April 26, 2015

DeBlasio Comes Through on Promise to Muslim Students

By: Rehana Pierre Khalil Elmeniawy (front), Zein Kapadia (middle-left), Muntassir Sayeedi (middle), Jaffer Shareef (middle-right), Neesar Banna (right), and Talha Bhai (back) in the campus prayer room.

By: Rehana Pierre
Khalil Elmeniawy (front), Zein Kapadia (middle-left), Muntassir Sayeedi (middle), Jaffer Shareef (middle-right), Neesar Banna (right), and Talha Bhai (back) in the campus prayer room.

By Fathema Ahmed


On March 4, Mayor Bill DeBlasio announced the addition of the Muslim holidays of Eid al- Fitr and Eid al-Adha as public school holidays, thus fulfilling a promise he made during his mayoral campaign. While the majority of public school holidays are Christian and Jewish holidays such as Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Thanksgiving and Christmas the announcement of public school closures on Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha marks the first time that a Muslim holiday is given a day off in New York.

“We’re here today to make good on a promise to our Muslim brothers and sisters that a holiday of supreme importance to the Muslim community will be recognized in our school calendar so that children can honor the holiday without missing school, so that families can be together on the holiday, so that our city respects and embraces this important and growing community. We’re making good on a promise, and it’s time for this promise to be kept,” stated DeBlasio during his announcement.

“I’m thrilled that we finally have a holiday off that’s recognized by New York State. It’s 2015 and one of the largest religions is finally getting their desired day off ,” said Yellda Balouch, a John Jay senior and vice president of the Muslim Student Association, regarding the days off for the two Eids.

The two Eids are important religious holidays for Muslims that both have their own function. Eid al-Fitr meaning the festival of breaking the fast is a holiday that celebrates the end of Ramadan which is a month of fasting for Muslims. Eid al-Adha meaning festival of the sacrifice refers to what Muslims believe to be the willingness of their Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ishmael at the command of their God referred to as Allah in what is believed to be an act of submission. It is celebrated at the end of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

Students feel that Muslims having the day off is only fair, “I feel good for the Muslims because it’s only two days of the year for their holiday and now they get to celebrate it genuinely with the peace of mind that they don’t have to worry about the day coming between their families and exams or something school related,” said John Jay senior Christopher Ferreiras.

“I feel as though now Islam as a practice in New York City will be recognized as an authentic practice and respected like the other Abrahamic religions,” continued Ferreiras.

Since the Islamic Calendar is a lunar calendar the holidays don’t have a set date. Instead Muslims around the world await the sighting of the new moon, which lets them know when they can celebrate their holidays. The date also depends on ones location since the moon is not seen everywhere at the same time.

“The Jewish Calendar is a lunar calendar, just like the Muslim calendar which shows that those arrangements can be made in advance. We can make those plans in almost certainty, at least a year in advance,” stated Associate Professor of the Anthropology department, Avram Bornstein.

“Yeah, but the point – the point being, each year, the calendar is different. You know, for the schools each year the religious calendar is different as well. So there will be times when both of the Eid holidays naturally do not occur on school days, or one occurs on a school day, or one does not, sometimes both may. So, we will adjust literally year by year according to need,” stated DeBlasio in a press release on the addition of these holidays would affect schools since there is no set date.

The two Eids aren’t celebrated on the same date by everyone, leaving Muslims to depend on their local mosque and the committee that they have in place to let them know what date they should celebrate the holidays on.

“We are going to work with community members to agree upon a formula for that,” stated Mayor DeBlasio on how the dates of the two Eids would be determined.

“I think it’s great in one sense. We have a growing Muslim student community and I think that should be recognized. It makes sense for Muslims to have the day off. There are some wrinkles though, we already have a long semester. We already have so many holidays which makes it difficult for students to adjust. I think it’s a good thing but I think if we do it we have to make it work with the constraints we have without disrupting the semester,” said Associate Professor of the English department, Jay Gates on how having two extra days off would affect a student’s semester.

“For too long, again, families were forced into an untenable situation. Either the children went to school on those holy days because so many children, of course so many families devoted to education didn’t want their children to miss school. Sometimes those school days included important tests and milestones in the educational year. So either the child went and pursued their education and missed their religious observance, or the other way around – they participated in a sacred moment for their families and missed out educationally,” stated DeBlasio on his thought process behind making Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha into public school holidays.

For students such as Khadija Rahman a John Jay junior and Secretary of the Muslim Student Association it is a struggle deciding whether to take the day off from school, “I’d always have to have to debate whether there’s an exam or if I’d miss out too much material that day. I’d have to take into consideration if it was worth missing a day.”

