May 25, 2016

The Secret Lives of Bed-Stuy House Cats

By Martin Joseph

In Bedford-Stuyvesant, small business owners are finding a new source of cheap labor within the homeless population. These workers are usually tasked with killing mice in basements and open lots. They happily work for $1.25 a day, as long as it is paid in cat food.

Hugo is an orange cat who works at La Bellaca, a bodega on the corner of Hancock and Tompkins. “He comes and goes” said Fernando, the owner of the store. Hugo kills mice and rats in exchange for one can of wet food a day, usually generic, and a warm place to sleep. Hugo is not a pet, however according to Fernando ; he has no collar or permanent home. He can usually be found burying his feces next to any one of the trees within his territory on Hancock street between Marcy and Tompkins.

Fernando first met Hugo, “About a year ago”, when a romance between Fernando’s former feline employee resulted in a pregnancy. The small grey cat had been a family pet for years. She wore a collar and came to work with Fernando every day. Fernando offered the kittens to neighbors but sadly they were never born. In late February, the pregnant cat was with a broken neck. She had been struck by a car.

After her death, Hugo became Fernando’s main employee. He usually shows up three times a week in the mornings and works for an hour or so until returning to the streets. He rarely catches anything, but Fernando is satisfied with Hugo’s work. Fernando said, “the smell keeps them away.”

Hugo’s employment has been contested of late. A young cat named Demitry has been encroaching upon his territory. “He doesn’t like to be inside,” said Fernando about Demitry the cat. Fernando believes that Demitry may have been a house cat at one point but he chose a life on the streets. Demitry is larger and younger than Hugo and has begun challenging his territory. The ferocious feline refuses to be pet and will enforce that policy with a bite.

Tensions have been building for a some time now. Fernando suspects that Demitry has only recently come to the neighborhood. Hugo has defended his territory against Demitry on few unknown occasions. Hugo left uninjured every time but Demitry has lost the tip of his ear and shows scars on his face and shoulders. In a standoff which was witnessed on April 17th, Demitry backed down from a confrontation but the struggle is far from over. “He comes here sometimes,” said Fernando about the black cat.

Both Demitry and Hugo can be found in the middle of the block at various times. The trees, however appear to have been claimed by Hugo. Demitry usually slinks in the guitar, hiding under cars apparently biding his time. For now, Hugo is the alpha cat pf Hancock Street between Marcy and Tompkins. He is not old yet and appears to be in his prime ti the untrained eye but the day may eventually come when Demitry has his revenge , however Hugo has defended his throne thus far.

Cats can also be found working around the corner in an empty lot. Brothers Fred and George, work in the lot keeping rodents at bay. Their pay comes in the form of wet food served in a foil takeout container. The abandoned buildings provide graffiti artists, a canvas as well as a dry place for  the cats to sleep. Though the fence is high and would be a prison for most humans, the cats can come and go as they please through the spaces in the fence. Neither Fred nor George have been seen outside of their fence due to the competition. Demitry has tried  to take their jobs as well, but the brothers were witnessed repelling the invader late one April night.

Demitry appears to have an unpaid position in a construction site across the street from La Bellaca though this has yet to be confirmed. He sprints towards the site when he felt threatened and works his way between the wooden wall of the construction site and the iron bars of the neighbor’s place.

Community vs. NYPD Aspiring Cops React to Deadly Shooting

By Javier Calderon

On Gold Street outside the two glass doors of the 84th Precinct in Brooklyn, two pictures lie side by side of Officer Wenjian Liu and Officer Rafael Ramos.

On December 20, 2014, both officers were shot point-blank range and killed in their patrol car by Ismaaiyl Brinsley. Before making his way up to Brooklyn from Baltimore, Brinsley, suggested on social media that he planned to kill police officers in anger over the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases.

The fatal shooting would be the first of three incidences that have led to the death of four New York City police officers over the past year. On May 2, Officer Brian Moore, who followed in his father’s footsteps to become a police officer, was shot and killed while patrolling a residential neighborhood in Queens. The most recent incident was the death of Officer Randolph Holder, shot in the head and killed on October 21, while chasing a gunman down in Harlem.

