May 5, 2016

John Jay Welcomes Black Student Union

By Bethany Cox Staff Writer

As soon as she arrived on campus in Fall 2014Ashley Saunders walked into The Center for Student Involvement and Leadership and asked, “Where’s the black student union?”

The office assistant directed her to the African Students Association. She joined and made friends there, but she was still alarmed that there was no black student organization on campus.

“While we as black students may have a connection to Africa, our heritage as African and black are non synonymous,” Saunders said. At that point the junior decided she was going to relaunch the John Jay Black Student Union.

After an almost 10-year hiatus, the Black Student Union is once again on the college’s organization roster. BSU has no budget or club room as of now, but they are already present on the John Jay campus.

After several recent instances involving racism at the University of Missouri , John Jay’s BSU brought several clubs together for a demonstration Nov. 18th. They stood in solidarity with students at Mizzou in the Atrium alongside the John Jay statue. Because they didn’t get the protest approved by administration , they were unable to use microphones or megaphones. Lynette Cooke-Francis, the VP of student affairs, came from her office and gave the demonstrators a megaphone.

Unlike other culture-based clubs on campus, the Black Student Union is much more general. “I’m black, but I don’t fit into the specific categories that the clubs provide,” says senior Deandra Williams.

It is almost impossible to create clubs for every culture because of the African diaspora. All black students whether African, Afro-Latino, Afro-Caribbean, or African American have a place with BSU.

According to the John Jay website, 21% of students at John Jay are black. It is important that they feel welcome. Its important for black students to have a team that they can come to when they feel discriminated against. 

“As fierce advocates for justice, we will fight against injustice against students of color at any institution including our own,” said Saunders. John Jay’s BSU is also a place for people of any background to learn more about black culture or the black experience from several points of view.

“I am so proud that we finally have a BSU,”  said Kenneth Holmes, dean of students. “I believe that every collegiate institution should have one.”

The BSU had their first general meeting Nov. 24 in collaboration with another club, Shut Up and Listen. It was an open mic where the floor was open for students to ask questions, say a poem, or rap without censorship. Danielle Officer, the director of CSIL, also shared words of wisdom:“I was a part of a similar organization in my day and I am so glad that I did. I wouldn’t be who I am today if I didn’t.”

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.”

And The Winner Is…

John Jay Professor Wins Stockholm Prize

By Edir Coronado
Staff Writer

John Jay’s Professor Cathy Spatz Widom is being awarded the 2015 Stockholm Prize in Criminology.

The annual Stockholm Prize is going to Widom for her body of work on the relationship between abused children and their likelihood of becoming criminal offenders as adults.

The results of her study are promising. Widom said, “I am excited about these results,” she continued, “we cannot categorize these children as violent offenders based on child abuse alone.”

It may come as a surprise that such an important body of work was not her original topic of research. Her initial focus was on psychopaths and female offenders.

Widom became chair of the Criminal Justice Department at Indiana University, but her research changed unexpectedly.

During her sabbatical leave, at Indiana University, Widom took an interest in the correlation between child abuse and criminal activity in adulthood. Earlier research maintained if a child is abused physically, that child will become a criminal.

Widom began reviewing these research documents and found that the work was not very convincing.

Widom said, “This concerned me because it was a common assumption that stigmatized these children and created a self-fulling prophecy, where people would say, oh this child was abused or neglected we better worry about delinquency and crime.”

After studying these readings, Widom said, “I set myself to design a study that would overcome a lot of the methodological problems of the earlier work.” She stated, “I was fortunate enough to receive a grant from the National Institute of Justice.”

The NIJ, according to its mission page, is “the research, development and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice.”

According to their website “NIJ provides objective and independent knowledge and tools to reduce crime and promote justice, particularly at the state and local levels.”

Widom’s study began in 1986 and, contrary to those widely believed studies, her research revealed that there is, in fact, a correlation, but not a significant impact on the child’s life.

In Widom’s design, she had a control group of children, which were similar in every way excluding the abuse and neglect.

Widom stated, “This study produced a really important finding that shook up the field because the results indicated that the impact of child abuse and neglect is not inevitable or deterministic.”

According to Widom’s research “21 percent of children with a history of physical abuse grow up to be violent offenders.” For children with a history of neglect, it is 20 percent and for children with a history of sexual abuse it is much lower than that.”

But, what happened to those other children that didn’t have arrest records? This question also arose during Professor Widom’s research.

