November 29, 2015

Street Eats in Summer Heat

By Adam Poplawski

Contributing Writer


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


DeBlasio Comes Through on Promise to Muslim Students

By: Rehana Pierre Khalil Elmeniawy (front), Zein Kapadia (middle-left), Muntassir Sayeedi (middle), Jaffer Shareef (middle-right), Neesar Banna (right), and Talha Bhai (back) in the campus prayer room.

By: Rehana Pierre
Khalil Elmeniawy (front), Zein Kapadia (middle-left), Muntassir Sayeedi (middle), Jaffer Shareef (middle-right), Neesar Banna (right), and Talha Bhai (back) in the campus prayer room.

By Fathema Ahmed


On March 4, Mayor Bill DeBlasio announced the addition of the Muslim holidays of Eid al- Fitr and Eid al-Adha as public school holidays, thus fulfilling a promise he made during his mayoral campaign. While the majority of public school holidays are Christian and Jewish holidays such as Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Thanksgiving and Christmas the announcement of public school closures on Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha marks the first time that a Muslim holiday is given a day off in New York.

“We’re here today to make good on a promise to our Muslim brothers and sisters that a holiday of supreme importance to the Muslim community will be recognized in our school calendar so that children can honor the holiday without missing school, so that families can be together on the holiday, so that our city respects and embraces this important and growing community. We’re making good on a promise, and it’s time for this promise to be kept,” stated DeBlasio during his announcement.

“I’m thrilled that we finally have a holiday off that’s recognized by New York State. It’s 2015 and one of the largest religions is finally getting their desired day off ,” said Yellda Balouch, a John Jay senior and vice president of the Muslim Student Association, regarding the days off for the two Eids.

The two Eids are important religious holidays for Muslims that both have their own function. Eid al-Fitr meaning the festival of breaking the fast is a holiday that celebrates the end of Ramadan which is a month of fasting for Muslims. Eid al-Adha meaning festival of the sacrifice refers to what Muslims believe to be the willingness of their Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ishmael at the command of their God referred to as Allah in what is believed to be an act of submission. It is celebrated at the end of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

Students feel that Muslims having the day off is only fair, “I feel good for the Muslims because it’s only two days of the year for their holiday and now they get to celebrate it genuinely with the peace of mind that they don’t have to worry about the day coming between their families and exams or something school related,” said John Jay senior Christopher Ferreiras.

“I feel as though now Islam as a practice in New York City will be recognized as an authentic practice and respected like the other Abrahamic religions,” continued Ferreiras.

Since the Islamic Calendar is a lunar calendar the holidays don’t have a set date. Instead Muslims around the world await the sighting of the new moon, which lets them know when they can celebrate their holidays. The date also depends on ones location since the moon is not seen everywhere at the same time.

“The Jewish Calendar is a lunar calendar, just like the Muslim calendar which shows that those arrangements can be made in advance. We can make those plans in almost certainty, at least a year in advance,” stated Associate Professor of the Anthropology department, Avram Bornstein.

“Yeah, but the point – the point being, each year, the calendar is different. You know, for the schools each year the religious calendar is different as well. So there will be times when both of the Eid holidays naturally do not occur on school days, or one occurs on a school day, or one does not, sometimes both may. So, we will adjust literally year by year according to need,” stated DeBlasio in a press release on the addition of these holidays would affect schools since there is no set date.

The two Eids aren’t celebrated on the same date by everyone, leaving Muslims to depend on their local mosque and the committee that they have in place to let them know what date they should celebrate the holidays on.

“We are going to work with community members to agree upon a formula for that,” stated Mayor DeBlasio on how the dates of the two Eids would be determined.

“I think it’s great in one sense. We have a growing Muslim student community and I think that should be recognized. It makes sense for Muslims to have the day off. There are some wrinkles though, we already have a long semester. We already have so many holidays which makes it difficult for students to adjust. I think it’s a good thing but I think if we do it we have to make it work with the constraints we have without disrupting the semester,” said Associate Professor of the English department, Jay Gates on how having two extra days off would affect a student’s semester.

“For too long, again, families were forced into an untenable situation. Either the children went to school on those holy days because so many children, of course so many families devoted to education didn’t want their children to miss school. Sometimes those school days included important tests and milestones in the educational year. So either the child went and pursued their education and missed their religious observance, or the other way around – they participated in a sacred moment for their families and missed out educationally,” stated DeBlasio on his thought process behind making Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha into public school holidays.

For students such as Khadija Rahman a John Jay junior and Secretary of the Muslim Student Association it is a struggle deciding whether to take the day off from school, “I’d always have to debate whether there’s an exam or if I’d miss out too much material that day. I’d have to take into consideration if it was worth missing a day.”

“We are a nation that was built to be multi-faith, multicultural. That was the concept of this country. That is why people came here to develop this country from the beginning. And we are carrying out that vision here and now. We as a city need to do more to deepen our connection to Muslim communities all over the city, to work more closely with community leaders,” stated DeBlasio in a press release.

