October 23, 2014

Are We Paying Too Much For Water?

By: Fifi Youssef

Contributor

 A John Jay College student spends approximately $10,000 a semester in tuition, classes, student fees, books, metro cards, and lunch. The money spent each semester can easily increase as the price of a bottle of water increases in the John Jay College vending machines. 

With the price increase in water and healthy food, obesity rate increases too.

The obesity rate in 1990 was 9.3 percent, and by 2003 the percentage skyrocketed to 20.9 percent. By 2012 the rate reached 23.6 percent.

According to F as in Fat, a project of Trust for America’s Health, and the Robert Wood Johnson foundation, as of 2012, “Thirteen states now have adult obesity rates above 30 percent, 41 states have rates of at least 25 percent, and every state is above 20 percent.”

John Jay College of Criminal Justice can play a factor in these numbers, charging $1.75 for a bottle of water in the vending machines, and a dollar for a can of soda. This can change if John Jay lowers these prices.

By Christian Medina

By Christian Medina

“I think that it’s ridiculous, especially in schools. Obesity is becoming a huge epidemic among young people and children, so the least we can do is make water more affordable, or at least at a reasonable price,” said Dianna Sriskanda, a junior in English. “The fact that we can buy soda for a dollar, and not water, can often be a huge problem since we know all college students are broke.”

Sarah Dawud, a 22 year old John Jay student majoring in international criminal justice, thinks otherwise.”I think a person can spend the 2 dollars if they really wanted water and not sugary drinks; however, being that it is addicting, some people would rather drink that than drink water.”

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Standards, suggests that lower calorie drinks should be sold 20 cents less than high calorie drinks.

They require that, “water be stocked in at least 2 slots/buttons per machine; Require water and seltzer be placed at eye level, or in the highest selling position. High calorie beverages should be placed farthest from eye level, or in the lowest selling position.”

Water is on the lower level, while sodas are on the upper level.

Water is on the lower level, while sodas are on the upper level.

Sriskanda finds this issue can easily be changed. “I think that water can be changed easily, like outside of school Poland spring water is a dollar, and in school we have a brand that is two dollars. So I think that maybe we could switch brands.”

The reason behind selling Aquafina water is because CUNY signed a contract with Pepsi Cola to sell only products from the Pepsi Cola Company, and Aquafina is a Pepsi Cola brand.

John Jay currently has The Answer Group Vendings, vending the college, and selling water for $1.75. Manger Alan Gold said, “All CUNY colleges are dictating the prices Pepsi Cola has set.”

However, William Mandile from Champion Vending USA, vendors to 11 CUNY colleges and Fordham University, sells the Aquafina water for $1.60.

“You have a vendor who’s taking advantage,” Mandile said,“What they’ll do is in between semesters they’ll jack-up the prices when no one is looking.”

Mandile explained that the prices are set from the company themselves, and that The Answers Group has a reputation for raising prices. “That’s their m.o.,” Mandile said.

In defense, Gold expressed that these accusations are both, “inflammatory and false.”

Compared to The Answer Group, Champions Vending speaks with the college, and once an agreement has been reached they post a notice on each of the vending machines explaining the reason for the increase. These notices will be left for approximately 3 weeks.

Other than the prices of water, the cafeteria food prices are also not helping. A salad costs no less than  $4.95 plus tax,  fries are $3.00 and a slice of pizza costs no less than $2.50.

“I know it’s like that outside of school, but I didn’t know it was that way in school. I think it’s awful, like this definitely contributes to obesity and all the other diseases people have,” said Sriskanda.

She went on to express, “Like I didn’t know pizza was almost three dollars cause in school a bowl of fruit is $3.75. So to know all the fattening foods are cheaper is horrible. And it definitely influences what people eat.”

Dawud, on the other hand, finds that it’s fine in a sense, since it’s up to the individual. “You get what you pay for. Pizza is satisfying, unhealthy, greasy and cheesy, an eye catcher, cheap and most definitely satisfying, but a salad can be very boring even though it’s healthy.”

Sriskanda proposed an idea in helping students eat healthier and lowering the obesity rate.

“Maybe they could come up with a coupon system. At my old internship every time you purchased a healthy meal (like salad or sushi) you got this coupon, and once you had 5-6 coupons you got a meal. Each coupon would equal about a dollar so if you had five coupons you could get a meal that was five dollars, and you could only cash in if it covered the meal.”

She thinks it would work because the students would feel as if they were getting food for free and it’ll encourage them

“It all comes down to whether you are willing to pay a few more dollars for a salad and if you are committed to a healthy life-style. Some people buy pizza because it’s faster than waiting to pick out what salad you want,” Dawud said.

Th[Ink] About Your Future

By: Rehana Sancho

Contributor

By Aruj Ali

By Aruj Ali

With celebrities like Lil Wayne, Rihanna, and Justin Bieber showing off their body art on places like their necks, arms, and faces, it is easy to see why young adults outside of Hollywood are increasingly turning towards the tattoo culture. However, students may be unaware of the long-term consequences of having a tattoo that may no longer appeal to the future you.

Although tattoos are seen as an artistic expression of one’s self,  should students be aware of the side effects of having a permanent ink on their skin? When a young adult decides to become tattooed, important factors like future career paths, placement of the tattoo, and understanding how the image they wish to portray in their early twenties may affect their future.

