April 24, 2014

Proper Police Prep For Students: All you need to know to apply to the NYPD Police Academy

By: Keyunna Singleton Staff Writer

On May 28, 2014 John Jay’s commencement will launch criminal justice seniors into the career world, but will they be prepared for it?

Joseph Giacalone, adjunct professor of Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration at John Jay, suggests that students are not prepared because they are not fully aware of the process. “Many don’t understand it’s a big administrative task to get all the paper work done.”

Giacalone held several prestigious positions while serving the NYPD for 20 years. His extensive knowledge on criminal investigations and cold cases has made him highly sought after by the media. Now, one of his main concerns is making sure that John Jay students, especially criminal justice majors, are prepared for what comes next.

The waiting list to join the police force is so long that it can take years for an applicant’s name to be called. For Giacalone, the best way to use the waiting period properly is for students to create a plan.

Within that plan, he often mentions, “Choose your friends wisely.” He added, “You’re responsible for your Facebook, even if it’s a post that someone else writes.”

Mehdi Mahorai, a senior Public Administration Major, says, “My social media is safe.” For others there is a pressing uncertainty that comes from not knowing what potential employers will see or think.

Although going through your social media and deleting any incriminating media may seem tempting, doing that is the equivalent of “throwing bleach on a crime scene,” Giacalone said.

There are several sites that employers use to do Internet background check. To see what employers see, check out http:// www.spokeo.com.

It is also important to stay physically fit when applying for a government job. Many positions require recruiters to perform athletically within an allotted amount of time. “Physical fitness is important. The better prepared you are the easier a time you’re going to have in the academy, Giacalone said.

Careers in government are in high demand, because of the benefits and security they offer. When applying for government jobs make sure to meet all of the deadlines and the proper paper work is available. It’s best to make copies of everything needed, in case something gets lost in the process.

Antolina Garcia contributed reporting for this article.

 

 

 

 

Bloodhounds Under .500, but Still Playoff Bound

 By Kevin Cruz

 

Coach Fenn in the middle of a huddle at a Men's Blooudhounds home-game.

Coach Fenn in the middle of a huddle at a Men’s Blooudhounds home-game.

 

The John Jay Bloodhounds Men and Women’s basketball teams are headed to the CUNYAC Championship tournament, despite both being under .500.

Even with the disappointing seasons, by their standards, both of the coaches think they can compete with any team.

The Bloodhounds are in seventh place out of nine teams in the conference with a record of 7-9 and overall record of 9-16.

In the preseason Men’s basketball Head Coach Otis Fenn told the John Jay Sentinel that he’d hope his team to improve on defense and that defense was the key to success, but hasn’t lived up to expectations. The Bloodhounds are fourth worst in the conference in points allowed.

The Bloodhounds have allowed 76 points per game to opponents this season compared to the 72.8 points per game, from a season ago.

The team has blown several second half leads, one of which came against Hunter College on January 29, which they squandered a lead in the final two minutes of the contest.

Coach Fenn thinks the team is better than what the record indicates. “I’m not pleased with our record. We are better then our record shows…we can’t finish games.” He added that opponents haven’t really beaten them this season, because the Bloodhounds have beaten themselves.

When asked why things haven’t gone the way they expected this season? Coach Fenn emphasized the missing of leadership.

“When you are missing two all stars [Isaiah Holman and Jamar Harry]…one who is an All-American [Harry],” said Fenn. “Those are two big missing pieces.”

The roster this season has been shuffled, as the Bloodhounds are not ending the season with the same team that they started with. Coach Fenn was really counting on having Jamar Harry for the latter part of the season, but Harry could not make his way back for personal reasons, forcing the Bloodhounds to continue to fight without him.

Coach Fenn also hoped that he would have guard Michael Howard this entire season, but, after two games, Howard was a no show for the remainder of the season. The Bloodhounds also lost Choban Cheema, Darell Robinson and Juniad Saeed this season. The Bloodhounds did add Calvin Ingram to fill in for the second half of the season.

The Bloodhounds’ co-captain Kendall Jordan thinks the team could have done better. “I’m very disappointed on how the season has turned out. We had higher expectations going into this season.” When asked what was different from last season to this season, Jordan blamed team chemistry as the key reason for some of the team’s failures. “The chemistry and communication has fell off and it has caused problems.”

Korede Griffith, the team’s second leading scorer, said the team has really been tested. He noted that the Bloodhounds had to fight through the season and have won some great games, but have lost some really ugly ones.

“This season has been a reality check and it has hit us every game,” said Griffith on why the team has not found the same success from last year. He had the same view as Kendall Jordan. “The chemistry was not there,” Griffith said. “We got the different pieces we need to win, but we just can’t put them together.”

The Lady Bloodhounds also have not met their own expectations this season, as they finished on to the sixth place in the CUNYAC conference. The Lady Bloodhounds hold a record of 6-10 in the CUNY conference and 9-16 overall.

Coach Ramirez, head coach of the team, is not content with just getting in the CUNY championship tournament. She believed her team could have done so much more this season. The amount of talent on this team is not reflective of the record the team has posted this season.

Coming into this season, Coach Ramirez believed her team would not finish lower then second in the conference. “I honestly believed at worst we would have the second seed. I expected big things this season especially from Jamecia Forsythe.”

Coach Ramirez, who is in her sixth season at the program, has posted her third best season since arriving at the program in 2008. Under her command, the Lady Bloodhounds have only posted two winning seasons in conference, but that does not stop Ramirez and her coaches from pushing for success.

“It’s frustrating and disappointing being in the sixth spot. We have been close to beating good teams, but it’s time to get it together.”

Like the Men’s team, the Lady Bloodhounds have gone through some roster changes through the season. Tamara Johnson, who is tied for the team’s third leading scorer, missed some games this season. The team has also lost Tiffany Rodriguez and Kaitin Fitzgerald for personal reasons.

The CUNYAC championship tournament gives the best eight teams from the conference the chance to be crowned conference champions. The John Jay Bloodhounds Men and Women’s teams go in ranked sixth heading into the conference tournament.

