February 11, 2015

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NBC Anchor Brian Williams suspended pg. 4

introduces new grade

ch ang e po l icy

A review of the Grammys pg. 8


SJU student Salvatore Valentinetti stars on ‘American Idol’ pg. 11

The University has proposed a new grade policy: retake a class after failing and only the highest grade gets calculated into your GPA. But - the F stays on your transript. The policy will go into effect starting with the Fall 2015 semester. The Torch interviewed Provost Mangione, who spoke about the competitive edge that the new policy will give to students. Many other colleges and universities already have a similar policy in place that could give their students an advantage when applying to graduate school and other post-graduate programs. “It should all be a positive outcome for the student,” Mangione said. Read more on page 3.


Managing Board XCII

Samantha Albanese, Editor-in-Chief

Olivia Cunningham, Managing Editor Alexa Vagelatos Opinion Editor

Talia Tirella News Editor Amanda Umpierrez Assistant News Editor

Briawnna Jones Entertainment Editor

Kyle Fitzgerald Cheyanne Gonzales Features Editor Online Editor Livia Paula Diana Colapietro Assistant Features Editor Photo Editor jim baumbach Howard Barrett III Advisor Business Manager

Stephen Zitolo Sports Editor Brandon Mauk Assistant Sports Editor Gina Palermo Art Director Steven Verdile Assistant Art Director Jenny Chen Chief Copy Editor

Directory Advertising (718)-9906756 Business 990-6756 Editorial Board 990-5652

Features 990-6444 News 990-6756 Opinion 990-6445 Sports 990-6445

The Torch is the official student newspaper of St. John’s University. The Torch is written, edited, designed and produced by students of the University. All contents are the sole responsibility of the editors and the editorial board and do not necessarily represent the views of the administration, faculty or students of St. John’s University, unless specifically stated.

To contact The Torch by mail: The Torch, St. John’s University 8000 Utopia Parkway Queens, NY 11439

The Torch is typically published on Wednesdays and publishes approximately 20 issues throughout the academic year. Circulation per issue is 3,500 copies, which are distributed for free on campus and through mail subcriptions.



Johnny Thunderbird stands on the court with the basketball team pledging the national anthem during their game versus Duke on January 25th at Madison Square Garden




Proposed grade policy allows for second chances Students will be able to retake failed courses starting Fall 2015

Talia Tirella News Editor How would you feel if you could fail a class and not have it affect your GPA? That will soon be a reality here for some students. The University is adopting a new grading policy that will allow students to retake courses they have failed and hopefully end up with a more positive outcome. University Provost Robert Mangione said in an interview with the Torch that the new grade replacement policy will begin with the initial enrollment for a class during the Fall 2015 semester. The policy will be implemented across all of the colleges within the University. The policy will only affect those courses taken during or after the fall 2015 semester. Mangione stated that a student cannot retake a spring 2015 class during the summer 2015 session with the hopes of having the failing grade dropped. “We want to help our students to compete effectively with students from other schools applying for graduate school and things like that. No one can prevent someone from manually going through the GPA and putting that F back in if you apply to grad school at another institution. But when the transcript is received and they look at the GPA, it would enable our students to compete with the rules and regulations [at] many

other schools,” Mangione said. The new policy states that a student can retake a course they have failed and then have the new, higher grade factored into their GPA. The failing grade will no longer be factored into the GPA, but will remain on the student’s transcript. The F will remain on a student’s transcript to determine their eligibility for future academic honors, according to Mangione. “It should all be a positive outcome for the student,” Mangione said. There are several conditions that must be followed in order for a student to be able to have the failing grade dropped. According to Mangione, the exact same course must be taken again, and the new course must be in the same grading mode. Professor Caroline Fuchs, an associate professor and librarian, was the head of a University Senate committee that explored the idea of a new grading policy. Fuchs is also chair of the Educational Programs and Development Committee (EPDC) within the senate, which includes both faculty members and students. Fuchs’s committee looked into the development of a new grading policy at the request of Provost Mangione. The idea for a new policy originally came from Dean Jeffrey Fagen of St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, according to Fuchs.



Make-up class dates announced Olivia Cunningham Managing Editor Because of the recent weather-related closures, the University has announced that Monday classes will be held on Tuesday, May 5, which was previously designated as Study Day. An email sent to faculty and administration last week cites New York State Education Department regulations as the main catalyst behind the schedule change. Since the University was closed on Monday, Jan. 26 and Tuesday, Jan. 27 and partially closed on Monday, Feb. 2, the hours of missed class time on Mondays must be made up in order for credit to be awarded. Classes that ordinarily meet on Mondays and Thursdays will meet on May 5 at their normal time and place, unless otherwise notified. Undergraduate classes that meet

only on Monday “and have exceeded allowable missed class time” will also meet on May 5 at the regularly scheduled place and time. Laboratory classes that meet on Mondays will also have make-up sessions on May 5. Classes that have only missed one meeting--namely classes that meet between 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on Mondays and thus were not canceled on Feb. 2--do not need to be made up. Tuesday classes have not yet exceeded the allotted amount of missed time and have not been rescheduled, the announcement said. A University representative said in an email that students who have questions or concerns about the revised schedule should speak directly to their faculty members as soon as possible. The University protocol in this situation is for individual faculty members to inform their respective classes of makeup sessions, to avoid confusion, Media Relations said.

Fuchs’s committee prepared a report that outlined the new grading policy, and presented the report to the senate, which approved it with a vote of 33-0-5. The policy then went before the Board of Trustees, who approved it, then before the full board, who also approved it, according to Mangione. The report states, “A currently matriculated student may repeat undergraduate courses previously taken at St. John’s in which a grade of F was received. While both the failing grade and the repeat grade will appear on the student’s transcript, only the higher grade will be used to compute the cumulative GPA.” The current policy requires the failing grade to be factored into the GPA even if a student retakes a course. Both the new grade and the previous failing grade are combined. The report states that a repeated course must be taken in the same grading mode as the original course (i.e. letter grade; pass/fail). A conventional course with a failing grade cannot be repeated as an independent study course. The repeated course must also be taken within four academic years of the course failure. Any repeated courses will not be covered by financial aid packages during summer sessions. The new policy will not allow students who have previously been dismissed from a particular program or major to be reinstated, according to the report. The only exception to the new policy

will be any failing grades received as a result of University disciplinary action due to academic dishonesty or any other infringement upon the University’s Academic Honor Pledge. These failing grades will not only remain on the student’s transcript but also be calculated into the student’s GPA regardless of the student going on to repeat the course. If the student chooses to repeat the course, that grade will also be factored into the GPA, according to the report. The committee’s research and report continued on the work done by a previous committee that had done a survey of grading policies at other schools, according to Fuchs. Fuchs’s committee then met several times to discuss the details of the policy, including figuring out what grades to include or exclude. The committee is conducting ongoing research, including how financial aid packages from St. John’s are submitted to New York State, as well as whether other grades above an F will be able to be replaced. “At this point, [the policy] is only about failing grades. We still have to look into financial aid and how it will affect students that way,” Fuchs said. “We are concerned with equity. We don’t want students who can keep paying to retake classes to have an advantage over those who can’t,” Fuchs said. The committee will be presenting an update at the next Senate meeting.

ISIS kills Jordanian pilot, declares U.S. citizen lauren candela Staff Writer On Feb. 3, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria released horrific pictures and a video of Jordanian fighter pilot First Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh being burned alive inside a cage. The murder is described as the group’s most gruesome yet, according to the New York Times. Arab nations united for the first time in a long time in the sense that they could agree on one thing: ISIS has gone too far. Jordan responded quickly and most severely that evening by executing attempted suicide bomber Sajida al-Rishawi and Siad al-Karbouli, a head lieutenant of Al Qaeda in Iraq. Both terrorists had already been sentenced to execution in 2005 for killing more than 57 people, according to the New York Times and Petra. Jordan also retaliated by bombing Syria. However, their response backfired as the Islamic State announced an American hostage, Kayla Mueller, had been killed unintentionally. ISIS claimed the building she was being held in collapsed under a Jordanian airstrike. “The failed Jordanian aircraft killed an American female hostage. No mu-

jahid [fighter] was injured in the bombardment, and all praise is due to Allah,” said a message from ISIS. While there is no way to uphold the group’s claim with complete certainty, ISIS identified her and gave her address for the first time since her capture in 2013, according to the New York Times. Mohamad Momani, Jordan’s information minister explained his skepticism, “How could they identify Jordanian warplanes from a huge distance in the sky? What was the American lady doing in a weapons warehouse?” Earlier this week, President Barack Obama evaluated the American stance on ISIS. He explained that the United States will meet the terrorist group with “strength and resolve.” He elaborated on the use of force without American troops on the ground. The President hopes to aid Iraqi airstrikes with American ones and said he would not hesitate to move into Syria if a terrorist threat there becomes present. Obama also promised to send an additional 475 service members to Iraq to train Iraqi militants. President Obama affirmed, “If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”