Scott Jones, developer of tattooinfo.net, a website that provides information for tattoo newbies/hopefuls, explains tattoos can be priced in various ways. Although some tattoo shops may have an average hourly rate of $80-100, or are based on the size, and placement, may all factor into the price.

Tattoos are expensive and priced at the discretion of the prospective artist. Artists should also have valid tattooing license, a book of previous work and sanitized work tools . Before getting a tattoo, try to be informed of the process and the removal.

Britney Debnam, a recent graduate of Sarah Lawrence University, came to John Jay to interview for a job with Teach for America. Debnam was modestly dressed in black stockings, a white shirt, and a black blazer to mask any visible tattoos. Debnam has five tattoos; three are visible and are about six inches in length. One is placed on her foot, which is why she can’t wear nude stockings.

Debnam says every one of her tattoos are “little photos” of her past, but she does regret a few of her tattoos because they were last minute decisions, based on temporary emotions.

Debnam feels like students who are thinking about getting a tattoo should think about where they will be in next few years and how having tattoos may affect them. Although she regrets a few, she’s still in love with her two white ink tattoos.

The tattoos are a question mark and a comma, a homage to her days as her school’s newspaper editor. Both tattoos  are  mostly invisible until you look closely.

Professor Alexander Long By Aruj Ali

Professor Alexander Long
By Aruj Ali

John Jay Career Counselor, Barbara Young, admits employers will not always ask you about a tattoo, but if they see one it will be noted. Young, a Baruch Alumna, who holds a master in Public Administration, says if you have a tattoo, do research on the company’s personal appearance policy.

Young advises doing research will prepare you for what the company is looking for in an employee. She tells students,”If you’re going for a job at MTV, tattoos aren’t a problem,” but to also be wise and do your research.

Young explains the purpose of an interview is to “assess the image” after reading someone’s resume. So knowing the company will give you a better understanding of what they expect. Young’s advice for tattooed students? Don’t offer information unless asked for information about the tattoo. This way you’re not drawing more attention toward the tattoo than necessary.

Jordy Frias, John Jay junior, feels students get tattoos because of social pressure, family members who have tattoos, friends, and celebrity influences. “Tattoos are a commitment,” Frias said and, “they prevent you from your choice of certain jobs like the State Troopers and NYPD.” According to the NYPD website, they prefer non-visible tattoos, but if you do have a tattoo you have to be prepared to explain their meaning.

If someone is faced with the decision to remove an unwanted tattoo, there are a few options. The safest way to remove a tattoo is through a doctor. One procedure requires surgery, and another is the laser removal, which is the most popular method.

According to WebMD, 50% of all people who get a tattoo will have it removed by the laser method. The laser method sounds like a bug zapper, it beams a laser at the inked area, breaking the color down, which will eventually be absorbed by the skin. Although this method is one of the most effective, not every one’s tattoo will be completely removed, some will just have a faded scar look to them.

CNN featured an article on their website called “How to safely get a tattoo removed.” Expert dermatologist Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank  explains the minimum cost to have a small tattoo laser treatment ranges from 80- 100 dollars, and on average clients will have to have 5-12 treatments, maybe more depending on the coloring of the tattoo. Having a tattoo removed can cost you more than you initially paid to have it drawn on your skin.

By Aruj Ali

By Aruj Ali

An alternative to getting a conventional black or multi-colored tattoo would be to try a white ink tattoo. Debnam has two, a question mark, and a comma on her right hand in between her thumb and index finger. Although still noticeable if you look closely, it can be easily overlooked.

Debnam states that the white ink tattoo feels “more personal” to her because it’s only visible to her most of the time. Along with the white tattoo, she has another that says, “Ain’t I a woman,” a quote from female pioneer Sojourner Truth. Debnam explains that Truth, an abolitionist and activist for women’s rights, was one of her only female role models while she was a young girl, which is why that quote is special to her.

Frias tells students to ask themselves, “What is the meaning of this tattoo and is it my personal choice?” Young’s advice is to first, “Try a temporary tattoo, it can be removed.” This way you can see if a tattoo is right for you.  Debnam warns maybe, “wait until you know who you are before getting a tattoo because  corporate America likes conservative.

Police Reform: John Jay President Examines Police Tactics

By Fifi Youssef

Contributor

By Fifi youssef

President Travis and Brooklyn College Associate Professor of Sociology Alex Vitale.

The need to reform aggressive police tactics by the NYPD was discussed at the 5th installment of 6 breakfast events held by Jack Levinson and  featured John Jay President Travis and Sociology Professor Alex Vitale as guest speakers.

Sponsored by The Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership, 50 people attended the event at the University Club on March 13.

The ninth floor cathedral style dining room hosted both the self-serve continental breakfast and discussion. The bright lights, brown carved wooden walls, golden engraved borders and white ceiling with light gold carvings brought a clean, elegant and relaxed environment allowing the guests to enjoy their breakfast, and introduce themselves to one another.

Levinson organized the event to bring the expert view points of President Travis and Vitale on New York’s political issues such as stop and frisk, police brutality, and surveillance on Muslim communities.

“They were the obvious choice for the event,” said Levinson, who rendered to president Travis and Vitale’s ability to raise broad questions about police reform.”