“We are a nation that was built to be multi-faith, multicultural. That was the concept of this country. That is why people came here to develop this country from the beginning. And we are carrying out that vision here and now. We as a city need to do more to deepen our connection to Muslim communities all over the city, to work more closely with community leaders,” stated DeBlasio in a press release.

Own Your Power: One Woman Show Speaks Against Domestic Violence

By Arianny Reyes

Staff Writer

In honor of women’s history month, the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership presented “Demerara Gold,” a show on the hidden price of immigration and domestic violence, at John Jay’s Black Box Theater on, March 12.

The show, written and performed by Ingrid Griffith aimed to empower women to break silence and speak up.

“I have to reveal a lot of what I went through to get that message across, speaking up, not being silent about things that are going on within your family and with you,” Griffith said enthusiastically.

Griffith has been part of productions such as “Ruined” by Lynn Nottage, “Buckingham” by Tina Andrews and many others. She was nominated for Best Solo-Show at the Midtown International Theater Festival and received an award from the Guyana Cultural Association of New York for “Heritage Journalism” in 2014. Ingrid teaches Introduction to Theater, Communications, and Civic Engagement at John Jay.

Demerara Gold is based on Griffith’s life experiences. She performed as 16 characters solo in a period of one hour and fifteen minutes. The first part of the show takes place in Georgetown, Guyana and then in Long Island, New York.

“It was really, really good. If she had people around her it would have been a Broadway hit, but the fact that she did it by herself and still pulled it off, that was great,” said Matthew Narvaez, senior at John Jay.

As a seven year old, she was left back in Guyana with her older sister and two grandmothers when her parents come to America like many other families in search of a better quality of life, but upon arriving the little girl’s life turns upside down.

The family feels a separation which Ingrid lives in full flesh as she realizes their relationship is tearing apart because both her parents have to work and barely have time to dedicate to her and her sister.

Chavel Guzman, senior and psychology major related to Griffith’s story. When Guzman’s parents came to the United States, she had to stay with her grandmother.

“I cried every time I heard my moms voice over the phone.” Guzman added, “Separation sometimes does a bigger harm to the family.”

As Griffith’s parents continue fighting, she is torn between keeping the violence a secret and speaking up in order to save her mothers life from her father’s iron hands.

“Do not encourage or allow for domestic violence to keep happening. It was a big deal in my family and we were so secretive about it.” She added, “I behaved different in school because I was keeping a secret. I did not have a lot of friends because I was from a different culture. It took me a long time to open up and start to speak up,” Griffith said.

Domestic violence can happen to anybody regardless of race or gender. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness.

Statistics in the National Domestic Violence Hotline show that 24 people per minute are victims of abuse, about 12 million per year, including men and women.

“Stay true to yourself, listen to your heart, do not lose your soul. You do not need to make all the friends in the world,” said Griffith. “Own your power, your truth, your own gold.”



Not Enough Rows In Club Row

By Angeline Dominguez


By: Jenifer Valmon Students using the cubicle space which houses six different student organizations.

By: Jenifer Valmon
Students using the cubicle space which houses six different student organizations.

John Jay’s “hub,” where clubs are able to plan and hold their organization’s events, commonly referred to as “club row,” currently has 18 club rooms of which 39 clubs share, but with 53 student organizations, some club members have mixed feelings regarding the dwindling space.

“John Jay college as a whole has a space crisis. It’s not just students, it’s faculty and staff that are going to shared spaces because John Jay is growing, the student population is growing, the faculty and staff is growing, which is a good thing but as far as the space, it causes concerns because we’re outgrowing the space that we’re in,” said the Associate Director of the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership (CSIL), Makeda Jordan.

CSIL encourages students to join organizations as a way to become more involved with their interests, but as clubs continue to grow, space continues to shrink.

There has been a recent relocation of student organizations located in club row, leaving some clubs limited to a cubicle space at the entrance of club row, L2.70.00.

“It’s a home for student organizations, it wouldn’t do the student body any good by limiting the number [of student organizations]. A room doesn’t necessarily define you,” said Danielle Officer, the director of CSIL.

SEEK Society, a student organization at John Jay, was recently moved from the cubicle space to room L2.70.25, sharing the room with another student organization, Graphic Novels Club.

“I’m excited. Sometimes I can’t believe it, we finally got a club room, we do have a lot of members and never really had a place to gather,” said Paola Castillo, vice president of SEEK Society, regarding her feelings of moving into a room.

SEEK Society was first recognized in the fall semester of 2013. According to Castillo, the club has close to 200 participating members. They had spent about two and a half years without an official club room.

“It was really annoying because we were assigned to this little space, which we didn’t even feel comfortable using because it’s always packed,” said Castillo. “I think you need a room because it’s a place where you are welcomed, where you can hang out and post stuff on the wall. It’s not something that you need-need but it’s important because if people are looking for you, they know where to find you.”