Each of these officers under the age of 35 risked their lives to protect their community. However, the tension between the community and law enforcement continues to grow and become more hostile. It leaves the question of whether or not joining the NYPD is the correct career path for young students out of college.

After college, many of the young cadets that graduate from the police academy are put directly out into the field. “It is different for officers who work out in the field,” said Steven Litwen a detective for Brooklyn’s Cold Case Division. For those young cadets, training only last six months and you are dumped into a community that most the time you are unfamiliar with.

The police officer with the 77th precinct in Crown Heights Brooklyn with six and a half years experience on the job, was straight forward about working in unfamiliar neighborhoods and the dangers that come with it. “The job is always going to be dangerous, and most the time you are put into a situation where you have to deal with people who are for the most part disturbed and it’s hard to know how to act in situations like that…it really comes down to the department and the need for more training.”

More police training is not a new topic of discussion. Over the past year, a lot of the talks about police training have become more extensive due to several police brutality cases such as the case of Eric Garner, where a Staten Island police officer put Mr. Garner in a chokehold leading to his death. The incident sparked several protest in New York City and around the nation.

Not only have the police brutality cases sparked protests, but they have also created a divide between the people of the community and police officers, each of them falling on opposite sides of the spectrum. The shaky and unstable conflict between the police and the community has left several students second-guessing a career path with the NYPD.

Stephanie Rodriguez 22, a recent graduate from John Jay College, who wanted nothing more as a kid but to follow her mother’s footsteps in becoming a NYPD police officer, has chosen to depart from her childhood dream and choose a different career path in sports management. This is due to the recent conflicts between the community and law enforcement officials. “It is just not the same anymore…You are under so much pressure as a cop now and even my mother who has over 20 years on the job thinks that joining now would be a mistake for the younger generation because the tension between the community and police officers is only getting worse,” said Ms. Rodriguez.

Not all students feel the same however. Rillind Jonbalaj, a senior at John Jay College, who was asked about officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos affect his decision to join said, “No, death can happen at any moment, it does not matter whether you are a police officer on duty or not, death is a part of life.”

Death is, in fact, a part of life and Evelin Gutierreza, a detective for Brooklyn’s cold case division. He worked 21 years on the job and is afraid the killing of police officers this year is not over. “It is usually around the holiday times when we see another tragic death, and it is a sad time when you have to report that type of incident to an officer’s family…it’s just not right.”

Although relations with the community and the NYPD continue to grow apart and become more dangerous for police officers, on June 22, Mayor Bill De Blasio announced because of a new budget deal, New York City is going to add 1,300 new cops to the city’s payroll.

New York City is already the home of the largest police force in the country. According to the New York City’s website, there are approximately 34,500 police officers in the NYPD. With 1,300 more officers on the way, it puts much pressure on to the department to “serve and protect” over 8.4 million people in New York City.

Along with the pressure from the community, much pressure of being a police officer comes with leaving your family every day to worry at home. Detective Jason Palamara states, “My family tends to worry a lot about me and what I do…they know it is a dangerous job, but they understand that…it still doesn’t stop them from feeling worried when I don’t call back.”

Clash of Cultures: Cultural Conflicts Almost Stop Event

By Timothy Wilson Staff Writer

John Jay’s Hillel Club and Muslim Student Association have ran into a roadblock because of the negative backlash they are receiving from their peers and families after an effort to collaborate.

The Nov. 16th event brought in two police officers, one of Muslim descent and one of Jewish descent, to talk about how they connect on the job and put aside their differences so that they can thrive on the force.

“We are holding this event to show that two religions can co-exist with each other in the same area of work,” said Tomer Kornfeld, president of the Hillel Club, a club for Jewish students.

The event was planned by both clubs months ahead, but three weeks before the event, the MSA (Muslim Student Association) decided to make the Hillel Club run the event alone.