Travis is an adviser to Mayor de Blasior, who he believes won the election because of his campaigns against stop and frisk. Travis served as a Senior Fellow with the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute in Washington D.C., and directed the National Institute of Justice before he became president of John Jay.

Travis questioned Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s claim that crime rates were reducing due to the increase of stop and frisk practices. “Where were the press when the crime rates went down even when the stop and frisk rates went down?”

On the court decision to have officers wear cameras to prevent the misuse of stop and frisk President Travis said, “The solution is what’s happening right now, which is a change in leadership.”

VIitale, the author of “City of Disorder: How the Quality of Life Campaign Transformed New York Politics,” spoke on  the city’s settlement about the connection between stop and frisk and discrimination, which Mayor de Blasio fought for, after 14 years of court appeals.

“What appeared to be a legal victory, I think, has to be understood primarily as a political victory, because it took really the election of a new mayor to bring an end to appeals that might have gone on for years,” Vitale said.

Vitale thinks  stop and frisk is not just a criminal justice issue, but a racial justice issue.“There’s a difference between stopping 20,000 people a year compared to 500,000 people.”

Vitale also spoke about how the new mayor and his team are addressing the reform issues and expressed concern with other issues, such as racial profiling of Muslim citizens.

“I think the issue of Muslim surveillance and terrorism policing has not been addressed by the new team, there’s been no public statement,” Vitale said. “I think there’s a real legitimacy problem there that has to be addressed in some substantial way.”

Vitale laughed at Judge William J. Martini’s justification for his decision on the Muslim surveillance of mosques case, where he said, “New York Police Department’s intelligence unit did not discriminate against Muslims.”

According to The New York Times article, “Judge Finds Surveillance of Mosques Was Allowed,” published Feb. 20, Judge Martini wrote, “The motive for the program was not solely to discriminate against Muslims, but to find Muslim terrorists hiding among the ordinary law-abiding Muslims.”

While addressing the lack of progress regarding Muslim surveillance, Vitale brought up another major issue that is being dealt with—the legalization of marijuana. He is in support of State Senator Liz Kruger’s bill, which introduces legislation for fully legalized marijuana.

Jessica Barthelemy, a 20-year-old guest at the event, is also in favor of Liz Kruger’s bill. “People have been convicted for minor crimes. People have been arrested for carrying a small amount of weed. It’s wrong,” she said.

Police handling of mentally unstable citizens was one of the issues brought up at the event. Travis believes officers should be trained on how to deal with citizens with mental instability, while Vitale thinks issues related to mental health can be fixed by a “better handled, proper functioning mental facility.”

“The police have shown that they can do whatever they want,” said Barthlemy.

Prisons Become “The Grey Area”

By Marckincia Jean

Contributor

Provided by Wikipedia.org

A poster for The Grey Area.

 

On March 6, the documentary film, “The Grey Area: Feminism Behind Bars,” was screened in the Student Council conference room for students and faculty. The film addresses education, mental health, and the sentences of incarcerated women in the United States.

The film, directed by Noga Ashkenazi, s the second out of five that the Women’s Center is screening this semester. It addresses the treatment of women in the criminal justice system.

“The Grey Area” focuses on a maximum-security female prison facility in Mitchellville, Iowa. Female students from Grinnell College  want to create classes for incarcerated women and set up five-week courses for the prison in Mitchellville. Through poetry, dance and women studies, they addressed sexual, physical and psychological abuse in the prison.

The courses did not only educate the inmates, but also gave them a sense of empowerment and understanding of social issues and injustice that pertains to women.

Elizabeth Yukins, director of the Women’s Center and an English professor at John Jay, held the screening at the Women’s Center. Professor Yukins chose this film to represent the United States within the film series.

Yukins heard about this film through a friend, who introduced her to the Women Make Movies distributor. This distributor gives grants and resources to people who are interested in viewing non-mainstream films produced for women by women.

“We claim to have one of the most developed legal systems in the world, and yet, as this film shows, there are many people dis-served by the injustices in our system,” Yukins said. “All too often women’s voices, most specifically the voices of poor women, are left out of the conversation about the merit and the problems of our criminal justice system.”

The film asserts that, although taxpayers fund prisons, they do not know what goes on inside these institutions. Although there are 600 female inmates, there are only two mental health specialists employed.

The film emphasizes that the women must not only be treated as offenders, but also as victims, who are in need of mental health treatment.

According to the film, nearly seven million people in the United States are affected by incarceration and the majority of inmates have a history of sexual abuse. 60 percent of inmates receive treatment for mental illness, depression, substance abuse or anxiety.

The film states the war on drugs is also a war on women. “More research is needed to be done to illuminate how the war on drugs is both a war on women and impoverished communities of color,” said Yukins. “I do consider myself an advocate for justice, largely through the educational work and advocacy work we do at the Women’s Center.”

Symone McLaughlin, a graduate student working in the Women’s Center, attended the screening to learn more about women in the criminal justice system. “I really enjoyed it. I thought it was interesting how little the justice system recognizes trauma, because they do not see them as victims,” McLaughlin said. “I am very excited about attending other films.”

Students listened attentively as the film addressed that inmates who complete a college degree have a 15% relapse rate, whereas those who do not have a 60% likelihood of re-imprisonment.

