December 22, 2014

Professor Majic Sheds Light On Sex Work Field

By Rehana Sancho

Staff Writer

sex work politics

Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons The cover of Professor Majic’s latest book, which can be found on Amazon.

Professor Samantha Majic, assistant professor of political science at John Jay, has unleashed a new wave of feminism and open-mindedness about the sex industry here on campus. Strutting down the halls with her high heels and often very fashionable outfits, Professor Majic has cast a spell on many young women who hope to follow in her advocate footsteps.

Professor Majic is teaching a class titled “Women and Politics” for the Political Science Department. The lectures include topics about the many types of feminist theories, such as radical feminism, liberal feminism, socialist feminism and modern feminism. The course also sheds light on some controversial feminists such as Beyoncé, and well noted modern political women, such as Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton, as well as other women in politics, both national and international.

At 36 years old, Professor Majic has received four degrees; a B.A from the University of Toronto, two Masters Degrees from both York University and Cornell University, and lastly a Ph.D. from Cornell University. She had written one book, “Sex Work Politics: From Protest to Service Provision” and is co-editor of another, “Negotiating Sex Work.”

According to the University of Pennsylvania Press, “Sex Work Politics” is “an excellent, important book. Samantha Majic’s detailed community research will transform our views of sex workers as well as our understanding of the potential for nonprofit community organizations and social movements to achieve lasting political change.”

Professor Majic based her research in California where she worked with the St. James Infirmary (SJI) and the California Prostitution Education Project (CAL-PEP). She worked with sex workers, volunteering, interviewing and grasping an overall understanding of how and why they became a sex worker. Majic came to the conclusion that “all sex workers aren’t victims,” and centered the thesis of her book around the understanding of why sex work should be decriminalized.

Majic argues that sex work should be decriminalized with policy considerations that would equate to safe and healthy sexual practices for both the sex worker’s and their clients. However, Majic is not advocating for total government intervention, because sex workers should have a say on how they want to be governed based on their experience with the sex trade.

Majic believes that people should think more broadly about sex work. She feels like a “poor women sexuality is policed,” and that there is an assumption that all sex workers are either criminals or victims. “sex workers are not just women who have been stuff in the back of a truck,” explains Majic. According to Majic, people often confuse sex work with sex trafficking which is when a person, involuntarily, is coerce into the sex trade by another person or group. Some people are making a personal decision to become a sex worker.

Majic

Photo Courtesy of John Jay Website Professor Samantha Majic

To introduce her research and open the floor to sex work conversation, Professor Majic spearheaded the “Sex Work Initiative” forum this fall in the Moot Court Room here on campus. Through six diverse events such as a book talk, film screenings/debate, and panel discussions with people who are involved in the sex work industry, students were exposed to an alternative view of the sex work field.

Students listened to excerpts and brief summaries of Professor Majic’s book, “Sex Work Politics: From Protest to Service Provision.” Majic explained that sex workers aren’t just prostitutes, they are also escorts, pornography stars and exotic dancers; people who choose to make a career or make money using their bodies.

After attending three of the sex initiative forums, Hadassah Yisrael, a sophomore, explained she felt like she was given a one on one experience other professors seldom offer. Yiseral explains that the forums were thought provoking. “Our ideas of sex workers are usually procreated by the media,” said Yisrael. “This is the best event I seen from a professor.”

After the forum, Yisrael said she is eager to take one of Professor Majic’s classes because of the testimonies she heard from the former sex worker at the event, and Professor Majic herself. “The world is so heteronormative. It doesn’t allow for fluid identities,” explained Yisrael. “I believe taking a class of her will allow me to continue to explore what I’ve learned from the forum.

M.G Robinson, a junior, is a student in Professor Majic’s “Women and Politics” class, “I have been so inspired by not only the forum, but the feminist theories she has introduced me too.” Robinson explains that meeting congressional woman Helen Rosenthal, in class, showed her that Professor Majic actually cares about her cause and her students.

But the females on campus aren’t the only people being influenced by Professor Majic, Abran Acosta, a junior, explained. “I never looked at politics as a gendered field, but learning about how long and hard women have fought for their rights, beyond suffrage, I can’t take the little things for granted anymore.”