“The Muslim Student Association pulled out last minute because of the negative backlash they were receiving from their neighborhoods and family,” said Kenneth Holmes, the college’s dean of students.

But that was not the only place the MSA received backlash from, they were also criticized from another club in John Jay called Students for Justice in Palestine. According to a recent post on Facebook the former executive of SJP Susie Abdelghafar did not agree with the collaboration between the two clubs.

On a Facebook post, Abdelghafar said, “As a John Jay student who was part of the MSA, I am GREATLY disappointed at the student club for moving forward with this, especially when the president has openly said they will support Palestine no matter what and has collaborated with our SJP chapter before and understood the implications and harms of normalizing,”

“Adding on to the disastrous decision to do this event, we also can not forget that it was the NYPD that brought in an NYPD informant to befriend the executives and members of MSA only three years ago,” Abdelghafar added.

Holmes said she may be angry toward this event because Muslims have been targeted more frequently by the police since 9/11.

“But as a college we have to give space to all views so SJP, MSA and Hillel have a right to their opinions,” said Holmes.

In the country of Israel, Jewish and Muslim people have been in conflict since biblical times. This is not a new issue that was just brought up; they have been arguing about land and beliefs since these two cultures can remember.

This conflict in their homeland negatively impacts the clubs because of the animosity between the two cultures. The event was an effort to encourage togetherness.

“It is not about the person’s religion, it is about the individual,” said Lt. Adeel Rana, the Muslim officer that attended the event.

Rana emphasized that cultures can co exist because you should look at the individual’s personality not where they come from.

“I have many Muslim friends on the force, we joke around and have fun on our off time all the time,” said Sgt. Michael Belogordsky the Jewish officer who attended the event. The John Jay alumnus founded the college’s Hillel Club.

“I am glad that the club I founded is conducting events like this that connects two different cultures, and making them put aside their differences for a better cause,” said Belogordsky.

The officers also spoke on the fact that they both are the presidents of their respective religious groups. Lt. Rana is the president of the Muslim Officer Association and Sgt. Belogordsky is the president of the Jewish Officer Association. This further shows their point that two different cultures can co-exist.

The Hillel Club still received support from the MSA even though MSA pulled out from the event three weeks earlier. President of MSA Mir Ali attended the event and even interacted with the officers at the end and even said a word of gratitude for the officers taking time out of their busy lives to address this issue at John Jay.

“John Jay College has many cultures and religions that interact with each other everyday, we should be able to put aside our differences and be able to work together regardless of what goes on in our respective countries,” said Alan Steiner Vice President of the Hillel Club.

Social Justice Groups vs. Universities

By Johnny Carmona Staff Writer

In the past two months students on this campus have read about the uprising of students protesting against the faculty of their Universities. The majority of the attention started with the controversy in Columbia, Missouri. This however is nothing that is new to us students, plus recently the movement has reached CUNY. It is in no way one situation linked to one University or institution, because we have witnessed uprisings of social justice groups like Social Justice, LGBTQ, Black Lives Matter, Students for Justice in Palestine, and our new addition that is the center of protest in Missouri: Concerned Student 1950. The group in Missouri was just the start.

The incidents at the University of Missouri are many. The two incidents constantly cited are the racial slurs shouted at a member of the Legion of the Black Collegians, which jumpstarted the controversy. The other controversy is Jonathan Butler`s hunger strike that pushed the resignation of the Chancellor Wolfe. Lastly,  the protest involving blocking the Chancellor`s car to push a response from the University.

There is, however,  no exact incident that this issue started from, but protesters claim there is  “systematic racism on campus.” The accusations are based on few cited incidents which some have not been confirmed. Especially two incidents with a swastika in which only one resulted in an arrest. Other claims have been that the University nor higher authorities have not responded to the student’s protest against this “racist system.” According to records, on September 12th the Chancellor responded to the racial slur incident. On October 8th the faculty started mandatory diversity training which wasn’t enough for protestors.

