December 1, 2015

Letitia James Talks Advocacy at John Jay

By Rehana Pierre


Letitia James Speaks

By: Rehana Pierre Letitia James Speaks

On April 21, 2015, John Jay hosted a discussion with New York City Public Advocate, Letitia James, in the college’s Moot Court room. The discussion was one of many current and future initiatives for John Jay’s Women in the Public Sector organization.

In a room of about 80 students, faculty, and guests, Advocate James explained her job, future legislation initiatives and her journey to becoming the first African-American woman to hold a city-wide office in NYC.

James, a CUNY Lehman College Alumni, explained that her job as Public Advocate is to be the “city’s watch dog.” She explains the Public Advocate’s office is where the citizens of New York come when they have exhausted all other avenues when dealing with unjust circumstances like unfair wages, slum landlords, and even college sexual harassment.

James explains, “I ran for office because every day New Yorkers don’t have the money for fancy attorneys.” James explained prior to the discussion she went to a hearing to advocate city ironworkers who have been the victims of wage theft from their employers.

During the event, James spoke on her involvement in the Eric Garner appeal process. She has filed an appeal to have the grand jury files reopened in order to understand better how the decision to not indict Officer Daniel Pataleo was made.

James is a graduate of Howard Law School and a former public defender. With this legal experience she drafts legislation and proposals to better assist the unrepresented in NYC. She is working on a program to help the youths aging out of the foster care system, the Priority 7 vouchers for affordable childcare and the body cameras program for the NYPD.

James said the body cameras will allow “transparency and accountability” for both police officers and civilians.

James came to John Jay to express how important it is to get women involved in the public sector. James feels like too many women are involved in “pink collar” jobs, meaning jobs that are always dominated by women and considered feminine jobs.

James encouraged women to push back on the narratives that depict women. “We can’t let someone else to hijack the narrative,” stated James. That’s why she is partnering with other politicians, such Eleanor Roosevelt, on a campaign called Why She Ran.

“Why She Ran” will tell the story of women politicians and why they decided to run for office. When asked why she ran, James answered, in the words of Shirley Chisholm “Someone had to.” In the history of the United States Senate, there have only been 46 female senators out of 1,963 total senators.

“Women hold up the sky,” explained James and that is why she feels women need to get involved in politics. Women are not represented equally in government because there is always a majority of males making decisions for women when women should be making decisions for themselves.

James highlights that it was hard for her to initially raise funds, and she has been discriminated against for being a woman, she explains she made her presence known and erased their doubts with her ability to “make things happen.”

Student Council Secretary, Grace Agalo-Os, said she felt “empowered” by James and all her efforts to change the government, economical and society structures in NYC. “The smallest things can have such a ripple effect on society,” said Agalo-Os.

James ended her discussion reminding students that’s in order to get involved, the best they can do is volunteer. She explained that volunteering is the way you can have the most effect on society.

Timur Insanally, freshman, and student council chief of staff said, “as a freshman, you feel limited and people like Advocate James remind you that you can do more.” Insanally feels that her speech reminded him, “that’s not your limit.”

A female student asked James how she gained respect in politics and she explained that all you have to do is “show them your brilliance.”

A City For Everyone: DeBlasio Announces Affordable Housing Plan

By Jade Jetjomlong

Staff Writer

A view of some of the affordable housing near JohnJay.

By: Ryan Durning A view of some of the affordable housing near John Jay.

In the theatre of Baruch College on Feb. 2, 2015, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio began his second State of the City address with the story of his grandmother immigrating from Italy in the early 1900’s to New York, and like so many other immigrants, looking for opportunity. DeBlasio expressed the uniqueness of New York’s endless possibilities, leading up to his primary concern for 2015, that uniqueness being ”at risk because so many who live in New York struggle to afford to be here.”

With affordable housing as the top priority for NYC improvements, DeBlasio is aiming to build 80,000 units of affordable housing throughout the five boroughs of New York by 2024, in addition to raising the minimum wage from its current rate at $8.75 to over $13 by 2016. This would benefit not only New Yorkers with families but also New Yorkers in college. DeBlasio speaks of families, veterans, and artists needing affordable housing and higher wages, but what about students who can’t afford the limited dorming options?