In the Men’s tournament, the rankings are:

1)    College of Staten Island

2)    York College

3)    Baruch College

4)    Brooklyn College

5)    Lehman College

6)    Hunter College

7)    John Jay College

8)    CCNY

In the Woman’s tournament the rankings are:

1)    College of Staten Island

2)    Baruch College

3)    Brooklyn College

4)    Lehman College

5)    Hunter College

6)    John Jay College

7)    CCNY

8)    York College.

College of Staten Island Men’s head Coach Tony Petosa, who is in his 23rd season at the college, has lead his teams to back-to-back championships in the CUNYAC. The CSI Dolphins are undefeated this season in conference play (16-0).

When asked about winning back-to-back championships Coach Petosa said he was “not impressed. The past means nothing it’s what we do in the present.” Coach Petosa said it wouldn’t be an easy road back to the championship, as there are some very good teams in the conference.

On the other hand, Coach Otis Fenn believes in his team’s ability to compete. “We will be in every game. There is not a team in CUNY we can’t beat.”

Coach Fenn would be really proud if his team could win a championship, especially this year. “It’s not so much for personal reason, but for the program itself. A championship would mean respect for the program and have people fear to play us.”

As for the women’s tournament, College Of Staten Island Woman’s Head Coach Tim Shanahan leads his Lady Dolphins into the CUNYAC tournament in the top spot.

In only his second season, Coach Shanahan has taken his team to the top of the rankings in the CUNYAC, improving the team’s record every year since he took over.

“It’s all about the girls…good to be the number one seed for the first time in seven years at the school. It’s a great thing, [but] the prize is winning the tournament,” said Coach Shanahan when talking about this season’s success. Coach Shanahan says it won’t be an easy road to the championship because the CUNYAC is so balanced that any given day any team can win.

Coach Ramirez has high expectation going into the CUNYAC tournament. “My expectations is to take the whole thing,” she said. Coach Ramirez said the team has come up short in many areas, but things came together as the season came to a close and other teams better look out for the Lady Bloodhounds.

CUNYAC Tournament takes place from Feb. 22-28. The Men’s Bloodhound head to Jamaica, Queens to faceoff against #2 York College on Feb. 22. The Lady Bloodhounds head to Brooklyn to face off #3 Brooklyn College on Feb. 23.

MTV

By Claudia Avellan

Making T.V.: A Look Behind the Scenes

It’s 8 o’clock on a Thursday night and your favorite show is about to come on. For half an hour your day is filled with the simple pleasures of media entertainment.

30 minutes, 1800 seconds and countless commercials later, the time always seems to flash by when your attention is captivated by the magic of television. The truth is, it takes a lot more than thirty minutes to make a show, in fact, there is an entire lengthy process which takes place in order to produce a mere 30 minutes of T.V.

MTV has been a running television station since August of 1981. For years they have brought viewers shows like The Real WorldTRL and The Jersey Shore.

There are many components which come together when making a show. A single show can takes months of planning, it all varies on having the proper location, crew, talent, funding and approvals.

Alexa Garcia, 26 has been watching MTV since she was a little girl. “I always used to watch The Real World, I think I even tried to be on the show once but they never called me,” she says with a giggle following her response.

“I always wondered if that stuff was real or scripted, I guess in a way I wanted to find out.” She says with a smirk on her face.

Unless you are in the entertainment business, this is a question that people might have when watching their favorite shows. How are they made? Are they real? And what goes into these productions?

“I just assume they film continuously until they get the whole shot, wow I can’t imagine having to memorize all those lines though” says Garcia with wide sprouted eyes and a look of admiration.

How do these shows come to life?

One of MTV’s latest shows has been “Ain’t That America”, a comedy based on video clips made from around the U.S. of people doing, what some would consider “funny” things. The truth is many of these videos are just funny skits and pranks gone wrong.

The show is composed of host, comedian and Florida native, Lil Duval, co-host, comedian and “Girl Code” star, Carley Aqualino and various celebrity guests.

But talent is just one component of putting a show together. Without production assistants, producers, camera crew, control room crew, executive producers, production managers, security personnel, casting directors, wardrobe and makeup there would be no show.

Let’s talk birth.

Any show, regardless of the genre, network or time length, always starts as an idea.

Darin Byrne, VP of Development of Original Series at MTV2 is the man behind the idea.

As the executive producer of “Ain’t that America” his job is vital in the early developmental aspects of the show.

“I supervise the creation of the show pitch, format, creative ideas and budget” says Byrne, along with overseeing the hiring of both staff and talent.

Byrne can always be found on set, when need be, he may “deliver networks notes and editorial changes to episodes cuts” he explains.

Despite his title as EP, Byrne is not what you would picture a network exec to look like. He does not walk around in a suit and tie, instead you are likely to spot him in some jeans and a pair of Jordan’s. 

Because of Byrnes title, he also has many obstacles that often present themselves.

“Managing your creative ideas against certain production budgets and schedules” Byrne explains, are just a few.

Luckily, there are people whose sole job it is to oversee this aspect in production, that’s where production managers come into play.

Melissa Spitzer, Production Manager for MTV2 explains how, “producers have such grand ideas, but there’s also a lot of factors, that’s where I come in.”

Spitzer has just come off a 20 hour work day and is forced to have her work accompany her to an interview. She periodically stops to answer emails, while politely excusing herself.

“In order to make a show happen, we need to make it feasible, financially and realistically
“says Spitzer as she silences her phone and places it down on the table.

“It normally takes 1-2 months of prep before we start shooting a season, while producers are thinking, we are executing.” Explains Spitzer, never breaking eye contact as she orders another coffee.

“I give the reality check; sometimes that means having to be a bitch”, says Spitzer with a no-nonsense expression on her face. “You have to be a bitch, be the one that says no” she reiterates as she sips her coffee.

It’s not easy to have to be the “bearer of bad news” as Spitzer puts it, but it is an essential part of the creation of a show.

As Production Manager, Spitzer is in charge of making sure every single aspect of the show, prep, production and post, go smoothly.