Many of the inmates come from families that embrace prison culture, where they have been exposed to drugs and violence from a young age. Some inmates have histories of sexual abuse where sound, touch and smell can trigger series of flashbacks that bring anxiety and a sense of vulnerability.

According to thegreyareamovie.com, Yvette Louisell, a 43-year-old inmate, featured in the film, was re-sentenced by the Story County District Court Judge, James Ellefson. Louisell’s life sentence was changed to 25 years. Louisell was convicted of first-degree murder in 1987 at the age of 17 for stabbing Keith Stilwell, a 40-year-old man.

Louisell posed for Stilwell to draw her alone in his home. In the film, Louisell said that when Stilwell locked his bedroom door, telling her that she was not able to leave, she stabbed him out of self-defense because she felt she was at risk for sexual assault.

Louisell is among 37 Iowan women given life sentences as juveniles. Although the Iowa Supreme Court case, Miller v. Alabama in 2012, declared the life sentencing of juvenile murderers without the possibility of parole was unconstitutional. The judge ruled that Louisell will not be paroled due to the time she has already served. Though it was appealed, Judge Ellefson’s ruling could have allowed Louisell to be released on Feb. 10.

Kachatur Arabachian, a senior at John Jay, who also attended the screening, said via email, “After all that they have been through they remained optimistic. I really admired most of the women for this particular characteristic throughout the film.” Arabachian mentioned that prisoners are often looked at as “damaged goods,” but the film shows that they are able to change, grow and heal.

At the conclusion of the film, a discussion was held where students were able to talk to Yukins.

“I think schools, especially ones like John Jay, need to do a better job at improving student activities that will allow them to get involved,” Arabachian went on to say. “Solving major problems like this begins at the smallest level.”

Custodial Cutbacks

By Ashley Arocho

Staff Writer

By Jeffrey Nunziato

Custodial staff are integral at any school.

With fewer resources available to the Department of Facilities Management and a hiring pause, faculty have had to pitch in by removing their own trash. As John Jay College faces financial difficulties, with their budget deficit, all areas of the college have had to take cuts.

According to Robert M. Pignatello, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Finance and Administration, most of the money at the college is spent on personnel. The best way to save money is by looking at who’s being hired and choosing not to automatically re-hire people, he said.

Helping discard waste has been met with both acceptance and frustration by faculty.

“We have a number of vacancies in the facilities area and in the administrative areas to begin with, because we’re trying to preserve core services for students and for faculty, but the cuts have to come from somewhere, so unfortunately they tend to come in the administrative areas,” Pignatello said.

None of the full-time custodians were let go, but as they chose to leave  in order to pursue other opportunities, they were not replaced. Every area of the college has had to reduce their college assistant budget by five percent, so the part-time custodians hours were reduced to 20 hours a week.

With fewer custodians, it is impossible for the same amount of space to be clean. “We were struggling keeping the floors and bathrooms clean. We have 15,000 students, and the bathrooms take a beating,” Pignatello said.

Elmer Phelon, executive director of Facilities Management, admits in an email that it has been challenging dealing with the custodial shortage, but they have redesigned the custodial unit by focusing on evening and overnight shifts to clean offices and classrooms.

This means that custodians cannot go into every office on an everyday basis to throw out wastes. There are 1,400 offices and it would be time consuming to send the small custodial staff into every office to remove the trash.

The college has an approximate $4,000,000 deficit, and by asking the faculty and staff to empty out their garbage into a common container outside of their office, they can save approximately $300,000 that can be used to close the budget deficit.

“We would come pick that up on a regular basis, and save a lot of staff time. If we go into an office suite, I’m emptying out one can as opposed to seven cans, and don’t have to go into every office,” Pignatello said, regarding the custodians.

There are three containers at the Refuse Collection Points (RCP) located in corridors/public areas and at main open work areas of large office suites. The blue container is for recycling metal and glass; the green container is for recycling paper; and the gray container is for disposing of wet trash.

Dr. Karen Kaplowitz, president of the John Jay Faculty Senate, met with Phelon at a meeting with the Council of Chairs to discuss the issue. All those who were present at the meeting supported bringing recycling and wet trash to the common waste containers.

“We need as much money devoted to the academic program and the student service program as possible,” Dr. Kaplowitz said.

Phelon mentioned in an email that “we needed to reduce spending and hold off hiring to save money. This allows academic areas to have less of an impact to the cutbacks, so students are not negatively impacted.”

The John Jay Chapter of the Professional Staff Congress (PSC), the faculty/staff union of CUNY, believes that faculty and staff are entitled to basic custodial services, and should not be required to help with the disposing of garbage.

“Our feeling is that the college should be insuring certain vital services that it has traditionally always provided to the entire community. One of those services should be to provide a clean environment that is regularly maintained, free of litter, dirt and health problem generating conditions,” John P. Pittman said, co-chair of the John Jay Chapter of the PSC.

An example that the PSC uses, is that faculty members are not always in their office every day, and even if they are they may forget to empty their trash. If they do not return to their office until days later, then this could cause health and safety issues for the faculty member.

Dr. Kaplowitz is a willing participant in removing her trash as long as the money being saved is being spent for student services and the academic and teaching side, which she believes is the heart of the college.

