December 2, 2015

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To r c h

The independent student newspaper of St. John’s University

VOL 93: 13 December 2, 2015

The Winter Carnival’s Cost: Inside the event’s expenses AMANDA UMPIERREZ News Editor

The 25th annual Winter Carnival aims to celebrate holiday spirit and spread cheer and joy throughout campus. With numerous horse carriages emulating a ‘Central Park Christmas’ to an ice skating rink for students to enjoy, the week long event currently taking place on campus racks up not only school spirit, but prices too. According to Student Government Incorporated (SGI) Treasurer Dominick Salvatori, the total cost of the Winter Carnival was $63,893. The money, budgeted by SGI, includes all Winter Carnival events, with a significant sum going to the Dec. 7 New York’s Christmas Spectacular firework show on the Great Lawn, the Red and White Community Dessert Party and Santa’s Workshop, according to Director of Campus Life Jodi Cox. In a Nov. 29 Treasurer’s report, the Student Affairs committee, which oversees the Winter Carnival, was budgeted $63,000 for the event.

According to Cox, the committee also received donations from Alumni Relations. While the noteworthy Dec. 7 firework show was priced at $11,000, the distinctive new “Bryant Park at SJU” event charged a lower price of $6,700, according to Salvatori. Instead of students traveling to Bryant Park’s ice skating rink like they did last year, the committee brought the rink to the students. As a result, more people took advantage. “By doing ice skating on campus, we were able to triple our numbers in one day,” said Chair of the Student Affairs committee Catherine Sheehan. “We got more students to come to these events, which is what we wanted since it’s the 25th annual one.” Continued on page 3

Johnnies celebrate religious diversity at Festival of Lights


The Festival of Lights, an annual celebration of all religious holidays during the month of December, took place in D’Angelo Ballroom yesterday night at 7 p.m. Magdaline Hurtado, vice-president of the Latin American Student Organization and Jonathan Bembry, chapter

president of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. were the hosts of the event. Students from all religious backgrounds attended the event to celebrate in unity. It is often described as a month of magic. “It makes me feel [that] the Christmas spirit is uniting all of us,” the Italian and Spanish student, Isabel-Cristina Mendez, said. “Seeing people from so many different religions together to celebrate… it’s


amazing,” the young Spanish tutor added. Among the religious holidays celebrated were Kwanzaa, Diwali, Rohatsu, Eid, Native American Winter Solstice, Christmas, Three Kings Day and Chanukah. The event started with an opening prayer by a member of the Catholic Students Association, followed by the Voices of Victory, and the Catholic Student Community. Campus organizations such as Shruti,


Women’s basketball beats No. 18/17 USF

“Creed” is the knockout hit movie of the year

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Haraya, RAAZ, the Jewish Student Association, Coptic Society, LASO, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and Sinai’s Radiant Liturgical Dance Ministry participated in the event as well. To cap the night, a mixed chorus along with a closing prayer took place at the end of the event. Continued on page 4

Opinion Governors refusing refugees have the right idea in the aftermath of Paris attacks Page 11

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To r c h

Photo of the Week:

Managing Board XCIII

Jenny Chen & Talia Tirella, Editors-in-Chief Kyle Fitzgerald, Managing Editor Cheyanne Gonzales, General Manager

Amanda Umpierrez News Editor

Livia Paula Features Editor

Jasmine Imani Davis Entertainment Editor

Suzanne Ciechalski Opinion Editor Gina Palermo Design Editor

Stephen Zitolo Sports Editor Steven Verdile Asst. Design Editor

Sarah Guayante Chief Copy Editor Brandon Mauk Digital Sports Manager

Diana Colapietro Photo Editor

Sam Dieudonne Business Manager

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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:

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The Torch is typically published on Wednesdays and publishes approximately 20 issues throughout the academic year. Copies are distributed for free on campus and through mail subscriptions.


St. John’s, in full holiday spirit, adorns the trees across campus with Christmas lights.

Happy Holidays from the Torch! PHOTO/FLICKR COMMONS




Winter Carnival: Nov. 30 - Dec. 7 Event celebrates 25th anniversary with new additions continued from page 1

While last year’s Bryant Park event brought out 100 students, the two-day ice skating rinks drew more than 300 students on Nov. 30, the first day it was open, according to Sheehan. “We took the skeletons of what we did last year, and we just tried to make them better and make them feel more welcome to the events,” she said. The event also featured free hot chocolate, coffee and cookies. Cox noted how the committee looked to distinguish the event from year’s past, in order to celebrate its 25th anniversary. “The Committee predominantly wanted to do new events, especially with the 25th anniversary,” she said. SGI President Ridge McKnight concurred with the same message. “With the 25th annual, we wanted to do [it] bigger.” Other factors within the $63,893 included ‘miscellaneous costs,’ such as decorations, candy and sound, according to Salvatori. In the Santa’s Workshop event, scheduled for Dec. 7, students will have the opportunity to decorate “Christmas stocking and hats, design cookies and enjoy holiday sweets,” as said on its event page on the St.

We took he skeletons of what we did last year, and we just tried to make them better and make them feel more welcome to the events.

John’s website. The Red and White Community Dessert Party will include baked goods and desserts for the St. John’s community, and also distribute a commemorative gift that honors the 25th anniversary. Other events comprising the Winter Carnival include Tuesday’s Festival of Lights, and a Winter Carnival mass on Dec. 7, among others. Throughout the week long event, students can also find carolers and toy soldiers cheering throughout campus with holiday songs, in hopes to fully embrace the winter festivities. Added Cox, “It really reflects the holiday season for students.”



A Christmas tree in the D’Angelo Center’s livingroom (2013).


St. John’s students enjoy ice skating around the rink located in Marillac Terrace A on Dec. 1.

Students and toy men smile and pose for a picture during the 2013 Winter Carnival event.



“Hover boards” deemed illegal in New York City Those caught breaking law face up to $200 in fines

Features Editor If you’re thinking about getting the popular futuristic ‘hover boards’ as a Christmas gift to someone residing in New York, you might want to start considering a new option. The NYPD 26th Precinct warned about the law on Twitter, but then deleted the tweet since it stated that it was illegal per Code 19-176.2. The code reads, “The term ‘motorized scooter’ shall mean any wheeled device that has handlebars” and it also said “the term ‘motorized scooter’ shall not include electric powered devices not capable of exceeding fifteen miles per hour.” Since hover boards are a self-balancing device that does not exceed the limit, it could be said they are not illegal under that code. But that’s not the case. According to the New York Daily news, an NYPD spokesperson said that

hover boards are illegal due to the fact they can’t be registered in the Department of Motor Vehicles and this appears on sections 401-a and 401-b under New York State Law’s Article 14. A fine up to $200 might be the consequence for those who get caught surfing the device on streets, parking lots or sidewalks. At St. John’s one may find the device floating around campus. Senior Amanda Torres said she does not agree with calling the device illegal since many people spent so much money on obtaining it. However, she believes that regulations on where people may use the device should be enforced, especially in schools. “If there’s a packed hallway full of people, don’t be rude and try to take more space by using the hoverboard,” she said. “People just have to be smart and cautious of when and where to use them.” Junior Lloyd Howell owns one of these devices. According to him, when he

first got a hoverboard he was “intrigued by the idea of suddenly cruising everywhere instead of walking.”


To my knowledge, most individuals I know have them simply for fun and again to be slightly obnoxious in a comical sense in getting the attentions of others.

“The fact that I can ride around to and from places all of the sudden was mainly what attracted me to this device as well as it being a source of attention in a slightly obnoxious, yet fun way,” Howell said. He said he never used the device on campus. “I have tried to commute to and from my dorm [Henley] but found it to be rather a problem,” he said. “I have rode around from DaSilva field while I

worked a few times and inside Taffner, but otherwise my dorm room is where I use it the most.” Regarding the new law, Howell does not see how hover boards pose a real threat to other civilians. “Honestly I think it’s ridiculous that there’s a fine now that the hover boards are ‘banned’ in New York,” he said. “To my knowledge, most individuals I know have them simply for fun and again to be slightly obnoxious in a comical sense in getting the attentions of others.” According to Howell, he never really interacted with anyone that strongly dislikes the device. However, he always gets questioned on his reasons in getting a hover board. “People usually ask me, ‘What exactly is that thing you’re cruising around on’ or ‘How much did that cost’ or ‘How fast does it go,’” he said. “I think people just find it ridiculous and foolish that people are either too lazy or that pressed for attention to invest in such a device.”