“Most colleges don’t offer housing, especially City University of New York (CUNY) colleges. Students commute from other boroughs, I commute over an hour from the Bronx and I have friends who come from [New] Jersey and Pennsylvania to attend classes at least twice a week,” said John Jay Junior Saishalie Fabian, 21. “I’m a transfer from a private college in Jersey so when I came here I didn’t want to commute, so I dormed at the New Yorker for a semester. The commute was awesome, from anywhere in Manhattan it took at most 20 minutes to get back to my room.” The New Yorker is a hotel located at 34th Street Penn Station where Educational Housing Services (EHS) holds floors exclusively for certain colleges, according to the EHS homepage.

With it’s own membership of urban universities and community colleges, CUNY is home to 480,000 students at 24 campuses throughout the five boroughs, according to the CUNY homepage. This is not including private colleges and universities such as New York University, Pace, Columbia, and St. John’s.

Most private colleges offer student housing in private apartment buildings or exclusive floors dedicated to college students in hotels that are located near campus, but it is very limited housing and often extremely competitive and expensive. “It was about $10,000 for two semesters, so a full school year, the price is the reason I only stayed for one year” stated Fabian.

When asked if the dorms were worth the price she recalled “The room was small, my roommate and I didn’t click, and I paid all that money to have dumb rules enforced all the time. I was paying around $10,000 plus tuition and couldn’t have any friends over? No, not worth it at all.”

DeBlasio feels that “if we fail to be a city for everyone, we risk losing what makes New York … New York.” According to his statements, due to gentrification, New Yorkers are currently being pushed out of their affordable housing by landlords in an attempt to bring in higher income tenants. New Yorkers are then forced to move to other neighborhoods because it is the only housing they can afford. New York at that point would only be for outsiders and those with set careers and high incomes, not for those who are looking for opportunities in the City of Dreams, as DeBlasio confirms that “for generations, New York has been a city that unleashed human potential.”

Another look at affordable housing.

By: Jenifer Valmon Another look at affordable housing.

“A lot of my clients are from other states. They’re from everywhere but New York and they move to neighborhoods in Brooklyn like Bedstuy and Bushwick, into buildings that were just built or renovated,” said 21 year old Real Estate Salesperson and former John Jay student, Alberto Vigilance. “These are people who want to be closer to the jobs in the city, the neighborhood most similar to Manhattan without Manhattan rent prices.” Vigilance focuses in Brooklyn and Manhattan apartment rentals, specializing in western neighborhoods of Brooklyn.

CUNY students do not get to experience the “going away to college” experience offered by out of state or SUNY colleges since it is extremely hard to find locations large enough to zone exclusively for students and it is expensive to live in many of the Manhattan and Brooklyn neighborhoods.

In order to shorten their commute or “go away to college”, students often move out of home and into their own apartments that are considerably closer to their campus. Most times students move to inconvenient locations, cheaper places farther away from simple public transportation or they move to expensive locations that require them to work full time jobs while being a student. If a student stays at home, their family might be at risk of getting evicted by a landlord to make room for higher income families.

According to Vigilance, most New Yorkers from Manhattan look to relocate to more affordable Williamsburg or Greenpoint, or they are Brooklyn natives relocating from Williamsburg to cheaper neighborhoods like Bushwick or Bedstuy because the rent becomes too much for their income. When it comes to students, Vigilance observed most want locations such as Stuy Town, near East Village in Manhattan, but most have to settle for Williamsburg in Brooklyn.

“Median rates for studios and one bedrooms in popular neighborhoods of Manhattan range north of $2,200 with the exception of Harlem. That means a person has to make at least $27,000 annually to pay rent alone, without any other expenses… If I get paid $8.75 an hour with 40 hours a week, I’m only making $14,000 annually. It’s not impossible but it’s uncomfortable to be a young person with a conventional job working full time and going to school while living in the city,” said Vigilance.