Acosta went further to say, “Even though I don’t always agree with what she says in class, I do agree that the information she provides, to these classes full of women will increase women’s involvement in politics and ultimately increase gender equality.

Professor Majic’s research, classes, and forums has created a platform to discuss issues such as sex work and women’s equality. Whether or not everyone agrees with her research, judging by student’s reactions and her jammed packed forums, Professor Majic is providing John Jay students with three things they love; controversy, open-minded debates, and a source for inspiration.

 

Ebola Prompts CUNY Protocol

By Fathema Ahmed

Staff Writer

Ebola

By: Fathema Ahmed The largest isolation center within Haaren Hall, in room C22. This room was previously a dressing room but has been converted in case of an outbreak.

The City University of New York (CUNY) is working with the city to be prepared in case of an Ebola outbreak in CUNY schools, even following the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s guidelines.

On Thursday, Oct. 6, CUNY Chancellor James Milliken sent out a memorandum to Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Finance and Administration Robert Pignatello about Ebola preparedness.

“Although the Ebola threat to the CUNY community is small, the University has taken a number of measures to minimize risk. We have been communicating with public health agencies; our Infectious Diseases Committee meets regularly to ensure that our campuses are prepared for contingencies; and campus representatives are briefed at various forums, such as the University’s Risk Management and Business Continuity Council,” stated Milliken in his memorandum. “We have also been working with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which has prepared a guidance document for colleges and universities and an Ebola evaluation algorithm.”

According to the CUNY website, each CUNY campus has a liaison who is in charge of dispersing information and abiding by CUNY guidelines on screening for and responding to any potential issues. The office of the Chancellor asked each college to appoint a liaison, and President Jeremy Travis appointed Pignatello to be the campus liaison for John Jay.

“We’ve been coordinating on a local effort to be prepared in case we have a case of Ebola. We’ve had three meetings, sometimes with phone calls where the campus representatives all gather together, talking about what’s going on and what’s happening in different campuses,” said Pignatello in regards to how he is coordinating with other campus liaisons.

“The risk for members of the CUNY community to be exposed is viewed as low but the consequences if someone were to get ill are very high, so it was taken very seriously, ” continued Pignatello.

New York has been forced to handle a case of Ebola itself. On Wednesday, Oct. 23, the New York City Department of Health and Hygiene reported a case of Ebola in a medical aid worker. The next day, New York City doctor Craig Spencer, 33, was confirmed to be the first and only person in New York State of having the Ebola virus after returning from Guinea; one of the countries in West Africa that has been affected by the virus.

He worked there for five weeks with the humanitarian-aid organization “Doctors Without Borders,” treating victims of the deadly virus. Spencer spent 19 days in isolation at Bellevue Hospital where he was treated. It is not known whether the experimental drug and blood plasma from recovered Ebola patient Nancy Writebol, 59, made a difference or whether his body killed the virus on it’s own. Spencer was released on Tuesday, Nov. 11.

Shortly after Spencer was confirmed of having the Ebola virus, Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, announced that anyone that had direct contact with Ebola patients in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone had to go through a mandatory quarantine for 21 days. On Wednesday, Oct. 26, Cuomo announced that people coming from West Africa that did not show symptoms would be allowed to stay home for the allotted time, and that health care workers would be checking in on the patients twice a day to monitor their symptoms.

CUNY also has created isolation centers in the event of someone having the Ebola virus at CUNY. If a patient shows symptoms of Ebola and has traveled to an affected area, or had contact with someone with a confirmed case of Ebola in the 21 days before the illness, the patient will be placed in an isolated room, ideally with a private bathroom. The New York City Health Department will be contacted to guide the college through the process and to tell them what to do next.

Ebola 2

By: Fathema Ahmed The private bathroom for the isolation center located in C2201 of Haaren Hall.

John Jay College has identified an area in each of the college buildings and public safety officers, and health office employees have been trained in how to respond in the event that a member of the John Jay community were to show symptoms of the virus. The main isolation center is in the health office, which will be used during business hours. Unlike New York State regulation, the quarantine is not forced.