“We should be devoting as much resources as we can there, as long as everything is safe and no one’s health is at risk. I don’t see this as, frankly, a big deal; on my way out to class I dump my garbage in the hallway receptacle, and before I leave at night I do it,” Dr. Kaplowitz said.

Pignatello knows that requiring faculty and staff to help out in disposing their garbage hasn’t been very popular, and the John Jay administration has recently announced that they will rehire some custodial staff.

Instead of requiring faculty and staff to dispose of their trash in the RCP’s, they will have the option of placing their trash bin outside their office door. These changes should take effect later this Spring.

“With the financial conditions and the cuts that we’ve had to make, if everyone cooperates, it will help us manage wastes at the college more effectively, make the best use of our staff, and keep the buildings clean,” Pignatello said.

Subway Riders Surf Web

By Mark Sohan

Staff Writer

By Ryan Durning

More and more people rely on their cell phones, and it helps to have access

In an effort to keep residents online, New York City currently houses the largest public WiFi network in the country, and now subway riders across all five boroughs will be offered free WiFi hotspots by the Metropolitan Transit Authority.

The new WiFi service has a licensing agreement with Transit Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile USA and Boingo Wireless, and will cost them about $200 million. Right now, free WiFi is only available in Manhattan’s busiest subway stations like 59 Street-Columbus Circle, Times Square-42 Street, and 72nd Street stations.

Transit Wireless plans to offer WiFi service to all underground stations by spring 2014 and customers can find this information, as well as, which stations have the service already on the MTA website.

“I don’t have unlimited data on my phone so it’s convenient I get internet at the train station,” said John Dejesus, a junior  at John Jay.

Former New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg,  started a separate  project in December to bring free WiFi to nearly 80,000 residents in Harlem. The project is rolling out in three phases with a completion date set for May 2014.

Some Harlem residents are already using the service. “Over 9,000 Harlem residents are connected to the WiFi hotspots,” said Lara Torvi, a spokesperson from the New York City Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications (DoITT).

Users who connect to the free WiFi hotspots will have enough network bandwidth to surf the web, check social media, and stream videos. “Network speeds average about two megabits download,” Torvi said.

DoITT announced that in July 32 parks across the five boroughs will offer public WiFi. “Through a partnership with Cablevision and Time Warner Cable, we are able to offer this service to many parts of the city,” Torvi said.

Anyone can connect to the park’s WiFi hotspots, but there are some limitations.

 

Provided by Wikicommons.org

According to the DoITT website, users get 30 minutes for free each month, but will have to pay 99 cents per day if they choose to continue using the service.

Cablevision and Time Warner Cable internet subscribers will have unlimited access to the WiFi hotspots with no additional charge.

Public WiFi may beneficial some, but  to others it raises concerns about security.

Mobile devices carry personal data such as account information, credit card numbers, and addresses.“I wouldn’t use public WiFi, because it can be easily hacked and I think nothing in the public is secure,” said Naithram Singh, a senior at John Jay.

Connecting to the wrong network is also a big security concern. Anyone can create a wireless network posing as free WiFi. People who connect to unknown WiFi networks risk data theft.

O’Neil Hinds, Director of Network and Telecommunications at John Jay College, believes people should be cautious when using public WiFi. “Data can be stolen in three ways,” he said. “Data at rest, data in use, and data in transmission.”

Data in transmission is important when it comes to public WiF, because it is data that can be stolen over a wireless network. Unfortunately, not every company secures data that is being transmitted to and from mobile devices.

Data encryption is the key to protecting users from data theft. When using web browsers, public WiFi users should make sure they only visit secure sites.

Hinds said secure websites can be identified by looking for the “s” in “https” located in the browser’s URL. If the the website URL contains just “http,” then the website is not secure.

Banks, government agencies, Facebook and YouTube are examples of secure sites that use secure sockets layer, SSL to encrypt data transmitted through wireless networks.

With a society heavily invested in the internet ecosystem, free WiFi is helpful for many despite security concerns. “I would take my chances with public WiFi, because I always use up my phone’s data,” said Jordan Abisin , a senior at John Jay.

The city is not done advancing its wireless network according to DoITT. “We have plans to turn the remaining pay phones in the city into WiFi hotspots,” Torvi said.

The push for a network connected city will continue to advance, with some residents adapting to the change, while others are left concerned for their safety.

John Jay Loses Student In Harlem Explosion

By: Taja Whitted

Staff Writer

DSC_0638

By Taja Whitted

On a late afternoon in early March, public safety officers appeared at Professor Bettina Carbonell’s classroom. They wanted to know if Alexis (Jordy) Salas was inside.

“He said it was just a family matter, but then the other public safety officer came along and reported that they had checked and Jordy’s ID hadn’t been swiped. That detail stuck in my mind,” said Carbonell.

She did not know it that day, but it was later confirmed that he had been a casualty of the explosion in East Harlem.

“I didn’t know it was an explosion, I thought it was an earthquake or something but when I woke up it was on the news and I live six blocks away,” said Simone Whitaker, a criminal justice major.
Salas, 22 and a transfer student at John Jay College, was confirmed dead on March 14. His death was the result of an explosion on Park Avenue and 116th street in East Harlem on March 12. According to a New York Times article, the explosion was a result of “small gas leaks below the pavement.” Two buildings collapsed that day with eight in total confirmed dead.