“While cameras are rolling, we’re usually at a standstill, everything has to get done before we start” explains Spitzer, “once cameras stop rolling, we get back to work to oversee everything, it’s my job to double check everyone else’s job.”

Spitzer’s job can be extremely stressful, given the time constraints and expectations which are placed on her shoulders but she will be the first to tell you, “I love my job, it’s a challenge.”

“They always say it’s in your blood, you either get it or you don’t” says Spitzer in regards to working in the industry.

PM’s like Spitzer can’t do it alone; they too require assistance in order to get a job moving. This is where PA’s come along. They are hired by production managers in order to assist other tasks which need tending.

PA’s also known as production assistants are what you would consider the very bottom of a production. This is an entry level position which can range widely depending on the production and those in charge.

Iowa native Bryan Kelley, 35 is just one of the PA’s on set of “Ain’t That America.”

It’s 10 am and he is sitting next to Mrs. West, secretary to the 53rd Street studios. He makes jokes to the other PA’s over the walkie while checking in some staff.

“Well, typically we (PA’s) are not on staff during the prep and wrap out of a show, there are always a ton of loose ends at the end of a production but those are executed by someone above the ranks of a PA.”

Kelley, also known as BK around the studio explains that getting a gig like a PA is the starting point of a job in production unless you are going for something technical like camera and editing work.

“Duties vary by gig and boss” says BK as he goes into the ins and outs of PA duties.

“PA’s do everything from driving around the talent, making runs vital to production and random office work.” Explains BK as he continues to sign in more incoming staff and assigning walkies.

“We are basically the backbone of a production; scripted TV, film, commercials, reality shows and live audience shows all use PA’s to make the production come together” says BK without making eye contact as he continues to do his job.

“Production is the department that glues together every other department, so a lot of the time it just means you are cleaning up messes, so to speak” says BK as he stands to respond to a call from Production upstairs.

On filming days there is always a fast paced flow in the studio. In production, time is money, therefore time cannot be wasted and everyone is expected to do their job.

BK returns from running an errand for one of the members of talent, he had to go get a wheatgrass shot. “It’s all part of the job” says BK, cheeks flushed from having ran through six city blocks.

The amount of PA’s on a project depend solely on the size of the project itself. For “Ain’t That America” MTV has hired between 8-10 PA’s. This number can fluctuate depending on what particular jobs need to get done.

Some PA’s never even make it into the studio. They are bound to the vans all day which are directed to making different errands such as picking up talent, or items from any varied store.

Like many shows, “Ain’t That America” deals with a live audience. That’s where Kareem Holmes comes in. Holmes represents the New York division of 1Iota, a Los Angels based ticketing company for fans.

1Iota gives fans free tickets for events throughout the country including the VMA’s and even the Super Bowl.

1Iota has no direct affiliation with MTV, they are merely hired like any other worker to provide their services.

When working on a show like “Ain’t that America”, a live audience is not only essential, but crucial to the execution of the show.

“It’s my job to get the best looking and livest audience” says Holmes with an expression of bluntness about him.

“It sounds shallow, but that’s the game and you have to know who you are selling your product to” he explains.

Holmes says, “an MTV show like this is marketed to a young audience of a specific demographic, the better looking the crowd, the more air time they’ll get and they’ll begin to promote themselves and the show via online networks like twitter, giving us more viewers.

It’s all strategy, according to Holmes. He has worked on shows varying from “Katie Couric” to “Wild’n Out” and he approaches each one differently.

“I have to make sure that every time the camera moves everyone is where they should be” explains Holmes as he air waves an empty studio to show where the audience should be.

On “Ain’t that America” Holmes oversees a crew of 4, but it can range from 4 to 100 depending on the show or event.

Now that you have seen a glimpse of the foundation of a production, you can imagine how much more complicated it gets once you bring in lighting crew, camera crew, sound crew, control crew and countless other technicians.

So the next time you kick your feet back to watch your favorite show, you might think twice about what went behind its creation, hopefully it doesn’t take away from the magic of T.V.

 

Resumes

By Melissa Hutchinson

No Work Experience, Why Should We Hire You?

A resume can help or limit your search for a job and it can be especially difficult to write one that excels when you have no job history. Don’t despair you can still build a resume that highlights your talents despite a lack of job history.

According to Chantelle Wright an associate director at Center for Career & Professional Development at John Jay College “Leadership experience, internships, and research experience can all be counted as job experience”. These are excellent ways in which a student with no job history can display their skills and strengthen their resume.

Even though you don’t have any work experience, it’s very important to make a habit of highlighting job-related skills “your education and your personal skills are important things to be highlighted on a resume” said Carlos Cuevas a 28 year old junior at John Jay College.

Cuevas also said that having work experience doesn’t necessarily make it easier to build up a strong resume, “but if the person includes their work experiences the perception of the employer towards that person might be that he or she is more beneficial to the company than those with no work experience”. It’s important for those with no job experience to highlight the areas they shine in on their resume.

According to an article by jobsDB.com, “share the skills where you shine. For example if you’re looking for a job in sales, emphasize your communication and presentation skills. If you’re looking for a job in graphic design; include samples of your design work in your resume”. Whatever the kind of job you’re applying for, be certain to let potential employers know that you have the skills to take on the job.

Internships, volunteering and extracurricular activities are ways in which you can show a prospective employer other areas that you shine in. “In my opinion if a student does not havework experience they should concentrate on volunteer experience, extra-curricular activities and internships” said Barbara Young a career counselor at the Center for Career & Professional Development at John Jay College.

“Every student should get an internship; it looks good on your resume and it’s like dressrehearsal for a real job” said Young.  Young also said that there are different types of internships students can participate in “paid, unpaid, and academic”.

An academic internship counts as a class and you also get work experience, “an academic internship is when you register for a course, but the course consists of 15 hours of class and 96 hours at an internship site” said Young.

Internships increases your chance of getting a job “Statistics have shown that the students with internships are better equipped to get a job after graduation because they have gone through the process of actually getting a job” said Young.