“The use of the isolation area is voluntary, you can’t make someone go into an isolation center, but if they present themselves with one of the risk factors, we would invite them to go into the isolation center to evaluate the situation and they would be willing to come in and then basically take over,” said Pignatello regarding forced quarantine. “We can’t force someone from John Jay to stay against their will, so that’s why we would contact the department of health and they would evaluate and follow all appropriate rules and regulations. They’re the ones whose guidance we would follow.”

Pignatello advises that students get a flu shot in order to avoid the confusion of whether someone is infected with Ebola or the flu, as flu symptoms are similar to that of Ebola.

According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, some symptoms of Ebola include, but are not limited to, fever, headaches, joint and muscle aches, nausea, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and lack of appetite. Flu symptoms that are common with Ebola are fevers, headaches, aches, diarrhea and vomiting.

“Symptoms usually appear eight to 10 days after exposure but may appear anywhere from two to 21 days after exposure. People only become contagious after they begin to have symptoms. If a person does not develop symptoms within 21 days after exposure, he or she is not at risk of Ebola,” stated the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on their website.

According to the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, you are not at risk unless you traveled to Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone and had direct contact through broken skin or your mouth, eyes or nose with bodily fluids such as blood, vomit, urine, feces and sweat of a person infected with the virus or a person who died of the disease.

“This is not a disease that is well known to people and not a lot of people know about how it spreads, how to contract it, how to tell if someone might be affected. We had the federal government through the CDC (United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the state department of health and the city department of health all put out information. A lot of it is identical, but a lot of it is similar,” said Pignatello on how John Jay is making students aware of the disease.

“There is a lot of information that is on the college’s website and the college has put up posters and flyers and so forth, about what we know about Ebola, about what we know about getting infected,” continued Pignatello.

While there are protocols at CUNY, there are students who are not aware of them. “I didn’t know about the protocols. If I knew about it I would feel that CUNY realizes that it’s a big issue and they’re doing something about it,” said Crystal Santos, a freshman at John Jay.

“You should be reminded that there’s this disease like Ebola out there. You should always be sanitary. In classrooms they should educate a little more about it. We use it as a joke because we’re not as educated about it,” continued Santos.

The CUNY homepage has an Ebola information link that it will continue to update. The link connects to different Ebola resources.

“We don’t want to overreact. We want to take reasonable precautions. That’s part of the challenge, the challenge here is to protect the safety of the people in our community and at the same time preserve and protect the privacy rights of everyone who might be suspected of being unhealthy. It’s not our job to diagnose people, we’re not doctors,” said Pignatello.

 

Reagonomics

By: Davon Singh

Contributing Writer

party_democrat

Ronald Wilson Reagan or “The Gipper” was the 40th president of the United States of America. He won in a landslide election in 1980 against Jimmy Carter.

Though his presidency ended 26 years ago, his policies still impact the modern day political field. One of these policies, Reaganomics, also known as trickle down economics, supply-side or neoliberalism.

According to proponents of Reaganomics, cutting taxes for the rich is good because they are the job creators in the economy. Since the idea is to have the wealthy pay less taxes, they will use the additional money to create more jobs.

Even now, Republicans say this nonsense is the cure to all our problems. They claim this is the way to grow the economy, unfortunately, its not. In 2012,
 a nonpartisan study by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) stated that cutting tax rates for the wealthiest American in fact does not spur economic growth.

Shocking! The report stated “there is not conclusive evidence, however, to substantiate a clear relationship between the 65-year steady reduction in the top tax rates and economic growth. The top tax rate reductions appear to be associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top of the income distribution.”

Reagan supporters claim his policies helped reinvigorate the economy.

What really happened was that the top one percent of Americans saw the income increase by 80 percent, while the rest of Americans saw their income rise by a grand total of three percent.

In 1989 the United Press International (UPI) reported that the income gap between the richest and the poorest was the biggest since 1947, all thanks to Reaganomics.

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage

By: Christopher Espinal

Contributing Writer

Hispanic Heritage Month is nationally recognized as a month long national holiday. However, what does this month celebrate exactly? Why is it relevant?

Hispanic Heritage Month does not pertain to one specific month, but rather two. Latinos, in the United States celebrate their cultural pride and significant contributions beginning Sept. 15 and ending Oct. 15.