Kayla Strauss, a 22 year old CUNY BA graduate, recalls renting one room from an apartment in Washington Heights for eight months until she decided it was not worth it and sublet the room. “I was paying so much for a 4×4 that still wasn’t convenient for me. I’d rather stay in Staten Island than do all that extra work,” Strauss currently lives in Staten Island and started a savings account. “I hope the mayor tries to come up with a plan that includes affordable student housing as well, it’s hard and sucky to commute on the trains that never work when you already are working hard to get a degree that’s supposed to help you be able to afford staying in your home”.

Does Catcalling Cross the Line or Is It a Compliment?

By Valentina Henriquez

Staff Writer

By: Ryan Abdelhafez

By: Ryan Abdelhafez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speaking “White”: Is It Right?

By Sara Miranda

Contributing Writer

Dialect can tie people to their community. However, it can also harm them. And while some speakers reject certain dialects to avoid negative consequences, others still choose to embrace them. One such dialect, African-American Vernacular English (AAVE), is often linked with black culture and poverty.

Recently, a young Black model and actress sparked a debate when she created a controversial video about Standard English and AAVE. Her words unearthed issues that are rarely discussed: the boundaries set for Black people and their cultural legitimacy.

Nefertiti Menoe posted a video on Facebook in Sept. this year called “Nefertiti Menoe Speaking White.” Her purpose was to counter a meme that mocked minorities who spoke “proper English.” In the video, she wore a head scarf and calmly expressed her opinion: “There’s no such thing as ‘talking White.’ It’s actually called speaking fluently.” She went on to describe why she thought this way. “I don’t know why we’ve gotten to a place where…as a race, if you sound as though you have more than a fifth grade education, it’s a bad thing,” she said.

Naturally, Nefertiti’s words provoked mixed reactions. John Jay students related to the debate because of their varying backgrounds. Although the topic was controversial, some supported and some disputed Menos’’s arguments. Several people even refused to be interviewed for fear of saying something offensive.

In the BBC article “The Debate Over Speaking White,” reporter Micah Luxen showed why Menoe’s argument trended throughout the internet: her opinions offended some AAVE speakers. “Blacks…speak the way we do…because of our ancestry,” one Facebook user cjadrema7 posted in a contrasting response. “It might come NATURALLY to say ‘dey’ instead of ‘they’…I say it myself… and I have a Masters. … When I absolutely NEED to, I will speak correctly.” cjadrema7 declared.

This debate is not new. Geoffrey Pullum had a similar view in his 15- year old article, “African American Vernacular English Is Not Standard English With Mistakes.” Pullum asserted that “Dialects and languages are…the same… thing. ‘Dialect’ does not mean a…degraded mode of speech. Linguists…refer to one language as a dialect of another.”

“AAVE as a dialect of English…has a degree of regularity and stability attributable to a set of rules of grammar and pronunciation, as with any language,” Pullum wrote.

Production Manager, Angelica Lara argued likewise when she stood outside of John Jay’s Black Box Theater. She was working on Jitney, a play by August Wilson about African American life in the 1970’s. “One thing to realize in August Wilson’s play is that he’s explaining the African-American experience. Being Black and being human has been structured by people in power they have always been white. So, it’s easy to understand that Black people or minorities will assume that a correct speech belongs to a white man or woman,” she asserted. “But we have to realize that it belongs to everybody.”

However, Lara also had a solution for the debate. “We cannot hold our standards to what people in power do. They will never understand the way we communicate with each other because they come from different societies,” she said, nodding. “All races have to change the things expected of us by people in power because those things were not agreed on.”

Earlson Elcock, Jitney’s sound designer, was nearby and chimed in. “I agree that no one should be put down for speaking English properly,” he said, echoing Nefertiti Menoe’s opinion. “I don’t think it should be called ‘White speech,’ or ‘Black speech.’ But it’s not only ‘Black speech’ because I’ve seen friends’ college papers with ‘lol’ written in it,” he added. “People get mad because professors say ‘this is not how you write stuff.’ It’s because this is not how you do it!”

Two students, Crystal Akwuobi and Amber Quinones, agreed with Menoe as they sat in Kroll Atrium’s chairs. “I don’t understand why people would automatically call it ‘speaking White,’” Akwuobi said. “But I don’t see it (AAVE) as being part of the African-American heritage. I understand that speaking a certain way is how African-Americans started out because they didn’t learn how to speak English properly, but you can’t turn that into your heritage.”