“At the time there was not much interest in child abuse, but since the earlier work there is now more interest” stated Widom.

She received a grant to assess these children who are now in their 50’s to see the impact of child abuse in adulthood.

The last question asked by Windom is “If you were abused as a child do you go on to abuse your own child?”

Based on her work and other researchers,  Widom explains that a certain amount of federal money is given to different States to prevent delinquency. A large portion of that money is divulged to the States for abused and neglected children. Another use of her work is, “not all of these children will grow up to be criminals, and we need to look at what are the characteristics that make a difference in their lives.”

Widom points out that for these children, foster care was a very good experience when they bonded with their foster parents. “These children had lower risks of becoming offenders,” Widom says.

Widom’s earliest research was whether child abuse and neglect increased a person’s risk of becoming a psychopath and whether child abuse and neglect increases a girl’s risk of becoming delinquent and violent.

While her future research does not involve her earlier research she works with students who will focus on the research question, whether child abuse and neglect increase a girl’s risk of becoming delinquent and violent, by building on Professor Widom’s data. She also has a former postdoctoral fellow who is working on psychopathy.

As for Profesor Widom, she plans to continue to do work on the sample she has worked on all these years to answer unanswered questions. For example, the role the child abuse in aging and whether child abuse leads to elder abuse.

Professor Widom is enthusiastic about her research and said, “What we want to find out is what makes the difference with children with history and when they grow up, become parents, why are they not perpetuating abuse on their children? What is that has allowed them to break this cycle?”

Men’s Do’s and Don’ts

By: Jenifer Valmon

Contributing Writer

For those of you who enjoyed the hot days of summer, withdrawals are likely on the way. No need to break out the box of tissues or shed tears for your favorite summer shorts, because fall is around the corner, and I’ve got just the right tips that can help revamp your wardrobe.

Nick Carvell, from the UK GQ magazine, reviewed the fall trends of 2014 in London.

According to Carvell, biker jackets and mankets (yes, mankets) are going to be this fall’s male trend. Mankets are the scarf/cape hybrid worn by Paul Galvin, an Irish soccer player and fashion columnist for the Irish Independent News- paper, as a sort of overcoat.

Corey Stokes, of www.complex.com, noticed trends in New York to be sweater layering and “techy, fleece outer wear.” Both Carvell and Stokes were able to agree that “scarfs that weigh as much as three babies,” also known as mankets, are going to be big for the fall.

But the question is: Who is wearing a manket in the “move or get run over” city of New York? If you need to stop the doors from closing when you’re about to miss your train, mankets can be the perfect accessory for the fashionable subway surfer.

If you live anywhere within the five boroughs and commute to class, biker jackets are the right pick for you. They are versatile and more practical for the active John Jay men.
Biker jackets can be worn as a casual piece with a pair of sneakers,denim pants and a white t-shirt, or it can be used to bring a little edge to a pair of slim trousers and a button down shirt. Either way, little effort is needed to put together a stylish outfit.

Black is always a safe color to choose but if you want go for other colors try to keep it neutral. Look for dark indigos, dustybrowns, and shades of hunter green. These colors will allow you to mix and match when creating the rest of your look. It will also make it easier to find the right layering pieces when the temperature drops.

Leather is ideal for longevity, since it wears very well and usually looks better with time, but nylon or cotton blends will do the job while being gentle to your budget.

Whether John Jay men will wear mankets or biker jackets, only time will tell. Whatever you choose, remember to make it work for you, regardless of your style. Don’t kill yourself to follow the trends and end up fashion road kill.

Graduates Receive Guidance

By: Rehana Sancho

Staff Writer

The CUNY welcome center holds an information session for undergraduates hoping to attend graduate programs. The information session offers students information on graduate programs, application process, financial aid, and tips for getting into graduate school.

The CUNY welcome center is located on 217 east 42 st. in Manhattan. The center holds numerous informational sessions such as, a graduate school 101 session, an international students graduate session, and a variety of master’s programs informational sessions.

The welcome center hopes to inform students as much as they can before students enter a graduate program.

According to CUNY’s graduate guide, CUNY is the “nation’s leading urban public university.” Gerry Martini, a CUNY graduate advisor and session host, explains to students before they enter graduate school that knowing and picking the right major is essential. Students aren’t allowed to switch majors as freely as they did in their undergraduate schools.