The first day of Hispanic Heritage Month also shares an anniversary of national independence for countries such as, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, which is fitting for the first day of celebrating Latino pride.

The John Jay community is full of pride and diversity. Latinos at John Jay make up roughly 40 percent of the student body!

The Dominican Students Association is one of the largest organizations here
at John Jay. The main attraction at their parties is the dancing. Although Hispanic Heritage Month was originally intended for Latinos to connect to their own roots, the door has always been open for non-Latinos who wish to learn and celebrate the Latino Culture.

Dancing is one of the central pillars of the Latino community. From Bachata, to Merengue, and Salsa, the D.S.A. has hosted various dance lessons throughout the entire month and is open to anyone who wishes to participate.

According to Brian Monsanto, Manhattan native and Vice-President of the D.S.A, the main goal for the D.S.A. is “to provide a comfortable environment for students to just come in, open up to us, ya’ know. Form a little family and become aware of some of the traditional things we do.” This belief is exactly why the D.S.A has such a large Latino following.

Hispanic heritage month also recognizes the accomplishments individuals of this community and cultures have accomplished. This spans from individual accomplishments to societal changes.

“My older brother. He came to the country when he was about fourteen. For the most part he’s gotten the language down, he graduated college, he’s got a pretty good job right now,” said 21 year old Monsanto. “He started the wholeAmerican Dream business that we’re all convinced to follow, and he’s on his way, well on his way. And he did all of that in about six or seven years.”

Aside from the students here at John Jay, the faculty is also quite involved in exploring the Latino culture. Professor Edward Paulino of the History department wrote and acted out a stage performance highlighting the government driven massacre of Haitians that occurred in 1937 in the Dominican Republic.

Recently, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Sonia Maria Sotomayor visited John Jay during the John Jay Convocation. Sotomayor is amongst the most accomplished of New York City Latinos, born of Puerto Rican parents in the Bronx.

Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to remember men and women such as Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor and that have improved their lives and celebrate the cultures that they come from.

 

John Jay Mathematician Passes On

By: Fathema Ahmed

Staff Writer

 

Photo Courtesy of John Jay Website Professor Maurice Vodounon

Professor Maurice Vodounon of the Mathematics & Computer Science Department at John Jay passed away on Wednesday, August 27 of an undisclosed illness. The John Jay community learned of his passing via email  sent out by Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Jane Bowers.

Vodounon lived in Riverside Drive with his wife and two daughters. His daughters are currently both in college. Professor Emerson Miller of the Mathematics and Computer Science Department remembers having one of his daughters in his summer class this past semester.

Vodounon received his bachelor’s in mathematics from the University of Niamey, in Niger in 1978. He obtained his master’s in Mathematics from Columbia University in 1990 followed by a second master’s in Mathematics Education in 1992. He completed his doctorate in mathematics education in 1994, also from Columbia University.

Vodounon was from Nigeria and one of few African Americans to graduate with a degree in the STEM field, “Black people are 12 percent of the U.S. population and 11 percent of all students beyond high school. In 2009, they received just 7 percent of all STEM bachelor’s degrees, 4 percent of master’s degrees, and 2 percent of PhDs, according to the National Center for Education Statistics,” stated the Huffington Post in an article.

The former chair of the Mathematics and Computer Science department Sydney Samuel also went to Columbia University for his education degree in mathematics. His advisor had recommended Vodounon for the position of lecturer when the department was conducting a search. The present chair of the department Douglas Salane was on the personal budget committee that decided to hire him.

“He made an ideal candidate because he could understand students, he got along with the students. At the time his versatility was good too, he was able to teach both Mathematics and Computer science classes,” stated Salane.

He had published works both in Mathematics and Computer Science including the textbook College Algebra, Technology and Cooperative learning Approaches which was published by Pearson Education Publishing in 2001.

He also had works in progress including “Perceptions Displayed by Novice Programmers Exploring the Relationship between Modularization Ability and Performance in the Java Programming Language” and “Analyzing the Effects of Graphing Calculator on Calculus course designed for Computer Science and Forensic Science Major” which were both under review for publication. Vodounon had several grants from PSC-CUNY to do his research.

