October 20, 2014

College Initiative Program

By: Edir Coronado

Contributing Writer

One of the main issues with the prisonsystem is the recidivism rate. A New York based program has begun education programs in prisons, and with great success has allowed its participants to become contributing members of society. With 300 participants, only one returning to jail, and most students receiving a bachelors degree, it is safe to say that the program is showing results.

Ray Tebout, the director of counseling and mentoring at the program, explained how the College Initiative program allows former inmates to attend college by debunking some of the barriers they believe they will encounter.

Tebout understands the mix of different personalities the staff deals with and the obstacles both the student and mentor must overcome.

Some of the common obstacles Tebout sees among the younger students is the desire for instant gratification. He said the most common questions among these less experienced individuals are “why should I invest two to six years in school?” or “why not pick a trade or get a job?”

Tebout tackles these questions by providing evidence that an education will reduce the likeliness of a return back to prison. He also approaches this situation by helping the younger potential students in terms of long term goals.

Skeptical students are asked by Tebout to look at how much income they will accumulate over a lifetime rather than the short term. According to Tebout, a high school graduate can expect to earn an average of 1.2 million, someone with a bachelors can earn upwards of 2.1 million, and a masters graduate in the 2.5 million range.

These statistics gives the young students a different perspective on life and education.

Among the more seasoned individuals what is most commonly seen is the lack of knowledge when it comes to computers and technology. Many of the older students might have went to prison when the internet had not become such a big tool or when computers were not easily accessible.

Older generations of inmates face a major issue due to not being involved in a world that has rapidly become digitally influenced.

One 70- year- old student in the program, who asked to remain anonymous, has been in prison for more than 30 years. This individual had major issues with the use of computers. At the moment, he is currently finishing up his first semester, which is a huge success for someone who may have given up if not for the support that the College Initiative program has given them.

The program doesn’t only rely on its staff to support the incoming students, they rely heavily on peer mentorship. Through experience they have realized that a student is more likely to drop out of college during their first year.

This is why, after several months of working with a staff member, the students enter a peer mentorship program, where a fellow program participant with a 3.0 GPA and at least a year of college under their belt becomes a mentor to the new student. They serve as a support system for the student if they have problems with a subject matter or maybe a need to just vent about their frustrations with school.

Frustrations can include being the discrimination that they encounter because of their prison history. Tebout explained that the students within the program are scrutinized, “it is not necessarily the organization that is receiving negative feedback from the community, but the student themselves.”

Some reasons and common arguments of those opposed to an educational tactic towards the rehabilitation system often revolve around “we do not want to make smarter criminals,” according to Tebout. Tebout believes “we are not making smarter criminals, we are creating individuals with a different way of thinking.” His meaning is that when a person is exposed to education, he or she has the ability to create better options and make better decisions.

Tebout claims that if we were to look at our incarcerated in terms of employment, people can see that for many, selling drugs is the only job around. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons Drug offenses account for 48.8% percent of all incarcerated American. Homicide, Aggravated Assault, and Kidnapping offenses account for 2.8 percent of the prison population, sex offenses for 6.5 percent, robbery 3.7 per- cent, and weapons, explosives and arson account for 15.8 percent.

What the College initiative programs aims at doing, is taking this prison population, and showing them a different method of succeeding in life that they might have not been exposed to in the past.

The program has gained awareness through word of mouth and by sending their staff members to different location to speak about the program and the issues that they are trying to resolve through education.

Bookstore No More

By: Keyunna Singleton


Over the summer the John Jay administration prepared to welcome students and faculty to a campus without a bookstore. On Aug. 14 John Jay became the first CUNY campus to have a completely virtual bookstore.

One of the reasons the physical bookstore was removed from campus was be- cause of lack of sales. According to Patricia Ketterer, the executive director of finance and business services, there was a steady decline in sales from the bookstore over the years.

“The rent was not being made from sales or Barnes and Nobles commission,” said Ketterer.

Some of the decline in sales is due to the changes in federal laws pertaining to financial aid. One in particular states schools cannot mandate that students use their federal book vouchers at the school. Students were given the right to use the disbursement anywhere they pleased.