“No one says anything about Eminem when he wants to start rapping, because rapping is a black people thing,” Quinones added. “So why not talk properly? No one talks about Martin Luther King, how he was ‘talking White.’ Anyone can talk properly. That’s how English should be.”

Across from them, Marlon Zumbrano said that despite being a multi-ethnic person, he was never told that he spoke white. “But it doesn’t really belong to any ethnicity. It’s proper education,” Zumbrano said.

Concerning standard speech, he had a different experience from Menoe: “No one mentioned talking too formal, but a lot of people mention talking informal. My friends always joke around how ‘you’re being ghetto’,” he said.

Patricia Chandler, another student, shook her head in disbelief. “Still? This is old. I think this is ridiculous, really,” Chandler laughed. “What are they trying to prove? I’m Black, Native American, White, and Chinese, so I can’t really identify with this.”

“I’m 51 and I’ve met people from everywhere. What you see in the media, to me, it’s a myth,” Chandler elaborated, referring to widespread prejudice against AAVE. “I think most of the racism we have is like right here in New York City. Yup. You have every ethnicity. So that’s why you have conflicts.”

Regardless of its age, the argument relates to anything that is not considered standard. It mirrors problems concerning conformity throughout society.



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

By Nicole Scaffidi

Contributing Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


By: Keyunna Singleton

By: Keyunna Singleton

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

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

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

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

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

Fashion Faux Pas

By: Darren Harris

Staff Writer

Summer is almost over and the season is beginning to change to fall, and along with the change of season, fashion seems to follow right along.

The summer fashions have seen a tremendous outburst of color such as violet tulip, freesia, white, placid blue, sand and dazzling blue in
jeans, shorts, blouses, shoes, and accessories.

So, what are the fashion mistakes to steer clear from when transitioning your wardrobe from summer to fall?

According to, one of the biggest mistakes women make during the fall season is “mixing prints,” where “florals don’t complement plaid, and paisley doesn’t work with polka dots.”

This column is not saying not to wear prints, but instead, ensure that you’re going to wear a solid color that will complement the print blouse of your choice.

Priscilla Sanchez, a John Jay student, said “every girl should have a cute print top, but they shouldn’t overdue it, and that seems to be the issue i have noticed a lot on campus is the print can sometimes overpower the entire outfit.”

Another fashion mistake during the fall season according to www.gurl. com/fashion-mistakes-faus-paux is “not layering properly,” and the importance of layers for the morning, afternoon, and evening outfits.

New Yorkers tend to experience the emotions of the weather changes, and it’s important that they layer properly through the day.

Barrie Nulman, a John Jay student, said “I always try to wear a good amount of layering during the fall season, because I know that the weather can change during the day, and it’s essential that I wear layers that not only complement my style but also the New York weather.”

What about snow or rain boots? Should you bring an extra pair of shoes to change into once you reach your destination? During the fall season, New York City can experience large amounts of rain and snow that can often kill even the most pre- pared fashionista. Rain or snow boots can conflict with the style of an outfit if they aren’t form fitting to add to the appearance. In a recent poll at John Jay, 85 percent of students voted that it is easier to keep their rain or snow boots on throughout the day instead of changing into shoes. Students, such as Denise C. Taylor, hassle with keeping on wet boots. “Although it is easier to just keep the boots on, they become difficult to walk in, and really kill the look on a girl’s outfit,” said Taylor. In this case, looks come over comfort. According to John Jay student Marcela Nash, “style outweighs comfort any day and it’s just a fashion nightmare to wear rain boots that do not compliment someone’s outfit.”

If a person decides to wear rain or snow boots, then try to choose a neutral color that can be worn with multiple outfits. Fashion is always evolving and changing, and it’s important that fashionista’s stay on top of their wardrobe to ensure that they don’t become fashion victims during a season that often demands you to choose between comfort or style. Looking at the trends that are perfect for the fall and winter seasons, such as robe coats and dresses over pants, one must be

careful with these looks as they can make or break an outfit. There are statement making trends this fall season, and if

you’re selective yet fashion forward with your style, you’ll be making heads turn.