Religious diversity shines at Festival of Lights continued from page 1

“I think that this event represents very well the diversity of the university,” Rob Pope, B.A. Marketing, said.

Seeing people from so many different religions together to celebrate… it’s amazing.

“I appreciate that they care about every culture represented in the St. John’s community,” Pope said a few minutes after he finished playing the saxophone during the festival.

The Festival of Lights is one of many events that are held annually during the Winter Festival. St. John’s Winter Carnival was first held in 1990. The festival first started to give students the opportunity to relax and enjoy part of the holiday season before stressing over finals and it has been a tradition ever since. This year’s carnival began on Nov. 30 with an ice skating rink located at Gate 4 and will end next Monday, Dec. 7, with the Red and White Community Dessert Party. “I’ve been attending the Festival of Lights and the Christmas Spectacular since my freshman year,” said the criminal justice major, Thalia Toro. “I love how you can feel the holiday spirit around on campus.”


Festival of Lights attendees watch a performance during the event (above). St. John’s students Jonathan Bembry and Magdaline Hurtado hosted the Dec.1 annual celebration (right).

orch briefs

Politicians respond to Colorado Planned Parenthood shooting Talia Tirella Editor-In-Chief A man opened fire in a Colorado Planned Parenthood center last Friday, killing three and wounding nine. The suspect, Robert Lewis Dear, surrendered more than five hours after entering the center, according to the New York Times. During those five hours, police exchanged gunfire with Dear until they were able to convince him to stop shooting. Tactical officers stood guard throughout the shopping center where the Planned Parenthood was located. Shoppers and employees were ordered to stay away from windows and lock their business doors for the duration of the gunfire. Dear’s motive is still unknown. Police said that Dear brought several suspicious items to the clinic. Investigators were trying to determine whether the items were

explosives, according to the Times. The shooting prompted sympathetic reactions from both sides of the political spectrum. President Obama again called for action on guns, according to NPR. Obama stated that Congress, as well as local governments, should act in order to prevent “people who are deranged or have violent tendencies" from getting weapons, such as guns, that can inflict mass casualties. House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican, condemned the shooting as well. Ryan called the shootings “appalling” and offered condolences to families of the victims, according to NPR. Ryan pointed to mental health as an underlying issue and cause of the shooting. "Clearly we can do more,” Ryan said. “And one common denominator in these tragedies is mental illness. That's why we need to look at fixing our nation's mental illness health system."



Bill passed to raise barriers against Syrian refugees Suzanne ciechalski Opinion Editor Following a string of global attacks and threats linked to ISIS in recent weeks, tensions regarding the influx of Syrian refugees to the United States have increased significantly. Governors in more than half of the states in the U.S. have vowed to not allow refugees to settle in their states after a fake Syrian passport was used by an ISIS terrorist responsible for part of the attacks in Paris.


America has always been the ‘land of the free,’ but why are there so many terms and conditions involved?

Voicing frustrations with the states’ decisions, sophomore Kaitlyn Routh said, “Looking at it from a humanitarian perspective, I think it’s a very selfish decision lacking any solidarity or empathy whatsoever.” The fake passport found in Paris has led many to believe that more terrorists can disguise themselves as innocent refugees

and wreak havoc within the U.S. if more stringent barriers are not put in place. In a written statement, Maine Gov. Paul LePage said, “To bring Syrian refugees into our country without knowing who they are is to invite an attack on American soil just like the one we saw in Paris last week and in New York City on 9/11,” according to the Portland Press Herald. Following the stance taken by governors in a 289-137 vote, the House passed a bill that would raise more barriers on refugees entering into the U.S. Though the future of the bill is uncertain, if passed it would suspend the program allowing Syrian and Iraqi refugees into the country until it can be proven that they don’t pose a threat. While many see this as a victory, not all Americans are pleased about these decisions, arguing that the nation is showing a lack of empathy. Children account for half of the four million Syrians being forced to seek refuge abroad, according to UNICEF. Routh said, “It is statistically impossible and xenophobic to believe that every refugee is a terrorist in disguise. America has always been the ‘land of the free,’ but why are there so many terms and conditions involved?” While a solution still remains to be found, pressure continues to be put on both state governments and the federal government to provide legislation that benefits all.

Chipotle responds to nationwide E. coli outbreak PHILTRINA FARQUHARSON Staff Writer Colorado-based Chipotle Mexican Grill is known for it’s fresh and natural ingredients, but lately consumers have been questioning their food selections after several incidents of E. Coli have occurred. According to the New York Times, Chipotle has shut down 43 of its Northwest restaurants after health officials discovered multiple links connecting the illness to the chain restaurant. Of the 45 people who reported illness in the United States, 43 had eaten Chipotle within a week before feeling sick, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While cases of E. Coli usually resolve themselves within a week, the infection can cause vomiting, stomach cramps and bloody diarrhea. Uncooked meat and raw dairy, fruits and vegetables are common sources of the infection. One person in New York has since

been affected by this outbreak. 16 people have been hospitalized since the start of the outbreak, but no deaths have been reported. After finding out that Chipotle had yet another outbreak, junior Solomon Scott Brown believes the chain should take responsibility in maintaining and serving food. “Sometimes it’s hard to remember Chipotle is still a fast food restaurant at the end of the day,” he said. “It is also important to consider the type of food Chipotle serves; important procedures should be taken when serving fast food.” Since this epidemic, Chipotle shares have dropped. This is the first time sales have declined since the burrito chain was separated from the McDonald’s Corporation in 2006. The company’s shares plunged 12 percent, making this Chipotle’s worst drop in three years. These E. coli cases are not the first of Chipotle restaurant outbreaks. The chain suffered a Salmonella outbreak in Minne-


Chipotle offers many dishes, from steak and chicken burritos to salads, like in the above picture.

sota in early September. However, unlike the E. Coli outbreak, Chipotle was able to maintain and control the disease within state lines. “We have offered our full cooperation to assist in their investigation, and replaced our entire supply of the suspect ingredient in Minnesota to ensure that it continues to be safe to eat in our restaurants," Chipotle Communications Director Chris Arnold

said in a statement back in September. In a statement released on their website, Chipotle announced the steps it has taken to prevent the infection from spreading further. Precautions include intense cleaning at sites of infection, replacing ingredients at these sites, changing food preparing procedures and testing key ingredients in their food, among others.

Talia's Infififfiinite Playlist TALIA TIRELLA Co Editor-in-Chief

1. Everybody Wants To Rule The World - Tears For Fears (1985) Right off the bat, I’m giving away a little piece of my soul. I could listen to this song every day for the rest of my life and never get tired of it. Sure, some days I go without listening to it, but that just makes the next listen that much better. This song calms me down when I’m anxious (which is often), and the lyrics always encourage me when I’m down. After all, the song starts with “Welcome to your life/ There’s no turning back” reminding me that I have a life to be thankful for and that good will always come after the bad.

2. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic - The Police (1981) You can’t go wrong with anything by The Police, especially this song. This song features a great beginning that slowly builds, some great lyrics and culminates with an explosive refrain. I love the contrast between the verses, which are quiet, and the refrain, which seems to explode in celebration. Sting is unlucky in love, but he makes it sound so great. I especially love the lyrics “I resolve to call her up/ A thousand times a day/ Ask her if she’ll marry me/ In some old fashioned way.”