Veterans Success Center opens on campus Center will provide resources such as tutoring, career advisement and help

Amanda Umpierrez Assistant News Editor The Division of Student Affairs at St. John’s celebrated veterans on Feb. 5 by dedicating a service center to the honorees. According to a news release from St. John’s, the Veterans Success Center, will provide on and off-campus resources such as career advisement and tutoring to those who have previously served in the armed forces. Among those who spoke during the ceremony were Provost Robert Mangione, Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Kathryn Hutchinson and Executive Vice President for Mission Rev. Bernard Tracey. “You, as veterans, are successful,” said Provost Mangione. The success center will gather members from the Veterans Student Association to meet for off-campus resources as well, such as the NYC Office of Veterans Affairs. Father Tracey hopes that with this center veterans will be able to accomplish any ambitions coming their way. “Whatever goals they have, we want to make sure we help them to achieve their goals,” he said. Captain Dexter Smith, a professor for the ROTC department, believes the center will help veterans complete their changeover into other aspirations. “I’m glad that we have a center for the veterans to use as a resource that can really help them with their transition from the military to whatever endeavor they’re looking to get into,” he said. According to a press release by the Office of Media Relations, the Veterans Success Center serves as the first “dedicated space for veteran student use on St.

photo Provided/Siobhan Mullan, University photographer

University administrators cut the ribbon at the Veterans Success Center opening ceremony.

John’s University campus.” Tiffany Fitzgerald, a graduate student at St. John’s and the assistant director at the Office of Multicultural Affairs, hopes the opening will draw more attention to veterans and their service. “I hope St. John’s will be able to gain a better appreciation towards veterans at St. John’s. I hope it creates a warm environment and better belonging for them,” she said. In a news release from St. John’s, the university stated its recognition in the Military Advanced Education’s “2014

Guide to Military-Friendly Colleges and Universities.” Father Tracey, executive vice president for Mission, believes the effort will advance St. John’s’ achievements as well. “Not only is it about your success, but the success of St. John’s University,” he said. The Veterans Success Center will not only aid as a meeting place for past members of the armed forces, but it will also serve as a known area for veterans to ask any questions.

Elizabeth Sheehan, a former SGI president of St. John’s and current graduate school student, believes the center will make veterans feel better recognized. “Having an actual center is going to make them far more visible,” she said. Father Tracey agrees, and understands the different but necessary essentials for veteran students. “Different groups have special needs, and this is a very special group,” he said. “It’s sort of paying back what they paid forward.”

NBC anchor Brian Williams suspended amid “mistake” in Iraq coverage bridget higgins Staff Writer On Feb. 10, Time Magazine reported that NBC News anchor Brian Williams had been suspended for six months without pay, effective immediately. NBC News issued a statement, which said, “Brian has a responsibility to be truthful and to uphold the high standards of the news division at all times... we believe this suspension is appropriate.” Lester Holt, anchor of NBC’s “Dateline,” will continue to substitute for Williams, according to Time Magazine. Previously, Williams apologized on Feb. 4 for incorrect statements he made claiming that his helicopter was shot down in Iraq in 2003, according to the Associated Press. Williams acknowledged that the helicopter he was in was traveling behind the helicopter that was actually hit, saying that he had made a “mistake,” according to a New York Times article published Feb. 4. The same New York Times article reported that the apology followed Williams’ story on Nightly News about Tim Terpak, an Army officer who allegedly helped save Williams from the helicopter. The show covered the two attending a New York Rangers hockey game together.

photo/wikimedia commons

Brian Williams, right foreground, dines with sailors and marines while aboard the USS Tarawa in the Arabian Gulf in 2003.

While introducing the pair, the game’s announcer said, “U.S. Army Command Sergeant Major Tim Terpak was responsible for the safety of Brian Williams and his NBC News team after their Chinook helicopter was hit and crippled by enemy fire [in Iraq, 2003].” The military newspaper “Stars and

Stripes” quickly published a report of eyewitness accounts saying that Williams was not in a helicopter hit by R.P.G.s while he was reporting in Iraq, according to a Feb. 9 Fox News article. In a Facebook response to the story, Williams wrote, “You are absolutely right and I was wrong,” according to the

aforementioned New York Times article. On Wednesday, Feb. 4, Williams also apologized during his Nightly News Broadcast, according to the Associated Press. “This was a bungled attempt to thank one special veteran and…our brave military men and women veterans everywhere,” said Williams. “I hope they know they have my greatest respect and also now my apology.” According to a USA Today article published Feb. 9, Williams voluntarily stepped down temporarily while NBC News conducts an internal investigation. NBC plans on fact-checking any of his possibly exaggerated accounts. After the uncovering of Williams’ “mistake,” many media outlets are calling his credibility and past stories into question. On Monday, Feb. 9, the Washington Post reported on discrepancies in Williams’ accounts of Hurricane Katrina, in which he claimed to have narrowly avoided gangs, became extremely sick and saw a dead body floating in the French Quarter. As a result of the scandal, Williams decided to cancel his upcoming appearance on “The Late Show with David Letterman.” The show was set for Thursday night, according to the USA Today article on Feb. 9.


Out with the old, in with the new: St. John’s launches a new student/faculty portal Center will provide resources such as tutoring, career advisement and help cheyanne gonzales Online Editor The University launched a new website for students and faculty this spring semester, MySJU. The new site is designed for both the individual student and faculty member throughout the institution. According to Eric Alvarado, academic technology director, the process of designing a new student and faculty portal has been ongoing since last spring. Alvarado said professors and other faculty members have been kept up-to-date since last spring into the summer and gained official access last October. The new site brings a new light to better branding to the student body and institution as a whole. “The new website is a true portal,” Alvarado said when talking to the Torch about how the new site brings “enhanced customized and targeted information” that the individual student and faculty member can properly receive. The plan for a new student and faculty portal has been a main goal as a form of rebranding for about a year now, according to SCREENSHOTS/CHEYANNE GONZALES Alvarado. There is a lot of content that the University receives and would have liked to place on the old portal, St. John’s Central,Above, the old St. John’s Central page. Central was a “single system that did not provide the means of proper promotional which was a single system that did not pro-purposes. vide the means of proper promotional pur-Below, the new MySJU page. The new page features new channels such as Student Email and Digication, and allows for further customization. poses. “One challenge with St. John’s Central was our inability to target specific population of students,” Frank Jerome, technical analyst for the University, said. “Our main advantage for a student using this new system, we are now able to target those channels or blocks of information to specific individuals, specific demographic of students.” According to Jerome, there were three student focus groups that were held last fall by the university to test the new MySJU website. This was organized for students to compare the likes and dislikes of both the new site, MySJU and the old site, St. John’s Central. The information from the focus groups allowed those working on the new site to have a clearer input on what features to include on the new site. Jerome mentioned the design and aesthetics of the site improved as a result of the feedback. “With MySJU, now the color schemes and the design patterns that we used has that sort of St. John’s branding so once you enter MySJU you feel like you’re still on St. John’s property” Jerome said. “So I think that’s another huge benefit; we will really pay attention to design and we’re still improving it.” Both Alvarado and Jerome emphasized the importance of the new site’s customization towards both individual students and staff. For example, there’s a channel up on the new site that is only for resident students because it contains resident specific content. With the ability to manage different sites for of the Microsoft Outlook box popping up,” Saint-Ulysse said. varying members, the school has created a greater benefit by improving the site. “I think that the new MySJU is a good concept overall, but it is way too confusSince the launch of the new portal, students have used social media, mainly Twit- ing,” Cecilena Sosa, a Sophomore public relations major said. ter, to express their different opinions of the new site. “I think it was a bad thing that they didn’t inform students ahead of time because Sophomore Marc Saint-Ulysse thinks the new site is “nice” but believes the old we weren’t prepped on how to navigate it,” Sosa said. website could have lasted a few more years. Saint-Ulysse said he has struggled to find However, other students, such as Sophomore Pritesh Shah, found the new site to detailed information for his non-Blackboard affiliated classes, including the roster, be manageable. and he is unsure if that feature is on the new site. He did mention to the Torch some “I don’t mind it, it has its ups and downs and just takes a little getting used to, aspects of the new site that he finds useful. but its not too bad!” Shah said. “You just have to figure it out but it’s pretty much the “I do like how my student e-mail becomes an extra tab to my web browser instead same.”



