s a lot of potential. We’re pretty big this year. From a physical standpoint, this is the largest, tallest team we’ve had here, so we’re pretty excited about the future.”