Volunteer work is also a good advantage to have on your resume, employers also use volunteer work when they evaluate a candidate. According to an article by John Leland in the New York Times, Greg Baldwin, president of the online service Volunteer Match told the New York Times “Some professions lend themselves particularly well to advancement through volunteer work, working in technology, marketing, design, communications, event planning and various forms of consultant work can reap concrete career benefits from volunteering”.

Any kind of volunteer work can greatly improve your chances of getting a job and it’s a great way to gain work experience. “It could be volunteer activity in your church or another organization that you find meaningful” said Young.

According to investopedia.com “the career benefits can be great. If there is no volunteer position like your desired job, look for tasks that allow you to list the skills you need on your resume, like managerial or organizational skills. Volunteering doesn’t have to take up a great deal of your time, but can boost your resume and even give you new networking opportunities”.

The benefits from doing volunteer work helps better prepare you for a job and gives you the experience to build your resume, “we have community outreach here at John Jay and that’s a wonderful opportunity for students to participate in a volunteer activity” said Young.

Academic achievements or awards can display your excellent performance in school. It can also benefit the employer, and increase your ability to do the job. According to an article by Kate Lorenz, on career builder.com “don’t think that your schooling means nothing to an employer. Demonstrate your aptitude and strengths by project-specific examples of class work you have done”.

You can also display how you handled your class work, “focus on your experiences in class, for example special assignments, projects, and group work” said Wright. Show how you managed the responsibility of completing a project and how well you work with others. “It has to be some sort of special project or a team project” said Young.

There are many other things that can also be highlighted on your resume that are class related, according to an article by the jobpyramid.com “research, collaboration, writing, and meeting deadlines. You are also probably a great reader, writer and learner. These are all things your potential boss should know about”.

Extracurricular activities also play a role in giving students the tool to prepare them for the job market, “extracurricular activities are activities here at your school that are not directly linked to academics” said Young.

Young said that student life is a great place to go and find the clubs that interest you, “you could belong to the pre-law club, or some sort of ethnic group, or habitat for humanities”.

According to jobsDB.com “certain school clubs and organizations are designed to prepare students for the professional world. For example, there are architecture societies for students majoring in architecture, business organizations for business administration majors, forensics clubs for law students and so on”.

Extracurricular activity is also a good way to get involved with your community “maybe your extracurricular activity has to do with the homeless, it shows that you’re interested in your community and that you are a good member of your community” said Young.

Building up a strong resume with no work experience is possible when you focus on the areas in your life where you shine and display your skills well. Getting help with your resume from someone who has job experience can also benefit you “my cousin who is a RN taught me how to write a resume so it’s become pretty easy” said Devene Williams a 22 year old senior at John Jay College.

The Center for Career & Professional Development at John Jay College located in L72.00 offers help in searching for a job, applying for internships, and resume writing. The center also offers counseling, workshops, career panels, and networking events like job fairs.

Dealings of a Makeshift Panhandler

As New Yorkers shiftlessly move their feet through the five boroughs, there exists a decidedly apathetic attitude towards panhandlers on the city’s streets.

You know the deal.  A man or a woman enters your train car or bus and asks for you and your fellow passengers’ attention. What happens next all depends on what kind of panhandler he or she might be, as there are varying approaches used by these individuals. Regardless of execution, they all aim at getting us to do one thing: open our wallets.

Most New Yorkers view these marginalized individuals from a middle class perspective and never really get a closer insight into what these people go through, while we sip our lattes and browse the current trendiest social media website.  While we listlessly shuffle through TIME magazine, the homeless are out in the cold, displaying signs with explanatory purposes, soliciting people for change.  Swallowing their pride, they shuffle through the subway, asking us for a small piece of our taken-for-granted comfort.

When you encounter panhandlers, how do you feel when they give that familiar speech, evoking your generosity? How do they feel if nine out of ten straphangers completely ignore them?  As a result of being ignored, would they change their approach, revising their speech to be more appealing?

Attempting to get a better understanding of these people of the street, I decided to cross some social boundaries and pose as a New York City vagrant.  Dressed in an old dirt-covered jacket, ripped jeans, and a knitted wool hat, wielding a plastic soft drink cup for change and assorted cardboard signs, I embarked upon my social experiment.

I started in the Bronx, on the six train.  Entering the train at its last stop, Pelham Bay Station, I hopped onto the last car, where I mimicked a speech I’ve heard from other panhandlers so many times: “Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  Sorry to bother you on your commute, but please hear me out.  I am unemployed, homeless and hungry.  Please, if you can spare anything at all, it would be greatly appreciated.”  As I held my cup out, shaking the change, I moved from the front of the train car to the back and I couldn’t help but notice that not a single person in the car made eye contact with me.  This pattern continued in the next car.

At this point, I decided to make an addition to my speech.  A few cars up, I added, “May god bless you and your families and have a safe commute.” to my pitch.  As I walked through this car much of the same happens, until I reach the middle section where a middle-aged Hispanic woman puts a dollar in my cup.

I explained to her that I’m a journalism college student, and that I am conducting a social experiment for a news story.  Mercedes Alvarez, 55, of the Bronx, said that the reason she decided to donate money was because I was well-spoken, and from my speech, I seemed like a “good Christian young man, down on my luck.”

I exited the train at Hunt’s Point, where I decided to take a different approach.  Strategically placed in front of the stairs leading in and out of the train station, I sat on the floor, pulled out one of the signs from my backpack reading “HOMELESS. PLEASE HELP.  ANY SPARE CHANGE WILL BE APPRECIATED,” and placed my cup in front of the sign.  Most passersby kept walking despite my presence, until an actual panhandler approached me.

A man identified only as “Anthony” passionately informed me: “Hey, you’re in my spot, man! You can’t stay here. This is where I sleep!” Sure enough, inside what I thought to be a regular trash can, was a blanket, along with various other items belonging to him.  I explained my presence in the spot to Anthony.  He was not amused.

I made my way to Manhattan’s Washington Square Park, where I set up my next sign and cup combination.  Sitting in the park with a sign displaying “NEED MONEY FOR FOOD AND BEER. PLEASE HELP.” I continued my experiment.  This was, by far, the most obnoxious display I had attempted yet, but somehow it caught the attention of many young people.  One NYU student who passed by yelled, “Yeah man! Good for you, bro!” while most just smirked at the absurd attempt at panhandling.