Castillo believes that being persistent was the key to helping her club get a room, but according to Officer, the process has nothing to do with persistence.

The process is based off of seniority. “The ethical thing for us to do is…order. So if you’re in compliance and you keep meeting compliance and you’re the next student organization on the list, you’re the next one to get it [a room],” said Officer.

To meet compliance, you are meeting the guidelines to be recognized as an official John Jay student organization.

“Some clubs keep their same room. The minute that a room becomes available, we move a student organization in,” said Officer.

The list she refers to includes the date in which a club first became recognized. To be given a room solely relies on whoever became a club first.

What is now the cubicle space for clubs at the main entrance of club row used to be staff space. Four staff members were moved to share one room, L2.70.14, in order to allow more space for the new organizations.

By: Jenifer Valmon The hallway of club row with 18 rooms, housing 39 out of 15 clubs.

By: Jenifer Valmon
The hallway of club row with 18 rooms, housing 39 out of 15 clubs.

The CSIL staff still hold multiple rooms within club row, and Castillo sometimes wishes “that all the coordinators were in one room.”

Currently, six clubs share the cubicle at the entrance of club row. Though the small space can be cramped, some students enjoy the social aspect.

“I like the cubicle because its very interactive. You always see people. You’re always meeting new people. I have no issues with the cubicle, I don’t want it to change. Its not in my interests to get a room,” said Kierra Spears, an active member of the Youth Justice student organization.

There are two conference rooms available for students organizations to use when they have meetings or events, located in L2.70.03 and L2.70.13. Student organizations are also allowed to rent out classrooms all over John Jay “as long as the event fits the space you want to rent out,” said Jordan.

Plans to alleviate the space strain in club row are in progress.

According to Officer, “We have future plans for things that we want to do down here, but there are some ideas about how we are going to change things so that we are able to put in more desk and table space.”

Homeless Campout

By Jade Jetjomlong

Staff Writer

By: Ryan Durning Cardboard houses built by students in the atrium of the New Building.

By: Ryan Durning
Cardboard houses built by students in the atrium of the New Building.



At noon on March 9, in the John Jay College atrium, dozens of cardboard scraps piled up sitting within a “Caution” tape barrier. These cardboard boxes would be the floor, walls, and ceiling for the 26 John Jay students who would be “homeless” for the next 24 hours.

Entitled “24 Hours Campout: A Night Without A home,” the chaperoned event was sponsored by the Office of Community Outreach and was set to show “a demonstration of homelessness conditions” to the John Jay community while providing willing students with a small feel for what it is to sleep with very little luxuries that are taken for granted on a daily basis, such as a bed, pillows, or blankets.

According to the most recent census of John Jay, there are almost 200 students in John Jay College who claim to be homeless, a number that can never be 100 percent accurate since many are afraid or embarrassed to claim homelessness. In all of New York City, homelessness is at an all- time high with 59,000 men, women, and children that are homeless according to the Daily News.

A large portion of homeless people are veterans from all branches of the U.S. military. The event was organized to raise awareness mainly for homeless veterans and homeless students.

“We hold veterans to such high standards and we treat them like heroes that they are but when we see them in the streets, we do nothing and that’s ridiculous,” said 23 year old John Jay Senior and Army State Guard Reserve, Jose Castro. Castro is the current senior representative in Student Council and a service project coordinator for community outreach. All coordinator’s have to participate in 250 hours of community service and then coordinate event, and being in the military, this project was a prime choice.

“These are people who risk their lives for this country, and the government spits them out to fend for themselves and offer limited help,” said Veronica Acevedo, 21, junior at John Jay. “These veterans deserve a lot more than to be out in the cold, starving, and with a high chance of battling a mental disorder like PTSD.”

Along with sleeping on the floor overnight, the participating students also created their own personal spaces, or “homes,” using the cardboard boxes provided.

During the daytime, students who were camping out and students who wanted to show support prepared sandwiches and survival kits for a food run to homeless people around Columbus Circle, as well as writing letters to elected officials to draw attention to the problems associated with homelessness.

“I really have to commend the improvising a lot of homeless people have to do in order to make themselves a little warmer when they’re caught sleeping outside,” said Acevedo. “Creating a decent cardboard hut was a good amount of work and I had resources like tape and string that homeless people may not have access to.”

The students had a variety of cardboard creations ranging from four walls and a roof, to strategic positioning of just a roof, to being as simple as laying their sleeping bags on top of the cardboard.

The 26 students who attended varied from freshmen undergraduates to graduate students of all different ages. As part of the event, the students present were asked to gather around and tell their reason for participating.