Staff Editorial Editorial board XCII


Flames of the Torch:


The Brian Williams Scandal

Torch Media One of the basic tenets of journalism is to always tell the truth, but since that is not always possible (due to standard difficulties journalists face such as sources refusing to talk, etc) that’s phrased as ‘seek the truth and report it.’ What this doesn’t include is a reporter using their own biases to skew a story, embellishing quotes and facts, cherry-picking facts and sprinkling in little half-truths because they think those will make the story more interesting, among all other acts that stray from the truth. One of the most unique characteristics of the journalism industry is that it is self-regulating. Publications write about other publications to call them out on misprints and wrongdoings and are a policed union amongst themselves. Lying, fabricating or completely plagiarizing a story is not tolerated. It is a known fact that if you lie or plagiarize in a story and you are caught, you have no chance of ever working for a news organization ever again. It’s a system of trust; we rely on one another to get it right and admit when we can’t instead of lying. Most recently, international reporter and NBC’s Nightly News anchor Brian Williams has been suspended from NBC without pay for six months, effective immediately, for fabricating a story from his time reporting in Iraq, claiming his helicopter was shot down. Shortly after admitting on air that he “misremembered” what actually happened on that day, he voluntarily went on temporary leave and an internal investigation at NBC ensued. On Tuesday, Feb. 10, NBC announced Williams’s suspension. As reported by the Wall Street

Journal, NBC released a memo to their staff regarding the decision. “By his actions, Brian has jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News,” NBCUniversal Chief Executive Steve Burke said. By embellishing some of his reporting, Williams lost the trust of many who counted on him to be fair and honest. It also caused other publications and the viewers to question the credibility of the rest of his reporting. As many of the Torch staff are journalism and communications majors we all stand by NBC’s decision to suspend Williams. However, we wonder why their decision to suspend him took so long. For someone who was highly respected in the field to have lied or exaggerated a truth to that extent, it begs the question of why he wasn’t fired immediately. What kind of message does this send to other networks, publications and most importantly, their viewers? It’s important to point out that aspiring journalists are among their viewers, perhaps even students at St. John’s. They are learning the ins-and-outs of the journalism field and are being taught by their professors to do the right thing and practice thorough reporting, but the field itself is sending a mixed message. As journalists, we always try to get it right, even on our student-newspaper level. We try to get both sides of the story and make sure all voices are heard. With the future of journalism in mind, we hope that we will never have another Stephen Glass, Jayson Blair, Janet Cooke or Brian Williams tainting the integrity of the journalism industry.

Twitter: @SJU_Torch Instagram: @sju_torch Vine: @SJUTorch

ENT. BRIEF: ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ sequel in the works KORI WILLIAMS

Staff Writer

Pulitzer Prize winning author Harper Lee is releasing a sequel to her world famous work “To Kill a Mockingbird” titled “Go Set a Watchman” on July 14. The book is currently #1 on Amazon. The book, 55 years after its predecessor, follows a number of characters from “Mockingbird” including Scout, Atticus and Jem 20 years later. Amazon’s description of the book states that “Watchman” follows Scout as she goes back to her hometown of Maycomb, Ala. from New York to visit her father. She “struggles with issues both personal and political, involving Atticus, society and the small Alabama town that shaped her.” Even though “Watchman” is the sequel to “Mockingbird,” it was written before the 1960 classic. The New York Times reported that it was Lee’s publisher who told her it would

be a better idea to write a new book focusing on Scout’s childhood. The news of the book has caused some controversy. According to USA Today, Lee is currently 88 years old and living in a nursing home in Monroeville, Ala. She is blind and deaf which lead some to believe that Lee may have been manipulated into publishing the book. This coupled with the fact that Lee’s sister Alice who helped protect her from the public eye died last year caused rumors to spread. In addition, Lee’s sister wrote in 2011 that “Harper can’t see and can’t hear and will sign anything put before her by anyone in whom she has confidence.” However, multiple places are reporting that Lee is “extremely hurt” that anyone would think that she is being manipulated. She is said to be very excited for the book’s release. It is currently available for pre-order from a number of stores such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Boko Haram attacks


January bore witness to multiple severe attacks on humanity. Two that stick out are the attack on Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine, and the attacks in Baga, Nigeria. At the same time that the Charlie Hebdo attack occurred, the terrorist group Boko Haram massacred the Nigerian town of Baga. According to CNN, death tolls ranged from the hundreds to 2,000. The town was completely ravaged and survivors told tales of the siege that lasted for days, as well as the aftermath. According to Amnesty International, a human rights watch group, the attack on Baga was the deadliest in the history of Boko Haram. Tens of thousands of people were displaced, along with thousands killed in the violent attacks. Musa Bukar, chairman of the local government in Baga, told CNN that the bushes were littered with dead bodies, and that some were even burned to death in their own homes. Images released by Amnesty illustrated the brutality of the attacks. Originally, the attacks received very little press in comparison to the attack on Hebdo. The attack on Baga occurred days before the attack on Charlie Hebdo, yet news of the attacks in Nigeria took weeks to spread. The lack of media coverage sparked outrage, as many people expressed concerns that the Western media places less emphasis on news from Africa. This is not the first time that the media has been accused of being less cognizant in terms of knowledge and news from Africa. For example, during the summer, CNN had a huge blunder on air where they confused Niger and Nigeria on the map, a small mistake that be-

comes huge when one realizes the implications of disrespect for both countries and their people. The lack of coverage on the Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria also shows a lack of respect for Africans, as well as a lack of genuine care. The tragedy should have been front-page news, yet it took days for it to make it to the front page and weeks for the news to spread. There is a certain stigma associated with Africa that contributes to a widespread ignorance towards its countries, its people and its cultures. The stigma is due in part to the media’s lack of proper coverage of news from Africa. There really is no excuse for the media-perpetuated ignorance, which in turn allows for an uninformed public view of Africa. The lack of coverage on Nigeria should be a wake-up call for the American people.When the media feeds the public biased information, one can only expect an ignorant response.. Both the attack on Charlie Hebdo and the attacks in Nigeria were horrific events. The loss of innocent human life in any situation is tragic; therefore, equal emphasis should have been placed on both attacks.


MTA’s new sanitation reports ABHISHEK JOSHI Staff Writer The Metropolitan Transportation Authority conducted a survey that resulted in a list of the number of harmful unsanitary germs that are present in and around the public transportation system of New York City. As a passenger and frequent user of the MTA, I was not surprised that there were traces of harmful bacteria on the system, but what had me amazed was the fact that many and most of them are very much harmful and even life-threatening. Harmful bacteria, such as urinary-tract infection and food poisoning were found at the Kew Gardens-Union Turnpike subway station, one of the main subway stations used by the students of St. John’s University, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. It is certainly expected that there will be a presence of certain bacteria at all times due to the heavy frequency of travellers who use the subways and the buses, but it is simply not understandable as to how such bacteria exists for such a long duration. Is the MTA being inefficient in their sanitary cleanups? As a New Yorker, whenever I have to travel out of Queens to any other borough, the best mode of transportation remains the subway. So there really is

no escape for me and the others who depend on the transportation system. So what can I do? Not that I am a germophobe, but I am really not appreciative of the fact that there are infectious parasites present around me. New York City not only has a large crowd of people who use the subway to get to and from work, but also caters to a large crowd of tourists, who come to the Big Apple in order to retreat from their regular life. Given that commuters and tourists provide the city with such great economic help, it is only fair that New York give them the collateral of having a clean environment to travel in. Bubonic plague cells were recently detected which led to a debate on whether or not the subway system is safe. While it is obvious that people who have no other choice will have to use the system, it is unfair for the fact that the travellers deserve a surety of their health safety. Particularly with the rise in fare, the only way to compensate would be to introduce a healthier environment in the trains and buses. I personally wish that there would be a zero-antigen tolerance policy, but if we cannot eradicate it from our trains, we should at least be able to minimize it to a level where commuters’ lives are not in danger. Just like the passengers, the germs too, should just enter and leave the system.

The winter blues


As we continue to get hit with snow storm after snow storm along with freezing temperatures, it is no surprise that many people find themselves feeling increasingly down and depressed during these long winter months. After the holidays are over, many people find themselves with low bank accounts, energy and spirits. By mid-January, some find themselves immersed in the “winter blues.” According to mayoclinic.org, symptoms of the “winter blues,” also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), include tiredness, irritability, oversleeping and weight gain. Unfortunately, doctors are still unable to determine the specific cause of this disorder. Although it is tempting to just lounge around in warm pajamas all day while the winter months slowly wither away, there are a few things that you can do to try and prevent the “winter blues” from creeping up on you. Doctors recommend daily exercise, a healthy diet and getting outdoors as much as possible. Although these things may help keep you active and healthy, it is still hard to stay upbeat when you are stuck indoors for weeks or even months upon end doing the same mundane activities. Trying to change up your day-to-day activities or trying something new with friends on the weekend might also help keep your spirits up and the blues at bay. Another simple thing that you can do to try and prevent SAD is to follow through with any New


Year resolutions that you may have made because who doesn’t feel happy once they have accomplished something that was once just an idea, such as a weight loss, quitting a bad habit or even just exercising more. By following through with a promise that you have made to yourself, you will not only feel a sense of pride, but also a sense of motivation to continue on toward your goal, whatever that might be. If you are experiencing “winter blues” and feel that they are conflicting with your everyday activities and restricting your life then there are some treatments that may be able to reduce your symptoms and possibly get rid of them completely. These treatments include light therapy, various medications and psychotherapy.