3. I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do) - Hall & Oates (1981) This song starts out in such a mellow way, and stays pretty mellow. It gradually builds as it transitions into the first verse, then the refrain. It’s so simple, yet such a great song. I love the classic layered singing that Hall & Oates employs, especially because the voices are amplified over the simple background music. The minimal amount of horns is great in this.It provides a simple bridge and adds some variety at the end of the song. The layers of singing and instruments come together for a great ending.

4. What Christmas Means To Me - Stevie Wonder (1967) You wanna know what Christmas means to me? This song. It took some serious self-restraint and a need to seem socially acceptable for me to only include one Christmas song on this playlist, so it had to be this one. I am obsessed with Christmas music, but this song definitely gets me the most excited. This starts every Christmas playlist I have (yes, there are multiple). I love the list of things Stevie Wonder provides as proof that Christmas is the best holiday: candles burning low, lots of mistletoe, lots of snow and ice, everywhere we go; choirs singing carols right outside my door. I might have recited that from memory.

5. Elevation - U2 (2000) U2 is one of my favorite bands, so it was hard to pick only one of their songs. “Elevation” never fails to put me in a good mood. I especially like to listen to it during my morning commute or while walking to class. This is another song with a great build-up and some great lyrics. Bono sings to my soul and it really makes me feel motivated and ready to go. Give this song a listen and don’t be surprised when you suddenly feel like you can conquer the world.

6. (Love Is) The Tender Trap - Frank Sinatra (1955) I love Frank Sinatra probably more than the average young adult, and if I could I would have a playlist solely dedicated to his music. “The Tender Trap” is such a great song about falling in love, and touches on some stereotypes that people like to use when talking about being in a relationship. All aspects, both of the love interest’s as well as the couple’s physical surroundings, are part of “The Tender Trap.” I love the clever lyrics, the horns and the general feeling overall of being in love that Sinatra croons about.

7. Modern Love - David Bowie (1983) David Bowie is an eccentric choice for this playlist, but his music never fails to capture my attention and change my mood. This song is a great pick for a workout because of its upbeat rhythm and mood. I love the guitar at the beginning, and I love the beat throughout the song. Of course, I love the horns too. The repetitive lyrics are fun to sing along to, and give the refrain some variety. This is the type of love song that only David Bowie could come up with.

8. Get Right - Jennifer Lopez (2005) A lot of people love to hate Jennifer Lopez and while I hear their criticism, I still can’t help being a fan of her musical career. This song is another great song to listen to while exercising (especially if it involves a dance party) and it gets me pumped up for whatever I’m about to tackle. I love how the song starts with horns and the beat comes in, and Lopez sings her heart out about having a good time. The refrain feels like a personal calling from Lopez to have a good time and let your worries go.

9. Just A Girl - No Doubt (1995) Gwen Stefani is already one of my favorite solo artists, but her time with No Doubt brought about some of her greatest material and musical moments. This song is a shining example. Stefani asserts her femininity in a sarcastic yet powerful way with help from her band members’ awesome guitar and drum playing. The lyrics are great, and Stefani plays with the idea of gender roles in such a clever way. No Doubt has some powerful hits, and this is one of them. Girls everywhere should give this song a good listen; even guys should too.

10. Semi-Charmed Life - Third Eye Blind (1997) Again, it was so tough for me to pick one Third Eye Blind song. This song has a crazy and dark meaning (drug addiction), but, ironically, it emanates a positive feeling. It’s fun and easy to sing along to the refrain, and the guitar is great. I love how the bridge is calm for just a second before the guitar comes back to lead the song out with a chorus of “Goodbye” and then the refrain. It’s another fun song to listen to, especially when you need a quick reminder of summer and being at the beach.

Entertainment 7

The Badu Black Friday Special Erykah Badu releases“But You Caint Use My Phone”



“But You Caint Use My Phone” mixtape cover.

Over the years, Erykah Badu has been featured on songs by plenty of artists, such as Janelle Monae and, even though she hasn’t released a studio album since 2010. But, as of Friday, Nov. 27, the wait is over. “But You Caint Use My Phone” is Erykah Badu’s early Christmas gift to us all that uses a number of different elements

in an almost experimental way to compose something that is unique. The mixtape opens with a throwback to “Tyrone,” which is arguably one of Badu’s most famous songs. It was so popular that, a few years later, comedian Tracy Morgan parodied it. “Tyrone” doesn’t play in its entirety. However, the well-known ending verse, “But you caint use my phone” played throughout along with the song’s melody. The song “Dial’Afreaq” also has a mention of calling Tyrone and making sure the phone works in case he needs to be called. Although there were a few synthesized parts that weren’t there before, it could be seen as a bridge between the past and present. Another song, “Cell U Lar Device,” a remix of Drake’s hit “Hotline Bling,” can also be found on the mixtape. Part of the over seven-minute track features a hotline or, in this case, Badu’s very own list of options for numbers one through eight. The singer tweeted that the number to her hotline could be found in the artwork for the songs “Cell U Lar Device,” “Phone Down” and the mixtape itself. While the official number has yet to be revealed,

a number of people have tried different combinations and come up with different results, including a real estate firm. Each song on the mixtape follows the theme of phones in some way as well as making some kind of reference to previous works, such as “U Don’t Have to Call,” which is a song on R&B singer Usher’s “8701” album that was released in 2001, and “Mr. Telephone Man,” which was originally on R&B group New Edition’s self-titled album. The electronic waves and bursts over song titles and lyrics, that even our parents might know, helps make the mixtape versatile and friendly for any listener that may be around. The track “Phone Down” is a strong example of this. The lyrics talk about the culture of the present generation of people always existing with their phones in front of their faces, which keeps them from living in the moment and being present while physically with others. This electronic element could also be linked to the cell phone references, considering that a few of the songs use dial tones in the background and voices that are meant to sound like prerecorded operators. It works for the overall feel and con-

sistency of the mixtape, but it can be considered too much for those who are used to Badu’s previous albums, which come off as much more organic in comparison. Regardless of the versatile nature of the tape, some may view this combination as Badu trying to reach too far into the mainstream of music today, or may argue that the two just don’t mix. Either way, “But You Caint Use My Phone” can certainly be the mood music to your apartment’s ambiance or to vibe to with your friends.


Erykah Badu hosting the “Soul Train Awards.”

“Creed” is a knockout hit movie DAVID ROSARIO Contributing Writer

In 1976, the original “Rocky” film made audiences believe that an underdog from Philly could go the distance with the heavyweight champion of the world. Now, almost 40 years later, Sylvester Stallone returns to the most recognizable role of his career in the sensational spin-off, “Creed.” The film reunites “Fruitvale Station” star Michael B. Jordan with director Ryan Coogler as they attempt to breathe new life into a boxing franchise that most people assumed was down for the count. Jordan plays Adonis Johnson, who is the illegitimate son of Rocky’s foe-turnedfriend Apollo Creed. Adonis wholeheartedly believes that boxing is his calling in life, but hesitates to embrace his bloodline because of the expectation of greatness that accompanies the family name. Filled with determination, but lacking the proper training, Adonis travels to Philadelphia to persuade a much older Rocky Balboa (Stallone) to come out of retirement and turn him into a serious contender. Now, at a point in his life where everyone he’s ever cared about has passed on, Rocky is initially reluctant to train the son of his deceased friend. Before the grizzly

fighter agrees to take the young Creed under his wing, Adonis first has to prove that he’s a worthy fighter in his own right, and not just some pretender looking to ride the coattails of his father’s fame. Fans of these films might be hesitant to see Stallone pass the metaphorical boxing gloves over to a new generation, but the film cleverly acknowledges these concerns by allowing Rocky to echo those same doubts. As the shadow of the past looms over the Creed characters, the same can be said of “Creed” as a film. There are several recognizable staples of the “Rocky” saga, including the unforgettable theme song, training montages and triumphant strides up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The temptation to heavily lean on these nostalgic elements might have been too strong to pass up, but director Ryan Coogler didn’t fall for those traps. Coogler was dead set on making a film that could stand on its own, and he succeeded. The story utilizes Rocky, but only in a supporting role that only exists to advance the development of Adonis’ character. Even the music reinforces the point that this is Adonis’ movie through and through. Composer Ludwig Goransson gives the character his own bombastic theme music that will surely become a favorite. Just as Adonis has to learn to find the balance be-