DSC_0602

By Taja Whitted

On March 20, almost two weeks after the explosion, family and members of the East Harlem community arrived at the Ortiz Funeral Home to mourn Salas.

Inside Chapel B laid a mahogany casket decorated with yellow ribbons and swirls of blue and yellow roses next to Salas’s wedding photo and other significant moments in his life.

The chapel quickly filled to capacity with many squeezing in while others lined the stairs down to the second floor lobby, all waiting to say goodbye to their brother and friend.

Pastor Thomas Perez, head of the Spanish Christian Church, started the service by saying, “every time he greeted me it was with a big hug, he filled a special place that will not be filled again.”

Before the ceremony closed, guests were invited to share memories they had with Salas. They painted a picture of his many attributes: caring, fatherly, loving and occasionally mischievous. One friend recalled the moment Salas gushed about his future wife, leading Jennifer Salas to speak of their young romance. They had met at the age of 14 and soon became best friends. When they grew older, their love for each other turned romantic and they got married. “I remember when I told him he would be a father,” she said in a gentle tone, “he cried with joy.”

Jennifer Salas continued fondly talking of Jordy and his beloved dog Dash. The mourners took relief in laughing at the things young men do with their dogs. Stories were told of sleepovers and fatherly moments. His mother was the last to speak and her words quieted the room.

“We had a close relationship. He liked nice things, sneakers, t-shirts, like an ordinary boy, but if a friend liked something of his he would just give it to them,” said Rosa Salas.

Kenneth Holmes, the dean of students, Lynette Cook-Francis, the vice president of student affairs, Professor Carbonell and former English professor Margaret Tabb were in attendance. “It was so wonderful too that the pastor asked if there was anyone in the audience who didn’t speak Spanish…so I raised my hand and said ‘do you speak Spanish Marnie?’ said Carbonell, referring to Professor Tabb. “She said no.”

From that point on the service was translated and many were able to fully understand the depth of Jordy’s character.

“He was very active in his church. He was well loved in his community, very giving, loving husband, Sunday school teacher, soon to be father, loving brother, good friend and it was surreal for me to sort of get to know him after he passed away and what a great person he was,” said Holmes.

While Jordy’s friends and family knew him well, at school he was very quiet. Each semester professors are immersed in a class filled with personalities, some who need more encouragement than others to break out of their shell.
“After some point you get to know everyone, but Jordy was quiet so by now and it’s only a couple of weeks later he might have said or done something,” said Carbonell.

Carbonell explained that Jordy’s fresh arrival at John Jay hadn’t given him enough time to connect with other students.

At his funeral she took note of his involvement in the community. “You could see his life at home and with the church probably took up a lot of his time, so I don’t think he really had a chance to form relationships here,” she said.
Back at campus students contemplated ways to remember their fellow colleague and whether John Jay was doing enough. For Forensic Psychology major Kelley Peluso, they were.

“I thought it was nice that they sent out the email. It had everything I needed to know,” said Peluso.

Peluso is referring to an email that was sent to the student body by Cook-Francis on March 18, it stated the date of Jordy’s funeral and where to send donations.

Some, however, believed more could be done, like Criminology major Eric Colon.“I don’t think John Jay is doing enough possibly to help the family instead of sending an email,” said Colon.
To remedy the unease, Student Council President Clinton Dyer explained that there are plans in the making.

“We are working on having a vigil to happen in front of the 9/11 memorial. Right now the family is putting him to rest and we wanted to give them some time so that we can have them at the memorial,” said Dyer.

Carbonell had Jordy in her LIT 260 class, an introduction to literary study. Before his passing, Jordy had turned in an assignment based on the short story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker. The tale covers an African American family and the quilt they have handed down through generations. It is essentially a story of heritage.“That paper has taken on a whole new meaning to me and it’s a good paper, and it is very promising in terms of who he would become as an English major, as a writer. He wanted to be a lawyer so there’s that part…” said Carbonell as she folded her hands onto her lap.

For Carbonell, it was a slow realization that she had lost one of her students. “I heard nothing about the building collapses that day and it wasn’t until I got home that night and it was late…I was watching the 11 p.m. news and I saw the story and at that point they weren’t mentioning any names…for some reason I woke up the next morning knowing that those two things were connected,” she said.

Even though Jordy is gone, and his family mourns for him, he is around. He exists in them, his unborn son and a piece of writing that will be treasured for times to come.

“So you know there are traces I would say, there are traces of Jordy,” said Carbonell.

One Billion Rising For Justice on V-day

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By Marckincia Jean

Contributer

On Feb. 13, John Jay College students gathered to perform a dance routine for One Billion Rising For Justice, a campaign aimed at combating violence against women worldwide.

One Billion Rising is an international campaign in 207 countries that advocates for justice in issues pertaining to violence against women. According to their website, onebillionrising.org, Feb. 14 has been referred to as V-Day since 1998, and addresses that 1 in 3 women, or one billion women worldwide, will be raped or beaten during her lifetime.

The song “Break the Chain” is the theme song of the One Billion Rising global organization. Tena Clark wrote and performed it, and Debbie Allen choreographed the dance routine.

The song is fast paced and intense, and the dancers learned and rehearsed the routine by watching the “Break the Chain” YouTube video projected onto a screen in John Jay’s Black Box Theater. The dancers further rehearsed the routine at home or during their spare time.