Koch brothers donate $1 billion ANGEL VERA Staff Writer In the land of free, where the beauty that we call capitalism holds the very fabric of justice together, everything has a price—from the earth’s natural resources or public lands, to the U.S. Government. It is no secret that both “major” political parties enjoy receiving campaign donations from the very wealthy; however one party is starting to get addicted and controlled by a certain bunch of billionaires. That’s right, the Grand Old Party needs an intervention, and it is going to be a long and daunting recovery. Earlier this year, the Koch’s have claimed to willingly put in close to a billion dollars for the 2016 election cycle. This means that every conservative and wannabe libertarian is going to have to work hard and pander to get their cut, with Marco Rubio and Rand Paul being examples of some of the forerunners for the Republican presidential nomination. There is always the option of listening to their constituents and actually trying to earn the American people’s trust and votes, but that’s not as fun and glamorous as listening to two oligarchs who believe that big corporations, not governments, should run a country. Senator Bernie Sandars (I-VT) has sternly spoken out against the dynamic

duo, as the Brooklyn native stated, “In the last presidential election, Obama and Romney raised about $1 billion each. The Koch brothers, the second wealthiest family in America, now say they will raise nearly $1 billion for the 2016 elections. When one family can raise as much as an entire party, the system is broken. This is an oligarchy, not a democracy.” At times like these we really need to consider which really poses the greater hazard to freedom and liberty: big government that the right likes to shout at, or big business that the right loves to shout for?



Librarian gives incarcerated youth an escape

JOSEPH OTTOMANELLI Contributing Writer

For many, working in a correctional facility would be viewed as a position in which people want to put in their day’s work and get out as soon as they can. For Marybeth Zeman, however, the case is quite the opposite. Zeman, a transitional counselor at the Nassau County Correctional Center, found a way to embrace her job while incorporating her educational background. She has done so through utilizing a master’s degree in library science obtained through the Laura Bush scholarship received from St. John’s in 2009. The degree, along with her work at the correction facility, enabled her to focus in on the connection. “When education that’s founded on some kind of value system as opposed to being founded on just monetary gain, I think it’s much easier to incorporate your education into a variety of things,” Zeman said. After her stint teaching in public education, Zeman shifted focus to her family at home, while still picking up some work as an adjunct at Queensborough Community College. “I taught composition for ESL students for a good 10 years before returning to work,” she said. “I did that and I realized that I really enjoyed doing that.” This prompted Zeman to hit the books

again. She obtained her master’s in special education to maintain her certification, followed by a master’s degree in ESL to become a certified teacher in that field. “I was an ESL teacher for a good 20 years and I found that more and more, I was utilized in the library and technology with my ESL students,” she said. It was during this time that she received encouragement from a friend to apply for the aforementioned Laura Bush scholarship at St. John’s. 57 years old at the time she applied for the scholarship, Zeman was quite the non-traditional applicant. “In a million years I did not think I’d be chosen because of my age, and in any case, I was selected for the scholarship.” After obtaining her master’s degree from St. John’s in 2009, Zeman found a position at the Nassau County Correctional Facility, where she became a transitional counselor in a high school program that the school she works at ran there. “When I arrived at the correctional facility, I thought I was going to be the transitional counselor, and what I discovered was a school that was absent a library,” she said. “So it was almost as if God had put me in the right place at the right time and I was showing up with the right credentials.” Zeman discovered a situation of incarcerated young men, ranging from 16 to 20 years old, who were in desperate need of material to read. The inmates were motivated to escape their misfortune and sought the comfort of books. “The irony was that you had [young]

men who had otherwise failed miserably at school, were incarcerated for a variety of reasons and for the first time in their lives [they] had this drive that they want to read,” Zeman said. According to Zeman, when technology is taken away, all that is left for these inmates to do is to read. The boys grew to value education and reading, and it was evident through their behavior in class. Zeman conveyed what jail is like for these youths. “I know that I’m leaving at the end of the day, but I am very aware of when I’m working there, how much your freedom is relinquished,” Zeman said. Zeman stressed how significant reading became for the boys, as it represented entertainment and an ability to better each of them. “The greatest punishment in jail is boredom, having nothing to do all day,” Zeman said. Her education in library science is put at the forefront through its sub-element of outreach services, where she can guide these young men to improve their lives. “They look for me now, coming in and out with that book cart, more than coming in with a file folder and saying, ‘Come on sit down, let’s see how you are doing,’” Zeman said. “I had more interaction and broken down more walls of isolation by bringing in that book cart than I ever would pulling a kid out.” Zeman has been able to guide them toward changing their views of the world and alter their way of life.

Ho l l y w o o d ’s l e a d i n g l a d y : L u p i t a Ny o n g ’ o ASHLEY PURE Staff Writer In history there is always one person that stands out and shows us just how far we have progressed; that person defies the odds and opens our eyes to see the true meaning of what is really important in life. Lupita Nyong’o took the world by storm in the year of 2014 with her role as the slave Patsey in the movie “12 Years aSlave.” She touched the hearts of many Americans and gave the world a new face to the word beauty. Nyong’o was born in Mexico City, Mexico to Kenyan parents. Her father, a political activist, was fighting for democracy against the Kenyan autocratic government, which forced the family to go into exile. It wasn’t until after a couple of months that the family would be able to return to their native home country, with Nyong’o being less than a year old. Growing up Nyong’o went to an all girls Catholic school and, being a rebel, dyed her hair green or blue. Nyong’o wasn’t quite into sports, with acting being her go-to thing. Nyong’o even auditioned for school plays with her first role being in the play “Oliver Twist.” This was the beginning of several acting roles Nyong’o would have as she grew older and moved to the United States to attend New Hampshire College. She later attended the Yale School of Drama where a first-time audition tape would

land her not only her first big acting role but an Academy Award as well. Being the new “it girl” in Hollywood, Nyong’o shared some of the issues she dealt with, one of the major ones being the issue of skin color. The standard of beauty has always been something that is a touchy subject as everyone’s opinion varies. In Hollywood, where a black face is a very rare thing, Lupita came on the scene breaking barriers and tearing down the stereotype of blonde hair and blue eyes. Nyong’o says that she would wish for lighter skin, not seeing any women on television that shared her same skin color. Not even her mother’s words could convince Nyong’o of her beauty; she still couldn’t see herself as beautiful. It wasn’t until she saw model Alek Wek that she realized that beauty comes in all shades, and not just the ones that are mostly seen on television. From being named People’s “Most Beautiful Woman,” to Glamour’s “Woman of the Year,” to now the new face of the beauty brand Lancôme, and being not only the first African American, but also the first Kenyan-Mexican to represent the brand, Nyong’o is definitely a role model for this new generation. She teaches young girls to love themselves first and to find their inner beauty within themselves and not from what is depicted on their television screens or in magazines.

Her work at the facility has also inspired her to write a book, “Tales of a Jailhouse Librarian,” which details her experiences with some of the different youths she has consulted during her time at the Nassau County Correctional Facility. Zeman is determined to continue efforts to guide these youths to brighter futures, as she considers it a primary responsibility of her job as a librarian. “A basis of being a librarian is to seek outreach services, to provide services for those that are unable to seek the information themselves,” Zeman said. “That is what I most gravitated to.”


Zeman poses in front of the Nassau County Correctional Facility.

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Grammy Review: Same Awards, New Winners BRIAWNNA JONES

Entertainment Editor

took home the award for best country album, but not before she hit the stage with a fun performance of her song “Little Red Wagon.” Switching genres, Kanye West made his re-Grammy debut after a six-year boycott to perform his new song “Only One.” While the song has very powerful lyrics, West’s deliv-

John Mayer, Quest Love and Herbie Hancock for a rendition of “Thinking Out Loud,” to Adam Levine with Maroon 5 and Gwen Stefani. However, the best collaboration of the night can only go to one duo, and that was Hozier and Annie Lennox for their electric performance of “Take Me to Church” and “I


Starting off on the “Highway to Hell” might not have been the best idea for music’s biggest night. As the world’s most talented musicians gathered in the Los Angeles, Staples Center for the 57th Annual Grammy Awards Sunday night waited to be awarded for their achievements, viewers tuned in for world’s greatest concert with 23 performances on the roster. Wasting no time, flames and energy blazed as iconic rock band AC/DC, gave an energetic performance as they graced the Grammy stage for the first time in their nearly half a century career. Emcee for the evening was none other than rapper-turned-actor LL Cool J, who remained calm, cool and collected the entire night. Although he never changed from his navy and black tux with signature hat, he managed to stay neutral amongst the crowd as he avoided the typical opening monologue and played it safe by only appearing on stage a few times throughout the night. Taylor Swift in an aqua Ellie Saab dress, presented the first award of the night, best new Newcomer Sam Smith won big taking home awards four awards inculding Best New Artist. artist to her BFF Sam Smith, who went on to perform with “Stay With Me” with Mary J. Blige and win in three other categories be- ery was a little lackluster and did not translate Put A Spell On You.” fore the night was over (best pop vocal album, over well. While most of the world may be tired of record of the year and song of the year). But his shortcomings made room for “Happy,” the Grammy’s were definitely not Never one to come up short vocally, Ariana 56-year-old Madonna who brought the house as Pharrell Williams performed a rendition Grande belted out her song, “Just a Little Bit down as she released her inner devil and gave of the song featuring a piano solo from Lang of Your Heart.” The performance was a huge a fiery performance of her single “Living for Lang and took home three trophies for the switch up from the flashy pop style that she Love.” Madge held back nothing, giving it über popular song including best pop solo has adapted over the years. Grande’s “Bang her all with every dance step. This earned her performance, best music video and best urban Bang” collaborator Jessie J jammed on the the first standing ovation of the night. contemporary. stage as well, singing a duet with Tom Jones. There were a ton of artist collaborations on Viewers also got a chance to hear from Country powerhouse Miranda Lambert the stage, from Ed Sheeran being joined by Grammy-winner, President Barack Obama


Breona Jones, Freshman

Philtrina Farquharson, Junior


“I think Common and John Legend’s performance was very touching. It definitely touched on recent events that have effected the African American community.”