Martini explains the application process consists of an applicant statement, 2-3 letters of recommendation, an official transcript, and the required standardized test applicable to the degree.

He also warns that all programs expect their own applications. “Just because you qualify for one program doesn’t mean you will qualify for all,” explains Martini.

An application statement should be tailored towards the students perspective major. Martini advises, “no personal stories, the committee wants to know why you are good for their program.”

Students who are interested in a business major should highlight their business attributes, not just their perfect attendance record.

Letters of recommendation should be completed, preferably, by a professor who is in association with the degree of your interest. A professor in your field will know what appeals toward a panel of his peers, which is ultimately a plus for your recommendation letter.

Students will have to complete the standardized test that applies to their field. For most masters degrees you will have to complete the GRE, for a law program the LSAT, and for the medical program, the MCAT.

Getting a good grade on your standardize test can help if you don’t have the greatest GPA, or letters of recommendation, according to Martini.

CUNY students applying for a CUNY graduate program have some advantages. “Some of the graduate school’s professor are also professors in CUNY undergrad classes,” explains Martini. Having a professor write a recommendation that is al- ready known in the graduate system is a plus for a student.

The City University of New York Counseling Assistantship Program (CU- NYCAP) allows students, who have received a Bachelor’s degree from CUNY, to work part time on CUNY Campuses. Stu- dents are paid $10 per hour and can earn a total of $3,000 a semester.

Participants who work a total of 225 hours during the semester will earn tuition reimbursement for up to 6 credits.

CUNY also offers a Ph.D. fellowship for qualifying candidates to help financially with their programs. According to

CUNY, qualified Ph.D. students can receive a $25,000 stipend, free tuition, and low cost health insurance per year.

Jordan Swisher graduated from his undergrad several years ago but is looking into attending graduate school to receive a masters degree in English. Swisher ex- plains, “CUNY seems to be on par with other private graduate schools.”

Swisher expressed interest in that the CUNY Graduate programs are like “seven schools in one” making it an easier to add variety to his choice.

Martini explained, “CUNY English department is top ten in the country,” which is an added plus to attending a CUNY Graduate program.

Famous CUNY graduate alumni include Iyanla Vanzant, who graduated from CUNY Law in 1988 before she became an author, life coach and inspirational speaker, as well as Secretary of State/Joint Chief of Staff Collin Powell, who graduated from City College in 1958. New York Times published author, Hayden Herrera, who wrote the book Frida: A Biography of Frida, graduated from the CUNY graduate center with a Ph.D.

Ashley Venable, a Pace University graduate student and teacher for the Department of Education, is interested in CU- NY’s journalism program. “I love the fact that CUNY’s graduate classes are mostly at night, this way I can work and still have a large choice of night time classes.”

Graduate school requires a lot of planning. Swisher feels students should wait before joining because “real world experiences can help you when you apply for grad school”.

The Social Disconnect of Social Media

By: Orobosa Omede

Contributor

How many people do you know in this day and age who do not have a social media account? Everyday a new social media site is created. There are over 2 million social media outlets that currently exist. Whether it’s Facebook or Twitter, it seems like in today’s society, social networking has become a custom, and a distinctive part of regular everyday life.

The social networking audience continues to grow. According to Emarketer.com In 2013, over 1.73 billion people world wide had access to some form of social network site and media outlet. Statistics show that by 2017 the audience will increase drastically to 2.55 billion.

Social network sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and LinkedIn, allow you to communicate with just about anyone you please to connect with, this includes friends, family, and coworkers. Through these sites you are able to share thoughts and ideas as well as connect in a social environment online. You can as well conduct research on people of your choice.

Through social media people are able to communicate with one another all around the world, build relationships without actually seeing the person face to face. However, this form of communication may seem convenient, yet it is the leading reason for desensitized relationships.

20-year-old John Jay sophomore, Aisha Sheriff, said, “there’s not a day where I’m not on my phone. I use Facebook to communicate with my family outside of the country. I find it very convenient.”

Social media has expanded over the years. It’s become more accessible through phones and tablets.  People have access to the online world in the palm of their hands.

Through the use of social networks intimacy is essentially lost. People lose face-to-face interactions because their communications are mainly online. Being online isolates you from society by creating false realities in a virtual world.

Sheena Chatoo, John Jay sophomore, said, “sometimes I’ll go online for five minutes to check something and I will end up being on Facebook and Instagram for hours. It’s addictive.”