tween honoring the memory of Apollo and becoming his own man, “Creed” respects the continuity of the films that precede it, but never comes across as if it’s trying to be “Rocky VII.” Make no mistake, Michael B. Jordan is unquestionably the star of this film. The youthful exuberance and swagger that he brings to the table is a large part of what makes it so easy for the audience to root for the character. Each time Adonis gets knocked down, both in the ring and in his personal life, the scenes land the necessary emotional punches, which is largely due to the exceptional work that Jordan put in to effectively portray the hero (his Herculean physique notwithstanding). Great actors have the ability to elevate the greatness of those around them. Michael B. Jordan proves that he is a star in the making, but Sylvester Stallone’s performance is nothing short of awe-inspiring. This is the seventh time that Stallone has played the character, and he’s never been better. There’s a tangible sense of sadness in his eyes and a weariness about him that immediately puts to rest any hope of him ever stepping back into the ring. He’s now the perfect age to play the role of the wiser mentor, and his presence hits all the right notes to lend the credibility that this film demands of him.

On the surface level, “Creed” may look like just another boxing movie trying to leech off of the success of the “Rocky” name. Upon deeper inspection, it’s clear that this isn’t just a movie about boxing, although the fight sequences are quite exciting to watch. At its core, this is a compelling and relatable story about finding the courage to acknowledge the past without being indebted to it. Fans of the older movies will appreciate the references sprinkled in throughout, but newcomers will find it easy to invest in Adonis’ quest to achieve greatness. With a spectacular cast, outstanding directing and a powerful message, “Creed” is the perfect rejuvenation of a beloved franchise and one of the very best films of the year.


“Creed” premiered everywhere on Nov. 25.

8 Features

Helping students reach their goals Ap r i l Me r e n d a h a s a s s i s t e d m a n y S J U s t u d e n t s l a n d i n t e r n s h i p s


Contributing Writer As one dug through their bag to look for a pen, April Merenda reached her hand out and asked, “You have my card, right?” Yes, that person did have her card, as every St. John’s University student should. Merenda is the Assistant Dean for External Affairs. “My job is to facilitate student placement into internships to help them garner great opportunities,” she explained. “I help students get real-life work experience now while they’re in college, versus having to wait until they graduate.” The question that Merenda asks every student that is seeking her help is “in a perfect world, where you could get whatever you wanted, where would you want to be placed?” Merenda also mentors students who wish to pursue careers in hospitality, sports management and communications. In addition to her nine years of work at St. John’s, Merenda has 30 years of work in corporate America under her belt. She also taught classes in the Hospitality Management program. “I came here to eventually teach,” she said. “But, I just developed into almost like a head-hunter here and I was good at it.” By “it”, she meant her ability to find

internships and jobs for students seeking opportunities and employment in their field of study. Seeing that her guidance and connections left students contended, Merenda opted to remain where she was. “Seeing my students so happy to get them the opportunity to intern at Madison Square Garden, for the Brooklyn Nets or the Yankees, at ABC, NBC,” Merenda said. “Just affording them that opportunity and making a difference in their lives made me want to stick with it.” Merenda has also worked for billionaire and founder of Icahn Enterprises, Carl Icahn. Icahn Enterprises is a diversified holding company that engages in many different primary businesses. While working at Icahn Enterprises Merenda was able to network and build a woman’s traveling company named Gutsy Women Travel. Merenda is a former student from St. John’s University. She was given a fouryear academic scholarship. Her passion to give back to the university without asking for much in return, in particular, is what makes unique. “Had I not gotten that scholarship, I never would have been able to go to college,” she said. Merenda emphasizes that students should join the workforce before they graduate, because students may find that

they don’t like working in the field they studied for. The ups definitely come with some downs. Merenda’s attitude changed when she stated that she hates not meeting students’ expectations. “The difficult part of it is to meet everyone’s expectations,” Merenda said. “I feel bad that some students come in and they want to be with the Yankees, or American Express or even the FBI.” She reinforces that although students must be realistic, she does not want to diminish their expectations. She works by learning about the students’ qualities before she pairs them with a certain position or company just so that the student and company could both benefit. “Finding the perfect match for someone’s personality, that’s the key,” Merenda said. Merenda lives her life with her favorite mantra, “Do what you love and you will love what you do.” Additionally, Merenda said the most important thing to do is to find a job. The first thing on her list is networking. She repeated the word three times before continuing. “The second most important thing is to find a mentor,” she said. “When you have someone that you aspire to and that you listen and you respect their opinion,

it helps guide you in the right path so you don’t waste time.” Merenda lives up to her own words as she has mentored many students during her time at St. Johns. “The third is to develop yourself as a whole person, building your character,” she said. “It’s the people that we touched, that’s going to be our mark in life.”


Merenda has been a huge help to SJU students.

The mortality of the American dream

P r o f e s s o r r e c a l l s t h e t i m e h e m o v e d t o N e w Yo r k C i t y i n t h e 8 0 s NATHALIE TIGUA DAVID ROSARIO

Staff Writer Contributing Writer Martin Dominguez-Ball is an Art professor at St. John’s University. He came to New York City in the year 1985. “My favorite childhood memory back home would be summertime. Christmas in Uruguay is in summer,” he said. “We would go to the beach all day and then come home. We’d have these big family dinners with my cousins from my mother’s side,” Dominguez-Ball said. “It was one of the few times we got have Coca -Cola cause it was super expensive. For me those family times were very interesting. I mean, I have many memories, but that’s one of them [that sticks out].” Dominguez-Ball’s family decided to move from Uruguay to New York because his country was under dictatorship and his family wanted to have a better future. “We had friends here that had come a few years prior and they made it seem like money was growing on trees,” Dominguez-Ball said. “So, my parents got talking and decided ‘you know what? I’m going to move over there’,” he said. When it came to adjusting, Dominguez-Ball experienced culture shock because he expected all of New York to look like New York City. But since he moved


Dominguez-Ball is one of many immigrants that moved to the United States in hopes of a better life.

into a residential neighborhood, that was not the case. At the time, he had seen E.T so he thought that every neighborhood would look like the movies. “[I thought] I would have my BMX bike, I would go to the store and get candy go on the yellow bus and go to school, wear my football helmet. You know, like the TV,” he said. Dominguez-Ball came from a low-income house. “I remember driving from the airport and telling the family that told us to come

here, ‘is that where you live?’ when we were passing Ridgewood, New Jersey. They said, ‘No, no, just wait.’ ‘Is that it?’ [They said] ‘No, no,’” he said. “I remember when I saw the apartments, I said to myself, ‘Please, don’t let this be where these people live.’ They made a left and were in those apartments and I was like, ‘Oh my god. What are we doing here?’ ” Dominguez-Ball said. He recalled that although he didn’t have much money back in Uruguay, they lived in a house nicer than the apartments here in New York.

“The thing is, once you move, there’s no going back because you sold all your stuff,” he said. “Once you live in a country like that which has little opportunities at that time because of the dictatorship, once you lost your job, you’re not getting another one. There’s no going back. So it was weird, it was different.” Dominguez-Ball brought up a memory he had from his early years in America. According to him, two weeks into his time in the U.S, he went to high school and lacked any proficiency in English. “Some kid got stabbed like 16 times,” he said. “I didn’t see him but we were going to school and the firemen were there, al the blood and gloves were there.” He compared the situation to what he had seen back in his home country, and how it was so “weird” to see the differences in reality and violence. For example, in Uruguay, the violence was coming from the military and the dictatorship. Here, it was between peers. “I mean, we’re going back to 1985,” he said. “And, Uruguay is very different. So, for me, all of it was culture shock. I didn’t speak English or nothing, so none of it was what I expected,” he said. When it comes to the so-called American dream, he has a very strong opinion on it. “The American dream. The American dream is dead. It passed away a long time ago,” he said.

