February 6, 2016

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 www.nyc.gov, 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.”

Street Eats in Summer Heat

By Adam Poplawski

Contributing Writer


Photo Courtesy of Jenifer Valmon Students waiting on line for Halal food at Community Hour.

Photo Courtesy of Jenifer Valmon
Students waiting on line for Halal food at Community Hour.

During lunch time in New York, people line the streets looking for a relatively cheap food option, and now, food trucks are part of that ever-growing list of choices.

Although Halal carts, like Halal Brothers dominate the scene throughout the five boroughs, there is plenty of competition from other food trucks and stands, such as Waffles and Dinges.

Food Trucks exploded into the New York dining scene in the past decade and their presence has been growing ever since. Now, in addition to the already plentiful Halal carts, there are food trucks that serve Thai, Vegan, and even Polish food. Food trucks aren’t just cheap eats and have evolved into a medium that has more expensive options as well.

“I love food trucks because they’re so accessible and usually have great food, and they’re not too expensive,” said Joyce Ling, a student at John Jay.

Ling added one of her favorite meals was chicken over rice from the local Halal truck outside of the school. Its flavorful meat, balanced with a variety of sauces and rice makes it a popular choice at John Jay.

Waffles & Dinges, which makes fresh Belgian and Liege waffles, was able to branch out from a food truck into established food stands and even a brick and mortar location in the East Village. Their success is a path that many food truck owners would like to emulate, but that usually means an increase in prices.

The waffles at Waffles & Dinges are not the airy waffles that Americans are used to. Instead, they are Liege waffles, which are dough based waffles, as opposed to the batter based ones that most of us know and love. They’re hot, crispy and sweet due to the Belgian pearl sugar that is folded into the waffle dough. When they hit the waffle iron they expand slightly and an amazing smell fills the air.

You can eat one plain and be completely satisfied, most eat it with whipped cream and speculoos, their famous cookie butter spread made from spiced Belgian cookies.

Photo Courtesy of Jenifer Valmon Food truck selling smoothies on 59th St and Columbus Circle.

Photo Courtesy of Jenifer Valmon
Food truck selling smoothies on 59th St and Columbus Circle.

“Well, I’ve always wanted to try food trucks but I’m always afraid of the sanitary issues,” said Christina Zhu.

Some people are worried about the safety of the food in food trucks, and the image of mice running underneath a hot dog stand is one that can definitely traumatize some.

Food trucks and stands now dominate nearly every major street, especially those that are surrounded by office buildings. Food trucks do not spend money on rent, but they still need licences and must go through other bureaucratic steps to get their food to us.

“The halal trucks are my favorite, and I feel all the trucks break up the street and make them feel more welcoming,” said Vincent Blandino, a student at John Jay.

The extremely popular Halal Brothers is another example of a food truck that evolved into owning a storefront. It is one of the most heavily reviewed eateries in the entire city, sitting at just over 6000 yelp reviews, averaging four and a half out of five stars.

They are known for their chicken and lamb over rice, and especially for their famous white sauce. The line at the Halal Brother’s location in Midtown always stretches to the end of the street with hungry tourists and professionals waiting for their food.

Although food trucks can be affordable, one New York resident, Kevin Ching, said “I like how food trucks offer some variety from other lunch places, but I often find that the food trucks are overpriced.”


Pressing Polarization: The Dangers of Fringe Politics (Democrats)

By Yannis Trittas

Contributing Writer

Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons

Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons

When our editors approached Jay Cruger and I this cycle and proposed a topic for our column, my colleague and I did not disagree vastly. Funny enough, that’s not as rare of an occurrence as many would expect it to be. As President of the John Jay College Democrats, a political science major, and an operative of the Democratic Party, I wear my party on my sleeve (or more literally, my backpack which is covered in buttons of campaigns I’ve worked on).

Jay Cruger is the President of the John Jay College Republicans, but he is also someone I consider a friend. While we may disagree on the best way to accomplish our goals, we have the same mindset; to serve our fellow citizens and strengthen the United States of America.

Political polarization in the United States has hit hard, particularly in the past decade. Democrats and Republicans see themselves as being in a culture war, seeing their party identification not as a choice that most closely represents their political views, but something much more personal. References to red states vs. blue states are very common, dividing up our United States and creating rivalries among Americans.

