March 28, 2015

No Means No: CUNY Blows The Whistle On Sexual Misconduct

By Fathema Ahmed

Editor

On Jan. 20, Title Nine Coordinator and Director of Compliance & Diversity, Silvia Montalban, sent out an email informing the John Jay community on the City University of New York’s (CUNY) new policy on sexual misconduct. The new policy, also known as Title Nine, states that sexual harassment, gender-based harassment and sexual violence is prohibited against any CUNY student, employee or visitor.

Students who experience any act of sexual harassment are advised to go to either the Title Nine coordinator, Office of Public Safety, Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs and/or Dean of Students or Resident Life staff. An investigation will follow after the victim files an incident report. The investigation should be completed within 60 days of the complaint being filed; necessary measures will be taken after the investigation is complete.

Title Nine refers to a civil rights law that is a portion of the United States Education Amendments of 1972 that was effective on June 23, 1972. It states that no person in the United States can be discriminated based on gender. CUNY’s version of Title Nine that was effective Jan. 1 expands on this law.

Each CUNY College has an employee who has been appointed Title Nine coordinator. The Title Nine coordinator for John Jay, Montalban, works with the Director of Public Safety and Risk Management, Kevin Cassidy, and Women’s Center Counselor/Gender-Based Violence Prevention and Response Advocate, Jessica Greenfield who works under the Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs.

“The thing is to get people to understand that anything that they find is uncomfortable for them, any kind of events or situation that they come across, that they can come and ask questions, it doesn’t have to be a full-blown complaint, but they at least can go find out that something can be done if they feel something inappropriate happened to them,” said Montalban, regarding her coordination with Public Safety and the Counseling Department. “Public safety refers them to me, or because they decide to come directly to me or because the counseling office becomes aware of somebody who’s concerned about something.”

After the incident is brought to Montalban, it is then investigated. The Title Nine Coordinator’s findings are taken to the President of the college who then decides whether or not the allegations are accountable. If the allegations are found to be true the matter is then taken up with the Dean of Student Affairs who then decides what disciplinary actions should be taken.

“I listen to see what the nature of it is, then I ask them to give me more information as to anybody who may have witnessed it or anybody that knows more about it,” said Montalban on the investigation process. “I’ll review all kinds of evidence, access credibility, because sometimes people think that a he said, she said, or she said, she said, doesn’t matter which gender, but people think that there’s just two people and no witnesses, so it cancels each other out and we can’t do anything and that’s wrong. I want people to have faith in the process.”

In order for an investigation to take place, the victim has to be affiliated with CUNY.

“We would take seriously even a complaint that occurred off campus when it involved two John Jay students or a John Jay student and another CUNY student. We’re here to offer help and resources to our students,” said Montalban.

Students are advised to report sexual misconduct to public safety or to the local precinct. There are eight buildings at John Jay. These buildings are the New Building, North Hall, Haaren Hall, Westport, Macaulay Honors College, the 54th street Annex, the BMW building and the New Yorker Hotel. Although the eight buildings are all covered by the new CUNY policy, they are covered by three different precincts. North Hall and Macaulay Honors College are covered by the NYPD 20th precinct. The Midtown North precinct covers the other buildings with the exception of the New Yorker hotel, which is covered by the Midtown South precinct.

Public Safety gets involved when there is a threat to safety. “We just investigate the facts, we’re the investigative arm of the Title Nine policy,” said Cassidy. “If something is reported to us we investigate it, pass it along to legal, legal then in turn passes it along to various governing bodies within John Jay, we’re not the judge or the judge’s advocate in this case.”

Greenfield would get involved when a person is in need of counseling, “I’m the person who’s more the victim’s advocate, I explain to people what their options are, who helps them connect them with resources, whether they’re internal like supportive services on campus or somebody wants to go get counseling at an outside organization, I help people with that and then I talk to them about their options in terms of reporting if they want to make a report with the Title Nine coordinator or they want to talk to the NYPD.”

Students also feel that the new policy is effective, “I am satisfied with the current policy because on top of the fact that they’re following protocols to aid victims in seeking justice, they are also taking in to account the mental and physical health of victims,” said John Jay sophomore, Kadeem Robinson. “I appreciate that CUNY understands that sexual misconduct is in no way tolerable or accepted.”

Another student feels similarly about the policy “I think it’s for the better because there needs to be a line drawn between what is appropriate and inappropriate. The policy elaborates on each definition,” said John Jay senior Nicole Brandao.