Features 9

Study spots cheat sheet

He r e ’s a l i s t o f s o m e o f t h e b e s t p l a c e s t o h e l p y o u g e t r e a d y f o r f i n a l s SUZANNE CIECHALSKI

Opinion Editor

While final exams are one of the most hectic times in a student’s college career, we at St. John’s are lucky enough to have ample resources on campus to help relieve some stress. Whether you’re looking for a spot to curl up with your textbooks for a long night of reading or just a table to spread out notes and your laptop, SJU has it all. The D’Angelo Center (DAC) Particularly popular among students, DAC’s second and third floors provide the perfect spots to relax for a long night of studying. Plus, DAC is open 24 hours during final exam time. Both floors hold couches and cushioned chairs that are great to unwind in when you’re in for a night of reading. On the second floor, long tables serve as the perfect spot to complete a group project. The availability of computers and printing resources on this floor doesn’t hurt either. Need a boost of energy? The Starbucks located on the third floor is open for late nights during the exam period. There are also a multitude of tables and chairs spread throughout the café (great for setting up your laptop when hunkering down to write a paper or to spread notes and worksheets out). Not only does DAC provide a cozy atmosphere for days and nights of hard work, but it also holds a great amount of resources to aid students. St. Augustine Hall The library is the quintessential study spot for college students. At St. John’s we are fortunate to have a variety of resources available to us in ours. For starters, the Writing Center, locat-


Finding a quiet study place might ease the stress college students face during final exams season.

ed on the first floor, is an excellent spot to get assistance and feedback on those long final papers that keep you up until all hours of the night. If you haven’t started using the Writing Center yet, finals are the perfect time to begin. The library also holds a quiet study area for individual study as well as a group study area that can be reserved for group projects or studying with classmates. The library’s greatest and maybe its most obvious asset is its great assortment of books and reference materials/services. We are also lucky enough to have a staff of librarians with a wealth of knowledge on various subjects. You can even schedule a one-on-one appointment with a librarian to go over research. At SJU, the library is so much more than just a spot to read and study. So, be sure to take advantage of it during this hectic time.

Study lounges/Residential Success Center If you’re a resident student and don’t feel like trekking across campus to another building to study, don’t fret. While your bed is the probably the most convenient and comfortable place to study, it isn’t the only option. The lounges that you used to hangout in with friends this semester double as an excellent study spot. You may love your suitemates, but everyone knows that being surrounded by friends 24/7 isn’t conducive to proper studying. If your floor lounges are too busy, residence halls also have quiet study lounges. The Residential Success Center is also a great resource for resident students at SJU. If you’re looking for tutoring or another quiet place to get your head in the books, the RSC is the spot for you.

Sullivan Computer Lab Here at St. John’s, we know that technology is the cornerstone of modern education. That’s why the university provides us with laptops freshman year. More than ever, finals time is the best time to put that technology to use. Many documents and other resources that are necessary for studying for exams are often uploaded online by professors, whether on Blackboard or sent via email. Why not head over to Sullivan’s spacious computer lab to get to work? Not only is it a quiet space, but it also holds the laptop repair shop. Students can use the computers provided in the lab or bring their own laptops. There are also black and white and color printers readily available for student use. Classrooms Classrooms can be the perfect failsafe for when other spots on campus aren’t working for you. It may seem like an obvious idea, but many students don’t realize that classrooms can be used to study either on your own or to organize group study sessions (as long as they aren’t in use, of course). Most classrooms have computers and projectors that can be especially useful when studying with classmates. Whether it’s a PowerPoint presentation or a video to supplement a lesson, the technology is available to aid you in your studies. Classrooms are also the perfect place to get together with groups to rehearse presentations or complete group projects. It’s obvious that SJU has no shortage of comfortable spots and accessible resources to help students succeed. Make sure to take advantage of all the university has to offer in terms of academic assistance this final exam season and make it your best yet.

Treat your sweet tooth at Levain

L e v a i n ’s B a k e r y i s t h e p e r f e c t p l a c e t o g e t c ra c k i n g o n h o l i d a y t r e a t s


Staff Writer


Levain’s unique chocolate chip walnut cookie.

The holidays are the perfect time to relax with your loved ones and to celebrate health and happiness. However, it’s also become a season where we pack on those extra pounds and put on our “winter coats.” You can either refuse to face this fact and pass up that second piece of cake, or fully commit and come to terms with your pants fitting more snugly than usual. If you’re like me and are more of squeeze-into-my-jeans-from-Novemberto-January type of person, then feast away. Coming from someone who doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, there is one particular treat in New York City that makes me swoon and you can find it at Levain Bakery. With two locations, one on the Upper West Side and one in Harlem, Levain sells fresh baked goods from muffins to baguettes to scones. But, the star is definitely the cookies. There are four varieties: chocolate chip walnut, oatmeal raisin, dark chocolate chip and dark chocolate peanut butter chip. They all run for $4 a piece. It might seem a little pricey for a cookie, but these things are colossal.

I once tried eating two in one sitting and entered a food coma before completion. I often frequent the super tiny Upper West Side location, where there is typically a line out the door. Yet everyone is patiently smiling because they know all of their worries will be momentarily dismissed once a cookie hits their lips. Although these treats are perfect on any day during any season, eating them feels so right during the holidays, that many will endure standing out in the cold. Bring some extra layers; you’ll survive. All four flavors of cookies are insanely good, but the chocolate chip walnut stands out among the rest. That statement probably has to do with the fact that every time I’ve been there, the chocolate chip walnut cookie has been handed to me straight out of the oven. Order it with a cup of milk, break the cookie in half and witness the melted chocolate perfection. There are only a few seats inside the bakery, so the chances of landing one of them is slim; but, Central Park is only a few blocks away, so you can indulge in gluttonous cookies while watching people

exercise. You’ll never feel better or worse about yourself in that moment. If you are stuck on gift ideas for family or friends, a box of these cookies will have people bowing down to you. This is the time of year where it’s considered acceptable to wear elastic waistband pants because nothing else fits. Take advantage of that.

Opinion 11 Staff Editorial board XCIII

TALIA TIRELLA Co-Editor-in-Chief JENNY CHEN Co-Editor-in-Chief KYLE FITZGERALD Managing Editor CHEYANNE GONZALES General Manager AMANDA UMPIERREZ News Editor STEPHEN ZITOLO Sports Editor LIVIA PAULA Features Editor JASMINE IMANI DAVIS Entertainment Editor SUZANNE CIECHALSKI Opinion Editor

Flames of the Torch: Final(s) Fears Every semester we go through the same pattern of thought. When we first step onto campus again with big bright eyes and the whole future ahead of us, we are crazy enough to believe that this semester will be different. This will be the semester where we stay on top of all of our work, where we don’t feel our bones shake when he hear the word “finals.” Then reality sinks in. Midterms have passed and now you see the word “December” appear on your calendar and there it is: Dec. 17. In no more than a couple weeks you will be free from finals and be getting ready to celebrate the holiday season. But you’re not free. Not yet. Rather than proactively approach finals this year you find yourself again scrambling to gather last-minute notes. Do not fear just yet. You still have a little bit more time to study and three days off next week to prepare yourself for a less stressful finals week. Plan ahead and stick to your schedule. Before you go to bed each night, try to create a “to-do” list of what you want to study the following day. Do not create too large a list or it will discourage you from actually starting it. Just list out two or three things you want to review or sections of a paper you want to write. It’s all about piece work. If you’re the type of person who pulls all-nighters, go for it. If you prefer waking up at 4 a.m. in the morning to continue studying, then stick with it. Now isn’t the time for you to be switching up your studying habits. Your body won’t be very appreciative of that. Instead, stick to what you do best

and what your body is accustomed to. Go outside and get some fresh air. We have been blessed with some good weather, for a change. Snowfall hasn’t reached this university yet so take advantage of it and go for walk outside just to clear your head for a bit. The library or your dorm can begin to feel suffocating as the stress builds. Stick to your sleeping schedule. It’s very important to get in some sleep as your mind just naturally works better when it’s well-rested. Make sure that along with working hard, you give yourself enough time to unwind and relax. It gives your brain space to breathe. You should give your brain time to absorb the information during down time before returning to your textbook. Even if you’re writing, give yourself some space between each page you write. When you come back with some distance, you’ll also realize there are improvements you want to make to the previous paragraphs. Always go into it with a positive mindset. If you think you’re going to fail at something, chances are, you may delude yourself into doing worse than you actually would if you went in with positive reinforcement. Motivating yourself is always difficult; one way to think about it is that it’s a conclusion. If you get all your assignments done now, you’ll have uninhibited time to celebrate and have fun afterwards. Now, when you do none of that, and your finals are tomorrow, and papers are due in 5 hours, here’s what you need: coffee for your brain, and tissues for your tears of regret.