Another regulation enforces schools to ensure that students have access to their course reading lists and prices before the start of class. According to Mark Flower, business manager in the Business and Finance department, “the new online book- store adheres to this regulation and Barnes and Nobles didn’t.”

Although this year’s August sales exceeded last year’s, the administration is not as concerned with sales as they are with making sure that the students’ needs are met. “Our real drive is reducing the cost of books and having students prepared for class,” said Ketterer.

As the first CUNY school to have a fully virtual bookstore the John Jay student body feel like they are missing something. English major Nycol Martin says, “The biggest disappointment about not having a physical bookstore is feeling like we lost a part of campus.”

One of the other issues that Martin says she has to deal with since the change is getting her books on time for class. “I use go to the bookstore and get the book the day of and read it on the train. Now, it’s a 5-7 day wait.”

While some students like Martin feel cheated out of a piece of campus, others haven’t really noticed the difference. Sophomore Aaron Thomas says he stopped using the bookstore his second semester. “ I am much more comfortable using Chegg and Amazon,” said Thomas.

According to Flower, the online bookstore offers some of the features of Chegg and Amazon. In the sites marketplace, students have the option to purchase new or used books and rent books.

John Jay’s online bookstore links directly to CUNYFirst. “Every John Jay student can login to the bookstore with their CUNYFirst ID and the bookstore makes it easy to find the books required for their classes, because it is course specific,” said Flower.

Students also have multiple options for delivery when ordering from the online bookstore. From Monday-Friday between 12pm-3pm and 5pm-7pm students can pick up their books from the John Jay mailroom located at L2.66.00.

While some students question why they weren’t informed about the changes to the campus, Ketterer assures that there was in fact an email blast. “We couldn’t make the official announcement until the vendor was selected, which was around the beginning of June,” said Ketterer.

For students that need help navigating the online bookstore there is a table stationed at the atrium in the new building on Mondays and Wednesday until the end of the month with representatives from the bookstore that can help with questions and concerns.

Julie Kuljurgis, the account manager for the bookstore, says that the biggest problem they’ve had is transitioning. Kuljurgis was excited about some of the benefits that the bookstore offers, such as “year round book sell back and it doesn’t have to be a course book,” she said.

The bookstore is also willing to workwith campus clubs and organizations that may need to place orders for books. According to Kuljurgis, the online bookstore does accept purchase orders. In addition, the school’s contract renewal with MBJ will have the school’s new café, Lil J Café, located on 58th street and 11th avenue, sell merchandise, such as hoodies, and t-shirts.

The current online bookstore does not have an option for apparel or school memoranda but new contracts will fix this issue for the dedicated bloodhounds.

Ketterer confirms that within the month John Jay will enter into a contract with a different online company called “Advanced Online” that will sell John Jay merchandise.

John Jay may be without a physical bookstore, but they are not without options.

Uncertain Future for Horse-drawn Carriages

By Fathema Ahmed

Staff Writer

Frank Riccobono has been a horse-drawn carriage driver for nine years. His father was also a carriage driver. To him it is a family business. He even claims that his horse Angelina is part of his life.

“This is a piece of history that’s left. It’s a tradition,” said Riccobono.

Horse-drawn carriages have traveled the streets of Manhattan since 1858. Central Park  carriages can be seen as far as 34th Street.Long known  to be a tourist attraction, the carriages are facing opposition with many wanting to ban them including Mayor Bill De Blasio.

Mayor De Blasio has vowed to ban horse-drawn carriages saying that they are inhumane and outdated. The mayor wants to replace the  carriages with vintage-replica electric cars. The mayor says this move will be good for the environment while also helping the carriage drivers   stay employed. The horses will be sent to live on rescue farms.

horse-drawn carriage pic 11

By: Jenifer Valmon Horse-drawn carriage in Central Park.

De Blasio is not the first to raise the issue of whether or not horse-drawn carriages are humane. Animal rights activists such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have been advocates for banning the carriages, because they believe that horses are mistreated and overworked.

“The carriage industry subjects horses to miserable weather extremes,the dangers of congested traffic,and crowds and also retires them to dark, damp concrete stalls at the end of a long, strenuous workday. Instead of gazing in green pastures, horses used for carriage rides in the city live a nose-to–tail pipe existence,” PETA representative Ryan Huling stated in an email.