“I think it’s good that it’s being reinforced, I think it’s excellent that it’s being bought back to life and that everyone is becoming a lot more educated and more aware of Title Nine and how the reporting structure works and what should be done because a lot of times people are misinformed or individuals are misinformed of who to report these sexual incidents to or where they should go, “ said Cassidy.

Does Catcalling Cross the Line or Is It a Compliment?

By Valentina Henriquez

Staff Writer

By: Ryan Abdelhafez

By: Ryan Abdelhafez

“Hey yo ma, you lookin’ real sexy right now, let me holla at cha fo’ a sec’”, a guy, about 20 years of age, yells to a female who walks by showing cleavage.

‘Catcalling’ : it happens all over the world, from New York to Paris … to the campus of John Jay. But what causes guys to catcall, even though it can legally be considered sexual harassment?

“Society seems to think that me wearing less clothing seems to be an invitation,” says Ieasha Galloway, a student of John Jay, who has been catcalled multiple times both in the streets and on John Jay’s Campus.

“There are times when I wore sweatpants and guys thought I was approachable,” says Crystal Rodriquez, who has experienced catcalling both in the streets and on John Jay campus. Crystal believes it has little to do with what a woman wears.

Sexual harassment, according to the New York State office of the attorney general is, “a form of gender-based discrimination, [involving] unwanted sexual context [one of them being] sexually offensive remarks or jokes…comments (either complimentary or derogatory) about a person’s gender or sexual preferences”. Catcalling falls under this category, yet it is not seen as a crime until it becomes more frequent by the same person, or involves physical contact.

John Jay’s Department of Public Safety defines behaviors similar to catcalling under the heading of “Hostile Environment.” Offensive comments that form an uncomfortable setting for students, commenting on physical attributes, using crude or offensive language and demeaning or inappropriate terms like “babe” are all considered a form of sexual harassment under the CUNY Policy Against Sexual Harassment.

Being a Criminal Justice school, John Jay College gives off the impression that most of its students are aware of many of the NYS and NYC laws. “In this country we are given the freedom to express ourselves however we wish, so it is not right to take advantage of someone who is exercising their right to free expression,” says student Anthony Auson.

Auson was caught off guard, however when asked if girls who wear more revealing clothing are more subject to sexual harassment. Auson said “The way society is today, yes, although I don’t think it’s right.”

Aldin Radoncic, wearing a Captain America shirt, agreed. “Girls who wear more revealing clothing are more prone to sexual harassment. There are guys who think they’re that kind of person.” He was asked to further elaborate, “Let’s say a girl is wearing short skirts, revealing tops. It is more likely that guys assume she is a slut, or skank and she wants to be catcalled.”

According to Buzzfeed media, several countries around the world have banned women from wearing clothing that makes them more susceptible to sexual harassment.

In Uganda women have been banned from wearing miniskirts. Closer to home, a school in Michigan banned its female students from wearing leggings because they were deemed too “distracting” for male students.

It seems fortunate that there are no restrictions on women’s clothing at John Jay but it does promote a policy against sexual harassment.

In fact, not all women find catcalling a form of harassment. In her story, “Hey, ladies—catcalls are flattering! Deal with it,” Doree Lewak gave the message that it’s ok to catcall. For Lewak, catcalling gives her confidence. “When a total stranger notices you, it’s validating,” she wrote. “Before I know it, winter will be upon us again and it’s not easy turning heads when you’re up to your neck in Gore-Tex.” But Lewak’s take is not the norm.

Off campus, protests against catcalling are happening, giving the message that what women wear shouldn’t suggest consent. Blogs and non-profit organizations such as Price of Silence and Hollaback! Price of Silence states, “We call street harassment the gateway drug to further forms of violence against women…This perception dehumanizes women to a perceived ideal of subservience. We need to create a standard of human rights which protects equality to public space.”

Thank You For Not Smoking

By Quanisha Simmons

Contributing Writer

By: Yanel Escobar  No smoking sign in front of John Jay College's New Building.

By: Yanel Escobar
No smoking sign in front of John Jay College’s New Building.

The American Lung Association found that “Every year in the United States over 392,000 people die from tobacco-caused disease, making it the leading cause of preventable death. Another 50,000 people die from exposure to secondhand smoke”(2014).

Nonetheless, for many, the dangers of smoking far outweighs the benefits which is why CUNY announced they would be going tobacco-free in effect as of Sept. 4, 2012.