How safe is it really to meet people online?

More and more people each year are signing up for online dating accounts. People are not always who they say there are, and online is the perfect place where people can fall victim to these instances.  People are more likely to be catfished (being deceived about a relationship or a person’s identity online.) It’s become harder for information  online to be  accurate and trustworthy.

Online friendships give a false sense of communication. The development of long lasting meaningful relationships is diminishing due to social media.  There’s a lack of emotional connections being made. The creation of social networks allows people to practically live on the network.

The need to have face-to-face communication is declining. It’s become vastly easier to have relationships with one another

Chatoo said, “I’ve got upset a few times at friend over text, because I misinterpreted what they are sending me.”

Though social media is great for a world of things, communicating with a vast amount of people, exchanging information, connecting ideas and businesses, the concerning aspect is that what ever you put online never goes away.

Social media and networks target a young demographic.  Who “live in the moment” and they are more likely to have these problems.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Priscilla Ambrose  of  Yonkers, New York, said, “Social media sometimes desensitizes emotions making situations appear different from reality. There are certain walls and barriers that these networks provide when it comes to communication and if it is not fully addressed, it will be a problem for our future generation.”

Dr. Ambrose says, “social media serves many purposes, that include giving us a outlet to express ourselves positively, although it could also be used in the opposite way, the technology advances have stimulated us, as we found a different and unique way to communicate with each other, it doesn’t necessarily have to be traditional.”

According to The Telegraph, the sales of in-home electronics, and mobile devices have grown rapidly since 2000. The spending on these products have increased by 2.5 million in the last 5 years. The online newspaper revealed new research  that suggest since 2007 people have gained an increasing amount of enjoyment from these in-home activities and mobile creations such that these provides socializing via the internet, and using games consoles. Social media and networking has increased people’s views of what they find entertaining by 52% last year.

Sharing information seems beneficial, but when its information sheds light on some ones mistake or a person’s embarrassment then it becomes problematic and difficult to escape once it’s let out. This can become stigmatizing for some because instead of the embarrassment lasting a few moments in person, online it’s always there were people could share it with friends. 

Orlando E. Velez, a John Jay student, said, “Everyone’s experience with social networks are different; you have people who can’t live without it and then you have people who don’t care that much about it. In some way what you do online is a reflection of who you are as a person.”

Velez said, “You have to be very careful what you put online; not everything you post is private. The things you put up follows you, and you never know who will see it in the future, if that’s what’s important to you.”

The ability to create and share all sources of information is beneficial to many if the sources are credible, but with social media it’s quite easy for information to be inaccurate. Such inaccuracy spreads to millions of people all over the world that accessing these sites, leaving them misinformed.

Sheriff said, “Each time period has their thing, and I guess ours is being social. Social networks does change the way we communicate, it enhances and improves it.”

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A Hard Knock Life: Overcoming Homelessness

By: Markincia Jean

Contributor

 

Kemar Asphall (Right), with Theatrical Players Club members. From left to right: Genesis Acevedo, Albert Pagan, Cindell Torress, and Angelica Lara by Markincia Jean

Kemar Asphall (Right), with Theatrical Players Club members. From left to right: Genesis Acevedo, Albert Pagan, Cindell Torress, and Angelica Lara
by Markincia Jean

 

Kemar Asphall is a student who engages in class discussions with a sense of will and gratitude, projecting his crisp, clear voice to speak with fluid diction. His fashion style reflects that of modern trends, his tall and proper stature commands the room, and his wide–open smile shows appreciation for life itself and the determination to persevere despite obstacles that interfere with a dream far in the distance. By his appearance, one would never have guessed he was once homeless.

“An education, in my definition, is a lifestyle that plays on the concept of intellectual curiosity, a natural component that we all have from birth that helps us mature in life,” Aspall said.

Asphall, a John Jay College junior, was homeless three years ago. He lost his job, became homeless, and went from one shelter to another, lacking financial, social and family support, which made his freshman year  much more difficult and stressful.

Balancing his academic career and his homelessness was challenging because he was unaware of the resources available. Although he would have qualified for the SEEK program, he did not know about it until his junior year, and now it is too late for him to apply. The SEEK program is administered by CUNY, giving low-income college students financial access to education.