“I thought that Kanye walking on stage while Beck received his award was funny because everyone thought that he was gonna act up, but he didn’t. I also liked that he was cool with Taylor Swift, which showed him in a positive light.”


Timara Stallworth, Freshman

Justin Fomba, Freshman

“Of course I loved Beyonce’s performance. I felt like I was going to church with her performance and outfit.”.”

“My favorite performances were when Kanye did his solo performance on the beautiful, passionate soliloquy from his mom to his daughter and when he performed with Rihanna and Paul McCarthy.”


Sarayah Moxley, Freshman ““I expected Bey to come out in a body suit! I cut off all of the lights in my room expecting a concert, but she performed a song that no one knew and her voice wasn’t for the song. I wasn’t moved to tears.””

as he discussed the #ItsOnUs campaign followed by spoken word poetry, which all set the tone for Katy Perry to sing “By the Grace of God.” Other big performances of the night included Usher singing “If It’s Magic” paying homage to a lively Stevie Wonder, who joined him onstage playing his harmonica. And everyone’s favorite bad gal Rihanna along with Sir Paul McCartney and Kanye who shared an undeniable chemistry as they performed “Four Five Seconds.” Ending the night with a seemingly odd bang, in true “Yeezus” fashion, Mr. West made his way back to the stage as rock star Beck took home his second award for album of the year (best rock album). Apparently, it was too much for West to handle as he flashed back to his infamous 2009 VMA moment with Taylor Swift, and took the stage once again unannounced. Except this time, he held his comments to himself until the E! after show where he expressed that Beck should have handed over his award to Beyoncé. After much controversy surrounding her pending performance, Beyoncé hit the stage singing her version of Mahalia Jackson’s “Take My Hand, Precious Lord.” Decked out in all white, Queen Bey sang her heart out as many criticized her for supposedly stealing Ledisi’s shining moment as she portrayed Jackson in the movie “Selma.” This caused many to overlook the fact that she took home three awards (best surround sound album, best R&B performance and best R&B song) becoming the second-highest Grammy award-winning woman in history. Closing the show was John Legend and Common, with a stellar performance of their Oscar-nominated song “Glory” shining light on the Civil Rights heroes and the ongoing racial tensions in America.


Sao Conteh, Freshman “I think the whole thing was a parade of stupid. I think Pharrell looked stupid and that Kim Kardashian is too rich for her sleeves not to be hemmed. Her dress was pretty though.”


JASMINE DAVIS Asst. Entertainment Editor




For over a week, Bobbi Kristina Brown, daughter of late legend Whitney Houston and R&B Bobby Brown, has been hospitalized for an induced coma at Emory University Hospital. Brown was found facedown and unresponsive in the bathtub of her suburban Atlanta townhouse on Saturday, Jan. 31, the cause of her condition is still unknown. Brown’s condition is constantly changing, as the rumor mill reports have ranged from her being brain-dead, to being taken off life support and her family feuding, all of which, the family has denied. According to CNN, the 21-year-old has injuries that still need to be explained, causing many to point the finger at Bobbi’s fake husband, Nick Gordon, who is now under investigation. While many in the family are remaining silent about the situation, Bobby Brown has released a statement exclusively to People through his attorney stating, “We are currently investigating the events that led to the hospitalization.” The New Edition singer also made clear that his daughter “[was] not and has never been married to Nick Gordon.” If that wasn’t enough, three days before she was found, B.K. was issued a bench warrant for her arrest after failing to make an appearance in court for a traffic violation hearing. There aren’t any concrete reasons as to why and how this has happened. With her mother’s death on Feb. 11 of 2011, many fans are praying, hoping for answers. Bobbi Kristina remains hospitalized on life support with her friends and family by her side at the hospital. It is rumored that close friend of Houston, Tyler Perry, is planning on moving Brown to his house in efforts to speed up her recovery. “Bobbi Kristina is fighting for her life

and is surrounded by immediate family,” the Houston’s told E! News last Monday. “Thank you for your prayers, well wishes and we greatly appreciate your continued support.”

West during an “Entertainment Tonight” interview. “I think everyone goes through things in life, but I do think that that story and what Bruce is going through, I think he’ll share whenever the time is right.”

The word on the street for a while has been that Bruce Jenner was in the process of transitioning from male to female. Now it doesn’t seem so much like a rumor. Jenner, 65, has been recently seen in photos with longer hair, pink nail polish, makeup and earrings on multiple occasions. People Magazine reported that he’s transitioning gradually so that his family will be able to adjust to the change. According to Wendy Williams, his family, including his ex-wife Kris Jenner and his mother are very supportive. A source says that daughters Kendall and Kylie and his stepdaughters, the Kardashians, call him by a different female (unknown) name. “That family is so supportive of every single family member,” said 35-year-old former N’Sync member Lance Bass to People. “They’ve been great, like, ‘we support whatever he’s about to tell us.’” And if that wasn’t a large pill to swallow, the former Wheaties mascot is working with Diane Sawyer’s representatives on the final touches of negotiations for an exclusive interview about Jenner’s transition process into a woman, according to media reports. It will be his first time publicly announcing his plans to undergo a sex change. Jenner is also in process of filming his own E! docu-series on his transitioning process, according to the Wrap reports. Although the release date is unknown, it is reported to air this summer “when he is ready to be open about his transition.” “Bruce should tell his story his way,” said his stepdaughter Kim Kardashian

“Mr. Grey will see you now.” The wait is almost over! “Fifty Shades of Grey” premieres this weekend, which happens to be Valentine’s Day weekend! This steamy film should be on everyone’s must-see list! Even though it hasn’t yet premiered across the nation, MTV revealed that the film’s director, Sam Taylor-Johnson, has already signed up to film the sequels of the other two books in the “Fifty Shades” trilogy, “Fifty Shades Darker” and “Fifty Shades Freed.” Johnson made her announcement about the sequels on Friday, Feb. 6 during the first screening of the highly-awaited film in New York City with the appearance of the author of the original trilogy novels, E. L. James, and the leading actors, James Dornan and Dakota Johnson. “I’m signed on,” Taylor-Johnson told E! News. “Let’s see how this one goes first.” Along with the news of plans for filming the sexy sequels, leading lady Dakota Johnson, who plays Anastasia Steele, says that she is happy and lucky to continue her role. According to US Weekly Magazine, “Fifty Shades” has made the fastest-selling R-rated movie in Fandango’s history of early online ticket sales, which isn’t really a shock. The official global erotic movie trailer released by Universal Pictures UK has over 51 million views. “Fifty Shades of Grey” will premiere in some cities on Thursday night, Feb. 12, but will be shown in theatres nationwide on Friday, Feb. 13.

Biggest summer music festivals in the country


While summer is still several months away, many of the major music festivals have announced their artist lineups. To the West in California, there’s the iconic Coachella Festival, to the South is Bonnaroo and right here in the boroughs is the massive Governors Ball Music Festival. While the festivals pride themselves on the name and individuality of the acts on their lists, there’re plenty of artists making the rounds at all three festivals this summer. One of the biggest names making their return to the U.S. is indie-pop outfit Florence and the Machine playing at all three festivals and punk/blues rocker Benjamin Booker. Electronica artists like SBTRKT, Flying Lotus and MØ all are also set on the lineup for the three festivals.

Coachella: April 10-12 & Bonnaroo: June 11-14 April 17-19 Located in Indio, Calif. the two-weekend festival has been known as the goto music festival, this year especially because it is pulling all the stops for its lineup. While the bill is particularly indie-rock centric, the headliners range from the classics like AC/DC and Steely Dan, to modern legends like Jack White and even rap superstar, Drake’s slated to play both weekends. Drake is in particularly good company with plenty of rap and R&B acts on the bill like once-collaborator The Weeknd, Wu-Tang members Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, Action Bronson, Lil B and controversial artists Azealia Banks and Tyler, the Creator.