On November 2nd the Chancellor sat down with Concerned Student 1950, who were not satisfied, stating, “Wolfe verbally acknowledged that he cared for Black students at the University of Missouri, however, he also reported he was ‘not completely’ aware of systemic racism, sexism, and patriarchy on campus”, and again on November 6th when the Chancellor addressed the issue on camera. It is true students have not gotten a response they are satisfied with; however, it is factually inaccurate that they have received no response. In their list of demands from Concerned Student 1950 you can see that most of their demands have been met. The protests resulted in the resignation the school`s chancellor and two other professors, maybe more by the time you read this. So I ask you John Jay students what is your position on the protestors reactions and demands? Given that most of them have been met, why are the groups not satisfied? What do you believe the issue is?

Other Universities

The University of Missouri is not the only university that has ran into this Social Justice movement, Claremont McKenna College`s Chancellor has resigned as well. The movement reached this private University and its faculty due to an alleged offensive statement and stereotypical picture. McKenna stated that resigning was, “the best way to gain closure of a controversy that has divided the student body and disrupted the mission of this fine institution.”

Ivy and CUNY

This noise reached our ears through the recent “Million Student March” that also made multiple claims following the influential uprisings in Missouri. Again, this nothing new considering the common denominators are race/religion, and/or oppression, and/or financial inequalities. Once the march took place, the social ustice group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), fought back against the “zionists” of the CUNY system and demanded a “freeze in tuition”. This is a step forward from the demands made in Missouri. This task is outlined in the Students for Justice in Palestine’s mission statement:

“We must fight for funding for our university, and for CUNY to be accessible to working class communities in NYC as the public university system. The Zionist administration invests in Israeli occupation, hosts birthright programs and study abroad programs in occupied Palestine, and reproduces settler-colonial ideology throughout CUNY through Zionist content of education. While CUNY aims to produce the next generation of professional Zionists, SJP aims to change the university to fight for all people liberation.” (signed by eight schools including John Jay College)

The CUNY Vice Chancellor Frank Sanchez has discouraged these statements saying they were “anti-Semitic.” This actually was the case in Harvard University and Columbia University who also have SJP chapters on their campuses. The Horowitz Freedom Center has made the argument that these groups are, “the chief sponsors of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign inspired by Hamas.” The Freedom center has made efforts to slow down the campaign. Students in the CUNY system have supported the marches for the financial debt situation. However there are questions surrounding the SJP’s involvement.

Here at John Jay College the Black Student Association and the Students for Justice in Palestine organized a protest for Mizzou to bring awareness to the issues there. The Vice President of Student Affairs Lynette Cook-Francis  said after the protest, “What I love is that there are so many clubs and organizations that are together doing this and that means there is greater unity at John Jay.”

“Our college campus is not predominately white so you don’t hear from the students that they are experiencing some of the other kind of things that other students are experiencing,” she added.

Members of the Hillel club were present for the protest, but did not participate because of differing opinions. Although the executives of Hillel preferred not to comment to avoid backlash,  member Jesse Cuban stated; “The message was going through smoothly and then out of nowhere the Students for Justice in Palestine took over the entire event. They made it something that had nothing to do with Mizzou.”  What do you think John Jay? Do you agree with the students at Mizzou? Are these two joint issues or are there separate missions at play here? If you have had experiences pertaining to what the social justice groups concerns are please share them.

Got Grammar?

Should ENG 260 Be A Required Course?

By Randeva Simpkins

After his class observation ended, Professor Godfrey Elder stepped to the front of his English class and asked the students: should his class, ENG 260, be a required course instead of an elective?

There were no mixed answers from the students; everyone agreed that his class was important. English 260 should be a required course.

ENG 260, Grammar, Syntax, and Style: Writing for All Disciplines, gets to the basics of writing. In this course, students are taught how to be better writers by learning how to apply proper use of grammar and syntax while developing a better writing style.

“I am not teaching how to write about literature,” Professor Elder said to his class, “I’m teaching how to write.”

All 300 and 400 level courses at John Jay list English 201, Composition II: Disciplinary Investigations — Exploring Writing across the Disciplines, as a prerequisite because this course fulfills the English General Education core for all intended majors.