Every student dancer was actively engaged, confident after many rehearsals and wore white John Jay College t-shirts. Thirteen dancers, all women comprised of ten students and three professors. There were only a handful of audience members, and every one of the participants were present despite the snowstorm that day.

The dance routine illustrates women’s determination to reclaim her body and resist confinement. “No more rape, incest or abuse. Women are not a possession” is a lyric that sums up the song well.

Gabrielle Salfati, a graduate Forensic Psychology professor at John Jay, not only specializes in the study of violence against women, but she also trains police officers, equipping them with methods and strategies that lead to quicker arrests.

Through her work, Salfati educates students about violence against women, while at the same time enabling police officers to better protect victims from their perpetrators.

The One Billion Rising campaign has built their foundation on these two main principles of education and activism.

The campaign empowers women and men to rid themselves of shame and humiliation by sharing their personal stories of survival. They also seek to have legislation passed that tackles issues of discrimination and inequality while protecting the victims and prosecuting the perpetrators.

Through dance, worship and protest, victims and families demand justice and assert a sense of safety in both private and public sectors. On Feb. 14, groups of people all over the world gathered in their communities to rehearse and perform a specific dance routine.

Professor Salfati seeks to “make students passionate about justice and advocating for justice.” She wants to ensure that students do not simply seek to reform the criminal justice system, but also “make sure that the system works well and make sure that people are safe.”

“Education opens up dialogue, gives people permission to talk about sensitive and important issues in a safe environment,” she added.

“Real education happens when you share ideas,” said Salfati. She emphasized that professors should help students practice what they have learned.

Salfati said the researching and actual event planning was difficult, but since it was an event organized by students, professors were even more encouraged to follow through with it.

“But it was worth it,” Salfati said. She would like to “make people aware, en- gaged and committed” to this cause.

Professor Elizabeth Hovey helped organize this event after attending The Vagina Monologues in the spring of 2012 and, from then on, she wanted to hold such an event on Valentine’s Day. According to the NYU Law website, The Vagina Monologues is a theatrical production based on a book that exposes issues pertaining to women, self-esteem, and oppression.

The Vagina Monologues is also an organization that provides financial aid and ongoing resources to women and men who are subjected to poverty and violence.

Hovey emphasized that, “Power only gets limited when people stand up to its abuse.”

Hovey said that the event was held at John Jay on Feb. 13, because most students do not have Friday classes, and many of them will not attend the public performances in the Hammerstein Ballroom, Grand Central and Times Square.

Nassima Ouaaz, a junior at John Jay College, said, “Dancing is used for political action and activism. For it to hit policy, it first has to capture the attention of the public.”

Ouaaz has previous dance experience. “Dance is one of my forms of catharsis,” Ouaaz said. “I dance to let loose, to let go of my oppression.”

“People are triggered by dance,” she added. She went on to say that there must be an emotional connection between the song, the dancers, and the audience.

The dancers, having backgrounds from all over the world, came to represent their country as well.

Marina Sorochinski, a John Jay College graduate student pursuing a PhD in psychology and law, said via email, “I think seeing millions of other women stand and dance side by side may help some victims.”

She went on to say, “Giving them power and will to fight against the abuse and violence can help them understand that they are not alone. It may, and I hope it will, empower some of the victims to seek help and seek justice for themselves and others, and stop the cycle of violence.”

A sophmore at John Jay, Marlen Ayala said, “I was afraid at first, but it made me feel confident to know that I am doing this for a good cause.”

Eve Ensler, the actor, playwright and activist who started One Billion Rising For Justice and V-Day spoke at John Jay on Jan. 27. She encourages dance as a means of expression due to its boundless nature.

Ensler said we need to share the stage for all of our causes. “Part of what, I dream, happens,” Ensler said in her lecture, “is that we all begin hooking up our stories.”

She has problems with this country’s training. “If you’ve gotten yourself through the door, good. You’re done,” Ensler said.“But that’s not the truth. The truth is, until we all get through the door, we’re not done.”

Rap Album Erupts From Seedy Past

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By Ryan Durning

Staff Writer

Top Dawg Entertainment artist Schoolboy Q’s major label debut, OXYmoron, is his most progressive yet frustratingly ignorant record to date. In interviews he has stated that the theme of the album was documenting all the bad he has done in order to support his daughter.

The former Hoover Crip/college football player/Oxycontin pusher has created an album that lives up to it’s clever title. The album is constantly flip-flopping be- tween honestly brutal introspection and brash celebration of his seedy past which is perfectly summed up by the titular track “Prescription/Oxymoron.”

The first half of the song details his addiction to prescription drugs before the beat flips into a menacing piano loop and stuttering drums that Q uses to brag about selling Oxycontin and whose hook turns into “I just stopped selling crack today.”

The long wait for the album, originally announced after the last TDE album “Good kid, M.a.a.D City,” which dropped Oct. 12, 2013, has only served to highlight some of it’s missteps. The album can be bro- ken down into a repeating pattern of three songs with the middle one usually being the weakest.

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The album starts off with the brash “Gangsta.” Q is at the top of his game, spitting about his past. This segues into the underwhelming “Los Awesome” where the slurring of his voice makes the track for- gettable, before the pace is picked up again by the lead single “Collard Greens” thanks to the pulsating hypnotic production and a funny guest verse from Kendrick Lamar.