“Some people came up to me and asked, ‘why are we pretending to be homeless’ and ‘why are we inside.’ I tried to tell them that we are not here to play homeless, we are here to raise awareness, to get the students thinking about things,” said Castro. “I had to ask them, if we did this outside, who would we have an impact on? It would only impact the few of us who did it, but if we are doing this in here, where everyone can see, we have more of a chance to educate and impacting more people to think differently or to do something about it.”

By: Ryan Durning Fernando Andrade holding a makeshift homeless sign.

By: Ryan Durning
Fernando Andrade holding a makeshift homeless sign.

Some students spoke about how they used to be homeless, how they knew friends who were homeless, and even how they were never homeless themselves but see men and women struggling everyday to stay warm and find food; but no one ever pays attention to them. No one wants to help. “There are different types of homelessness and no type should be underestimated,” said Acevedo, reminiscing about a peer sharing their own homeless story.

The night was finished off with the presentation of “The Pursuit of Happiness”, a heart wrenching film about the struggle of a man and his young son overcoming poverty and homelessness through perseverance and hard work.

After a hard sleep on the floor, students woke up to sore backs and fatigue. With classes to attend or jobs to go to, the homes were broken down by noon on March 10. The day carried on as usual, but hopefully with fresh eyes and insight.

“A professor made his class come by and although they were being reluctant and didn’t really want to be there they still learned something about what was going on,” said John Jay Junior and President of the Haitian American Student Association, Taisha Lazare, 21. “I think that made his[Castro's] point come across because that is what he wanted and I think it was successful that way.”

According to Castro, there were only around 10 students who participated in the camp out last year, but this year there was more than double that amount and at the Homelessness Awareness Panel hosted the next day, there were students from John Jay, New York University, University of Albany, and Brooklyn College in attendance.

For more information on how you can make a difference, or if you are interested in making donations, please contact [email protected] or stop by the Office of Community Outreach in New Building room L.71.14.


Three Tickets Too Short: Senior Hustle for Graduation Tickets

By Fifi Youssef

Staff Writer

The black market begins for tickets to the graduation ceremony for John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Many graduates are frustrated due to the fact that each student will only receive three tickets for guests. This year’s graduation will be held at The Theater at Madison Square Garden (MSG) on Wednesday, June 3. There will be two ceremonies separated by majors. The first ceremony will start at 10:30am and the second will begin at 3:00pm.

According to the Madison Square Garden site the indoor arena seats 18,200 people while the Theater itself seat anywhere from 2,000-5,500 people. However, the Associate Director of Office of Student Transition Program, Tiffany Ontaro said students only get three tickets because the ceremonies will be at the Theater and, “we graduate over 3,000 students each year,” and “seat about 12,000 people.”

Maximo Morel, 21, a senior majoring in criminal justice, expressed his anger and said, “It’s dumb. Some people are the first graduate in their family and it’s a big thing so a lot of families want to go.”

“New York doesn’t have a larger venue than this,” said Ontaro. “If we go to a baseball stadium just as NYU or Fordham does, our students wouldn’t be able to walk across the stage and we know our John Jay students want to walk across the stage.”

Coordinator of the Office of Student Transition Program, Christie Graziano, said, “Last year’s graduation was held at the Jacob Javits Center which is a ‘large open entertainment center.’ It’s an empty space where we had to set up the chairs and the stage. It has no fixed seating like The Theater at Madison Square Garden has, so there is no way to compare the Theater at Madison Square Garden with Javits,” said Graziano.

Siddiqur Rahman, 21, majoring in forensic psychology is a graduating senior who doesn’t plan on attending the ceremony. “I want to go to graduate school so attending this graduation is frivolous,” said Rahman. “In my opinion, I’m expected to graduate from college so it’s not really much of an accomplishment for me.”

Other graduating students share a similar point of view of graduation. Anthony Trobiano, 22, majoring in English, also plans to not attend the ceremony. “Graduation isn’t important to me because I don’t feel the need to showcase something that I achieved,” said Trobiano.

Both Rahman and Trobiano will be selling their tickets. “I will be selling my tickets for a minimum of $50 each,” said Trobiano. Rahman, on the other hand, is selling two of his tickets for a minimum of $70 each. His third ticket will be given to a friend of his with no charge. “Friendship isn’t something that I can put a price on,” said Rahman.

“I don’t think it’s ethical,” said Ontaro, regarding students selling their extra tickets. “We give them to you for free. You earned this why would you have to pay for it.”

Fake tickets were an issue at last years graduation. “Last year, a lot of students were selling fake tickets and we knew which ones were fake and they’d get caught at Jacob Javits,” said Ontaro. “A handful of students bought fake tickets. I’ve had students last year come to my office crying saying they spent $100 dollars on a ticket then find out its fake and I couldn’t do anything about it.”