This decision followed Mayor Bloomberg’s New York State smoking ban in 2003 that made smoking in many public places illegal. Similarly, CUNY adopted many of the same regulations and “Established that the use of tobacco would be prohibited on all grounds and facilities under CUNY jurisdiction such as: indoor locations and outdoor locations such as playing fields; entrances and exits to buildings; and parking lots.”

John Jay has an identical tobacco-free policy addressed specifically to John Jay students that is on the college website. However, since John Jay has adopted the tobacco-free policy they’ve lacked the ability to enforce the regulations that apply.

The tobacco-free campus policy is strong in its stance against a smoke-free environment but the regulations are not conveyed effectively on campus to the John Jay community.

Cristy Loveras, a non-smoking sophomore at John Jay said “Well, I knew that it was no smoking indoors but not outdoors since I always see people smoking. It bothers me when I’m coming in and out of the building. And it affects me because of second hand smoke you know. They really need to start enforcing the rules again.”

According to Ryan Eustace, John Jay’s Risk Management and Ethics Manager responsible for policy making at John Jay, said that public safety personnel enforce the policy just not as routinely as they would like to.

Eustace said, “When we see someone smoking we inform them of the policy, our guys will periodically clear smokers out in front of the building or if we get a complaint of smokers we will do that. We don’t have enough manpower to have someone out there in front of every building so it’s quite difficult to enforce.”

He added, “Even if someone who is not affiliated with the campus and is found smoking in front of the building we can ask them to move across the street, and they may say no. But if they are affiliated with the campus there are others things we can do.”

According to John Jay’s tobacco-free policy, some actions public safety agents can take to enforce the rules include but are not limited to “monetary fines, community service, and mandated cessation education, or other appropriate disciplinary action.”

Robert Granovskyy, a junior who smokes said, “When they first put the policy into effect a semester or two ago they enforced the rules like the first two weeks. They plastered the no smoking signs on the doors and even had a no smoking standing sign. They took all the ashtrays away and threatened students saying ‘Cross the street or I’ll give you a ticket.’ But since then they don’t really bother us much.”

Students seem to be more concerned with the potential health risk associated with the lack of enforcement rather than the actual lack of enforcement.

Eustace said that “Smoking presents a health hazard but people still have the right to smoke, so CUNY’s official policy and John Jay’s says that all of our campuses are smoke free which I think is good for people’s health. If people want to smoke they can walk a little bit further away so they don’t interfere with anyone else’s breathing air.”

There is a major misconception among students that smoking on campus is permissible. Many don’t know that the tobacco-free policy exists because of the vast amount of students smoking in front or around the campus entranceways.

Anastasia Rhem, a first semester transfer student and non-smoker said “I didn’t know that John Jay was tobacco-free until you mentioned it to me. I avoid the entranceway where they are. As long as they aren’t blowing it directly in my face then its fine.”

Some students acknowledge the tobacco-free policy but don’t take it seriously due to the lack of enforcement. Lydia Gornack a senior said “I did know that this was a smoke free campus as of two semesters ago and they kind of don’t make a big deal out of it so everyone does it”.

When asked how she felt about possibly exposing non-smokers to second-hand smoke she responded, “I really don’t think about it, but I suppose that I will now. Sometimes I cross the street just because it’s too many people here.”

Students who smoke stand firm in their stance that campus security gives smokers mixed signals because sanctioning is arbitrary.

Shawn Narain, a junior said “Smoking helps me, it’s stress-free especially during finals week. There’s no hassle especially in front of the new building. There are no signs over at North hall but students don’t smoke there because they enforce the rules more. Everybody that smokes comes to this area. If you don’t smoke you should stay away.

Mr. Eustace, risk manager at John Jay said otherwise.

“If you see it, say something and we’ll get someone out there to handle it.” Ultimately, student’s health takes precedence here at John Jay and public safety agents wish to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all.

 

Nation Scarred By Civil Unrest: Grand Jury Decision Sparks Protests In NYC

By Nicole Scaffidi

Contributing Writer

By: Keyunna Singleton Protestors head to Times Square on November 24th to express their concern for the recent decision.

By: Keyunna Singleton Protesters head to Times Square on November 24th to express their concern for the recent decision.

On Nov. 24, a grand jury failed to indict white police officer, Darren Wilson, in the shooting of Michael Brown, 18, an unarmed African American teenager in Ferguson, Missouri. On Aug. 9, Wilson fatally shot Brown. There are questionable circumstances in which the shooting occurred that has received nation wide attention.