Asphall’s family has been embroiled in the homeless culture. He is a first generation college student and most of his family members are dispersed and currently experiencing some degree of homelessness. Two of his younger brothers live in a homeless shelter with his mother, who has been living there for more than six years.

Ma’at Erica Lewis is an associate professor and the Interim Director of the Department of Counseling at John Jay. Her decision to volunteer as a peer counselor at Morgan State University, in Maryland, inspired her to become a professional counselor. 

What she has learned about human nature is that, “people are resilient, [and] able to overcome adversity with little support. Sometimes people can flourish and go beyond challenges they face in life.”

Lewis said providing services in a school environment is helpful to students. Students’ familiarity with the campus environment enables them to become more comfortable and aware, allowing them to take advantage of the services covered by CUNY tuition.

Students who are homeless can become knowledgeable about resources. Such resources include financial, emotional, and social support. According to the November 2012 – October 2013 Annual Report, the Petrie Emergency Fund provided the John Jay’s  Department of Counseling with a three year $300,000 grant to support homeless students in crisis. The grant will encourage them to stay in school and complete a college degree. Each grant recipient received an average of $791, which is meant to cover transportation, textbooks, food costs, medical emergencies, and replacing clothes and supplies lost in house fires.

Asphall said the Department of Counseling must use more effective advertisement strategies to attract students who can benefit from such services. Asphall did not know about the counseling center until this year.

The primary concerns of homeless college students. Lewis said, are the lack of financial resources available, family stress, chronic poverty, and lack of social support. “The counseling center has difficulty due to inadequate funding for programs, which hinders the process of change and can prevent students from receiving benefits,” she added.

Asandre Mattis, Asphall’s brother and a Kingsborough Community College freshman,  has been living in a group home shelter for three years. He is quite reserved and does not mingle much with the others in the group home. Despite that, he was willing to share his story. He spoke in a tense, deep voice, using quick and short phrases.

“I try to make everyday a regular day,” Mattis said. His future goal is to become a video-game designer. His short-term goal is to be an apartment tenant and become independent of the homeless system. His motto is to, “Never give up and never let things get to you.”

Mattis has learned that, “Nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it.” His hobbies include drawing cartoon animations, reading comic books and playing chess, which comes easy to him.

“I have become more like Kemar, more optimistic,” Mattis said about Asphall.  “They never see me mad, I just laugh about everything,” Mattis said about his family.

Asphall admitted that Financial Aid dependency inadequately sustains basic needs. He occasionally received money from members of his extended family.

“Often people are trained intellectually and culturally to see things through one perspective, whereas homelessness is an extreme,”  Asphall said.

“Cost-effectiveness is out the door when you can’t afford something, but when you can afford it, it becomes useful. Homelessness forces people to unitize their limited resources and budget effectively, ” said Asphall. He reinforced that experience brings about knowledge.

Asphall is the Vice President of the Theatrical Players Club. He said that his commitment to various extracurricular activities serves as a distraction from issues within his personal life, though he said that distractions often are a bad thing, causing him to ignore his reality. He also works for the Child Center of New York, which offers social work and family counseling.

In 2011, Asphall became a permanent resident in his grandparents’ house. Asphall said he never physically lived on the street but he was legally considered homeless. He went through a homeless evaluation and confirmation process in a 24-hour hotel setting and the next day he was assigned to a homeless shelter.

Although he lived in a shelter for one year, he was legally considered homeless for two years. Asphall said he was confined to the rules and regulations of the shelter. He had a midnight curfew and if he were to violate it, he would have been kicked out of the shelter. He did not attend his high school prom and graduation not only for financial reasons, but also because he thought seeking the permission of the social workers to take a day off was not only humiliating, but it would have taken too much of his time and energy.

“I did not like the idea of confinement. It is harsh when you are dictated by an institution,” Asphall said.

After leaving the shelter Asphall temporarily “couch-surfed” with relatives from his extended family and friends.

Asphall said his long-term goal is to have a career in law and theater. “Addressing the law through theater has a therapeutic essence. I can reach more people intellectually through theater. Through any given performance, I can carry out a message that will point out an error in the legal system.”

Asphall said sharing his story will help broaden his horizons and help him feel more comfortable and confident.

Are We Paying Too Much For Water?

By: Fifi Youssef

Contributor

 A John Jay College student spends approximately $10,000 a semester in tuition, classes, student fees, books, metro cards, and lunch. The money spent each semester can easily increase as the price of a bottle of water increases in the John Jay College vending machines. 