China absorbed by sponge cities ALYSSA FORD Staff Writer Many are unaware of the serious flooding China has been facing over the past few years, as they are not too familiar with the monsoon season here in the United States. Despite the rise of floods in China’s urban areas, the government has been slow to create a solution to the environmental issue. Just three years ago a flood in Beijing killed 79 people due to the city’s lack of an effective draining system. The government however, was quick to blame the storm rather than the city’s weak draining structure. Since 2008, the number of Chinese cities affected by severe flooding has doubled and the number of cities suffering from Mother Nature continues to rise. According to an article published in The Atlantic, China contains more than 87,000 dams that have been around since 1978 and have not been updated. The Chinese government has not yet proven their ability to keep China’s cities safe from flooding. This information is shocking, considering that China has one of the largest hydro-engineering industries. Not only have these floods become a problem, but on the opposite side of the spectrum, severe droughts and water shortages have hit China hard as well. Finally a plan has been put forth that hopes to limit flooding as well as conserve the rainwater for reuse later on. As of September, the government has approved the installation of “sponge cities” throughout the country. In coming months, 16 model cities will be developed

that will hopefully change the way China’s cities handle excess water. The Dean of Peking University’s College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, Kongjian Yu is assisting in the coordinating of the national project. “A sponge city is one that can hold, clean and drain water in a natural way using an ecological approach,” said Yu. The term “sponge city” became popular among Chinese residents after Chinese president Xi Jinping suggested that cities “should be like sponges.” The idea is for the cities to start looking more grey than green. China has been sufficient in covering its cities in cement and normally takes a one size fits all sort of approach when handling national matters. The government has a centralized planning system, applying one plan to the entire country. The sponge cities differ, however, because not all designs will work in the same areas. Some aspects of the sponge cities will flourish in southeast China, but not in the northwest. The cities must differ in planning according to localized climate and whether the major issue is flooding or drought. Overall, the idea of a sponge city is to find a way to absorb the storm water to limit flooding but push the water through a drainage system that allows it to be stored and reused in times of a drought. Often times the government brushes off environmental issues, but China’s extreme floods proved the necessity to take action. The government is still trying to figure out a way they will profit economically from the sponge cities, but you cannot really put a price on safety.

EDITORIAL POLICY Editorials are the opinions of the Editorial Board of the TORCH. Columns are the opinions of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of the TORCH.

Opinions expressed in editorials, columns, letters or cartoons are not necessarily those of the student body, faculty or administrations of St. John’s University.

TO CONTRIBUTE Mail letters to: The TORCH, St. John’s University 8000 Utopia Parkway, Jamaica, NY 11439 Submit letters via email to:

All are welcome to contribute to the Torch. Please include your full name, year and college (or department). Letters have a limit of 500 words and may be edited for content, grammar or space. Unverifiable or anonymous letters will not be published. All letters are subject to the approval of the Editorial Board of the TORCH.

12 Opinion

Dealing with depression in college I’ve fought the battle and I’m still alive

In college, we’re supposed to find ourselves, or at least that’s what they tell us growing up. Some people do “find themselves.” For most people, college is just the beginning. Everything is new. Battling depression in college has been the darkest time in my life so far. My freshman year of college was magical. I was receiving a prestigious education, had a stable job while living in New York City and was adapting to a lifestyle that I was able to create by myself and for myself. I was the California native who was living her dream. Depression has always been the demon hiding under my bed throughout my life; I didn’t know what was going to happen next. By the end of my freshman year, my parents informed me that they couldn’t financially help me stay at the university I grew to love. This news was terrifying at first, as I was learning in all areas of my life and

making a childhood dream come true. I ended up moving to Seattle, Washington, to live with my sister. I planned on going to community college there before transferring to the University of Washington and working; but, something happened.


I know that I will survive, but not everyone knows that and it’s what makes this world and this life contorted.

I didn’t expect it to hit me as hard as it did. I didn’t know that my 120 lbs., small frame would lose 15 lbs. in one summer and would barely sleep longer than two hours a night. I didn’t know that I would find myself too insecure to even finish a job application. I didn’t think that it would take me three weeks to convince myself to finish applying to community college. When I moved back to New York,

A light for the season

FR. PATRICK GRIFFIN, C.M. Special to the Torch

The Jewish community will celebrate Chanukah this year from Dec. 6-14. Lots of Christians recognize that this eight-day celebration takes place around Christmastime, but not much else. The story of this Jewish festival goes back to the second century BCE. It recalls a great Jewish victory over those who would suppress their religion and a subsequent rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem, hence the name Chanukah, “Dedication.” The menorah presents the popular symbol of the celebration. It traces its origin to a story (recounted in the First Book of Maccabees) when only one days worth of consecrated oil was available for the menorah at the rededication. Yet, when the lamp was lit, the oil lasted for eight days. Connected to this miracle is the reference to this celebration as the “Festival of Lights.” You will have noticed how the trees around the campus are lit at night. The attempt to bring added light to pierce the darkness at this time of year reflects the pagan desire to welcome the winter solstice and drive away the powers of darkness by summoning the sun. At one time, lit candles affixed to tree branches served this

purpose. Within the Christian community, light also plays a part in this season. For Christians, the real value of the illumination lies in the reminder to welcome the birth of Christ, the “light of the world.” Isaiah the Prophet spoke long ago of the expectation that Israel had for the coming of the Promised One: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Upon those who lived in a land of gloom a light has shone. (Isa 9:2) John witnesses to this coming at the beginning of his Gospel: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. . . . The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. (Jn 1:5, 9) Within the Gospel, this passage certainly refers to the birth of Jesus. The Christian world interprets the Isaiah passage in this same vein. More than once, as an adult, Jesus speaks about himself as the light of the world (Jn 8:12, 9:5, 12:36, 12:46) and so this theme continued to find traction. So, the little lights which brighten our campus during this time of the year can spur us into a joyful attitude, but they can also remind us of a great truth. At the birth of Jesus some 2000 years ago, light entered our world in an unforgettable and unrepeatable way. The delicate and colorful illumination around us offers us an invitation to savor that blessing.

there was that part of me that hoped I would be okay and that the depression was going to just fade away. However, during the fall semester of my sophomore year, my parents broke the news to me and my siblings that, after 24 years of marriage, they were getting divorced. You can imagine how difficult it was being a 19-year-old battling a mental illness, living across the country and watching my parents break up. I view divorce a lot like grieving the death of a loved one, except the only difference is you don’t get flowers when you get a divorce. I’ve found my solace through writing. I have a box in my apartment filled with 43 journals. My older sister would tell me to write down all of my thoughts and feelings when I would feel sad or angry. Today, at 20 years old, you will always find a journal and a pen on me. Writing is my form of therapy. I know that I will always be battling depression. I know that I will always put up the fight, to see who I will become by the time my life comes to an end. I know that I will survive, but not everyone knows

that and it’s what makes this world and this life contorted. There needs to be more discussion on mental health, on depression especially, in adolescents and college students. Depression shouldn’t be a taboo topic. I’m telling you now: everyone experiences depression in different forms. It’s a part of life. Depression is a trial that you can overcome and it will make you stronger. Battling depression takes time and you learn that, once you defeat one form of depression, another will spring up on you and it will only make you into a stronger person. Depression in college is a new and different experience. You’re on your own. It’s up to you to hold yourself accountable. It’s up to you to want to make things better for yourself. It’s a daunting statement, but it’s your life. Remember, you are important. You matter; your life matters. Depression is a block in the road that challenges you on your road to success. You are stronger than you think.