Of the three festivals, Tennessee’s own Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival features the most classic artists and legends alive today. With names like Billy Joel, Robert Plant, Tears for Fears and even Earth, Wind & Fire, the festival promises a more diverse range of artists to appeal to music fans of all ages. However, one of the biggest stories to come out of the Bonnaroo lineup is the return of the once-ubiquitous Mumford & Sons, who left a slew of imitators in their wake since a hiatus back in 2013. While diversity is the emphasis, the presence of modern rappers is particularly minimal, but makes up in quality with a pre-sophomore album Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino and up-and-comer Dej Loaf.

Governors Ball: June 5-7 Right here in our own backyard at Randall’s Island is the New York’s Governors Ball. While previous lineups have featured older acts like Guns n’ Roses and Dinosaur Jr., this year promises to be one of the most modernized festival experiences possible. Alongside headliner Drake is a strong level of indie goddesses like Björk, Marina & the Diamonds, Charli XCX, St. Vincent and most notably Lana Del Rey making her hometown return to NYC. Recently, singer Labrinth had to cancel his appearance at the festival, and was quickly replaced by rap duo Rae Sremmurd.

SJU student shines on ‘Idol’ with Sinatra tune

Salvatore Valentinetti claims a golden ticket to Hollywood NICOLE GUBELLI Staff Writer

Standing before three judges, wearing a suit and black wingtipped shoes, Salvatore Valentinetti gives them a taste of his smooth Sinatra-like voice. Two minutes and a hundred dollars richer, Jennifer Lopez hands him a golden ticket to Hollywood. It all started when Salvatore Valentinetti was 14 years old. He began taking private baritone lessons when his instructor had him choose a song to sing. Shocked by the voice that he had, the instructor informed his parents of their son’s gift, at which point they immediately had him start singing lessons. “I needed a push out of the nest,” Sal said. He then joined a competition through “Frank D’Ambrosio’s Broadway” show and was chosen to perform in the finale. “The first time I sang in front of people, in front of a crowd, was unknowingly in front of 3,000 people,” Sal explained, “And I wasn’t nervous until the lights came on at the end of the song and I ran off stage.” By age 15, Sal chose where he wanted to go with his gift. “It kind of just became a passion from there,” Sal said. He has been working professionally for two years now, performing famous Frank Sinatra hits at a variety of private parties, restaurants, weddings, corporate events and many charity works. He works closely with the American Cancer Society, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Breast Cancer Society. A sophomore at St. John’s studying communications and business, Sal never saw himself as someone who would try out for American Idol. That was until his Uncle Joe came up to Sal this past July to tell him, “American Idol is coming to Nassau Coliseum in two weeks; might be something you want to think about.” Being a native Long Islander, growing up in Bethpage and attending Holy Trinity High School, Sal was only miles away from Nassau Coliseum. Although Sal “went in saying I’m not going to make it,” he thought about it, put his skepticism aside, and went for it. Just a few weeks later he found himself immersed in a space with other talented singers and artists, many of whom were quite different from him. “I was different from everyone there. Everyone’s you know, in their skinny jeans, Ray Ban glasses, and flannel shirts and everything,” Sal said. Sal, on the other hand, was dressed in a suit and winged-tipped shoes.

Then it was time for Sal to perform in front of the three judges. “The nerves hit me all at once,” he explained. “Everything went white.” Once he stood on that “American Idol” moniker, Sal wished Harry Connick Jr. a happy belated birthday. Then it was time for the song. He stood in front of Lopez, former “Idol” finalist Adam Lambert and Connick Jr. and sang “In Other Words,” a song made famous by New York’s own Frank Sinatra. A song so bold and different from what the judges are used to hearing, that one of the judges was skeptical that Sal actually knew what the original name of the song was. “The only thing I remember was that Harry Connick Jr. gave me a hundred bucks,” Sal said, clearly because he knew the name of the song. For the next brief moments it was just Sal hitting the notes accompanied by a little bit of decorative piano. Connick Jr. was first unsure of whether to send Valentinetti through to Hollywood. He admitted that Sal was talented, but didn’t think the New Yorker was what he was looking for that day “in terms of ‘idol.’” Lopez proceeded to argue that Connick Jr. didn’t give him a chance to sing a second song. Valentinetti quipped back saying, “How about country?” which prompted Lopez and Lambert to burst into laugher. He then went on to get two votes from Jennifer Lopez and former finalist Adam Lambert, good enough to get him a ticket to Hollywood. “I didn’t cry, but my dad did. He picked up Ryan Seacrest and threw him up in the air; almost broke him in half,” he said. “I was overwhelmed. I was one just shy of a hundred contestants out of thousands [that made it to Hollywood], singing the music that I love and just by being myself. That alone was just a high,” Sal explained. In the weeks leading up to Hollywood, “American Idol” sent a camera crew to go to Sal’s house and follow him around to let America know what kind of young man he was and where he grew up as a kid. “I just figured, I’m going to talk to the camera like I talk to a friend,” he said, “I’m going to try to make America my friend.” It was shortly after this that Sal realized his true love and passion for being on TV and performing for people. That was when he decided to become a part of St. John’s student-run radio station WSJU. He was given his very own talk show called, “The Men’s Room.” The show plays once a week and is heading into its seventh episode. He works closely with his co-hosts Ryan Mayer, Gabe Pabón and “Prospect” Carsinio. Together the three have helped the show “become the most popular show at the station,” according to Sal.

For Sal, all of this boils down to one drive: his family. “It’s all about family,” he said. When his Uncle Joe suggested “American Idol” to Sal, he mentioned Sal’s cousin, Stefania. “She has severe autism,” Sal explained. “We’re the same age, only about a month apart. She will probably never be able to do something like this and the fact that I have the opportunity to is reason enough.” It’s not only his cousin that he is doing this for, but his Uncle Joe too. Sal looked up to him like a father. “He’s the one who got me out of my shell when I was younger,” Sal said. Unfortunately, Sal’s Uncle Joe became very ill right before Thanksgiving of last year; about a week later, he passed away. Although gone, Sal made sure that a man with such a profound impact on his life would never be forgetten. “The personality aspect of it, probably the most important part of my existence on the show; that was culminated from [Uncle Joe],” Sal said. “I modeled his personality. So moving forward, they really want to use my personality even more than my voice; so that I really owe to him.” Sal then knew that he would be competing on “American Idol” for his family, to make them proud of him. “My inspiration to try out was my family. It was that we have someone who can’t and to just be able to represent my family is so special.” Sal will be continuing his journey through Hollywood this week for the solo rounds, which will be aired on Fox, Wednesday and Thursday at 8 p.m. After that comes Hollywood Week, where the remaining contestants vie for the final 24 spots in the competition. The singing competition decided to shake things up this year, though. They have already revealed who the final 24 contestants are, sort of. Since Dec. 1st fans of the show can visit YouTube and watch a clip where the final contestants are shown, but the only clues fans get are that of each contestant’s silhouette and perhaps a clip of their voice. Is Valentinetti’s silhouette included in that clip? Fans of his voice and charm will just have to speculate for now until his fate on the show is made certain. However, Sal wants to make it clear to, “stay tuned because regardless what happens on Idol, it won’t be the last time you’ll be hearing me.”



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Lacrosse falls short in opener versus Rutgers REZA MORENO Staff Writer

On Saturday, Feb. 7, St. John’s lacrosse team kicked off their first match of the season against Rutgers on the DaSilva Memorial Field. The weather was a harsh 30 degrees, but that didn’t stop spectators from watching one of the nonconference rivalry games of the season. Although the team didn’t quite plan for a loss, 10-8, the match itself was intense as the teams were neck-to-neck the whole time. Some of the starters were junior Eric DeJohn, freshman Jason DeBenedicts, senior Mark DiFrangia, sophomore Jack McClellan, senior Chris Fisher Jr. and sophomore Joseph Danaher. After losing a few seniors last year like Kieran McArdle, who was drafted in Major League Lacrosse by Florida Launch Lacrosse and named Rookie of the Year while at SJU, this year’s lacrosse team is exceptionally new and young with a lot of potential. Head coach Jason Miller feels really good about the younger players because they come to work everyday and

play hard. Coach Miller said, “I am encouraged by today, but disappointed that we lost. This is a really good Rutgers team.” After the Scarlet Knights scored their first point in the first 30 seconds of the game which was the notion that led to SJU’s defense to really hold strong. Senior Mark DiFrangia was great at defending, blocking most of the shots that Rutgers tried to score. It wasn’t until Rutgers had three points ahead that junior Eric DeJohn made a beautiful score. Rutgers had an aggressive defense and the Red Storm had started to catch up as senior Stefan Diachenko scored 2-3. Just minutes later the teams were tied and St. John’s did all they could to not let the ball on their side of the field as the offense stood strong. Right at halftime, Rutgers scored again as the score was 3-4 until freshman Jason DeBenedictis tied 4-4. By the third period, Red Storm was ahead by two points 7-5, but the Scarlet Knights caught up. The game was really tight and Rutgers received a penalty towards the last minute of the fourth period. Some goals that coach Miller wants are “…to be better everyday. We were

better this week than we were a week ago.” He sees a lot of improvement, which will really help the team as they move forward this season. He believes the team will be ready for the Stony

Brook team that is coming soon for the big Long Island rivalry. So don’t miss St. John’s lacrosse team on Valentine’s Day at 1 p.m. on the DaSilva Memorial Field against Stony Brook.