Weeks after the decision on the Ferguson case, John Jay students’ opinions are multilayered. As students remain deeply saddened by events unfolding across the nation—including a similar decision just a week and a half later of a grand jury not to indict the police officer who caused the death of the Staten Island man, Eric Garner this summer—many who are dissatisfied with the reoccurrence of extrajudicial killings have come together to collaborate their thoughts and strong opinions, discussing what the next steps are.

For now, the one-thing students are able to agree on is protesting which, at least, is showing the authorities that people want change.

“Think of the purpose of the protests and community action… Could you imagine if all of the CUNY schools came together? Could you imagine what that would look like in New York?” says Jovanny Suriel, John Jay faculty member. In fact, CUNY has been majorly involved in the protest scene in New York City.

CUNY students joined by other protesters were able to stop the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade as participants marched down Sixth Avenue. Tobi Adeleka, President of the African Student Association explains, “We got pushed by cops. People got arrested. It was serious.” CUNY students also joined protesters across the country the night the grand jury announced their decision and were able to shut down traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge and throughout all of Manhattan.

Both the Ferguson and Eric Garner cases have stirred up civil unrest and caused a racial divide. With the hope of making a fundamental change, chants like “Hands up… Don’t shoot”, “What do we want? … Justice!”, “How do you spell racist? … NYPD”, and “NYPD, KKK, how many kids have you killed today?” have broken out into a unified cry.

Handmade signs flood the streets reading, “Let em’ hear it on the moon”, “Black lives matter”, and “The Hunger Games, now playing in a town near you!” People were outraged.

Since the Trayvon Martin case in 2012, in which George Zimmerman was found not guilty of murder for fatally shooting African American, unarmed Martin, public protest had surged. Many protesters feel as though there is a national injustice occurring. “Police officers across the US are hiding behind their badges and fatally shooting black men and boys with no consequence,” said Amber Ball, John Jay Senior. Much like the Civil Rights protests of the 1960-70’s, this movement has been hyper-concentrated on college campuses.

Since November 24, there has been a lot of activity around the John Jay Campus. From discussions to protests, students and faculty have come together to express their feelings and emotions.

On December 1, 2014, another protest took place inside John Jay as students focused on all aspects of injustice worldwide. “It’s essential that we as John Jay students make a difference because we are advocates for justice,” says Adeleke, “But it’s going to take baby steps.”

These cases have broken many hearts and are now merging with other existing issues of ongoing injustice. Even though there are conflicted opinions among the student population, the majority of John Jay students feel that peaceful protests are the most influential way to have their voices heard.

“We need to challenge the way that people think, their bias and their prejudice have to be challenged through peaceful means,” says Kadian Townsend. The hope is that publicizing their emotions will initiate change.

 

By: Keyunna Singleton

By: Keyunna Singleton

“There needs to be a larger discussion on what are you going to do,” says Hadassah Yisrael, “What happens when you leave these doors? What are you doing everyday when you wake up and your feet touch the ground? What do you do when you go outside?” Efforts need to be spent beyond peaceful protesting and outside the doors of John Jay.

Though there were protests after the Trayvon Martin case, there seems to be more momentum now towards systemic change.

“There needs to be legislative changes. There needs to be a change in police protocols and things of that nature,” says Quanisha Simmons. Media suggests that higher authorities will now start focusing their efforts on training police to use their equipment properly. According to Fox News, the White House is pushing for a multi-million dollar program, which will encourage local police departments to provide body cameras for their officers.

Legislation changes are only one of many ways that will help this movement succeed. Suriel believes that education without a doubt bring change.

“The textbook doesn’t reflect us except for ‘these Black people came over in chains.’ We need to educate our youth and ourselves as we transition. Look at this room, we are in this room at a college for social justice. Education is really key.”

Ebola Prompts CUNY Protocol

By Fathema Ahmed

Staff Writer

Ebola

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ebola 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

NewsFeed: Tuition Hikes Approved

English: City University of New York system logo.

Image via Wikipedia

The CUNY Board of Trustees approved tuition increase by a vote of 15 to 1. The vote will increase CUNY four-year colleges to $6,330 in the year 2015-16. This means that the tuition will increase annually by $300 until 2015. The student protests which erupted earlier this month was organized to prevent such a thing from happening. Protesters argued that a majority of CUNY students were low-income minorities that would be devastated by the tuition hikes. University Official countered that argument by saying, that because of state and federal aid 44 percent of CUNY undergraduates pay no tuition. The Board also approved $5 million in aid for low-income students.

 

 

Source: NY Times