College Initiative Program

By: Edir Coronado

Contributing Writer

One of the main issues with the prisonsystem is the recidivism rate. A New York based program has begun education programs in prisons, and with great success has allowed its participants to become contributing members of society. With 300 participants, only one returning to jail, and most students receiving a bachelors degree, it is safe to say that the program is showing results.

Ray Tebout, the director of counseling and mentoring at the program, explained how the College Initiative program allows former inmates to attend college by debunking some of the barriers they believe they will encounter.

Tebout understands the mix of different personalities the staff deals with and the obstacles both the student and mentor must overcome.

Some of the common obstacles Tebout sees among the younger students is the desire for instant gratification. He said the most common questions among these less experienced individuals are “why should I invest two to six years in school?” or “why not pick a trade or get a job?”

Tebout tackles these questions by providing evidence that an education will reduce the likeliness of a return back to prison. He also approaches this situation by helping the younger potential students in terms of long term goals.

Skeptical students are asked by Tebout to look at how much income they will accumulate over a lifetime rather than the short term. According to Tebout, a high school graduate can expect to earn an average of 1.2 million, someone with a bachelors can earn upwards of 2.1 million, and a masters graduate in the 2.5 million range.

These statistics gives the young students a different perspective on life and education.

Among the more seasoned individuals what is most commonly seen is the lack of knowledge when it comes to computers and technology. Many of the older students might have went to prison when the internet had not become such a big tool or when computers were not easily accessible.

Older generations of inmates face a major issue due to not being involved in a world that has rapidly become digitally influenced.

One 70- year- old student in the program, who asked to remain anonymous, has been in prison for more than 30 years. This individual had major issues with the use of computers. At the moment, he is currently finishing up his first semester, which is a huge success for someone who may have given up if not for the support that the College Initiative program has given them.

The program doesn’t only rely on its staff to support the incoming students, they rely heavily on peer mentorship. Through experience they have realized that a student is more likely to drop out of college during their first year.

This is why, after several months of working with a staff member, the students enter a peer mentorship program, where a fellow program participant with a 3.0 GPA and at least a year of college under their belt becomes a mentor to the new student. They serve as a support system for the student if they have problems with a subject matter or maybe a need to just vent about their frustrations with school.

Frustrations can include being the discrimination that they encounter because of their prison history. Tebout explained that the students within the program are scrutinized, “it is not necessarily the organization that is receiving negative feedback from the community, but the student themselves.”

Some reasons and common arguments of those opposed to an educational tactic towards the rehabilitation system often revolve around “we do not want to make smarter criminals,” according to Tebout. Tebout believes “we are not making smarter criminals, we are creating individuals with a different way of thinking.” His meaning is that when a person is exposed to education, he or she has the ability to create better options and make better decisions.

Tebout claims that if we were to look at our incarcerated in terms of employment, people can see that for many, selling drugs is the only job around. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons Drug offenses account for 48.8% percent of all incarcerated American. Homicide, Aggravated Assault, and Kidnapping offenses account for 2.8 percent of the prison population, sex offenses for 6.5 percent, robbery 3.7 per- cent, and weapons, explosives and arson account for 15.8 percent.

What the College initiative programs aims at doing, is taking this prison population, and showing them a different method of succeeding in life that they might have not been exposed to in the past.

The program has gained awareness through word of mouth and by sending their staff members to different location to speak about the program and the issues that they are trying to resolve through education.

Know Thy Selfie

By:  Jose Oropeza


If you have an Instagram or Facebook account, chances are you’ve seen one. Sometimes with more than one person, and often with a “#” symbol in the caption.

The selfie, a trend that took social media by storm, rose to hashtag status shortly after the introduction of smartphones – specifically the iPhone 4, which was released in 2010 and came with a front-facing camera.

In 2013, “selfie” was made ‘word of the year’ by Oxford Dictionaries, and is defined as “A photograph that one has taken of oneself and…uploaded to a social media website.” Researchers at Oxford found recorded uses of the word “selfie” rose from less than 500 per billion instances in January to more than 5000 per billion instances in October.

Although the concept of the selfie is by no means new, recent events like Ellen DeGeneres’ selfie at the 2014 Oscar’s ceremony caused a record breaking, re-tweeted selfie, that crash Twitter. The 2014 EDM song “Let Me Take A Selfie” has given the term new levels of popularity.