Junior Eric DeJohn trying to get by Rutgers defenders during their home opener.

DiFrangia has eyes on Big East crown Young Johnnies will be looking to senior captain to set tone CARMINE CARCIERI Staff Writer

With a young, upcoming roster, the St. John’s lacrosse team looks to their leaders to provide a spark and one of their captains, Mark DiFrangia, has been a special player for this talented team. DiFrangia first started playing lacrosse in the second grade and that’s when the fast-paced excitement of the game started to hit him. He soon became a passionate player who wanted to focus on improving his skills. “It was between baseball or lacrosse,” DiFrangia said. “I ended up picking lax because it was more fun and exciting. Plus I didn’t really like baseball.” He went on to attend LaSalle for high school where the lacrosse star was lettered in three seasons. He served as team captain, earned one honorable mention for All-State and also won back-to-back state titles. The defenseman, who was considering Notre Dame, Lafayette and Sacred Heart during his recruiting process, has really enjoyed his terrific career at St. John’s so far. “Everyone is passionate about the game here at St. John’s,” DiFrangia said. “The best thing about it is the team aspect. Every time we put the uniform on

and the hard hats on, it’s time to go to work. Just to go out and play with 35 or 36 of your closest friends, it’s just an honor.” One of the other aspects that has stood out at St. John’s has been the presence of coach Jason Miller. “He’s a great coach,” the senior said. “He puts you in a position to win and he has done a great job particularly this year with all the young guys on the team. We have developed a great relationship, we get along really well and it’s been a pleasure to play for him.” The Fort Washington, Pa. native started every game last season as a junior and in the process he was named to All-Big East Second Team and the Big East All-Academic Team. He was also named to the Big East All-Academic team during his freshman season which shows how committed he is to being a student-athlete. Despite all the wonderful awards, the 5’9” defender has always been about the team and the guys around him. One goal that has always stood out is the chance to have the ultimate team success and to win the Big East Tournament. “Making it to the Big East championship is always the expectation,” DiFrangia said. “I want to go out and have fun and live it up this last season. I want to be an excellent team player and be an excellent captain for these guys.” This will be DiFrangia’s final season at St. John’s but his four years of memories and opportunities will be something he never forgets.


Senior Mark DiFrangia combating the Rutgers attack in the home opener on Feb. 7.

Red Storm go 3-1 in North Carolina to open 2015 ALLAN GOMEZ Staff Writer

The St. John’s softball team opened their season at the Campbell Hampton Inn Invitational on Friday with a double header against Youngstown State, which included a walk off victory. The Red Storm finished the Campbell Hampton Inn Invitational going 3-1 over the weekend. The Red Storm concluded with Towson on Saturday and Maryland Eastern Shore on Sunday. The Red Storm defeated Youngstown State (2-2) 4-2 in their season opener. After trailing 1-0 after the first inning, the Red Storm answered back in the second and third innings, scoring two runs in each frame. Junior first baseman Carly Williams hit a two-run homerun in the second inning to give the Johnnies the 2-1 lead. It was the first career homerun for Williams at St. John’s. Outfielder Yvonne Rericha laid down a two-run RBI base-hit bunt as the team entered the third inning to make the score 4-1. Junior pitcher Tori Free, (1-0), had a pitching line of 5 IP, 2 ER, 9 K’s in the victory and sophomore pitcher Grace Kramer picked up her first career save tossing two innings of hitless relief.

In game two, trailing 7-3 to Presbyterian and down to their last three outs, it looked all but over for the Red Storm. Thanks to a five-run seventh inning, freshman infielder Hannah Anderson was able to cap off a Red Storm rally with a walk-off RBI single into left field for an 8-7 over Presbyterian (2-1). “At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what the score is in the first or fifth inning, it matters what the score is at the end of the day,” head coach Amy Kvilhaug said. “The biggest thing about this win is that we overcame adversity and that we came in and did what we needed to do.” Freshman pitcher McKenzie Murray (1-0) picked up the win, after pitching 1.2 innings of hitless relief, allowing just one run. After a quick start in game three, the Red Storm dropped to Towson, (3-0) 7-4. The score was 4-1 for the Red Storm after two innings but Towson scored six straight runs and left no room for miracles for St. John’s. Senior pitcher Francesca Carrullo (01) took the loss after 4.2 innings of work, allowing six earned runs on seven hits. The Red Storm capped off the Campbell Hampton Inn Invitational with a victory over the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (0-3) 7-2. Freshman pitcher McKenzie Murray (2-0) picked up the win—the second victory of the season after throwing a complete game—allowing only one earned run on four hits while striking out three.

The Red Storm finished with 13 hits, giving the squad a combined 39 hits over the last four games after a season-high 14 hits in its loss to Towson on Saturday afternoon. The freshmen trio of outfielder Lauren Zick, catcher Savannah Warren and Anderson combined for six of the team’s 13 hits, going a combined 6-for-7

On Friday, freshman Izzi Batt-Doyle placed second in the one-mile, broke an exceptional record in the 3,000 meters, and on top of that helped St. John’s come in third place for the 4x800-meter relay. When it comes to the relays with senior Veronica Thompson, junior Stephanie Van Pelt and freshmen Jasmine Burkett and Izzi BattDoyle, there will be no doubt that St. John’s will succeed. Along with these four women, Pariis Garcia, a junior, and Marlow Schulz, a freshman, were both crowned a title after they captured major attention in the 4x400-meter relay. There are a lot of exceptional new runners who are each ready to make a title for themselves this season, like Maya Stephens who placed second in the 60-meter dash final. With Jim Hurt as head coach, these ladies will do excellent again this coming weekend at the St. Valentine’s Invitational at Boston University and the 108th Millrose Games at the Armory.



with three RBI’s on the day. The Red Storm will return to action next weekend as it travels to Tampa, Fla., to compete in the 2015 USF President’s Day Weekend Tournament from Feb. 1315 against Fordham, USF, Florida Gulf Coast, Detroit and No. 13/14 Tennessee.


Senior Erin Burner went 7-for-11 (.538) at the Campbell Hampton Inn Invitational.

St. John’s track and field wins Johnnies rebound, down Friars Metropolitan Championship REZA MORENO Staff Writer

On Feb. 5, SJU women’s track and field started off great with three scored events at the Metropolitan Indoor Championships, leading to a tie of 33 points for the women’s team standings at Fordham University, according to the press release. The three events that the Johnnies won were weight throw, pole vault and women’s pentathlon competitions. “Our ladies were sensational from the start to finish in winning the Metropolitan Championships title,” said coach Jim Hurt. Sophomore Tiffany Perrier led another school record in pole vault and junior Ann Dagrin achieved a Met title in weight throw. This was the sixth year for a Johnnie to win the weight throw at the Metropolitan Championships. With the help from freshman Nyla Wood and senior Natasha Amazan, the Johnnies secured the team’s 24 points. In the pentathlon, freshman Julia Schwan came in third place with a five-event point total of 3,218. Senior Rediya Buhanan came in fifth place in the high jump event, while following behind was sophomore Shequell Higgs with eighth place. Friday, Feb. 6, the second day of the Metropolitan Indoor Championships, began at the New Balance Track & Field Armory. The team secured their second “Mets” title as they won the 4x800-meter-relay, distance medley and the 4x400-meter-relay against Rutgers. Rutgers came in second, followed by Fordham, Southern Connecticut State and Manhattan. The Red Storm put people on notice as they were the winning team out of the 14 women’s teams who competed. Over the two great days for women’s track, the team scored a total of 168 points.


Junior Ann Dagrin was named Big East Field Athlete of the Week.