Riccobono has his own thoughts, “There are three sides to the story, their side, our side and the truth,” Riccobono said about horse-drawn carriages being inhumane.

While there are many who are for banning horse-drawn carriages, there are others who oppose the idea. According to a Quinnipiac survey from March 19,64 percent of those polled were against banning horse-drawn carriages while 24 percent were for it.

“It would be a shame to lose something that’s so instantly identifiable with New York,” stated Penny Faith, a tourist from London who was taking a stroll in Central Park on a recent morning.

Stephen Malone and his horse Tyson in front of Central Park

By: Jenifer Valmon Stephen Malone and his horse Tyson in front of Central Park.

Susan Somerville agreed that the carriages are an essential tourist attraction, It would be a drop in revenue for the city. Tourists come specifically to ride the horse-drawn carriages,” said Somerville.

There are five major stables involved in the industry. They are all on the far West Side of Manhattan from 37th Street to 52nd Street around 11th and 12th Avenue. These stables are Bryne Stable, Westside Livery, Shamrock Stable, Chateau Farms and Clinton Park.

To get to work, the carriages usually travel up 10th Avenue to the Central Park area, which begins at 59th Street. When returning, the carriages go by 9th Avenue to get back to the stables.

“I believe that it’s mainly not about the horses. It’s more about the real estate property where horses are located on the West Side,” stated Riccobono.

Riccobono also explains how he would be affected if the carriages were to be banned, “I wouldn’t know what to do if they got rid of the horse-drawn carriages. It’s all I’ve been doing.”

Adam Lee standing next to his horse in front of Central Park.

By: Jenifer Valmon Adam Lee standing next to his horse in front of Central Park.

On average, a New York City carriage horse works for four years. PETA states that when it is no longer able to work the horse is often taken to a slaughterhouse instead of being able to retire to greener pasture since it is more cost effective.

“I think it’s good that they’re thinking of banning the horse-drawn carriages, because you don’t know how those animals feel, you don’t know how those horses feel, you’re using them for those people to go around. I think it’s inhumane,” said Daisy Lozano, a junior at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

“There’s other ways to get around the city. Tourists don’t have to be sitting on the carriages. It’s not the end of the world for them. The one’s that are suffering are the horses,” added Lozano.

There are approximately 350 carriage drivers in the city. Over 200 horses are used for the horse-drawn carriages and only 68 carriage horse medallions or licenses in the industry. There are no restrictions as to when the carriages can go to and from Central Park. They are even allowed to travel during rush hour.

Horses lined up in front of Central Park.

By: Jenifer Valmon Horses lined up in front of Central Park.

Carriages can not operate above 89  degrees, or below 19 degrees and during blizzards. The carriage capacity is four adults, or three adults and two children under the age of 12, or one adult and four children under the age of 12.

A standard carriage ride is 50 dollars for up to twenty minutes, plus 20 dollars for an extra 10 minutes. On Mondays and Fridays, rides start at     10 AM and 9 AM on Saturdays and Sundays.

Many cities have already banned horse-drwan carriages. These cities include Las Vegas, Reno and Santa Fe.

“There are more entertaining ways to take in the sights of New York. Bikes, pedicabs, rickshaws, segways, and other human-propelled modes of transportation are fun, cruelty-free alternatives to carriage rides. And as an added bonus, the proposed eco-friendly cars will finally get rid of the horse droppings that inevitably accompany carriage rides as guaranteed romance killers!” stated Huling.

DeBlasio had pledged to act on this plan in his first week in office. As of now, there is still no bill that has been introduced. There has also been no timetable set for these actions to take place.

horse-drawn carriage pic 12

By: Jenifer Valmon Horse-drawn carriage on path in Central Park.

“We’re considering a range of options that move the horses off our streets, safeguard the animals and protect the livelihoods of the men and women  who provide carriage rides,” DeBlasio’s press office stated in an email.

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


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.


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.

Avonte Oquendo

Naomi Delgado


By: Naomi Delgado

The search expanded on Oct 4. Avonte Oquendo went missing when he ran out of his school in Long Island City, Queens. Avonte is 14-years-old, 5’3” and weighs 125 lbs. He is black and has brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a grey striped shirt, black jeans, and black shoes. 