“He was very personal, very warm, very pleasant mannered, every approachable. He was always very encouraging to me. He was doing a lot of work in the major at the time and he was always very versatile, continued Salane.”

Salane stated that Vodounon was able to teach both mathematics and computer science which made him versatile.

“Especially years ago we used to have five majors and we didn’t have the faculty we have now. It was very important. Maurice and I wanted to keep the major going, keeping these students with instructors in the class,” said Salane on why it was important for Vodounon to be versatile.

Along with his educational side Vodounon was also invested in his family, “He had two daughters who he was very, very proud of and as our families grew we would constantly compare notes and advice of what we should be doing, to help out each other. He was “very, very interesting,” stated Salane when asked about a good experience he had with Professor Vodounon.

“You look back 25 years and you’re sharing all these experiences, it’s like going back a lifetime. Your families go from little children to big children. It’s not part of the academic side of what we do but it’s part of the personal side,” continued Salane.

His daughters are currently both in college. Professor Emerson Miller of the Mathematics and Computer Science Department remembers having one of his daughters in his summer class this past semester.

“It was a pleasant experience having her in my class. She is very enthusiastic and motivated about learning, just like her father,” said Miller about having Vodounon’s daughter in his class.

Professor Vodounon’s illness eventually got the best of him. He was sick for about two years. He was scheduled to teach courses this semester, these courses were Math 108 and Math 141.

“We had thought that he had overcome his illness. During the time that he was sick he didn’t take time off, he was still teaching. He was being treated for the illness but whatever it was came back, stated Salane.”

Maurice’s family is currently planning a memorial service. Information about the service will be sent out to the John Jay community about the service as soon it is received stated Bowers.

 

 

 

 

 

LGBTQ Finds Their Place At John Jay

By: Jade Jetjomlong

Contributing Writer

Established in Fall 2013, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning & Allies (LGBTQ) student run organization at John Jay was ready to raise the bar on Safe Zone Advocacy in the college for any who have ever felt out of place or uncomfortable in their own skin or environment.

Sanaly Santiago, a sophomore at John Jay, feels that the creation of an LGBTQ club at John Jay “is a great club to bring to the campus,” and that “there are a lot of students I know who still aren’t confident in their identity and live behind a fake one.”

This years’ team of executives for LGBTQ & Allies includes founding President Jillian Shartrand and Vice President Charlene Javier, alongside new executives Treasurer Michael Romano and Secretary Dianna Serrano.

Current Secretary and John Jay Senior, Dianna Serrano, stated she wanted to become an executive because she saw the old executive team struggling and really wanted to help give other John Jay students a similar experience to her own; a place where she immediately felt relaxed and comfortable.

The organization means being able “to include anyone who identifies in this spectrum in any way and allies, allies are very much emphasized since they’re one of our biggest advocates,” said Serrano.

Upon coming to John Jay College as a transfer, Jillian Shartrand, President of LGBTQ & Allies, noticed the former social identity and equality club, known as Spectrum, was inactive and outdated.

Together, with friends Charlene Javier, and Rigoberto Urqullo, former Secretary, they became the founders and first leaders of the new LGBTQ & Allies, with the mission to unite people of all identities, genders, and sexualities.

The club has recruited over 80 current members in the past year and plans on getting more. LGBTQ & Allies is hosting events to encourage the philosophy of everyone having somewhere to go and feel comfortable to be themselves.

Part of this semester’s plans is to host a “Speak Out” event in October, in order to promote speaking out for your own identity. The event will include John Jay students participating in any kind of verbal art, ranging from singers, to rappers, to spoken word artists.

The organization also plans to host a “Coming Out Week” in November “where gay and lesbian identified athletes will come in to speak and everyone can see people of high profiles who are proud of who they are and can still do what they love and be out there” said Serrano.

LGBTQ & Allies hasn’t forgotten John Jay’s motto, “Advocates for Justice”, either. The club plans on hosting events to cover gender and sexuality as social justice issues, such as gender and sexual assault prevention, and how identification increasingly is becoming a social issue.

LGBTQ & Allies is also an advocate for the JJay #Nolabels campaign, which seeks to end the stigmatizing of individuals.