Unaware of the limit in tickets and the first to graduate in his family, Raymond Collazo, 29, Philosophy major, said, “I didn’t know I was only able to have three people attend, now that I think about it I would have to limit the amount of people that would have wanted to see my graduation to three. I probably would have wanted more than three tickets.”

Other than fake tickets, students should also be aware that morning graduation tickets do not work for the evening ceremony and vise versa. “MSG has a barcode on their tickets and when it’s scanned it’ll show it’s the wrong ticket,” said Ontaro.

According to Collazo, selling tickets shouldn’t be a big deal, “If students don’t need three tickets and everyone is allotted three tickets, I suppose it’s not that bad that students are selling them. At the same time it’s a bit ridiculous that this is turning into a way to make money for these students. I wouldn’t pay for that amount for extra tickets, I am just going to suck it up and accept that only three people can come to my graduation,” said Collazo.



CUNY Reconstructs Gender Titles: Say Goodbye to Mr. and Ms.

By Valfrie Claisse

Contributing Writer


A John Jay student wearing a nametag demonstrating the lack of gender titles.

Photo Courtesy of Angelo Picca A John Jay student wearing a nametag demonstrating the lack of gender titles.

When attempts to uproot deeply seated traditions are in place, controversy arises.

In the United States, addressing people in formal settings—“Ms.” or “Mrs.” for women and “Mr.” for men—after a “Hello!” is a practice that is as traditional as using ketchup and mustard on American hotdogs. But a policy is in place to do away with the titles we use to fully construct someone’s formal identity for our everyday social interactions.

On Jan. 26, the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center issued a new policy advising the faculty and other staff members to avoid using the titles “Ms.,” “Mrs.,” and “Mr.” when addressing students, effective during the spring semester.

“Effective Spring 2015, the [graduate center’s] policy is to eliminate the use of gendered salutations and references in correspondence to students, prospective students, and third parties,” reads the memo sent through email to all faculty and other staff members, on Jan. 16.

The policy was announced in an internal memorandum signed by the Graduate Center’s Interim Provost Louise Lennihan. In the memo, Lennihan encouraged professors to stick with the official names of students, or use the preferred names without the gendered salutations, particularly in official correspondence, as The Wall Street Journal first reported. This would include “all parts of any letter including address and salutation, mailing labels, bills or invoices, and any other forms or reports,” the memo states.

The policy is part of CUNY’s latest effort to create a safer and non-discriminatory learning space for students. Addressing the issue of gender discrimination in college campuses, the policy is aimed to achieve a gender-inclusive environment. The current use of the heteronormative titles, CUNY argues, excludes recognition of transgender students and those who identify outside the gender binary.

The CUNY Graduate Center is the first learning institution in the country to mandate such a directive aimed at gender neutrality.

It is also the grounds where new policies are occasionally tested before a potential, full-fledged implementation to the undergraduate branches within its system. This means that even though the policy has only been issued to the Graduate Center for now, many John Jay undergraduates are already affected, especially those who consider going to the university for their graduate studies after atending John Jay College.

The policy and its implications are all the more meaningful for students who already do not conform to the gender norms.

Upon learning about CUNY’s new policy, Kadeem Robinson, 18, a John Jay sophomore, was more than passionate and thrilled at the prospects: “It’s very exciting because they are finally taking into consideration gender nonconforming people. It’s good that they are finally accepting the fact that there’s not just male or female, that there’s more to it.”

Matthew Matos, a sophomore at John Jay, maintains a neutral stance on the necessity of the ban of the gendered titles.

“I understand how people could get offended by using these titles, but then again, it’s also been used for long as a form of formality,” said Matos.

While Matos thinks the traditional courtesy titles are harmless, some students believe that “Ms.,” “Mrs.,” or “Mr.,” along with any other titles, are just as important to people’s identities.

“For me I see the titles as equal. I see race the same as gender, because this is something that means a lot to somebody,” Robinson said.

“The effects [will] create a more comforting base for students to express their identities that they haven’t ever had before,” said Devyn Serrano, vice president of the LGBTQ and Allies club. “The policy will publicize the school as a safety zone that will not butcher their preferred names and pronouns the way some of their lives already consist of.”

Despite the good intentions of the university, the response to CUNY’s newest policy ranges from skepticism to strict disagreement, with the policy itself and with the way CUNY has handled its endeavors of moving past being a gender-exclusive institution.

Some members of the faculty at the Graduate Center expressed varying concerns about the policy.

From a semantic standpoint, linguistics professor at the Graduate Center Juliette Blevins told the Wall Street Journal that she “would like to do everything possible to foster a gender-inclusive learning environment on campus.”

“However, I do not believe that prescriptive language policies should be a part of that effort.” she said.