As a prerequisite course, ENG 201 aims to teach the fundamentals of reading comprehension and writing. This English course is supposed to teach students effectively how to write with cohesion.

Some students feel that ENG 201 did not prepare them well enough to understand grammar nor how to be a better writer. In fact, many students opting to take ENG 260 their senior year struggle with the class activity of identify the Subject, Verb, Object (SVO) in a simple sentence.

“I took this class because I wanted to understand things like punctuation better, but I ended up learning how to write with cohesion,” said Nasira Kane, a John Jay senior, about taking ENG 260.

“I think ENG 260 should be a pre-req becausepeople’s English today, writing wise, is horrible.” Kane said.

Instead ENG 260 is an elective course for those majoring or minoring in English or Journalism and for Writing minors. In writing-intensive courses, many professors see their students have problems with grammar and syntax. This could be the incorrect use of ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ or tenses and verb placement. Having ENG 260 as a prerequisite for the English General Education core instead of an elective could help improve student writing for any major.

ENG 260 is listed among 46 other English electives. With the English major, a maximum of 4 courses goes towards the English B.A., so a course like LIT 332: Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee might be more appealing than a grammar class.

Misean Mondesir, a junior working at John Jay’s Writing Center, finds that grammar is not a major issue for students that come in for help.

The problem is “not with grammar,” Mondesir said. “It’s to get students to begin to understand content, create clear sentences and form arguments and thesis. Not so much grammar.”

Research done by Professor Marcia Hurlow of Asbury University suggest that students benefit from learning grammar when they are taught to revise and edit their own papers. Her findings, published in Dynamics of the Writing Conference: Social and Cognitive Interaction, show that grammatical errors are eliminated when students focus on their ideas and content. This is also how ENG 201 at John Jay is conducted, with more focus on revision rather than grammar.

The same practices of revision and editing is incorporated into public school curriculums. Grammar is not taught as it’s own class. Instead principals in New York City can choose from a list of curriculums that include brief grammar lessons based on self-editing done by students.

Students that come to John Jay from New York City public schools do get taught grammar, but only as an addition to English Language Arts classes.

“We do teach grammar, but in the writing and reading blocks. Never on its own,” said Kainat Javed, Bronx middle school teacher at Grand Concourse Academy Charter School.

“There’s nothing wrong with the actual standards,” with the way grammar is taught at public schools Javed said. “Just how students are tested.”

Public school students are tested on how much they comprehend from a text, rather than the grammatical aspect of their writing. As long as a student is able to produce content that shows they understand the material then the student is able to pass the test, making grammar the least important focus in writing.

While Hurlow’s research shows that students benefit from revision strategies as opposed to entire lessons being taught on grammar, some students feel that having a course in grammar is needed.

ENG 260 students feel that this course is just as important as ENG 201.

“I don’t think it would hurt to have this course listed as a requirement, there aren’t many English requirements,” [for the General Education core], Tracy V. Pierre, a CUNY BA student said. Especially English courses “that are structured around learning and understanding grammar.”

Only six credits of English are needed to fulfill the English General Education requirement. Those classes are ENG 101 and ENG 201. If ENG 260 is added 9 credits would be needed to complete the Gen Ed core.

“The class is definitely helpful for me,” Pierre said about being in ENG 260. “Like when I’m looking at a sentence on Microsoft Word, when they say sentence fragment, or when they say revision—in a situation like that, if I knew something about sentence structure, paragraph structure, essay structure I would be able to diagnose the problem instead of guessing it.”

Growing Pains

Faculty Union’s Long Road to a Contract

By Parish Maynard
Staff Writer

Photo Credit: Parish Maynard PSC Secretary Sharon Persinger Speaking at November 19th's PSC Mass Meeting at the Great Union Cooper Hall in New York.

Photo Credit: Parish Maynard
PSC Secretary Sharon Persinger speaking at November 19th’s PSC Mass Meeting at the Great Union Cooper Hall in New York.