Serrano, in regards to those who hide their identities and how the LGBTQ & Allies club approaches them, stated, “In no way we’re trying to push any one to come out or publicize who they are, all we want is to create a safe space for them to at least an hour come and enjoy the company and seeing what we’re about and find comfort in being with people they really can identify with.”

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning club at John Jay is here to modernize the safe zone for social identity and equality on campus, to “help people feel more safe in their own skin especially being in a college where you don’t know each other initially,” said Serrano.

John Jay students, such as Santiago, agree with Serrano. “I think this club will help educate the student body as a whole and make the school a giant safe zone,” said Santiago.

Everyone’s Need, Not Everyone’s Greed

By: Jenifer Valmon

Staff Writer

On Sept. 21, 2014, New York City hosted one of the many People’s Climate March happening around the world. Considered the largest march in history, an estimated four hundred thousand people processed from 86th street to 34th street, in New York City, including fifty thousand students, according to the Peoples Climate website.

Colorful handmade signs and banners littered the hands of marchers with messages reading, “wake up and smell the pollution, extinction is not success and bring your own bags.”

Support for climate reforms ranged from Buddhist and Christian organizations to medical union, 1199, and thousands of families and friends unifying for change.  A large number of these groups gathered in front of the Time Warner Cable building, at 10 Columbus Circle, to rally with chants, songs and prayer.

Organizers created a chart designating sections of the line up to specific groups with people at the “front line” of the crisis first in line, families, students and elders second, scientist second to last and the LGBTQ, NYC boroughs and community groups ending the march.

“You’re going to come up with ridiculous categorizations,” said John Jay Professor Elizabeth Yukins, regarding the arrangement of sections.

Yukins, part of the English Department at John Jay, and director of the college women’s center, attended the march with her partner, 10-year-old son and five year old daughter. Yukins chose her family’s position based on the best place for her children to endure then  two-hour wait to march.

Fracking and CO2 emissions are two of the topics at the forefront of the debate. Hydraulic-fracturing, or fracking, is blamed for many negative environmental effects, including earthquakes and lack of clean air.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is the primary greenhouse gas emitted by human activities, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. CO2 emissions derive from the use of coal as fuel to create energy and are believed to be one of the main causes of global warming and extreme weather by environmental groups.

The Energy in Depth campaign, started by the Independent Petroleum Association of America, credits Fracking for the decrease in CO2 emissions in the United States.

This is what concerned Pamela Carrillo and Krystal Inesti, both 19 year old Nassau Community College students, who heard of the event from Facebook. After watching a video on the dangers of CO2 emissions, they decided to get involved.

“This is our home, we’re taking advantage but it’s really going to hurt us in the long run,” said Carrillo of abusing natural resources. Both Carrillo and Inesti’s were armed with signs calling for action to bring a stop to the abuse of natural resources. “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need not every man’s greed,” read Inesti’s sign.

Global warming and extreme weather affects the sustainability of underdeveloped countries that depend on agriculture to survive.

Though industrially developed countries are usually responsible for the degradation of the ecosystem, the poorest countries suffer the consequence, ranging from reduced crop yields, rising sea levels and altered rain fall, according to the Inter Action website.

John Jay is not behind on the environmental discussion. The college recently started the new minor and program, Sustainability and Environmental Justice, started by Professor Joan Hoffman, now headed by professor Alexander Schlutz.

The 18-credit program includes courses on global catastrophe and human responsibility, environmental crime as well as environmental racism. According to the programs web page, the minor hopes to educate students on the importance of conserving environmental resources and natural balance for future generations.

The college also has an environmental club. Students can join by contacting Professor Swanson. Students involved with the program also attended the march.

“Sometimes you have to be uncomfortable and stick with it for things you believe in, there is a purpose and a productivity to that…the wait was not pleasant but there was something to be learned from that experience,” said Yukins of the lesson her children received from the march.

From Gaza To Ferguson

John Jay Protests Against Voilence

By: Rehana Sancho

Staff

During community hour on Wednesday, Oct. 9, six students laid under white sheets that were drenched in red paint to symbolize the blood shed in both Palestine and Ferguson, Missouri.