Olivera Jokic, an English and Gender Studies professor at John Jay College, weighed in on Professor Blevins’ statement, saying that “to prescribe what language change people will adopt usually doesn’t work like that.”

While she agrees that the policy is progressive, she insists on the line between the heteronormative man-woman gender binary and the role of language itself in society.

“You don’t pretend that it is the language. It’s not the category itself. Removing the language will not necessarily mean that gender has been removed.”

Kathlyn Salazar, a junior at John Jay, doubts the need of a language policy. “There’s no necessity for such a policy,” Salazar said. “One can just advise another to say ‘don’t call me ‘Ms.,’ and I think that’s efficient.”

The policy instated by CUNY has both supporters and detractors, but the ban of the heteronormative titles becomes all the more important, especially as the country undergoes steps towards gender equality. The most recent is the issue of same-sex marriage, which the Supreme Court will decide in late April this year whether marriage equality is a constitutional right.

Political correctness is another concern among those who disagree with the policy.

Scott Tankersley, a John Jay senior who volunteers as a peer ambassador at the Women’s Center, responded to the typical claims against policies directed toward gender equality. “If believing that treating non-binary people as human beings that they are is political correctness, then call me politically correct,” Tankersley said.

As the nation continues to work against gender-based inequality in many aspects of people’s lives, college campuses are taking initiatives in addressing these issues. In John Jay, the opening of the three gender-neutral bathrooms earlier in the semester is part of this campaign.

Gender, as it shows, remains to be a critical category that we as a society use to assign identity and expectations on people.

Considering the initial failure of the policy to gain support and successful implementation, Jokic offered a consolation in favor of the new policy in place.

“We’ll just figure out other ways. What the interest is to have a comprehensive way of dealing with gender and figuring out a way to make it not matter anywhere,” said Jokic. “But we don’t have that yet.”

Sociability Lost To Social Norms

By Fifi Yousseff

Staff Writer

Students leaving John Jay during community hour.

By: Jenifer Valmon Students leaving John Jay during community hour.

New Yorkers tend to distance themselves and avoid any interaction with others in public spaces such as the city streets, subways, and now college campuses.

A survey conducted on 26 John Jay students concluded that students are applying the rule of isolation from the streets of New York City to the John Jay campus and social life.

The majority of the participants recorded that it is unlikely for them to approach an unknown student around campus.

Author of “Here is New York”, E.B White writes New Yorkers norm of avoiding eye contact and conversations with others is a form of respecting personal space. However, some students on campus claim the lack of communication is due to John Jay College being a commuter school. “I only have a couple of friends at school. I just go to do my work and go home,” said Elvis Hernandez, 21, a John Jay student majoring in Criminal Justice.

For Renata Dragan, 21, a senior majoring in Forensic Psychology, socializing on campus seems to come natural for her. “For the most part I feel confident because, from my experience everyone I encountered was friendly.” Dragan and her friends from John Jay tend to share similar classes and go out to lunch together.

The importance of communication is essential in today’s professional work field. One student, in a survey response, felt that communication is crucial around campus because “you never know who’s gonna contribute to your future.”

Dragan is just as open and confident to socializing in city streets and subways as around college campus. “I get to meet new people and experience,” said Dragan.

Richard Ocejo and Stephane Tonnelat, authors of “Subway to Diaries: How People Experience and Practice Riding the Train,” explain distance between strangers is a result of security issues.

“I don’t feel like I need to socialize. The people I socialize with are more than enough,” said Hernandez. “You just made me realize that I don’t socialize because people come and go so what’s the point of going through all that trouble.”

According to Michael Argyle and Janet Dean, the normal eye contact between strangers should last approximately 3-10 seconds. “When glances are longer than this, anxiety is aroused,” they said.

Imani Stone, 24, a John Jay student majoring in Literature, disagrees with Argyle and Dean. Stone finds that eye contact “makes me feel like I am making them uncomfortable, but I’ll stare at someone in the eyes for an hour with no problems.”

Freddy Velez, a 21-year-old John Jay student, can relate to Argyle and Dean. “Well I get very uncomfortable making eye contact, I don’t do it for more than 3 seconds actually,” said Velez. “I get very shy and tend to look away a lot.”

By applying these New York social norms to a college campus, students are affected on a professional network scale. Isolation means a limited range of opportunities and connections.

Stone describes herself to be “antisocial” but claims it hasn’t affected her on a professional scale much. “Isolation affected my professional scale but not to much. I am still able to get involved in things as quick as a person that is more sociable,” said Stone.

A way to break out of these norms could include planning time to attend club activities. John Jay College offers a wide variety of clubs and organizations where a student may find something they enjoy.

Students also receive John Jay emails that can allow them to keep up with opportunities and events that occur throughout the semester.