Staff Writer

In a Sunday matinee, the St. John’s women’s basketball team faced off against Providence at Carnesecca Arena. Coming off a lackluster home loss against Creighton, the Johnnies (15-8, 4-6 Big East) looked to rebound against a strong Providence (17-7, 7-4 Big East) squad. Fast-forwarding to tip off, Jade Walker started off the scoring in just five seconds, with a lay-up in transition. St. John’s started the game off on a 5-0 run, taking control early and never looking back. Defensively, the Red Storm defense clamped down. They allowed just eight points in the first 10 minutes of play. Steals and blocks seemed to come easy for a chaotic yet disciplined Red Storm defense. Danaejah Grant caught fire from behind the arc, closing out the half with 10 straight points. As usual Grant and Handford carried the offensive load. The dynamic duo combined for 29 of the 37 first half points. The Friars committed seven early fouls, forcing St. John’s to make a difference from the free-throw line. The Johnnies did just that, converting on seven of 10 from the charity stripe. The Red Storm headed into the locker room leading, 37-23. Shooting 15 of 27 from the field, St. John’s remained focused, controlling the tempo. The key stat came from points off turnovers. St. John’s cleaned up in that category, tallying 21 points from Friar mistakes. The second half was more of the same from the Johnnies, pure domination. They outscored the Friars 33 to 26, shooting the lights out from the field. A change in the gameplan

kept Providence on their toes. It was a full court press that gave the Friars fits, never allowing them to ease into their offense. It remained smooth sailing for St. John’s as they strolled to a 70-49 win over the Friars, who never led at any point in the game. Amber Thompson anchored St. John’s bulletproof defense, while also recording a double-double. She tallied 13 rebounds, three blocks and two steals while also chipping in 10 points on the offensive end. She also took on a major workload, playing a team-high 36 minutes. Aliyyah Handford continued her scoring ways. With instant offensive at her fingertips, she also recorded a double-double, scoring a team-high 26 points. To supplement her offense, Handford also added 11 rebounds and three steals. Handford also shot 50% from the field, converting on 10 of 20 field goals. “It was a lot of fun playing today, especially coming off of Friday’s loss. Everybody was rebounding, getting after it, so that was a great thing to see,” said a smiling Handford. Aaliyah Lewis played the role of facilitator, dishing out 10 assists in the Red Storm win. Her stellar ball movement created wide-open looks for Handford and Grant, who made the Friars pay by knocking down shots in transition. St. John’s bench proved to be the x-factor. They gave the starters a much-needed rest, scoring 22 points. St. John’s also dominated the Friars in the paint, outscoring Providence 36 to 22. St. John’s hopes to continue their winning ways in Milwaukee against Marquette on Feb. 13. “I hope that this is the springboard as we move forward into our last six or seven regular-season games and get ready for the conference tournament. We want to make sure we are peaking at the right time,” said head coach Joe Tartamella.

Jordan’s career day leads St. John’s over Creighton BRANDON MAUK Assistant Sports Editor

In his two seasons at St. John’s Rysheed Jordan has not talked to the media at all, but it seems pretty obvious that his play on the court will do all the talking on his behalf. The sophomore guard had a career day on Saturday against Creighton, as he scored a new career-high 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting to lead St. John’s to a crucial 84-66 conference victory over the Blue Jays at Madison Square Garden. Jordan connected on 6-of-8 shots from beyond the three-point line. “Rysheed is returning to the form— similar to this time last year,” St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin said. “He is gradually regaining his stride and rhythm. Overall, his comfort level and maturity is evident. He has navigated an emotional minefield as best he can given the challenges he has faced.” It seems as Jordan goes, so does St. John’s. In every win he has played in he’s averaged 15 points per game on

49.7% shooting, 3.3 assists per game and just 2.8 turnovers per game. In every loss he’s played in, his play has dropped off to 12.4 PPG on 35.4% shooting and just 2.0 assists per compared to 3.7 turnovers per. The Red Storm (15-8, 4-6) held Creighton (11-14, 2-10) scoreless for the first four minutes of the game and without a basket until almost six minutes in. They connected on 11-of-19 shots from beyond the arc and held Creighton to 35.7% shooting. The Johnnies jumped out to a 15-2 lead and never looked back. “We had a great talk before the game. Coach got us ready,” senior guard D’Angelo Harrison said. “We knew what Creighton was going to do. We were ready to play and we had to win this game. Now we flush it and get ready for the next one.” Harrison continued to make his case for Big East player of the year as he scored 21 points on just eight field goal attempts and collected 10 rebounds and four assists. He was honored before the game after he scored his 2000th career point against Butler last Tuesday. Junior center Chris Obekpa was benched for the first half as a result of his

ejection for a flagrant-two foul against Butler and played less than a minute in the second half. This allowed Lavin a rare opportunity to stretch out his bench. “It’s just a different look,” Lavin said. “We need Chris because he anchors our defense. He gives us a presence in the lane that is important to our objectives and the success that we hope to have as a team.” Junior guard Felix Balamou earned the start over Obekpa and freshman forward Amar Alibegovic also got more playing time. Both rose to the occasion, as Alibegovic scored seven points in just 15 minutes and Balamou scored five points and played a terrific defensive game. After avenging an earlier loss to Creighton St. John’s now has a chance to avenge another prior loss to DePaul on Wednesday. The Red Storm will play four of their next six games at home. The question is, can they salvage their conference record after a rough start like they did last year? “We just worry about one game at a time,” Harrison said. “We just want to keep winning games. Now we just have to worry about the next one against DePaul.”


Rysheed Jordam had a career high 25 points against the Bluejays.

S J U ’s b i g g e s t f a n s : R e d Z o n e STEPHEN ZITOLO Sports Editor

St. John’s has always had a student section, but about 10 years ago they changed their name from the ‘Stormfront’ to RedZone. Love for St. John’s athletics is embodied in the official student section of St. John’s and no matter what St. John’s game or match you go to, you will probably hear, see and feel the love the members of RedZone have for their beloved Red Storm. No matter what weekend of the semester, either fall or spring, the three co-chairmen of RedZone, junior Ridge McKnight, sophomore Mark Antonik and junior Luke DaMommio are always busy trying to gather RedZone members to will the Red Storm to victory. “The best game days start off with a

pre-game event,” Antonik said. “Whether it’s a barbeque, burrito bar or a Johnny’s Club, this is where the excitement starts to build while students eat and socialize. Then there’s a giveaway, transforming a group of students into a single student section united by the color red. The cheers begin as Johnnies begin to show up on the turf or the hardwood and continue until the final seconds of the game. Win or lose, RedZone helps make each game a memorable experience.” One thing RedZone makes extremely easy for students, is joinimg their ranks. It’s as simple as showing up and cheering as hard as you possibly can for St. John’s athletic squads. In fact, that is how McKnight himself got involved in the organization he now co-chairs. “I would say to students who are looking to get involved [to] simply come out to the games. It sounds pretty simple

because it is just that simpl[e]. Before SJU I never watched soccer, but freshman year I started to go to the games just for something to do and now three years later, I am the [co-]chair of RedZone.” RedZone’s love for the Johnnies runs deep. The love runs so deep that they will take road trips as often as they can; the bigger the game, the farther they will travel. “There was a RedZone on the road trip to Washington, D.C.,” Antonik said. “With two buses full of people, we drove to D.C. to cheer on our men’s soccer team. After out-cheering the home fans, we explored our nation’s capital. At one point we gathered in a large circle and chanted ‘We Are St. John’s.’ The entire trip was a great experience and truly showed how much school spirit RedZone has.” While many college teams have stu-

dent sections dedicated to cheering on the schools’ teams, for example, Duke’s Cameron Crazies, RedZone has always had its own special uniqueness to it. “We have a few things I haven’t seen at other schools, like our turning our backs on the opponents and yelling ‘SUCKS!’ when they come out. Mostly, our chants are easy to join in on,” DaMommio said. RedZone is always good for some good signs as well, whether it be most recently from Madison Square where they came up with a sign that read, “Coach K can’t parallel park,” to Lavinwood signs, and gigantic headshots of St. John’s players old and new (Chris Mullin and D’Angelo Harrison, for example). St. John’s athletics can never get too much support, so go out and join New York’s Teams’ student section and help will the Red Storm to victory.


RedZone members cheer and hold up signs, like the head of former SJU basketball legend Chris Mullin (r.) and current star Jamal Branch, during the Duke game at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 25.




BRANDON MAUK Assistant Sports Editor

the poor sportsmanship that I demonstrated in our game earlier this week,” said Obekpa in a press release. “In the heat of competition I lost my compoJunior Chris Obekpa has lost his role as St. John’s starting cen- sure and my actions are regrettable. I let my team down, and ter following an ejection for a flagrant-two foul against Butler’s will learn from this incident to better represent St. John’s movTyler Wideman last Tuesday. ing forward.” “The privilege of starting at Obekpa was benched for the St. John’s has been taken away first half on Saturday, and played from Chris,” coach Steve Lavin briefly in the second half with said Saturday following the the game already a blowout. JuRed Storm’s 84-66 victory over nior guard Felix Balamou started Creighton. “At some point, he’ll have the opportunity to try and in his place and played 24 minearn that back the old fashioned utes. “We had a good talk yesterway. But as of now, for an indefinite period of time, he won’t be day and he’s taken the steps in terms of reaching out to the starting for our team.” player at Butler apart of the in“I spoke with Tyler last night cident,” Lavin said. “It’s all about and sincerely apologized for

poise and composure and good sportsmanship, but we also want him to be fiery and competitive and help us win.” Obekpa has been one of the team’s most important players this season. The junior leads the team with 7.3 rebounds per game and ranks third in the nation in shot blocking at 3.2 per game. His offensive game has taken a huge step forward this season, as he’s averaging 6.5 points per game on 46.7% shooting. “We need Chris because he anchors our defense,” Lavin said Saturday. “He gives us a presence in the lane that is important to our objectives and the success that we hope to have as a team.”

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