Furthermore, classifying a state by the majority party marginalizes members of the minority party and leaves those voters feeling hopeless and resenting those with other views. This occurs to a different degree at the local, state, and national level.

Many events have divided our country ideologically in the past, but the current state of affairs is worse than ever with expected vitriol between political adversaries. There are many reasons for this, but the main ones in my opinion, are the mainstream media, the internet’s increased role in information gathering, extreme factions within the parties, and Citizens United.

Mainstream media has fetishised partisanship for many years, with some of the most evident perpetrators being Crossfire, Hannity and Colmes, or the local NY1’s Political Rundown, which features Gerson Borrero and Curtis Sliwa. They masquerade as “debate” shows which showcase liberals and conservatives battling it out in front of a studio audience while propagating the lie that they offer two viewpoints so that viewers can choose for themselves.

In reality, they serve as a way to double viewership by including two demographics, liberal and conservative, in one timeslot. With content that puts preference on quick jabs and personal attacks instead of intelligent debate, the purpose of the programs are revealed. The viewers of these shows do not watch them with the prospect of changing their mind, they watch them to see the opposition trashed.

The rise of the internet also increased partisanship, offering a place for those on the extreme left and right a larger audience than they could have ever had before.

Our Facebook feeds allow us to mute those that post statuses that oppose our views. This is especially dangerous considering the Pew Research Center reports that 63% of conservatives and 49% of liberals say most of their close friends share their views, a circumstance which it has termed an “ideological silo”. Left and right wing blogs can spin news in ways conventional news agencies cannot and spread misinformation on a massive scale.

These blogs and forums create a haven for the more extreme members of parties and allow them to organize fringe groups within the party. A perfect example is the Tea Party, which has succeeded in pushing the Republican party towards far more conservative stances by threatening current leadership with electoral challenges.

In 2014, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost the primary for his seat in Congress, despite having held that seat since 2001, to an economics professor without experience in elected office, named Dave Brat. Cantor had outspent Brat 40 to 1, but Brat’s Tea Party backers had doomed Cantor by painting him as too much of a moderate.

The Citizens United ruling which removed caps on campaign contributions by special interest groups also contributes to more partisan rhetoric by parties. President Obama said, in reference to the ruling, “You have some ideological extremists who have a big bankroll, and they can entirely skew our politics. And there are a whole bunch of members of Congress right now who privately will tell you, ‘I know our positions are unreasonable but we’re scared that if we don’t go along with the Tea Party agenda or some particularly extremist agenda that we’ll be challenged from the right.”

Moving towards the middle is necessary for the good of our country. It’s in our nature to feel passionately about things, and as social beings, we tend to align with people with whom we can agree with. Associating with only those who share similar views restricts our knowledge and stifles our progress as a whole. A polarized world without positive interactions among different people is detrimental to society. The best way to truly accomplish our shared goals is to compromise and learn from each other.

Pressing Polarization: The Dangers of Fringe Politics (Republicans)

By Jay Cruger

Staff Writer

Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons


I enjoy shock value sometimes. A good joke or riveting story helps in the political sphere, especially when you need to bring your point across with humor. At times it’s good to humanize the political discourse when times are tense. The type of tenseness we were faced with was the one that we had in the first round of committee on clubs for our budgets. In the meeting I sat withYannis Trittas, of the John Jay College Democrats. Shocked yet?

It was the tense easing moment of laughter when we took the roll call of clubs saying “I’m Jay Cruger, president of the Republican Club,” and then immediately followed by “I’m Yannis Trittas, president of the Democratic Club.” The laughter, at the same time, is also very sad.

It is sad because it’s almost impossible to believe that Democrats and Republicans can get along together and agree on something, even when in the same room as each other. It’s expected that Democrats and Republicans fight often, even on campus.

The reality between the president of the College Democrats and myself, is that we do not harbor any bitterness with each other at all. Although Trittas tends to see himself as a “Clinton Democrat” and I brand myself as a “Rockefeller Republican,” both of us embrace most of our parties’ core ideologies on economic issues, but on varying issues we trend towards the political center.

Politics, especially in opposition, has become increasingly vicious, even on a national level.

There are few to no Conservative Democrats or Liberal Republicans left. It’s a shame since New York especially had a great examples of Democrats and Republicans working together. New York Republican Senator, Jacob Javits, worked with Democrat Senator, Robert Kennedy, to solve the problems that arose after the enactment of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs. Both of them created partnerships between government and the private sector in manpower training and employment.