Fearing the Unknown: Life After College

By Angeline Dominguez


College is a combination of very exciting and exhilarating things but what happens when it comes to an end?

In a survey taken by the John Jay Sentinel, five out of 15 students do not know what they are doing after college.

Olivera Jokic, an English Professor at John Jay states, “It is a huge transition for anyone. For most people it’s quite a shocking thing because you come out of something very structured and very scheduled and very disciplined, into an open field you don’t know.”

Students agree that life after college is overwhelmingly hard to think about as it is something that they have never experienced.

Linda Mitchell, a career development counselor at John Jay, helps students come up with a four year plan during college.

“I think many students are concerned with the fear of the unknown; not knowing if there’s going to be that job that they have their hearts desire,” stated Mitchell. “Not having that sense of certainty, of knowing that the opportunity is going to be there, not knowing if they are ready, that’s probably one of the critical factors students are struggling with.”

According to the survey, students feel like they are not prepared because life after college is something they have never experienced as they have spent most of their time in a structured environment that schools typically provide.

A John Jay student, who preferred to stay anonymous, said, “new things are happening to me, that aren’t really normal.”

Roughly it takes about 16 years to complete a basic amount of schooling in which you achieve a bachelor’s degree.

A student who majors in Police Studies at John Jay, and who prefers to remain anonymous, claims “who knows if I will get a job in my field of study.”

In addition, students are unsure of the career path that their major could provide for them.

“There’s this sort of suspicion that everybody will be disappointed, that nobody will get what they really wanted and that whatever fantasies you had about dignified life with enough money, doing things that are meaningful, that make you happy… that, that’s just not going to happen and it’s probably true, but that’s part of growing up,” stated Professor Jokic.

According to the survey, part of the struggle of not being prepared for life after college comes out of the frustration from not being able to find internships and opportunities that correlate to the major they are studying.

Sanah Afsal, a junior majoring in Forensic Science, finds that the emphasis on certain majors has overshadowed the Science department.

“In a college that is based on Criminal Justice, I feel like the science students are forgotten. The school generally sends out a lot of emails for other majors but for science, there are not ways to get involved,” said Afsal. “Essentially the lack of guidance in this aspect makes me feel unprepared.”

Students’ also feel that the lack of preparation derives from the unfamiliarity of living a life where one only works.

Professor Jokic feels that “things constantly change, that one of those sort of defining features of the modern world is constant change and that part of what happens is that peoples’ identities and peoples’ self perception and fantasies of what they are and what they should be, are kind of ripped from them because the world changes, the economy changes, and professions or the kinds of identities are sort of being given and taken away. One of the things you can learn in college is that you are a part of that process.”

The idea is that college is there to help you prepare for the life to come once those 16 years of schooling ends, depending, on your career path. Students hope that working hard to reach the end of those 16 years will guarantee them a job.

“Life continues and in some ways your tolerating all this pressure in order to live this magical life afterwards that everybody is saying is coming because you’ve completed your degree and its not coming in that way,” said Professor Jokic. “It’s a continuation of the world in which you subject yourself to pressure so that you would get other things that you might want to like, your constantly looking for new things to like, and that’s probably why we’re in college.”

TRANS-itional John Jay

By MG Robinson

Contributing Writer

By: Ryan Durning The gender neutral bathroom located in the teacher's lounge of the new building.

By: Ryan Durning
The gender neutral bathroom located in the teacher’s lounge of the new building.

John Jay has created an LGBTQ Task Force to tackle gender sensitivity issues that plague students in the school’s diverse community. The task force consists of students, faculty, and staff from the John Jay campus who handle issues such as name preferences in the classroom and gender neutral bathrooms.

The LGBTQ community faces many social and political issues that hetero-normative people do not face and take for granted. In addition to social and political issues, transgender students also face administrative issues at their colleges.

Transgender students at John Jay College often require their professors’ rosters to reflect their preferred names in order to avoid that awkward and potentially embarrassing moment when the professor calls the roll on the first day of classes. In addition, transgender students’ e-mails and identification cards that do not reflect the student’s preferred name or preferred gender can also prove to be uncomfortable obstacles for transgender students.

But perhaps the biggest and most controversial issue facing transgender students is the use of the most gendered facilities in our society, namely restrooms and locker rooms. The insecurity and uncertainty of which bathroom or locker room to use is a nerve-wracking and reoccurring experience, since one’s gender may not necessarily match the body in which one was born. It is common for transgender students to forgo using campus bathrooms altogether for fear of re-living an awkward experience.

In order to accommodate transgender students, John Jay College is also transitioning.