This went on until a group of twenty-somethings carrying a case of Budweiser sat in a circle nearby me.  They called me over to them and handed me a beer.  Once I explained to them that I wasn’t actually homeless, member of the group Mitchell Bader, 23, went on to tell me that I didn’t really seem homeless, but since they had planned on drinking in the park anyway, that it wouldn’t have been “the worst thing” to help out someone in need.

I showed the members of the group my other sign and asked them if I would have caught their attention, to which Mitchell replied: “Yeah, I probably would have noticed, but I probably wouldn’t have done anything. It’s too vague” he said.  He continued, “At least with the other sign, you’re being honest and I know exactly where my money is going.”  When I brought up the fact that all the signs could be elaborate fiction, he just shrugged.

The next and final stop on my journey brought me to the NYC financial district,  a bustling area on Wall St. with the iconic Wall Street Bull in sight.  This area represents the economic prosperity of the city, and as I stood there in contrast, I embodied the economic disparity between the upper and lower classes.

As I attempted to solicit money from the denizens of this community, it was almost as if they found ways to magically maneuver around me, as if I were a wisp in the wind.

After using a combination of the signs and asking people for spare change, I found that not a single person would even acknowledge me.  It was as if I had the plague.

On the train ride home, occupants of the car observed my disheveled  appearance, seemingly arriving at their own reservations about me.  This brought about a reflection of how I had spent my day.  Now I knew what it felt like to be on the other side of the proverbial poverty line, and gained better insight into how this demographic of New Yorkers spend their days.

This experience has put me in the shoes of the downtrodden and the invisible.  It has given me a new understanding of human decency.  The next time I encounter a panhandler on the streets of this city, I’ll remember what it felt like to be in their shoes, and how small I felt as droves of passersby seemingly floated right through me.

The short time spent as a makeshift panhandler was symbolic of a greater truth about the way human beings treat each other.

 

Knocked by the Knicks or Caught by the Nets?

By Bo Lee

New York basketball fans were met with a test to their loyalty in 2012 when the Brooklyn Nets debuted in the Barclays Center on Atlantic Avenue, going against the incumbent New York Knicks in a battle for territorial superiority.

Rap artist Jay-Z had part ownership and played a successful role in the public acceptance of the former New Jersey Nets, despite selling his shares to head coach and former player, Jason Kidd. Loyal basketball fans of the New York Knicks are reluctant to accept this team as one of their own, partially because of the sudden increase in Nets fans, especially when the fan base lacked when the team was located across state lines.

“I’ve been a Knicks fan since 2003 and [the Nets] won’t change my mind because they came into my borough,” says Art Sitouchkin, a Brooklyn resident and a Knicks fan for the past decade. “I think it’s too soon to be proud of a team with no history compared to a team with more than 60 years in New York.”

Most sports fans take pride in their team, glorifying the territory they represent and cherishing the history and legend of their sports team. But some fans refuse to accept the Nets in their hometown.

According to the official NBA website, the New York Knicks paved the way for many notable franchise leaders, including: Patrick Ewing, Walt Frazier, and Phil Jackson. Their home court is the world famous Madison Square Garden, an arena to countless athletes from an array of sports, entertainers, and musicians such as Mike Tyson, Michael Jackson, and Led Zeppelin, respectively.

The Barclays Center welcomed Brooklynites into their doors on September 21, 2012. According to the official Barclays Center website, the first event upon its debut was a series of eight sold out shows featuring Jay-Z. It then went on to house many other notable artists such as Barbra Streisand, The Rolling Stones, and Paul McCartney.

Although the Barclays Center cannot match the Garden in terms of its history, it can surely compete in terms of their team’s athleticism.
The first time the New York Knicks faced their new challenging rival, the Nets prevailed in a 96-89 point victory. The Knicks ended the 2012-13 season with a 54-28 standing in the Eastern Conference, finishing seventh. The Nets trailed closely behind, with a 49-33 standing, finishing eighth.

The capabilities of the Nets cannot be questioned at this point, but what keeps loyal New York fans hesitant to accept this new team?

“It’s funny because all those Brooklyn fans were rooting against [The Nets] when they were in New Jersey,” says Bobby Sciallo, 30, who has been a Knicks and Nets fan for most of his life. “But when the Knicks make the playoffs all the Nets fans will jump off the bandwagon and switch teams again.”

Jacky Chen, a former assistant coach from the St. Bernadette Basketball team, feels that the location doesn’t matter, rather, the players themselves. “I like players from the Nets like Deron Williams, who was traded from the Utah Jazz,” says Chen. “The players on the team are why I like them, not because of New Jersey.”
Brooklynites have always had a sense of pride in the proximity of things. Every couple of miles will feel different with a fresh change of pace in Brooklyn, which is something quite exclusive to this state. In sports, this is no different.
“Brooklyn has a sports identity; anyone who feels the pull of the old Dodgers stories knows that,” says Paul Grossinger, a writer at TheBestSportsBlog.com. “So, if you are embracing the Brooklyn identity as a Brooklynite, go for it. But, if it’s just bandwagon hopping, stick with the Garden.”
The Dodgers were originally a Brooklyn-based major league baseball team that got its name from the notorious residents of Brooklyn dodging street trolleys. According to the Dodgers official website, the Brooklyn Dodgers eventually moved to the west coast and became the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1958.
Devotion to a sports team comes from the love for the team itself. When a team moves away, their fan base seems to move with them. You can still be a Dodgers fan, but the proximity of the team for Brooklyn does not exist anymore.
“I don’t really know why they deserve the respect of New York in general, but definitely Brooklyn,” says Mark Garceran, a Brooklyn Nets fan. “Brooklyn went too long only with the memory of the Dodgers and every borough except Staten Island has a sports team so I think it was long overdue for Brooklyn to get a team to be loyal behind.”

 

The move of the Nets to Brooklyn can also be a means to some healthy competition for the New York Knicks.

Sports teams in New York have always been split down the middle, but the Knicks have always sat awkwardly alone in our current era of sports until now.