Judith Naeignacio, a John Jay sophomore, shared her outlook about selfie content: “These people do the duck face, their tongues sticking out like Miley Cyrus. Trying to look silly and cute, sucking in their stomachs and pouting. Some people are narcissistic.”

Two years after its first 2002 online appearance in Australia, social media outlets like Tumblr have been using “selfie” as a hashtag. Since then, users having been referring to self-taken pictures as such.

Younger people post more selfies on Instagram than older users. In New York City, the average age of people that post selfies is 25.3, a study conducted by the CUNY Graduate Center found.

The Mental Health Association is buzzing about Selfie addiction dominating places like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Even astronaut Steven R. Swanson got in on the fun. While in orbit, he one-upped his peers by being the first to Instagram a selfie from space.

Selfies are 38% more likely to receive a ‘like,’ and 32% more likely to receive comments when compared to snapshots of places, a Georgia Institute of Technology study found.

Women were found to be more likely to take selfies than men, according to the GIT study. They are also 150% more likely to tilt their head in the selfie.

Women who base their self-worth on their appearance are more likely to post selfies and maintain a large following on social media sites, a SUNY Buffalo study found.

Nikita Shurygin, a freshman at John Jay, doesn’t find the study hard to believe. “I think people who take a lot of selfies are trying to draw attention to themselves.  Maybe they have self-image issues,” he said.

And self-image issues can lead to greater problems. Danny Bowman, a 19-year-old from Britain, spent 10 hours taking selfies on one occasion.  He skipped school, lost his friends, and attempted to take his own life after not being satisfied with the quality of his seflies, The Independent reported.

“People take this selfie stuff way too seriously,” Shurygin said shaking his head. “It seems like selfies on Instagram and the ‘likes’ they receive socially rank people.”

But selfies are not to blame, some experts say.

“Clearly there’s something more going on. Selfies were just a medium [Bowman] was using. It’s not the selfie that’s the problem,” Deborah Miller, a certified school psychologist, said.

“He sounds like he has obsession, and clearly, self esteem issues. His suicide is not connected with selfies, nor are selfies a cause of what occurred.,” Miller said.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a treatment offered to combat this trend of socially handicapped individuals. According to the Beck Institute, CBT “helps people identify their distressing thoughts and evaluate how realistic the thoughts are. Then they learn to change their distorted thinking. When they think more realistically, they feel better. The emphasis is also consistently on solving problems and initiating behavioral change.”

Regardless of emerging statistical evidence concerning selfies, they might be helpful to individuals.

“Young adults in college are typically very concerned with their appearance, and when they can take photos of themselves when they look their very best – that’s important,” Miller said.

Selfies can boost a person’s self-esteem, Miller argues. “Individuals are able to stage how they look, and post photos that they find to be most attractive. It’s a quick fix for issues concerning self-confidence, and self-esteem.”

Well, thank goodness for selfies. #winning 

Marcela Sanchez contributed to this article. 

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Uncertain Future for Horse-drawn Carriages

By Fathema Ahmed

Staff Writer

Frank Riccobono has been a horse-drawn carriage driver for nine years. His father was also a carriage driver. To him it is a family business. He even claims that his horse Angelina is part of his life.

“This is a piece of history that’s left. It’s a tradition,” said Riccobono.

Horse-drawn carriages have traveled the streets of Manhattan since 1858. Central Park carriages can be seen as far as 34th Street. Long known  to be a tourist attraction, the carriages are facing opposition with many wanting to ban them including Mayor Bill De Blasio.

Mayor De Blasio has vowed to ban horse-drawn carriages saying that they are inhumane and outdated. The mayor wants to replace the  carriages with vintage-replica electric cars. The mayor says this move will be good for the environment while also helping the carriage drivers stay employed. The horses will be sent to live on rescue farms.

horse-drawn carriage pic 11

By: Jenifer Valmon Horse-drawn carriage in Central Park.

De Blasio is not the first to raise the issue of whether or not horse-drawn carriages are humane. Animal rights activists such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have been advocates for banning the carriages, because they believe that horses are mistreated and overworked.