Illustrator’s CORNER

“Unrealistic friction” By: Nicole Marino

Sports 13

St. John’s shows growth in Maui BRANDON MAUK

Digital Sports Manager The good, the bad and the ugly of the Red Storm were on display in Hawaii, where they went 1-2 at the annual Maui Jim Maui Invitational during Thanksgiving Week. St. John’s took a pair of tough losses to two Top 25 teams in Vanderbilt and Indiana before defeating Chaminade to finish seventh in the eight-team tournament. “Obviously, a win makes the long flight home a little more bearable and enjoyable. It was important to be able to bounce back like we did and respond to adversity,” head coach Chris Mullin said. St. John’s showed that they can score with some of the better teams in the country, but the defense had their share of struggles as they gave up 90 points in the three games. On offense, they showed some positive signs. Freshman Federico Mussini continued to carry the load for the Red Storm in Hawaii, as he led the team in points in each matchup and topped it off with a 24-point, 6-assist performance against Chaminade to salvage the road trip. “It’s really important [to leave Maui with a win]. [There is a] difference between 3-3 and 4-2,” Mussini said. “We lost against two really good teams, but

we improved every day since we’ve got here and that’s the important thing.” In Monday’s opener, St. John’s was completely overwhelmed, as No. 19 Vanderbilt jumped out to a 29-5 lead in the first 10 minutes and coasted to a 92-55 victory. The Commodores shot 53.3 percent from the field and connected on 12 three-pointers, Their size was also too much for the Red Storm, as they outrebounded St. John’s 49-26. “We have to learn from it,” Mullin said. The Johnnies fared much better on Tuesday against No. 13 Indiana, as the Hoosiers had to pull away with an 8373 victory after St. John’s gave them a challenge. Mussini and graduate student Ron Mvouika each scored 17 points, and senior Felix Balamou had 14, as they tried to rally from a 17-point deficit. They managed to get within four in the middle of the second half, but it wasn’t enough. Indiana’s depth was too much for them. Led by senior Yogi Farrell’s 22 points and Thomas Bryant’s 19, the Hoosiers shot 57.7 percent from the field, including 8-of-19 from three. St. John’s bounced back Wednesday and left Maui with a victory and a seventh place finish after beating Chaminade in a shootout, 100-93. The Johnnies had their best offensive performance of the year, as they

shot 59.3 percent from the field and connected on 10-of-19 shots from behind the arc. Mussini had five of those 10 threes. Durand Johnson and Amar Alibegovic, who had 18 and 17 total points respectively, had two threes apiece. Three other plays also scored in double digits. “Everybody on the team knows to shoot when they’re open so it’s just about confidence. Sometimes, shots don’t go in, but we have to keep shooting and [keep] believing in ourselves,” Mussini said. St. John’s jumped out to an early 15-3 and closed out the half up by 17 after three-pointers by Mussini and Alibegovic in the closing seconds. The Red Storm still struggled on defense, as Chaminade shot 50.7 percent from the field and 13-of-29 from three. Nevertheless, they never got closer to St. John’s than seven, and the Red Storm was able to hang on. After a pair of ugly losses in the first two days, it was important for the Johnnies to leave with a win. 4-2 looks a lot better than 3-3. “I think, after the first night, we took a step [in the right direction], and [Wednesday] we were rewarded for that,” Mullin said. St. John’s plays its first game back in New York Wednesday at Fordham, before they tip off their first Madison Square Garden game of the season on Sunday against St. Francis (Brooklyn).


Federico Mussini continued to shine in the Aloha State as he was the Johnnies’ best player at the Maui Jim Maui Invitational.

Mvouika honors Paris with play CARMINE CARCIERI Assistant Sports Editor

After sitting out all of last season at Missouri State due to a serious injury, men’s basketball graduate student Ron Mvouika produced a solid nine points and four rebounds off the bench in his first game in a St. John’s uniform. But, the joy of success and victory snapped into fear when the Paris native received the news that his home city was attacked by the ISIS terrorist group, killing as many as 140 innocent citizens and injuring many more. “My phone was blowing up,” Mvouika said. “The coaches told me in the locker room that something happened in Paris so I had a lot of phone calls and I had to call my mom, brothers and call everybody in the neighborhood to see if everybody was ok. “Thank god none of my close friends were out but like I said before we live in a crazy world. You just have to keep your faith up and send your prayers up.” Mvouika’s family lives about 20 to 25 minutes away from the French soccer stadium, Stade de France, which was hosting a Germany versus France friendly that Friday night (Nov. 13). A bomber tried to sneak into the stadium, but was turned away by security before detonating his explosive belt, sending a shock wave throughout the stadium. Shootings also broke out at four separate restau-

rants and security later raided a mass shooting and a hostage situation at the Bataclan theatre. “I know some people who lost some friends,” Mvouika said. “It’s always hard, especially with social media. There’s videos always showing up and you actually see people getting hit. It touches home when you realize it’s the places you go when you’re back home.” The 6’6” forward has given the Johnnies a jolt of toughness, energy and passion that cannot be replicated, and his leadership during difficult times has stood out in the locker room. Looking to improve to 2-0 under Chris Mullin, the team defeated UMBC by 22 just two days following the devastating night. “You say your prayers,” Mvouika said. “God does everything for a reason. I try to never get too high or never get to low. Keep pushing. I had a game to play. I followed the game plan, but I’m one of the older guys so I can’t come out here with my head down. “My job is to lead regardless of what’s going on. I have to come to work every day and do what I’m supposed to do.” Mvouika, who is currently the second leading scorer and most efficient player on the roster, even decided to honor his hometown by dedicating the first two games of the season to the victims. “I definitely had everyone in my prayers (tonight),” Mvouika said at his press conference after the UMBC win. “I’m going to dedicate that win to them.”


Ron Mvouika continued to be a leader on the court even while concerned for his family and friends’ welfare after the terrorist attacks in Paris.

14 Sports

Senior guards lead the way versus No. 18/17 USF WILSON SY Staff Writer

The strong all-around performance by the Red Storm senior captains Danaejah Grant and Aliyyah Handford helped the Johnnies to a 74-70 victory over the No. 18/17 University of South Florida (3-2) on Sunday night. In the final seconds, with the game hanging in the balance, junior guard Aaliyah Lewis confidently knocked down all four of her free-throws in the final 13 seconds, giving the Red Storm a two-possession lead to hang on for the win. “This is a great win for our program against a great opponent who’s played very well thisyear and was a tournament team last year,” head coach Joe Tartamella said. “I was really proud of our effort, as I told our team, from start to finish. I think we had the most complete game we’ve played all year.” Grant, who earned Big East Player of the Week honors, exploded for 27 points including four assists. Handford netted 15 of her 23 points in the second half, while junior Aaliyah Lewis was the other Johnny in double figure with 12 points. St. John’s held a wire-to-wire lead throughout the game after trailing 2-0 in the opening minutes. After the Red Storm built an early nine-point lead with a minute left in the first quarter, they were able to answer

every USF run, thanks to an efficient 53% shooting performance and big foul shots down the stretch. “It’s all about runs and we were able to sustain those runs throughout the whole game,” Grant said. “Of course, they will make shots, but we made enough to win the game.” While approaching the final minute of the third quarter, Crystal Simmons came up with a steal and threw a perfect outlet pass to Handford, who then fed Grant for a layup thanks to a spectacular behind-the-back pass to make it 47-41 Johnnies. St. John’s later went up 51-43 with under nine minutes to go, but the Bulls were able to cut the Johnnies’ lead to 55-52, after consecutive jumpers from senior guard Courtney Williams, who finished with a game-high 28 points and also tied for first among the NCAA’s leading scorers at 28.0 points per game. After a Williams triple to make it a 66-63, Handford drove in for a blow by layup to make it 68-63 Johnnies with 48 seconds left before holding off for the victory. “It all comes down to effort at the end of the game and who’s willing to win more,” Handford said. “I felt we out-willed them at the end of the game and it paid off with a win.” The Johnnies (4-1) will look to extend to a five-game winning streak when they host Sacred Heart on Thursday at 7p.m.