Five years without a contract. Six years without a raise. The Professional Staff Congress of CUNY continues to provoke Chancellor Milliken and CUNY management as the negotiation for a new contract continues.

Indeed, there are over thousands of teachers, 408 full-time faculty members and 896 part-time faculty members in John Jay, but it barely covers four percent that make up for the 25,000 faculty members of CUNY represented by the PSC union. Negotiations have taken place for a better part of six years, but union members predetermined their decisions when coming to CUNY.

“We chose this frustrating, poorly resourced, under resourced, exhausting place of work,” Barbara Bowen, PSC president, said. “Yet, we all have different mindsets, and different beliefs and that’s why we are all here, that’s why we came to CUNY to make a difference.”

On Nov. 19, over 800 members of the PSC gathered for a mass meeting at the Cooper Union Great Hall in New York City. The attendees discussed the reasons for their fight, invited a student to speak on their behalf, showed videos of other unions expressing support, and talked about their next move.

With one of those moves potentially leading to a strike, members were asked to vote for or against strike authorization at the meeting.

“We will take our demand for a contract not only to Chancellor Milliken, but to Governor Andrew Cuomo,” Bowen said. “We are not voting to go on strike, this meeting is a vote in plans to authorize a strike, but it is about being prepared if we are going to move forward and do it.”

The PSC’s first vice president, Michael Fabricant, explained the structure behind negotiating for a new contract. “We fight for better adjunct faculty job security,” Fabricant said, “We want a contract where the working conditions for full time faculty are reduced.”

Fabricant also stated that students are affected by this fight. “Wages have consequences on the quality of education for our students,” Fabricant said. “We fight for wage increase which will have implications on quality higher education and a quality public education in order to better our students.”

With the government on the verge of a $15 an hour minimum wage increase, Fabricant mentioned that it fails create a critical investment to the one institution that provides the ladder of education to be able to provide more than a $15 an hour minimum wage.

In the meantime of fighting for a new contract, Sharon Persinger, treasurer for the PSC, made mention of the progress the PSC has made so far.

“Eligible adjuncts have access to health insurance, funded on an ongoing basis,” Persinger said. “Negotiations, lobbying rallies, permanent paid parental leave for full time faculty members, and bargaining sessions were things we have achieved in 18 months.”

Persinger made mention of the current contract campaign revving up since the fall semester began, starting with rallying in front of CUNY Chancellor James Milliken’s home on Oct. 1.

Then the PSC continued on Nov. 4 with a rally in front of the CUNY administration building to offer a new contract. On that night, 54 faculty members were arrested in a show of civil disobedience. Professor David Winn, an assistant professor at Hunter College, teaching for 35 years, called what the PSC is doing unique.

“There has been no serious intent on the part of the chancellor,” Winn said. “There is no political will on the part of the governor, and we are willing to take risks like this civil disobedience act or going on a strike if they don’t come to their senses.”

One of those arrested, James Davis, a tenured professor teaching English at Brooklyn College, said he is disgusted over the negotiations so far, but inspired by what took place two weeks ago outside CUNY’s administration building.

“Our union is insulted, our students are being disrespected, and our union is being harmed” Davis said. “Two questions came to mind on that night were when would it feel right to break the law, what the stakes are, and what the consequences are likely to be.” Davis stated that it is important to recognize how much power the union has and what role we play in our national conversation of public higher education.

“We’re fortunate to have a union,” Davis added. “The PSC has a long history of effective and progressive unionism.”

Jeremy Travis, president of John Jay College, said he hopes this situation will soon be put to rest. “This standoff has sapped the energy of the college,” Travis said. “We need to get this behind us.”

LGBTQ Finds Their Place At John Jay

By: Jade Jetjomlong

Contributing Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everyone’s Need, Not Everyone’s Greed

By: Jenifer Valmon

Staff Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Gaza To Ferguson

John Jay Protests Against Voilence

By: Rehana Sancho

Staff Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get Your Zen On

By: Aimee Estrada

Staff Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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