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.

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, 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.

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.

Murder Mystery

The Long Island serial killings of women prostitutes have become a mystery even being called “the Gilgo Beach Murder mystery.” Many experts believe that there are multiple killers due to the number of victims, the different methods used in disposing the body, and the number of years that separate the murders. Louis B. Schlesinger, Professor of Forensic Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice believes there is only one serial killer. Despite the number of victims and the gap in years between the first murder and the last, 15 years, he still believes there is one murderer. In response to the reason why the victims were dismembered in the past but are no longer, Schlesinger  explains that

English: Knife Fox Italiano: Coltello Fox

Image via Wikipedia

the killer must have just realized that it was too much work and decided to switch up his methods.

Be “Siege” My Eyes

Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington (Image via

Prior to 2001, bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 led to many speculations concerning a terrorist attack on US soil. Not to be left out, Hollywood decided to try their luck at such an idea when in 1998, “The Siege” starring Denzel Washington and Bruce Willis was released. Whether this movie was a foreshadowing to events following is still left for speculation. Directed by Edward Zwick, “The Siege” follows FBI agents Anthony Hubbard, played by Denzel Washington, and Frank Haddad, played by Tony Shalhoub as they try to stop the terrorist plots of many independent terrorist cells within New York City. This movie is not without many different elaborate subplots within the movie, such as the miscommunication between government agencies and the apparent stereotyping of a certain Arab speaking demographic in Brooklyn specifically.

This extensive, almost two hour movie leaves nothing up to the imagination. There were moments ranging from great to downright questionable throughout the movie, which made it kind of hard to sit through. 
    Denzel Washington and Bruce Willis, playing Major General William Devereaux, carry the entire cast on their shoulders and valiantly try to succeed while doing so. Unfortunately, there are too many characters who do not carry their weight, and the movie suffers because of it. The entire cast makes this movie seem scripted, while Denzel Washington and Bruce Willis bring a sense of realism to a topic that already feels real. Just the fact that the movie takes place within New York makes this movie real, but the other cast members makes viewers realize that it’s just a movie.

This movie could have been shorter. From the struggles between the FBI and CIA to catch the same terrorists to the fact that there were four terror cells introduced to the movie within the first hour can make “The Siege” something to watch only if you have too much time on your hands. Six terror cells within one movie is too much; not even “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” was this unnecessarily elaborate. The perception of time is also skewed in the movie. The movie can lead one to believe that the events happen within a span of weeks, until you realize that the time between the beginning of the movie to the point where the first cell is eliminated (which happens 20 minutes into the movie) is only 36 hours. Trying to keep up with this movie’s plot can be tedious, and worth giving up on. The entire movie is supposed to take place within two weeks, and it is apparent by just how much information is thrown at the audience throughout the two hour movie.

The musical score in this movie makes the dramatic moments of the sciences pretty easy to predict. There are only two possible outcomes to consider in this movie whenever the music gets louder before each dramatic movie: either the terrorists complete their mission or the FBI succeeds in their assignments.

This movie had good action sequences throughout, and the difference in culture and morals between the Western world and the Middle East is accurately and beautifully portrayed, but there are some glaring instances that can leave viewers scratching their heads.

As the movie progresses, it is revealed that the CIA trains the terrorists that the FBI are trying to stop. Whether or not that is true in real life can be debated, but it surely leaves viewers wondering how valid such a scenario is. Another moment that left me scratching my head, in a negative way, was the negotiation scene in the first couple of minutes of the movie. If Denzel Washington is close enough to a bus when it blows up to be thrown back, the pressure emitting from the blast should not have left him virtually unscathed afterwards. At the very most, Denzel should have died at that point for the movie to retain its realism.

Bruce Willis played the role of a hardened general who will do anything to get the job done beautifully. It reminds me of the role he plays as a cop who does anything to get the job done in “Die Hard” or the former Special Forces agent who has to do whatever it takes to get the job done in “Fifth Element”.

Even if Bruce Willis emerged as the eventual antagonist in this movie, the fact that he has played the same kind of role for most of his life would normally be disappointing, but for “The Siege” he did what he is known for, which clashes with Denzel’s character throughout the latter part of the movie in a way that is worth observing. It is reminiscent of a dominant heavyweight champion (Denzel Washington) clashing with a surprisingly touch challenger (Bruce Willis), but at the end of it all it was Denzel’s brilliant acting that makes this movie even worth looking at.

Despite its many flaws, “The Siege” is actually worth watching once, and I emphasize the word once. The movie pushes the envelope without seemingly offending anybody, and the acting of Denzel Washington and Bruce Willis, as well as the historical context surrounding the movie, brings to light that terrorists are in the minority of every race (like the Ku Klux Klan is a minority amongst Caucasians). If you read too deeply into movies, pass this one up because you will be overloaded with unnecessary information. If you merely want to watch a movie that is thought provoking, watch this only once.