John Jay students and faculty, both shocked and confused, walked passed the six dead bodies, one of which was that of a baby. The Student for Justice in Palestine (SJP), along with other students, staged an eye and ear catching protest against the deadly occupation and genocide of Palestine and the events of Ferguson.

This protest was countered by the flag raising and silent protestors of the Hillel Club, a student organization, whose students represent Israel.

The students of the SJP took turns shouting why their message needed to be heard.  Their objective was to overturn the message that American media portrays about the Palestinians and other minorities, such as Blacks and Hispanics.

Each body had a name of someone who has been lost to the “oppression and genocide” bloodshed. These names include, Amadou Diallo, 23, Michael Brown, 18 and Abu Taqiyya, who was only 18 months.

Susie Abdelghafar, SJP president and John Jay sophomore, said, “for 66 years Palestinians have lived under apartheid genocide and oppression and it’s that same oppression that Blacks and Hispanics have to go through here in the U.S.”

John Jay history professor, Anissa Hèlie, stopped to observe the protest and stated she felt like the message being delivered was courageous because it is not a popular argument.

According to Hèlie, “mainstream media is not balanced. I think it’s fair that they are voicing their side.”

The protest won over a few students who ended up voicing their personal opinions over the microphone, signing up for SJP, and even volunteering to hold up signs. Some of the signs read slogans like, “From Ferguson to Palestine occupation is a crime” and “U.S. dollars feed Israeli war crimes.”

Students are speaking of the growing tension between Hamas in Gaza and Israel.

CNN article, “How to Demilitarize Hamas” states, “the problem is that the two sides have two quite different agendas – while Hamas chiefly seeks the removal of the siege over Gaza, the Israeli government is primarily interested in demilitarizing Gaza.”

In opposition to the protest, some students in the crowd sided with the Hillel club, not because of their cause, but because they felt like the Hillel club was being aggressively protested and generalized against.

Hillel club members claimed they only came to the protest to advocate for peace.

John Jay senior, Dor Dourandr stated she doesn’t believe all Israelis are “murderous people.” Also adding, “generalizing leads to more oppression.”

Yael Monselise, John Jay senior and Hillel club president, claimed, “we stand for the same thing, peace.” Moneslise expressed that the Hillel club wants just to find a common ground and that they “want peace.”

According to Monselise, tensions were so high in a Brooklyn College Gaza protest, that a Jewish student was punched. The VP of the Hillel club, Tomer Kornfeld exclaimed,  “we are divided in the Middle East, why should we be divided here? We don’t want to divide the campus.”

However, Abdelghafar concluded, “we are not against Jewish people. we are against Zionist. But to fight for peace is hypocritical. We fight for justice.”

Get Your Zen On

By: Aimee Estrada

Staff

Club meetings, guest speakers, lunch, socializing, studying, and special events like karaoke; community hour is jammed with competing events. However, every week a few dozen students take to the mat instead. Yoga Wednesdays are back, and this semester yoga classes are being offered on Thursdays as well.

Rachel Shanken, a counselor in the Counseling Department, teaches Wednesday classes in the combative room (T300).  Jessica Greenfield, a Women’s Center counselor/gender-based violence prevention and Response Advocate, teaches Thursday classes in the dance studio on the C-Level of the T-Building.

So, why yoga? “What AREN’T the benefits of yoga?” Greenfield asked, “There are emotional; decreased anxiety, decreased depression, lowered stress, increased concentration, improved memory, etc, and physical; strength, flexibility, stamina, heart heath, increased lung capacity, etc. benefits.”

According to the American Osteopathic Association, “The relaxation techniques incorporated in yoga can lessen chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome,” Natalie Nevins, DO, a board-certified osteopathic family physician and certified Kundalini Yoga instructor in Hollywood, California, explained.

Additionally, Dr. Nevins said, “regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness, increases body awareness, relieves chronic stress patterns, relaxes the mind, centers attention, and sharpens concentration.”

“My first impressions were how friendly and welcoming the yoga instructors were as well as the ‘yogis,’” Icaro Soares said, a Sophomore and Forensic Psychology major who is new to yoga, “it was a non-judgmental environment which made me feel comfortable.”