Avonte is an autistic child in need of help, and is unable to communicate verbally.

“Autism is a developmental disorder that appears in the first three years of life, and affects the brain’s normal development of social and communication skills.” Said in the National library of Medicine online.

The AMBER alert was dispatched immediately. The media played a big part on letting everyone know Avonte’s description. The media announced his disappearance.  The family and the NYPD provided fliers. “Fliers with the NYPD logo are provided by the police,”an NYPD official said.

The MTA and the NYPD have united to find Avonte. Avonte’s parents say he is fascinated with trains, so the MTA has been announcing a description of Avonte.

“I have seen fliers on train’s stations and in streets and heard about it on the news and on the trains,” said Jinnette Grullon, a junior at John Jay. “I have heard the announcements on the trains, been hearing them for more than two weeks.”

“The MTA was contacted by NYPD,  due to the nature of the missing child not being able to speak. This is the first time from my knowledge that the MTA has assisted in this manner in an effort to find anyone,” NYPD officials said.

“The MTA officials took the unprecedented step of halting overnight track maintenance and ordered at least 200 workers to instead scour the tunnels for Avonte Oquendo, a missing, 14 year old, autistic boy,” Daily News online said.

This has been one of the first times the MTA has taken a big part of a search for a missing child. Avonte’s fascination for the trains has made the police believe that there is a possibility he can be found there.

The search expanded from Queens to Manhattan to other boroughs hoping to find Avonte safe. Since he is autistic, certain measures need to be taken when approaching him. Are people being informed of how to come close to an autistic child?

“I would hold him and get someone else to call the police. I know it might scare him but desperate needs call for desperate measures,” Grullon said.

“I work with autistic kids so I know that they are very sensitive so I would approach him very calmly and be as friendly as I could be and once I know he cant leave my sight, I’d call 911 as soon as possible,” said John Jay senior Roxana Teran. Teran is also an assistant teacher at the Bronx Organization for the Learning Disabled, or B.O.L.D. 

More information should be given in school to inform students and other people how to interact with an autistic child. NBC News segment, informed viewers to,“Call the tip line to let them know. Follow or keep an eye on Avonte but don’t necessarily approach or touch him. Keep him in your sight and communicate with law enforcement.”

Information regarding what autism is and how to help a person with this condition should be directed. “I think that every school should inform the students of how to approach an autistic child in case they see him,” said Teran.

“I know what autism is. It’s a disorder in the brain, which interferes with social interactions. Autistic children can’t function socially like other children can and usually are fascinated on one certain thing like trains, cars, toys, etc., I think,” said Grullon.

The search for the autistic teen is still in action and there is hope that more volunteers join the search. A red tent has been put outside Avonte’s school. Volunteers can meet at the tent that is located in Long Island City, Queens near Riverdale School.

“I would volunteer for Avonte’s search,” said Terran. “I can’t even imagine how his parents are feeling. They must be devastated.”

Avonte’s parents do not lose hope that their son is alive. Avonte’s mom asks for the search to continue in hope that one day they find him.

A study done by a psychologist Christopher Chabris of Union College in Schenectady, N.Y. has shown that people tend to pay attention to one thing at a time. People are so caught up in their everyday life that they don’t stop to see what may be happening around them.

The Minn Post online said that “inattentional blindness” is the failure to see visible and otherwise salient events when one is paying attention to something else.” It also uses the term “illusion of attention” which is “the common but mistaken belief that people pay attention to, and notice, more of their visual world than they actually do.”

The way a person distributes his attention to their everyday tasks determines how much each task is completed and to what perfection. A person can try to focus their attention to more than one thing but their attention to each task wont be equally distributed.  Multitasking is possible but to a certain extent.

Charles Stone, a Cognitive Psychology professor at John Jay said, “In the ‘inattentional blindness’ research, what tends to happen is they would have people focus all their attention on one task. So if I’m focusing on you and something else is going around, I might not notice it. However if I have a diffuse attention span, I will notice what is going on.”