With the price increase in water and healthy food, obesity rate increases too.

The obesity rate in 1990 was 9.3 percent, and by 2003 the percentage skyrocketed to 20.9 percent. By 2012 the rate reached 23.6 percent.

According to F as in Fat, a project of Trust for America’s Health, and the Robert Wood Johnson foundation, as of 2012, “Thirteen states now have adult obesity rates above 30 percent, 41 states have rates of at least 25 percent, and every state is above 20 percent.”

John Jay College of Criminal Justice can play a factor in these numbers, charging $1.75 for a bottle of water in the vending machines, and a dollar for a can of soda. This can change if John Jay lowers these prices.

By Christian Medina

By Christian Medina

“I think that it’s ridiculous, especially in schools. Obesity is becoming a huge epidemic among young people and children, so the least we can do is make water more affordable, or at least at a reasonable price,” said Dianna Sriskanda, a junior in English. “The fact that we can buy soda for a dollar, and not water, can often be a huge problem since we know all college students are broke.”

Sarah Dawud, a 22 year old John Jay student majoring in international criminal justice, thinks otherwise.”I think a person can spend the 2 dollars if they really wanted water and not sugary drinks; however, being that it is addicting, some people would rather drink that than drink water.”

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Standards, suggests that lower calorie drinks should be sold 20 cents less than high calorie drinks.

They require that, “water be stocked in at least 2 slots/buttons per machine; Require water and seltzer be placed at eye level, or in the highest selling position. High calorie beverages should be placed farthest from eye level, or in the lowest selling position.”

Water is on the lower level, while sodas are on the upper level.

Water is on the lower level, while sodas are on the upper level.

Sriskanda finds this issue can easily be changed. “I think that water can be changed easily, like outside of school Poland spring water is a dollar, and in school we have a brand that is two dollars. So I think that maybe we could switch brands.”

The reason behind selling Aquafina water is because CUNY signed a contract with Pepsi Cola to sell only products from the Pepsi Cola Company, and Aquafina is a Pepsi Cola brand.

John Jay currently has The Answer Group Vendings, vending the college, and selling water for $1.75. Manger Alan Gold said, “All CUNY colleges are dictating the prices Pepsi Cola has set.”

However, William Mandile from Champion Vending USA, vendors to 11 CUNY colleges and Fordham University, sells the Aquafina water for $1.60.

“You have a vendor who’s taking advantage,” Mandile said,“What they’ll do is in between semesters they’ll jack-up the prices when no one is looking.”

Mandile explained that the prices are set from the company themselves, and that The Answers Group has a reputation for raising prices. “That’s their m.o.,” Mandile said.

In defense, Gold expressed that these accusations are both, “inflammatory and false.”

Compared to The Answer Group, Champions Vending speaks with the college, and once an agreement has been reached they post a notice on each of the vending machines explaining the reason for the increase. These notices will be left for approximately 3 weeks.

Other than the prices of water, the cafeteria food prices are also not helping. A salad costs no less than  $4.95 plus tax,  fries are $3.00 and a slice of pizza costs no less than $2.50.

“I know it’s like that outside of school, but I didn’t know it was that way in school. I think it’s awful, like this definitely contributes to obesity and all the other diseases people have,” said Sriskanda.

She went on to express, “Like I didn’t know pizza was almost three dollars cause in school a bowl of fruit is $3.75. So to know all the fattening foods are cheaper is horrible. And it definitely influences what people eat.”

Dawud, on the other hand, finds that it’s fine in a sense, since it’s up to the individual. “You get what you pay for. Pizza is satisfying, unhealthy, greasy and cheesy, an eye catcher, cheap and most definitely satisfying, but a salad can be very boring even though it’s healthy.”

Sriskanda proposed an idea in helping students eat healthier and lowering the obesity rate.

“Maybe they could come up with a coupon system. At my old internship every time you purchased a healthy meal (like salad or sushi) you got this coupon, and once you had 5-6 coupons you got a meal. Each coupon would equal about a dollar so if you had five coupons you could get a meal that was five dollars, and you could only cash in if it covered the meal.”

She thinks it would work because the students would feel as if they were getting food for free and it’ll encourage them

“It all comes down to whether you are willing to pay a few more dollars for a salad and if you are committed to a healthy life-style. Some people buy pizza because it’s faster than waiting to pick out what salad you want,” Dawud said.