“The carriage industry subjects horses to miserable weather extremes,the dangers of congested traffic,and crowds and also retires them to dark, damp concrete stalls at the end of a long, strenuous workday. Instead of gazing in green pastures, horses used for carriage rides in the city live a nose-to–tail pipe existence,” PETA representative Ryan Huling stated in an email.

Riccobono has his own thoughts, “There are three sides to the story, their side, our side and the truth,” Riccobono said about horse-drawn carriages being inhumane.

While there are many who are for banning horse-drawn carriages, there are others who oppose the idea. According to a Quinnipiac survey from March 19,64 percent of those polled were against banning horse-drawn carriages while 24 percent were for it.

“It would be a shame to lose something that’s so instantly identifiable with New York,” stated Penny Faith, a tourist from London who was taking a stroll in Central Park on a recent morning.

Stephen Malone and his horse Tyson in front of Central Park

By: Jenifer Valmon Stephen Malone and his horse Tyson in front of Central Park.

Susan Somerville agreed that the carriages are an essential tourist attraction, It would be a drop in revenue for the city. Tourists come specifically to ride the horse-drawn carriages,” said Somerville.

There are five major stables involved in the industry. They are all on the far West Side of Manhattan from 37th Street to 52nd Street around 11th and 12th Avenue. These stables are Bryne Stable, Westside Livery, Shamrock Stable, Chateau Farms and Clinton Park.

To get to work, the carriages usually travel up 10th Avenue to the Central Park area, which begins at 59th Street. When returning, the carriages go by 9th Avenue to get back to the stables.

“I believe that it’s mainly not about the horses. It’s more about the real estate property where horses are located on the West Side,” stated Riccobono.

Riccobono also explains how he would be affected if the carriages were to be banned, “I wouldn’t know what to do if they got rid of the horse-drawn carriages. It’s all I’ve been doing.”

Adam Lee standing next to his horse in front of Central Park.

By: Jenifer Valmon Adam Lee standing next to his horse in front of Central Park.

On average, a New York City carriage horse works for four years. PETA states that when it is no longer able to work the horse is often taken to a slaughterhouse instead of being able to retire to greener pasture since it is more cost effective.

“I think it’s good that they’re thinking of banning the horse-drawn carriages, because you don’t know how those animals feel, you don’t know how those horses feel, you’re using them for those people to go around. I think it’s inhumane,” said Daisy Lozano, a junior at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

“There’s other ways to get around the city. Tourists don’t have to be sitting on the carriages. It’s not the end of the world for them. The one’s that are suffering are the horses,” added Lozano.

There are approximately 350 carriage drivers in the city. Over 200 horses are used for the horse-drawn carriages and only 68 carriage horse medallions or licenses in the industry. There are no restrictions as to when the carriages can go to and from Central Park. They are even allowed to travel during rush hour.

Horses lined up in front of Central Park.

By: Jenifer Valmon Horses lined up in front of Central Park.

Carriages can not operate above 89  degrees, or below 19 degrees and during blizzards. The carriage capacity is four adults, or three adults and two children under the age of 12, or one adult and four children under the age of 12.

A standard carriage ride is 50 dollars for up to twenty minutes, plus 20 dollars for an extra 10 minutes. On Mondays and Fridays, rides start at     10 AM and 9 AM on Saturdays and Sundays.

Many cities have already banned horse-drawn carriages. These cities include Las Vegas, Reno and Santa Fe.

“There are more entertaining ways to take in the sights of New York. Bikes, pedicabs, rickshaws, segways, and other human-propelled modes of transportation are fun, cruelty-free alternatives to carriage rides. And as an added bonus, the proposed eco-friendly cars will finally get rid of the horse droppings that inevitably accompany carriage rides as guaranteed romance killers!” stated Huling.

DeBlasio had pledged to act on this plan in his first week in office. As of now, there is still no bill that has been introduced. There has also been no timetable set for these actions to take place.

horse-drawn carriage pic 12

By: Jenifer Valmon Horse-drawn carriage on path in Central Park.

“We’re considering a range of options that move the horses off our streets, safeguard the animals and protect the livelihoods of the men and women  who provide carriage rides,” DeBlasio’s press office stated in an email.

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