“If people are in the subway and they are too focused on their own thought or on their own music they won’t notice anything around them possibly, and I think that on the subway there is a lot of pressure to be like that.” Professor Stone said. “You just want to get into your own zone and you don’t make eye contact with other people, you just focus on your day, what you’ve done, so if they are focus so strong on that they are using all their attention resources they won’t notice [Avonte].”

Train riders in particular tend to focus on their own life and feel the constant need to avoid looking at others to avoid any altercations. They are either using their gadgets or reading the newspaper.

“I don’t really pay attention to anyone in the train. I’m either listening to music or playing candy crush on my phone,”  Karla Flores, a senior at John Jay, said. “It helps me avoid problems with some crazy people in the train.

Avoiding conflict by making eye contact or having too many things in mind might prevent some people from being able to use diffused attention allowing them to be able to see more than what they see, giving Avonte a chance to be found.

“We just want to request that everybody take five minutes just to look. If we pay a little more attention to each other, we may be able to see things,” Avonte’s dad said in an online article called The Stir.

If you or anyone you know, knows some information on Avonte Oquendo please contact NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS. You can also contact Det. Michael Donleavy at 718-520-9252.


African-Americans Evolving in Comic Books

By Alex Guzman

Can you think of a comic book or graphic novel whose central character is black?  Have you ever read of a black superhero that is not merely a sidekick, or an irrelevant character? Last month “Heroes in Black: Race, Image, Ideology and the Evolution of Comics Scholarship” was an event held at the CUNY Graduate Center on 34th Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan. Professor Jonathan W. Gray, an assistant professor of English at John Jay College lead this talk.

White characters, like Superman and Batman, are more prevalent in comics than black protagonists. There were differences in their upbringings and how they became superheroes, but almost all of them were white. Black superheroes, like Luke Cage, were not always painted in the best light. Even though Cage was the main character in his comic, he was born of the exploitation of black people in the film industry. He portrayed the archetype of the big buck.

“Early black characters faced moral quandaries [and were] placed under the gaze of white superheroes [and] popular culture,” Professor Gray said. Compared to the 1970’s, black characters now embody fewer stereotypes.

The African riots and the Black Panther movement heavily influenced Cage’s character when Luke Cage comics first came out. But after his disappearance for some time, he reappeared with the rise of Barack Obama as a state senator.

The new Luke Cage looked different from how he used to look in the 70’s, which gave off a less extremist image, according to Gray. His new costume helped him to better fit in as a member of society rather than being associated with a specific ethnic group. He was now integrated with the black working class, rather than the black power movement.

Gray quoted Scott Buktaman, who said that young scholars say that comics pay special attention to non-traditional superheroes. Gray also quotes Scott McCloud, who claims “universality of the cartoon image” as a “white, heteronormative, masculine subject.”

Gray spoke of neo-liberalism and the introduction of the first black comic book characters to appear on their own.

“In 1975, Marvel creates four iconic black characters,” Gray said. He speaks of the Black Panther, Storm, The Falcon and the aforementioned Luke Cage.

Gray remembered how, in one comic, The Falcon is fighting an enemy while Captain America watches. He claimed that this “endorses militant black masculinity, [which] mirrors and mimics that of the reader.”

Gray mentioned that many considered The Falcon who was the true hero of that comic. He explained how “this displacement of course is incomplete [because] The Falcon has never had his own comic book.”

Gray looked at his audience to read their reaction, and continued, “I began to see Superman as a punk, that Superman didn’t relate to replenishing the earth, like Huey Newton and other people did,” Gray said. “In essence, Superman is a phony and a fake. He never saved any black people in this country in any comic book stories.”

The last of Gray’s PowerPoint slides was of Luke Cage. In this interpretation, Cage was a more humanized multicultural member of society, and not so much a member of one ethnic group specifically, as he walked with his white wife, pushing his multiracial infant son in his stroller.

Professor Gray is teaching The African-American Experience: Comparative Racial Perspectives in the Spring 2014 semester.

New Vice President Elected to Student Council

By Melissa Kong

Staff Writer

Student Council-Chris Ferreiras


There’s a new vice president in town. On Oct. 2, John Jay’s Student Council elected Julio Torres as vice president to replace Salahdine Baroudi, who resigned early September.