President Ronald Reagan and Speaker of the House, Thomas O’Neill, were political rivals but at the end of the day, they could sit down, drink and talk like regular men. Can anyone imagine that with President Obama and Speaker Boehner?

The national political climate is deplorable. There is no room for compromise in Washington anymore. George Pataki, who was governor from 1995 to 2006, won his third term with the help of public sector unions like Service Employees International Union 1199, a relationship unheard of today. Any Republican who followed in Pataki’s footsteps would be dismissed by more rightward leaning Republicans as a “Republican in Name Only.” It is clear that the sensible center is a vanishing phenomenon.

Earlier this month we could not agree on whether or not to fund the Department of Homeland Security. Before that it was a government shutdown, a sequester and another government shutdown. We are too concerned about being ideologically pure and not what needs to be fixed in our economic and social atmosphere.

Polarization has happened because we have lost the ability to listen. Howard Baker, former Republican United States Senate Minority leader, was described as an eloquent listener. In 2011 he said, “There is a difference between hearing and understanding what people say. You don’t have to agree, but you have to hear what they’ve got to say. And if you do, the chances are much better you’ll be able to translate that into a useful position and even useful leadership.”

A study by the Pew Research Center in 2014 said the polarization in the United States “is not just in our politics. American adults are less likely to compromise and often decide where to live, who to marry and who their friends should be based on what they already believe.” Should I start checking my dates’ voter registration card?

How ridiculous is it that we cannot see past each other’s ideologies at the end of the day? How can we not remember that we are all just regular Americans, people who should interact with one another as it is healthy to do so?

How will we ever survive this polarizing atmosphere when social media is further driving wedges in our relationships? It is my hope that this divisive trend does not continue. There’s too much at stake to keep fighting like this. Hopefully, as College Democrats and College Republicans, we can set an example to those set in their ideological ways.

President Eisenhower immortalized the sensible center the best, saying “they (the left and the right) deliberately misrepresent the central position as a neutral, wishy-washy one. Yet here is the truly creative area within which we may obtain agreement for constructive social action compatible with basic American principles-and with the just aspirations of every sincere American. It is the area in which are rooted the hopes and allegiances of the vast majority of the people.”

Tech-nically Speaking

By Dominique Goodwin

Staff Writer

For John Jay students taking the subway to school is natural as it is usually a part of their daily routines. As people squeeze in the train carts during rush hour, everyone has their hands full with things like tablets, iPhones, iPads or laptops.

Things aren’t much different on campus. Students are walking through the atrium or sitting on the couches that decorate the floor and are on cellphones.

Corinne Kreymer, a Queensborough Community College student said she usually gets distracted when using the computer for school work, admitting, “If I’m doing work online I most likely have quite a few tabs open, most of which relate to the work I’m doing and maybe just one tab open for something random.”

Development of technology not only affects students but professors as well. Seldom does a professor ask you to hand in a written piece of work. Chances are your professor wants you to hand in a typed paper or send it through email. Web based platforms are more common for educational purposes like, blackboard or safeassign. Now students have the option to take online classes.

The average user of Facebook spends 40 minutes on the website and checks the app 14 times daily said factslides.com. Students even access Facebook in class using the “check in” feature of the app.

Oscar Llivisaca, a major in Criminal Justice said “Sadly, I think i am on Facebook way too much then what I would like. It feels like its the norm now, to check every hour whats going on with friends or what is being liked or what pictures are being uploaded and if there is any big news among my peers. Guess we can say I don’t want to be left out and want to be up to date on everything. Seems like Facebook is more up to date than the local new stations unfortunately.”

Seventy percent of Instagram users check the app at least once a day says Buzzfeed.com.

Ten tweets per second mention Starbucks according to Socialtimes.com. In fact, Twitter has become such a large platform that jobs are focused around social media, like the title of a social media manager.

Zainab Bhatti, a student at Queens College said “I’m on Twitter any chance I get, it’s like an addiction. I can find almost anything to tweet about. I’m always reading my timeline before class starts.”

Students aren’t only spending time on social media but watching endless hours of video too.

YouTube is now partnered with companies like Disney and CBS. YouTube has become a successful platform. People can watch anything from beauty moguls, sneaker reviews to vlogs.