Danaejah Grant put on a dominant display versus the nationally ranked University of South Florida Bulls as she scored 27 points and dished out four assits.

Stone honored as Regional Coach of the Year STEPHEN ZITOLO Sports Editor

St. John’s women’s soccer head coach Ian Stone led the program to historic heights during the 2015 campaign. On Monday, the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) named Stone Northeast Region Coach of the Year for the remarkable job he did in leading the program this past season. In his decorated 22-year tenure leading the Red Storm, this is the second time, the first coming in 2009, that Stone has been selected as the winner of the Northeast Region Coach of the Year award. The honor also puts Stone on the eight person NSCAA ballot for National Coach of the Year. The national honoree will be announced on Dec. 16. To be considered for the regional award a coach must exemplify specific standards that include knowledge of the game, rapport with the team, team conduct on the field, work for coaches organization, outside involvement, community involvement, rapport with other coaches, officials and media and service to the NSCAA. For any one that knows coach Stone, he is certainly more than deserving of this prestigious honor. Two of the program’s graduating seniors forward Rachel Daly and defender Georgia Kearney-Perry, took to Twitter to congratulate their coach.

“Congrats coach!! Couldn’t be more deserved,” Daly said. “Phenomenal coach and role model!” “Congratulations and THANKYOU to the best Gaffa out there,” Kearney-Perry said. “So unbelievably well deserved coach.” The Big East also honored Stone and his coaching staff this season as they were named the Big East Coaching Staff of the Year. During the 2015 season Stone led St. John’s to the best season in program history. The team won a program record 15 games, won the first Big East Regular Season title in the program’s history, recorded a program record 12 shutouts and went on the longest winning streak, seven games, in program history. Stone made history himself this year as well as he won his 200th career game. The student athletes under Stone’s tutelage this season also had remarkable seasons. The Red Storm won three major Big East awards as Daly was named the Big East Offensive Player of the Year, Kearney-Perry garnered Big East Defensive Player of the Year honors and Diana Poulin took home Big East Goalkeeper of the Year honors. Stone also led the team to its third ever NCAA Tournament this past season (2009, 2013, 2015) as the program secured its first ever home game at Belson Stadium in the NCAA Tournament.


Ian Stone led the Red Storm to the best season in program history as he won his 200th career game and led the Johnnies to the NCAA Tournament.

Sports 15

Where are they now? Former Red Storm stars excelling in the pros


TROY MAURIELLO Assistant Sports Editor

With all of the new faces that have come to Queens to play and coach for the St. John’s men’s basketball team this season, it may be easy for Red Storm fans to forget about some of the stars from last year’s NCAA Tournament team. However, many of those stars have moved on to begin successful professional careers, both in the United States and internationally. The most notable recent St. John’s graduate to make strides professionally is likely former forward Sir`Dominic Pointer. The do-it-all man who averaged nearly 14 points and eight rebounds per game last season was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers late in the second round of June’s NBA Draft.

Pointer would go on to play very well for Cleveland in the Summer League. But on a Cavalier roster that is built to win now, there was simply no room for a developing rookie. Instead, Pointer was sent to the NBA D-League, where he just recently began his first season with the Canton Charge. Joining Pointer in the D-League this season will be Jamal Branch, one of his St. John’s teammates for the past three years. Branch, who played in 78 total games over three seasons in Queens, was selected in the third round of October’s 2015 NBA D-League Draft by the Los Angeles D-Fenders. Branch has appeared in two games so far this season for Los Angeles, the Lakers D-League affiliate, as he waits for a possible shot at making an NBA roster next season. The two former Johnnies will get to reunite and square off on Jan. 9 for the only meeting of the D-League season

between Canton and Los Angeles. However, the professional reach of last year’s Red Storm team is not limited to just the United States, and D`Angelo Harrison is a perfect example of that. St. John’s fans will fondly remember the lively Harrison for his record-setting career in Queens. He has recently taken that energy overseas to Turkey. Harrison ended up signing with Usak Sportlif of the Turkish Basketball Super League (BSL) after going undrafted in the NBA Draft, and he’s already making an impact internationally. Always known for his scoring prowess at St. John’s, Harrison is already averaging nearly 16 points per game through his first five appearances of the season for Usak Sportlif. Former St. John’s guard Phil Greene IV, who went on to sign with Turkish team Bandirma Kirmizi after a stint in the Las Vegas Summer League with Toronto, joins Harrison overseas.

Greene IV was a four-year starter at St. John’s, starting in 121 of his 130 career games, and all 33 of the Red Storm’s games in his senior year. Known for his strong shooting and clutch play, Greene IV has started all 10 games for Bandirma so far this season and is shooting over 40 percent from 3-point range. Two standouts from last year’s team that prematurely left the program this summer, Chris Obekpa and Rysheed Jordan, have each found solid ground to stand on as well. Obekpa transferred to UNLV in June and will have to sit out this season before playing his final collegiate year in Las Vegas in 2016-17. Meanwhile, Jordan was selected by the Delaware 87ers with the fifth overall pick in October’s NBA D-League Draft.

SPORTS December 2, 2015 | VOLUME 93, ISSUE 13 |


Yakwe cleared by NCAA Johnnies will get big boost from top recruit

KATHERINE ACQUAVELLA Staff Writer Until last week, it looked as though Chris Mullin’s top New York City recruit may not step on the court this season. But, on Wednesday, St. John’s 6’7” four-star freshman recruit, and top-100 nationally ranked prospect, Kassoum Yakwe was cleared to play by the NCAA. Yakwe attended Our Savior New American in Centereach, N.Y. Kansas freshman Cheick Diallo, Yakwe’s high school teammate, was also cleared after waiting months for a ruling. “Cheick is my best friend because I knew him before I came here [to the United States], and we played on the National Team together,” Yakwe said. “I learned a lot from him. He played hard and, when I didn’t play hard, he would pick on me and make fun of me. So, that’s someone I’ve always looked up to.” In 15 appearances in the 2015 Nike EYBL with the PSA Cardinals, Yakwe averaged 3.1 blocks per game and earned Defensive Player of the Year honors. Coach Mullin had nothing but praise for the freshman. “He possesses tremendous athleticism, has good instincts and will be a defensive presence,” Mullin said in the school’s announcement of his signing. It’s obvious that the Red Storm is still learning how to play with each

other on the defensive end. During the Maui Invitational, the Red Storm allowed Vanderbilt to shoot 48 percent (12-25) from downtown and 53 percent (33-62) overall from the field. In the following two games, the Johnnies allowed both Indiana and Chaminade to shoot over 40 percent from downtown and 50 percent from the field. “He’s relentless. He never stops in practice and he crashes every single ball,” graduate student Ron Mvouika said. “He’s pretty much impossible to box out because he crashes every single play. It’s easy to play with a guy like that, who pushes and is aggressive on both offense and defense. He also plays above the rim, and he’s very explosive.” Yakwe will provide an impact on the defensive end, playing alongside 6’11” freshman center Yankuba Sima.

Yakwe is expected to make his debut on Dec. 2 when St. John’s travels to the Bronx to take on the Fordham Rams. “I love it, and we are excited about it. He’s truly a good guy and we all love him, so we are really excited for him to play,” freshman Federico Mussini said. “He’s an amazing athlete. On defense, he blocks a lot of shots. On offense, he grabs a lot of rebounds and can throw down the occasional crazy dunk. He’s also really strong and he will help our team a lot.”

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