Torres, 26 and a Global History Major, is a former active duty service member in the U.S  Army. He was the president of the John Jay Veterans Association, as well as a Senior class representative. To take up this new role, Torres had to resign from those positions mentioned above.

Though Torres already assumed the responsibilities as Student Council’s new vice president, the shift of the change has not yet been updated on the college Jay Stop website.

Torres joined Student Council because he felt he was the right man for the job saying there was a lot of work to do once there was a vacancy.

“I offered my experience and promised to do my best,” Torres said. “With my experience in the military I thought I could fill this role.”

In an email sent to the Sentinel, Baroudi explained the reasons for his resignation.

“Ultimately, what led to my resignation as the Vice President of Student Government was other responsibilities that, I felt, fell in more closer relation to my career interests.”

Baroudi later went on to reflect about his time serving as Student Council Vice President.

“I carefully considered my 2 years of working within Student Government, and the four to five month term as Vice President, and realized that I had completed a significant portion of my duties and objectives within the position,” said Baroudi.

As for Torres, he told the Sentinel of his broad agenda.

“My plans are to fill all committees available for student representation on campus, make changes to the Student Government Charter which will increase the efficiency of Student Governance within John Jay, assist the Student Council Representatives with their tasks and event planning, revise various reference material used by Student Government, formalize a John Jay homelessness initiative and have an ROTC information session,” said Torres.

One of the tasks that Baroudi had that still needs to be fulfilled is filling committee seats. The task is essential because it gives careful consideration to issues pertaining to college policies and other student related concerns on campus.

For Student Council’s President Clinton Dyer Jr. he stated, “I trusted in his ability,” he expressed that because of Baroudi 2 year Student Government experience, he had very high expectations.  One major expectation that Dyer had for the former Student Council Vice President was the fulfillment of committee seats which according to Dyer, Baroudi failed to do.

Though it isn’t ideal to have a student council member resign mid-semester,  Torres is optimistic about his new position.

“I hope to embody the Student Council motto of “Catalyst for Change,” said Torres.

“I hope to accomplish all of my plans while maintaining my GPA. I hope to assist homeless students of John Jay and replicate this effort throughout CUNY.”

Female Basketball Player Breaks Records


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By Keyunna Singleton

Staff Writer

Jamecia Forsythe, of John Jay’s Women’s Basketball team, is set to have record-breaking season.

Forsythe, a senior and second year captain, is projected to surpass a 1000 points and 1000 rebounds for her career.She is 31 points and 78 rebounds away from the milestone.

The 21 year-old would be the first John Jay student, and the third female athlete in the NCAA CUNY conference to do this.Forsythe has played for the team since her freshman year and became team captain as a Junior.

“It hasn’t hit me yet that I’m going to be the first ever John Jay student to do this,” said Forsythe. “I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I can’t wait for it to happen.”

Nonetheless, her ultimate goal is to win a championship. Something she has targeted since becoming a Bloodhound.

“I want a chip first and foremost,” Forsythe said.

To reinforce the idea of winning into her team, she draws from Ian Terry for inspiration. Terry was the winner from season 14 of “Big Brother”, her favorite reality show.

According to Forsythe, Terry says, “If you can plan it and you can see it then you can have it.”

She refers to this quote to focus her game, especially when preparing to play against Baruch College. Baruch’s basketball team is the six-time CUNY conference champion.

“Someone has to stop them, why not us?” said Forsythe.

It’s been 21 years since John Jay’s women’s basketball team has won a championship and Forsythe believes that the opportunity is waiting for her.

Her mother, Joan Forsythe, is “delighted” by her daughter’s passion, though there was a time when it affected their relationship.

Joan Forsythe, a mother of four, refers to her only daughter as “Mecia”. “I did not always want Mecia to play basketball,” she said. “I wanted her to be regular.”

After seeing how much her daughter loved basketball, she wants to see her “go all the away.”

Forsythe’s mother used to worry about her daughter’s distant traveling and staying late at practices and games.

“She used to go alone,” she said of her daughter, while other parents would drop their daughters off and pick them up.

Because she had to work, often two jobs, Forsythe did a lot of traveling on the buses and trains by her self. Ms. Forsythe admits to asking her daughter not to go to practice at times.