True fans of any sports team will always withstand the test of time. If a large fan base has built itself around the Nets because “Brooklyn” is in front of its name, it’s likely that these fans will move onto the next team that satisfies them with a victory.
The loyal fans of the Nets and the Knicks will retain its fan base regardless of where they’re from simply because a fan has a bond with the team.
“It doesn’t matter where they’re from, what matters is where they are now,” says Chen.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

By Brittany Cortes

“Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” like its hero Katniss with her trusty bow and arrow, hits all its marks. Fans of Suzanne Collins’s successful young adult trilogy about a teenage girl in a dystopia future who sets off a revolution just by staying alive – will not disappoint.

The phenomenon is upon us, and there’s nothing you can do about it. For Zahirah Primous, a Brooklyn resident along with her sister and boyfriend were all excited to view the next installment of The Hunger Games. Barely able to stand still as the lines made there way into the theater, she expressed her love for the movie, “Catching Fire…. well the entire series means so much to me because it shows that you don’t have to sit there and take what anyone gives you. It proves that you’re strong even when you’re weak,” said Primous.

Catching Fire is the newest installment of The Hunger Games franchise, making it the most talked about sequel since Twilight’s: New Moon. Audiences across New York were excited as they anxiously waited in line to preview the first midnight showings of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. It’s been more than a year since we last saw Katniss and she’s finally back. Many people were dressed up as their favorite character Katniss or Peeta, the two protagonists of the movie.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year, you’ve probably noticed that “The Hunger Games,” a story of dystopian post-apocalyptic world, in which teenagers fight to the death has the world buzzing. Ron Smith of New York is a huge fan of the trilogy, especially Catching Fire. “Man! What makes the movie so great within itself is its visual aids in graphics, storyline, and most of all its message,” said Smith.

“Catching Fire” features a distressed Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) preparing to embark on a victory tour following her success in the previous Hunger Games. She soon learns that her defiance of the Capitol in the previous film has generated a rebellion among the nation’s districts, and President Snow (Donald Sutherland) wants her to simmer the tensions. What results is a powerful, thrilling sequel that bests its previous film in every way.

The film is easily exciting and a bit of a tease. It sets up some ultimate fear factor with its brutal scenes, yet there isn’t a moment of real dread in it. The film also sets up Katniss, with her extravagant costumes and Goth-like makeup, as the fiery face of revolt, but the cliffhanger finale reveals that she is, thus far, a passive agent in this revolution. Jennifer Lawrence plays a fascinating image of girl power, but I hope that in the upcoming sequels, Katniss gets to show another dimension to go along with her defiant strength.

Many of the fans expressed their excitement about The Hunger games, especially about the new film. Kristin Ortega, 21 from Queens couldn’t hold back her enthusiasm, “totally awesome, I loved the first movie. I read all the books and waited so long,” said Ortega. One of her friends said Ortega not only waited a whole year but also even had a countdown clock in her room.

For someone who isn’t familiar with The Hunger Games, it’s important to understand why fans are so committed to the books as well as the movie. Ken James, 25 from Manhattan, found the movie both insightful and with a clear message to its audience, “It’s about oppression. It’s about conspiracy. It provides a visceral understanding of how our own society operates. The characters are more than memorable and the struggles are more than realistic,” said James. Katie Madonia, also from Manhattan, likes the movies for the same qualities as James but adding, “ I love Katniss, the comedy, the action, romance…stuff like that!”

The world of the “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” reminds people of what America would look like in the future, with its clear message of struggle and survival, the corrupt government system as well as the message of “flight or fight.” Robert O’Neal, a student at Columbia University, feels that the movie depicts the future of America where one stands up and fights for change, “Panem is set in futuristic America. It’s a vision of what America will become. But it is also a guide to show us how to fight back,” said O’Neal.

For those of you that have not read the books or seen any of the movies, I highly recommend it. If you’re a fan of The Hunger Games, Catching Fire is a must see. When you mix compelling emotion with amazing action sequences, what you get is an enthralling film. When the credits roll and the stage is set for a fiery two-part conclusion, we can’t help but feel the cliché: Let the games begin.

 

 

 

 

Before They Were Professors

By Diana Ereskina

 

In the classroom, they are the supreme overlords. Some are loved. Others are hated. But few are seen by students as anything other than their primary identity—the professors.

John Jay boasts twenty-five departments ranging in diversity from English and Political Science,  to Africana Studies. Professors who have unique talents and experiences fill all these, and many more—departments. However, the road to becoming a professor is not always smooth.

Professor Michael Yarbrough of the Political Science department had always thought of teaching as a possible career. “I imagined being a professor since I was a kid,” said Yarbrough.

Originally from Lubbock, Texas, Yarbrough received his JD from Yale Law School in 2009, and his PhD in Sociology from Yale University in 2013.

“I did not ever intend to practice law.” Yarbrough said he went to law school to help him teach the social impacts of law. He currently teaches LWS 200: Intro to Law and Society course, which is part of the Law and Society major.

He worked for an Ohio Congressman in Washington, D.C in the late 1990’s. In the early 2000’s, Yarbrough worked for Viacom. According to their website, Viacom is a media company that includes brands such as MTV, BET, Nicktoons, and many others.

Although he imagined being a professor since he was a kid, Yarbrough said his main career plan was to be a politician. However, along the way he realized this wasn’t for him.

Yarbrough did not like how the “work to get re-elected required superficial being nice to strangers.” He also said that being a politician is a twenty-four hour job.

Though a busy workload and fake pleasantries were annoying, Yarbrough had two main reasons for abandoning his political career and coming  to New York: his political views and sexual orientation.

Yarbrough shared his Congressman’s leftist views, which was an unpopular position to hold for someone representing Cleveland, Ohio. The congressman was not re-elected. Seeing how difficult it was to be true to his opinions, Yarbrough decided to pursue other things in other places.

Yarbrough also moved to New York because he identifies himself as a member of the LGBT community.

When speaking of his hometown, Yarbrough said it was, “a small city with not much opportunity. Life was difficult in terms of being gay.”