Soares was part of the first class, which had a turnout of about 24 students. According to Shanken, turnout is normally around 30 students, however they were competing with karaoke that day. The students were a mix of beginners and more experiences yogis.

For those new to yoga, they can expect “to focus on breathing, moving your body, stretching, and getting your Zen on,” Shanken said. Her advice is to “wear comfortable clothing and come with and open mind.”

“Yoga was more intense than I expected but at the same time very relaxing and I felt encouraged by the instructor to keep going,” said Soares. “I’ve been going every Wednesday and I don’t plan on missing any class.”

The Women’s Center created the yoga program in the winter of 2012.  According to Greenfield, they thought, “yoga would be a great complimentary support for students dealing with some of the issues that are central to our mission.” However, at the time there were no trained yoga instructors on staff, but Greenfield said, “we were fortunate that we were able to find a registered yoga teacher who was willing to volunteer to come to John Jay and teach the class on a weekly basis.”

In May 2013, Shanken became certified as a yoga teacher and the yoga program became a joint initiative between the Women’s Center and the Counseling Department. Greenfield became certified in May 2014 and this semester classes are offered on Thursdays as well.

“I would definitely recommend friends since yoga is something that anyone can practice and it is free here at John Jay,” Soares said. “it’s been really relaxing and helping me keep focus on my studies.”

Which is the point, as Greenfield said, “Our hope is simply that our classes inspire students to take what they learn about themselves on their mats and bring it with them into their lives.”

Sotomayor’s Recipe For Success

By: Rehana Sancho

Staff

On Sept. 17, John Jay students and faculty welcomed with roaring applause, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in the Gerald W. Lynch Theater where she delivered the second annual convocation speech for incoming freshman, transfers students, along with other John Jay students.

Justice Sotomayor, born in the Bronx, graduated Summa Cum Laude from Princeton University and received her J.D. from Yale Law School.

The ceremony began with President Travis awarding Sotomayor with an Honorary Doctorate of Law from John Jay College.

Students awaited her advice as to how she made it from the projects in the Bronx to being the first Latina and third woman ever appointed to the Supreme Court.

Sotomayer, with her small stature, quiet, yet firm voice, and a broken arm which she received from falling on a New York City street, then turned to address the students.

Sotomayor put emphasis on how John Jay College faced challenges in the mid 1970′s when it was almost closed down, but remained resilient in its goal to educate student on the liberal arts. She explained that, although the obstacles faced by the college were big, we had now become “a jewel in the crown of the CUNY system.”

Sotomayor then offered her “recipe” for success to John Jay’s students as she discussed how to improve not only their life, but also the lives of those around them.

First, “Spend every day here creating memories with people you care about.”

Second, “Learn new things and share those things with others.”

Third, “Devote a part of each day doing something nice for somebody else.”

Sotomayor spoke to students about her personal experience.  She told students about her first “C” in college and how crushing it was to receive being a  student who constantly received top grades since the fourth grade.

“Don’t be ashamed of finding it hard, it’s supposed to be.”

The justice tried to ease freshman and transfer student’s college worries with her compassionate words and personal experience.

She then gave students a brief insight into what happens behind the Supreme Court. She and the other eight justices decide on topics such as, patents on mosquito repellent and the new Honey Crisp apple.

She explained to students that although these subject weren’t of great interest to her, she learned about them and thus has become a more interesting person.

Sotomayor advised students, “The most interesting people in the world can talk about more than one subject.” Precluding, that students should take classes that are not what they are used to and to “have fun in discovery.”

Sotomayor closed out her speech with a powerful reminder, by telling students “You can’t let life happen to you, you have to take charge.”

After the convocation, the justice was escorted to a private meet and greet session with students from the English department, Student Council and a few other students.

According to the John Jay’s Convocation page, students asked questions such as, “How do you stay grounded amid all of your professional accolades?” and, “What question do you ask yourself before rendering a decision?”

John Jay senior and English major, Darren Harris, summed up his inspiration with a personal quote, which was read aloud, during the meet and greet with, “The honorable Sotomayor, not only inspires Hispanics, but all ethnicities by teaching us, through her life’s work, how to strive to give 100% at all times, be aware of challenges we face in our journeys and never give up in those moments where there seems to be no answer.”