Forsythe always declined. “She never, never, never missed a day even if it was cold or she was sick,” Ms. Forsythe said.

“Sometimes she would be so sore that she would have to eat in bed. But she always keep up with her school work,” she said.

Forsythe has been an excellent student since grade school. Graduating second in her class in junior high and high school, her mother finds her drive and determination admirable.

Back at John Jay, her coach Diane Ramirez says “I love her like she is my own daughter.”

Ramirez refers to Forsythe as “the hardest working student athlete I’ve ever had.”

Forsythe plans to continue her education at medical school after she graduates in May. She encourages anyone that has a goal in life to pursue it, no matter the obstacles. “If you have a love for something, don’t let anything stop it.”

John Jay Observes Domestic Violence for the Month of October

domestic violence pic 1

By Jeffrey Nunziato

Purple floods the halls of John Jay as Domestic Violence Awareness events take place throughout the month of October.

October is known for Breast Cancer Awareness Month—where you’ll often see people wearing the color pink. John Jay held awareness for another issue, domestic violence of which, the color for Domestic Violence Awareness is purple. On Oct. 17, John Jay held a “Purple Day” where students and faculty got together to wear the color purple in some form or fashion.

Katherine Outlaw, the Program Coordinator of Leadership and Diversity, who works in the Office of Student Life, is part of the faculty heading the events. “I’m excited about it,” said Outlaw. “We wanted to honor the victims of domestic violence, raise awareness, and let people know that we are paying attention.”

This is not the first year that John Jay is holding events for domestic violence, but it is the first as a collaborative effort. There are three offices heading the events—the Office of Student Life, the Women’s Center, and the Office of External Affairs. Each office contributed a part to the cause.

Outlaw felt that working with other offices made things easier. “Collaborations are important. I think that when you work on a college campus students get into silos, but we want to open it up and make you aware of what others experience,” said Outlaw. “We want students to be involved.”

“Purple Day” was an event done to make people think. “I want students to see others wearing purple and think ‘why are you wearing purple?’ and to challenge people to think about how they interact with others,” Outlaw said. The color purple, representing Domestic Violence Awareness, is a way for students and faculty to get involved in the effort.

Done as a collaborative effort, the offices had the mezzanine lit purple in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness. The Office of External Affairs handled negotiations to have the lighting approved. “I think it brings it to another level,” Outlaw said. “The opportunity to do this and let people know that this is what’s going on.”

The Women’s Center paid for t-shirts that students could customize with domestic violence statistics. They were also handing out paper fliers with statistics of domestic violence along with purple ribbons that students could pin to their clothing.

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Elizabeth Yukins, who is Director of the Women’s Center, was also looking forward to the awareness events for domestic violence. “Those t-shirts, 50 of them, were gone in a few hours from people coming in,” said Yukins. “We’ve had over 100 people come in to either get a t-shirt or get a purple ribbon to wear.”

Among “Purple Day”, custom t-shirts and ribbons, the Women’s Center also held a bake-sale in the lobby of New Building on Oct. 17. At the beginning of November, the Women’s Center will be hanging t-shirts in the lobby of New Building. “Each shirt will have different colors, representing different issues of death or survival in relationship to violence,” Yukins said.

Both Outlaw and Yukins made it clear that the administration at John Jay was supportive of their efforts to plan the awareness events. Despite the numerous events going on at John Jay, including the movie filming that took up entire floors at a time, it was important to get space for the awareness events. “We started off a little late in regards to the events due to the other things going on in October, but we wanted to still show respect to the victims of domestic violence,” said Outlaw.

What drives these women to get involved with these kinds of events? Outlaw, who previously worked at the University of Arizona, was the coordinator of the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event that had to do with sexual assault. “For me, I’m also a Women’s Studies Minor, and so I always think about what my daily life is, how I can affect people, and how I can teach people in the process,” said Outlaw. “As a Diversity Coordinator that’s my job, but that’s also how I live my life.”

Being that Yukins is the Director of the Women’s Center, Yukins job is focused on being the supportive backbone for people who need help. “There’s a sense of doing what we can to assist students who struggle with personal issues in their lives,” said Yukins. “Whether that’s counseling, or advocacy, or raising the awareness of issues, it’s our job.”