“I’d have no career in Lubbock,” said Yarbrough. “It is still a very hostile place for gay people.”

While finishing his PhD, Yarbrough moved to New York.

Before working at John Jay, Yarbrough worked at the College of Staten Island (CSI) from 2012-2013. This is his first semester here.

Yarbrough is a lot happier being a professor. “I love my students… The students here are very interested in things I teach.”

However, he noted that the challenging  lives that John Jay students lead get in the way of their roles as students. “It’s challenging to keep moving forward,” said Yarbrough.

Yarbrough also said that the big class sizes make teaching more difficult. Nevertheless, he is passionate about being a professor. “I take teaching very seriously.”

Unlike Yarbrough, Professor Glenn Corbett did not expect to become a professor. Corbett currently teaches Fire Science in the department of Security, Fire, and Emergency Management. He is also chair of the department of Protection Management.

According to his CV, prior to coming to John Jay in 1994, Corbett worked other jobs in his field of fire protection. From 1978-1986, he worked as a volunteer firefighter in New Jersey’s Waldwick Volunteer Fire Department. He was also a fire protection engineer in the Austin Fire Department from 1986-1987.

“All the professors are here for the students,” said Corbett. “Probably the thing we don’t like are all the administrative things that come with it.”

Corbett made a connection between his outside experience as a fire protection engineer and his current job as a professor;  his experience helps him be a better educator. “I think having worked other places before coming to John Jay is incredibly valuable to people teaching here, because it certainly adds to some extent the level of credibility in the classroom.”

Corbett also mentioned that the outside experience not only helps with teaching concepts in class, but also helps practically in terms of job searches. “We can provide additional career guidance and mentorship.”

While working in Texas as a fire protection engineer and an administrator of engineering services, he was in charge of code enforcing. In code enforcing, Corbett had to make sure that commercial buildings followed legal fire safety rules. Doors had to be locked, and sprinkler systems were checked to make sure that they worked properly.

Even though he is very happy teaching, Corbett said he misses his previous jobs to a certain extent because of the newer technology and research facilities. However, he certainly does not miss the political pressure that came along with the jobs. Sometimes people in higher positions did not follow proper safety regulations recommended by fire protection engineers. “They see you as a dollar sign because you’re gonna cost them money.”

Overall though, Corbett is very happy to be here and thinks he will be here for retirement.

While Yarbrough had a legal life prior to academia, and Corbett took an interest in a specific discipline, professor Adam Berlin chased artistic dreams.

Berlin of the English department wanted to be an actor. He received his BA in English and Theater from Brandeis University, and his MFA—Masters of Fiction Writing—from Brooklyn College.

Berlin said that he took a year off after finishing high school, and went from Massachusetts to New York to pursue an acting career. After seeing that it wasn’t really working out, he realized he had to go to college. After finishing college, he pursued acting once again.

While acting, he did a lot of off-Broadway theater. However, he had quickly realized that acting did not feel fulfilling to him. “I’m not a team player, and in acting you have to be a team player.” He worked as a bartender in the meantime to pay bills. This is where his life changed.

“A woman who I worked with there was a bartender and a writer and I showed her some of my stories,” said Berlin. He asked her whether she thought he has talent, and she replied that she did, and advised Berlin to get a graduate degree in writing. That woman went on to become a famous writer on her own; Binnie Kirshenbaum is a novelist of books such as Mermaid Avenue (1992), and even has her own Wikipedia page.

Berlin’s first experience in teaching was in Brooklyn College. He taught Composition as a MFA student, but he soon realized he liked it. He enjoys interacting with students, and feels like he has something to say.

Like Corbett, Berlin feels that his previous experience helped him in the classroom. “In some ways, teaching is performance. All the acting training I had helped me with teaching.”

Students frequented Berlin’s office–which is stacked with J Journals–during the interview to ask for writing help. “It’s rewarding to see students improve in writing,” said Berlin.

His most recent novel, published October 2013, is called Both Members of the Club.  It is a book about boxing and overcoming an obstacle, according to Berlin.

Professors may be seen as lecturers grade-givers, but just like everyone else, they have unique past experiences and stories to tell.

Textbooks: Additional Costs Of An Education

by Dennis Cheng

 

Students or their caretakers can spend a lot for college: transportation or a nearby dorm, food, and classes. And of course, expensive textbooks many professors require for their classes.

“I don’t buy textbooks from the bookstore. I get it from Amazon or eBay. It’s cheaper there, but they’re still expensive,” said Daniella Sapozhnikova, a sophomore at John Jay College.

And with standard textbooks for a non-literary class going from $70 to $200 for a single book, it’s not hard to understand why some students would like to consider their options for buying textbooks.

Of course, it’s not the bookstore’s fault, since they’re just the distributors. For example, if you want a new game or want to get that new phone that just came out, you don’t blame GameStop or Best Buy for the price but whoever made it.

Distributors simply take a small cut. So one should look at the textbook producers like McGraw Hill or Pearson Education to find out why books are so expensive.

There are several things that go into the cost of making a textbook. First, there are the royalties that must be paid to the authors and illustrators, which according to the National Association of College Stores (NACS) is about 12% of the book’s price. Then, there’s the cost of production which is about one-third of the book’s price. Then, about 15% goes towards marketing that book. Then the rest, about 40%, is profit.

Keep in mind that the publishers only receive earnings when the book is in new condition, as they don’t deal in the used textbook industry.

Does this really explain why or not why a textbook is so expensive? Perhaps not without a larger look into the finances of a publisher.
There is at least the option of selling textbooks when you’re done with them to balance the cost of the textbooks. According to Antony Coleman, a senior at John Jay College and a retail associate at the John Jay College bookstore, there are several factors to how much you can get back from a book.

First, the book has to be the current edition. Your school’s bookstore generally only buys back the latest edition that would be available by the start of next semester. If you try to sell an older edition to another source, like eCampus, you’ll only get 5-10% of the book’s original value.

Second, the book would have to be used next semester for a decent value. Campus bookstores will give up to 50% for your textbook if it’s being used next semester. But if it’s not being used, then expect no more than 20%, although expecting nothing back is just as reasonable because the book may not have market value outside of that one class.