Anna Baloutch, a sophomore student majoring in International Criminal Justice, said, “I do have a YouTube account and it is very addicting because I love YouTube, I’ve had it ever since I was in high school and I love watching new things learning new things, such as cooking, makeup , hair and many other things. So that is very distracting but I try to manage.”

For college students the rules in school are less harsh compared to middle or high school concerning technology use. Everyone can walk through the hall with headphones in iPod blasting and texting and theres no one to to say put it away.Some John Jay students believe that its the updating of technology that increases the distraction.

Baloutch answered, “Yes, definitely, technology is more resourceful than from high school because now many of our schools have apple computers and iPads so it has been very updated than when I started high school.”

Every month Netflix releases a list of new releases of shows and movies. Now, Netflix has its own original series like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. In 2015, the list will continue to grow, as noted on websites like USA Today or complex.

As a criminal justice school, many students are intrigued with shows based within the criminal justice system like Orange is the New Black.

Kreymer said, “I would say that the TV and my phone are the most distracting. Though at times I have to seriously buckle down and shut off and the TV. I could go from getting a text to going on twitter and then ending up doing a bunch of other things before getting to my work.”

Estefani Llanos, majoring in Forensic Psychology, said “When it comes to school work and technology I do not believe that technology is distracting. I think it all depends on the persons character and morality. If I know I have a lot of work to do, I’m going to get it done instead of playing games on my phone, texting my friends, and using social networks. It’s a simple matter of prioritizing.”

Attorney General Holder Implements Initiative

By Edir Coronado

Staff Writer

On Sept. 18, 2014, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that John Jay College of Criminal Justice, in conjunction with Yale Law School, UCLA, and the Urban Institute will conduct a project named, “National Initiative for Building Community Trust.” This comes amid public outcry about law enforcement unfairly targeting minority groups.

Last year, the country witnessed two police officers acquitted for the murder of two unarmed black men. A lot of the country’s minority communities felt that racism still runs prevalent in our nation, especially those in urban areas. A recent gallup poll published Dec. 8, 2014 showed that only 26 percent of the Black community in urban areas have confidence in the police. The National Initiative, which will be held in several cities across the country will try to raise confidence in these cities.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, in 2014, 37.5 percent of the inmate population was African American and 59.1 percent of the inmate population was White. According to the U.S. Census, only 13.2 percent of the population consider themselves African American.

David Kennedy, the director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay, will be the professor leading the project. In the past he has been involved with other projects such as “Operation Cease Fire” which resulted in the reduction of homicides among youth by 60 percent.

Kennedy is also the co-chairman of National Network for Safe Communities, which is dedicated to reducing crime, incarceration, and racial tension linked to original crime policy.

The team of professors and researchers will work with cities across the country to tackle this issue, which has motivated so many to protest.

Some criminal justice experts agree that research on the subject is extremely important; however, they feel that perhaps too much time is being invested into just research.

Professor Donaldson of John Jay College of Criminal Justice and author of “Zebratown” and “The Ville” dedicated his career as a journalist to covering topics specifically pertaining to neighborhoods in New York City with high crime rates.

Donaldson feels that this kind of national research is important work, but that more action needs to be taken.

Donaldson is currently running a program to teach children in Brownsville, Brooklyn how to become better public speakers. While the initiative aims to mend criminal justice issues, he believes more of the funds should be invested into programs like his.

“The community needs to learn to trust the police, the police are paid to protect us and we should let them,” said Frank Mesi, a retired NYPD Detective.

Mesi has experienced strain between the police and community spanning across his 22 years on the force.

He agrees that the bond between the police and the community needs to be restored and that this initiative is great, he also agrees that it is a two way street and the police needs to learn to trust the community as well. “I would rely on recent data to implement programs to fix the distrust the community has against the police,” said Mesi

Ray Tebout, a consultant at the Vera Institute, a nonprofit center that places emphasis on justice policy and practice, is very excited about this new initiative and has high hopes for its success.

“My hope is that both the justice community and communities of color will be able to put to the side their feelings of anger, fear, guilt, and blame and work toward seeing each other as human beings with a shared responsibility for ensuring a healthy and safe community for all,” said Tebout. “Responsibility is not about blame, but about identifying where you have the power to change a situation for the better or worse.”