A new CUNY policy has made it easier for students to have their preferred names used on rosters and for their official John Jay student e-mail addresses. According to the John Jay 2014-2015 bulletin, although the preferred name is not a students legal name, the college understands the importance of preferred names and they will be admitted for use on all school documents except official documents such as transcripts and diplomas.

According to Adam Stone, Registrar representative, prior to the new CUNY policy, students had to obtain very expensive legal name changes in order to have their preferred names reflected on school documents and e-mail addresses. Some departments, including DoIT, which is responsible for student e-mail addresses, were still unaware of the changes.

Adam Stone said he would be “following up with DoIT” and that “ this was a very new policy and people are getting used to a new procedure.” Stone added, “CUNY did a great job…[and there’s] a great combination of faculty and staff that continue to advocate for an underrepresented population.”

To address the bathroom issue, John Jay recently converted three previously gendered restrooms into gender-neutral restrooms. According to an e-mail from the John Jay LGBTQ Task force, there are now three gender-neutral bathrooms. One is located in North Hall, just beyond the double doors adjacent to staircase “B.” Another gender-neutral bathroom is located on the second floor of the T-Building, just to the right of the elevator lobby. Lastly, the gender-neutral bathroom in Westport is located on the first floor, past the turn styles, and just beyond the door to the right.

Students in need of a gender-neutral bathroom in the New Building “are able to use the single-user, gender-neutral bathrooms in the faculty and staff dining room on the second floor. The Faculty and Staff dining room is located between the cafeteria and the entrance to the J-Walk, on the south side of the building. The bathrooms are located toward the back of the dining room on the right.

The issue of gender-neutral locker rooms proves to be more challenging to fix than gender-neutral bathrooms. According to Carol Kashow, Director of Athletics, students who require gender-neutral locker rooms may use the locker rooms on the 3rd floor of the T-Building for “lock-up” and the gender-neutral bathrooms in the T-Building to change. Kashow stresses that this is only a temporary solution.

However, talks for a permanent solution are ongoing. Kashow expressed her concern for student safety, stating, unlike bathrooms that have private stalls, there is “no privacy in locker rooms.” There is fear that a gender-neutral locker room may attract “curious people who do not belong there…how do we identify who belongs there?”

Kashow also stated that John Jay “wants to accommodate students in the most safe manner and it will take education and thought.” In a display of her commitment to “education and thought,” Kashow has invited Dr. Sue Rankin, an expert in gender-neutral facilities at Penn State University, to campus in April 2015 to continue the discussion of gender-neutral locker rooms.

The LGBTQ task force is committed to working toward making the campus the most comfortable college experience for students in the LGBTQ community and says it m will continue to strive for gender equality on campus.


Re-designed Website Receives Mixed Reviews

By Matthew Williams

Staff Writer

The front page of the redesigned John Jay website as of Feb. 24.

The front page of the redesigned John Jay website as of Feb. 24.

The newly redesigned John Jay website, launched by the Marketing and Developing Department on Monday, Feb. 2, has received mixed reviews from students on campus.

Dil Zaman, a Criminal Justice major at John Jay, says, “ It’s different, yet not difficult to explore.” Zaman also stated, “I only use it for blackboard and the calendar,” which can be found at the top of the webpage along with links to the library, email, and directory.

The website, which took 18 months to complete, sports a new color schemed page equipped with a bigger and brighter font, as well as new organization of links that includes exploring undergraduate majors, visiting directions, and an “I Am John Jay” video of students who were interviewed on what they like about the college.

There is also a section dedicated to social media feeds such as Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube. This section displays John Jay related account’s tweets, videos from the John Jay Youtube account, and posts from the John Jay Facebook page. Some students find value in this new feature. “It’s a better way to link the students to each other,” said Corine Corbett, a senior at John Jay.

While explaining the reasoning behind the website’s new design, Rama Sudhakar, chief communications officer at the Office of Marketing and Development, said, “We needed a responsive design for our college website so it can be viewed effectively on mobile and tablet devices.”

Even though Sudhakar and her team had good intentions, there are still some problems with students navigating the new mobile design. Courtney Wail, a freshmen says, “I find the mobile version even more confusing than the desktop version. You have to think a step ahead to know where things will be.”

On the other hand, the brighter background has scored positive feedback. “It’s brighter and keeps me more awake,” said Corbett.

Another feature that is receiving positive reviews is the new email tab at the top of the page. Rochelle Walker, a sophomore says, “I like it. It makes it easier to find the email on the website now.”

In the first week of the website’s release, it experienced some problems, as was predicted by the marketing team. The site had broken links and video playback errors among other bugs that had to be worked out. As of today, these problems have been corrected, and the web page is up and running normally.

If any students are having problems with the new website, contact the Marketing Department via [email protected]

“We encourage feedback from students regarding the new website,” Sudhakar said.