This isn’t that much of a big deal usually because other buyers like eCampus may give you a better value.

Third and lastly, books are only bought until a certain quota is met. Although off campus buyers will still buy books even if their quota is met, it will be at a fairly low price compared to those who sold back earlier.

The school’s bookstore, however, will tell you to try to sell it next semester.

These three factors described by Coleman show there’s a lot of risk when buying a textbook in hopes of trying to sell it back for a decent amount for what you spent on them.

So what is one supposed to do about pricy textbooks? Renting them is now an option, to get them at a certain percentage off, in exchange for having to return the book back.

According to John Jay College Bookstore’s website, you can get a 55% discount by renting a used book instead of buying the new book. Renting a new book is about 45% off the price of a new book. Renting is a viable option, because you get the discount upfront instead of trying to sell it back and getting the amount you’d hope to. At least that is what happens when selling to a retailer.

You can also go online to other sites, such as Amazon or Chegg. These distributors generally offer textbooks for less, as well as the same renting options that your bookstore has. But what happens when that isn’t an option because the book is a custom edition made just for your specific school?

Custom edition textbooks are textbooks made specifically for a certain class by a professor or department and contain things that the normal textbook wouldn’t have. And as far as custom editions go, they’re much harder to sell back because the only value they have is towards the school they’re used for.

Also, these textbooks are often non-bound, so it’s hard for prospective buyers to know if anything is missing. Another problem is the fact that most custom editions have an online access code for online assignments making each textbook bundle unique.

You can buy the web assign off the publishers’ website if all you need is the web assign though. So why would a school use a custom textbook package for its classes instead of just the textbook, like for John Jay College’s Social Science Math (MAT108) or basic Spanish classes (SPA101/SPA201)?

According to Peter Shenkin, chair of the mathematics and computer science department at John Jay College, it’s actually cheaper to order the textbooks as a bundle. Shenkin’s first words about the cost of custom textbooks were “Get the E-book, it’s cheaper. Most E-Books cost no more than $60 to $70.

We just require the students to have the online access which the E-books include for both the textbook and online.”

Professor Shenkin tutors a class using the Probability & Statistics for Engineering and the Sciences book by Devore. “I teach a class of about 60 and only 2 buy the book. They all buy the E-book. The custom bundle saves more overall, and the publishers make it cheaper bundled.”

Although customer service representatives from publishers generally aren’t told how books are priced, one customer service associate from Pearson Higher Education, James Cook, also mentions that it is cheaper for books to be bundled with all the required material.

All the MAT108 classes use the same material, a custom version of Finite Mathematics by Sullivan and an online access code, totaling $125.70 for the bundle at the school’s bookstore.

On the publishers’ website, the online access code is $100.50. This means that unless you could find the textbook alone for $25.20 or less, you would be spending a lot more if you buy them separately.

And while your specific professor may not even need the web assign, Professor Shenkin mentions that “we require all professors to use the online access for homework,” so most professors would be using it.

The cost of textbooks isn’t cheap. There are various options to lower the total amount spent for a textbook, but sometimes it isn’t enough for some students. A survey by the National Association of Textbook Stores found that in 2012, students spent roughly $662 a year for required course materials.

However, according to the same association, students spent more on textbooks in 2007, which was about $702 per year.

Publishers may or may not overprice their textbooks, but you have options at least. Renting books or getting them digitally can save you a lot of money, and so can looking through various retailers.

The old saying “time is money” really means a lot when spending two minutes on Google or Yahoo can potentially save you $50 on a history text book or $10 on a classic novel for a literature class.

Outlook vs Gmail

By Mark Sohan

 

John Jay College students find Microsoft Outlook frustrating despite the Department of Information Technology saying it enhances the CUNY experience.

Students who check their school email may already know Microsoft Outlook is their email client.

John Jay College uses Microsoft Outlook because the technology adviser committee selected it as the standard email client for CUNY in 2006.

Joseph Laub, a member of John Jay’s Department of Information Technology, believes that Microsoft Outlook unified John Jay’s services.

“Microsoft Outlook makes it easy for students and faculty members to use one username and password to log into many of the college’s services such as email, Wi-Fi, campus computers and online library,” Laub said.

Some students do not agree with Laub. Francisco Cinta, a junior, said “I cannot figure out how to get my John Jay email account on my phone.”

“I find the John Jay email to be frustrating because each semester you have to go through the whole process of forwarding it to your primary email,” said senior Orayne Williams.

In fact, some students would prefer that John Jay use GMAIL instead of Outlook, “I would love if John Jay used GMAIL that way it would be easier to check my main email and school email in one app,” Abdoulaye Diallo, a senior, said.

Today, there are more enterprise email clients available. If John Jay desired, it would be possible to change the colleges email client to a new one.

“A change in email service would mean having a different username and password for each of John Jay’s services,” said Laub. “John Jay does not have a high budget as other colleges.”

John Jay uses email as the primary way for professors to communicate with students, but getting school email on mobile devices can be difficult for some. “It sucks. I cannot get the John Jay email on my phone, so I don’t get notified when my professors email me,” said senior, Sarah Guillet.

For students who are able to use Microsoft Outlook on their mobile devices, they find it useful, “It’s pretty convenient because I can make sure the professor got and received my message,” said Marcos Colon, a junior.

Some find Microsoft Outlook to be professional, “I think John Jay should stick with Microsoft Outlook since most if not all big corporations and businesses out there use Outlook and thus it gets students familiar with the service once they get into the work force,” said junior Marcos Colon.

Texting could be the best way for professors to get information to students outside of the classroom.

Within the last ten years, texting has become extremely popular. Colleges could adopt texting in favor of emails. It is possible to send one text to multiple recipients, so professors could text all students with one text message.

Texting is already in place within the CUNY system, as “CUNY Alert” texts every student regarding emergencies. Luis Lara, a senior, said, “I would definitely prefer professors use texting instead of emails.”

While some John Jay students continue to have issues with Microsoft Outlook, some still prefer it for it’s professional layout.