This happens two more times on the album, most notably in the sequence of “Hoover Street”, which finds Q talking about his uncle, an addict, which is by all means a gritty tale, followed by “Studio,” ruining the mood with it’s uninspired romance. Finishing up the trio is the thesis of the album, “Prescription/Oxymoron.”

After the titular track, Groovy Q hits his stride and finishes out the album with hard hitting rhymes, especially in “The Purge” and “Break The Bank,” while flowing better and generally avoiding the minor mistakes made in the first half.

As a member of TDE, Q has amassed a following as the gangsta rapper whose infectious flow and chants of “yawk-yawk- yawk” help to liven up his well tread sub- ject matter of women and gangbanging.

Without his charisma, he pales in comparison to the lyricism that fellow TDE members’ Ab-Soul and recently Grammy nominated Kendrick Lamar bring to the table. Ultimately, Schoolboy has shown that he can make an album that can be both disarmingly blunt and maddeningly mindless.

Column: Education and Politics by Chris Pruner (The Filibuster Rule)

Chris Pruner is a Sentinel columnist who breaks down political issues for John Jay students.

All opinion pieces are his own and does not reflect the views of the Sentinel.

By: Chris Pruner

The Filibuster Rule is one of the most important powers that our government possesses. It provides the basic principle of the checks and balances that are set forth in our constitution, on November 21, 2013, the Filibuster rule was forever changed. Now the split between the ideologies of the Democratic and Republican Party has tarnished the rule.

“In the most basic sense, the Filibuster is important because it grants additional power to the minority party with respect to creating policy and staffing the federal government at its highest levels” said Dr. Andrew H. Sidman, assistant professor and major coordinator for the department of political Science.

The Filibuster is a power within the Senate that provides a check to keep the ones holding the most power in the Senate from abusing their power. The extreme polarity between the Democrats and Republicans ideology has create this false need for the change that the Democrats have pushed for.

The Filibuster gives the minority in the Senate a voice, and attempts to stop issues on legislation, or in the most recent and notable issue, Federal Judge appointments by the President from being confirmed by the Senate.

The minority in the Senate is able to stand in front of the members of the Senate and plead their case as to why it should be changed, or why it should be stopped; then the Senate votes on the issue again. If the majority thinks the Filibuster is taking too long or the argument is exhausted, they can vote to stop the Filibuster from moving forward, which is called the Cloture Rule.

The Cloture Rule changes the Filibuster by allowing the majority a chance to stop a Filibuster from happening by voting, as I previously stated, and achieving a 3/5 vote or 60% or 60 votes in the Senate by members who have been sworn into office. This new rule change will stop a Filibuster from continuing by changing the 3/5 vote to a simple majority or 51% vote, to make it easier  to stop a Filibuster on vacant Federal Judge seats, but not the Supreme Court.

With the current composition of the Senate being 53 Democrats, 45 Republicans, and 2 Independents, this ultimately gave the Democrats in the Senate a greater say in who is appointed as a Federal Judge.  President Obama has been opposed on most appointment nominees by the Republicans in the Senate, the minority, and the Democrats have not been able to stop it.

Shakira Rincon expressed her concern about the lack of compromise that this change creates. “The change defeats the purpose of the entire concept of a Filibuster, compromise”

 

Where Muhammad Alam was more concerned with the competence of the nominee, “In order to nominate competent individuals, everyone needs to have a say in process, and this change takes away from that,” he said. Both students think that this change is for the worse.

The Filibuster Rule, before it was changed, was a very good example of how effective our check and balances work in our government. Across the three branches of government the Republicans are the minority, making them the party that has pushed for recent denial of Federal Judge appointments by the President.

A President has the duty of consulting with their administration and fellow party member Senators on approving nominations of Federal Judges to a vacant seat. What happens most of the time is that the judges have similar ideologies as the President and will rule on policies that are in favor of the President’s agenda or party affiliation.

If the Republicans can’t stop the President’s appointments, this will create an unbalance in the judiciary ranks that favor a one sided, narrow way of thinking. If the judiciary system becomes tainted with this narrow mindedness, then the integrity of the judiciary branch will be forever tarnished. If Republicans can’t stop this, then no one can.

When the tides turn, and the Democrats are the minority throughout the branches, they will be regretting this rule change, which many Republicans have already addressed. The judiciary system, by nature, is supposed to be a third party and to only interpret law as it presents itself, but keeping ideology out of the equation is impossible, it is human nature to have a bias towards any given issue.

I believe that eliminating ideological manipulation in a ruling doesn’t exist, so playing to the judge’s ideologies might be a more viable answer. If we can somehow create a systematic way of predicting the outcome of a particular judge’s ruling by looking at precedent, the judge’s previous rulings, then we can create a trend and a general idea of how the judge will vote on a particular issue.

By being able to make this prediction, we can choose certain judges for certain cases. We will choose a judge that will vote in a more neutral matter than other judges. This will decrease the likelihood of the judges making a ruling that corresponds with their ideology and rather, increase the likelihood that their ruling will reflect the law itself. The Filibuster Rule and the cloture rule worked perfectly well the way they were and held a standard of being a fair and balanced. It is a permanent fix to a very temporary problem.