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African-Americans Evolving in Comic Books


By Alex Guzman

Can you think of a comic book or graphic novel whose central character is black?  Have you ever read of a black superhero that is not merely a sidekick, or an irrelevant character? Last month “Heroes in Black: Race, Image, Ideology and the Evolution of Comics Scholarship” was an event held at the CUNY Graduate Center on 34th Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan. Professor Jonathan W. Gray, an assistant professor of English at John Jay College lead this talk.

White characters, like Superman and Batman, are more prevalent in comics than black protagonists. There were differences in their upbringings and how they became superheroes, but almost all of them were white. Black superheroes, like Luke Cage, were not always painted in the best light. Even though Cage was the main character in his comic, he was born of the exploitation of black people in the film industry. He portrayed the archetype of the big buck.

“Early black characters faced moral quandaries [and were] placed under the gaze of white superheroes [and] popular culture,” Professor Gray said. Compared to the 1970’s, black characters now embody fewer stereotypes.

The African riots and the Black Panther movement heavily influenced Cage’s character when Luke Cage comics first came out. But after his disappearance for some time, he reappeared with the rise of Barack Obama as a state senator.

The new Luke Cage looked different from how he used to look in the 70’s, which gave off a less extremist image, according to Gray. His new costume helped him to better fit in as a member of society rather than being associated with a specific ethnic group. He was now integrated with the black working class, rather than the black power movement.

Gray quoted Scott Buktaman, who said that young scholars say that comics pay special attention to non-traditional superheroes. Gray also quotes Scott McCloud, who claims “universality of the cartoon image” as a “white, heteronormative, masculine subject.”

Gray spoke of neo-liberalism and the introduction of the first black comic book characters to appear on their own.

“In 1975, Marvel creates four iconic black characters,” Gray said. He speaks of the Black Panther, Storm, The Falcon and the aforementioned Luke Cage.

Gray remembered how, in one comic, The Falcon is fighting an enemy while Captain America watches. He claimed that this “endorses militant black masculinity, [which] mirrors and mimics that of the reader.”

Gray mentioned that many considered The Falcon who was the true hero of that comic. He explained how “this displacement of course is incomplete [because] The Falcon has never had his own comic book.”

Gray looked at his audience to read their reaction, and continued, “I began to see Superman as a punk, that Superman didn’t relate to replenishing the earth, like Huey Newton and other people did,” Gray said. “In essence, Superman is a phony and a fake. He never saved any black people in this country in any comic book stories.”

The last of Gray’s PowerPoint slides was of Luke Cage. In this interpretation, Cage was a more humanized multicultural member of society, and not so much a member of one ethnic group specifically, as he walked with his white wife, pushing his multiracial infant son in his stroller.

Professor Gray is teaching The African-American Experience: Comparative Racial Perspectives in the Spring 2014 semester.

Muscle Memory


By: Qendresa Efendija



An Olympic diver, who has been out for an entire season, decides to enter the 1996 Olympics. It is a week before the games and she begins her training by closing her eyes for two hours everyday, visualizing herself jumping off the diving board. She enters the Olympics with a mental memory of her technique and leaves with a medal.

Stories of visual training float in the athletic world. For some athletes, their physical prowess compensates for a lack of mental focus. For others, developing rituals allows them to overcome a lack of physical ability.

Motor-memory, commonly referred to as muscle-memory, is teaching muscles how to repeat movements or techniques so that it becomes similar to a reflex.

Mickey Melendez, Athletic and Physical Education Counselor and NCAA Faculty Representative of John Jay College studied exercise science.

“Muscle memory is the idea that in order to give a skill permanence you would have to rehearse it numerous times,” Melendez said.

Melendez is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine as a fitness specialist. He is a sports psychologist consultant for youth, interscholastic, college and professional athletes. Melendez claims that it’s tougher for division three athletes to develop muscle memory.

“This method requires luxury, time, and the facilities. Division three athletes have no time to develop skills. They have class, they have jobs, and they probably don’t get enough time in the gym,” Melendez said.

He recommends athletes work on the physiological skills and preparation more than the physical skills. “Thousands of people can teach you technique but only a few can teach you how to focus and how to handle the emotional process of the game”

Martina Hot is the captain of the John Jay College women’s volleyball team. Playing volleyball for eight years, she uses rituals to maintain her high performance level.

Hot’s volleyball statistics include 612 kills, 418 digs and 158 service aces.

Hot reveals that before serving the ball, she has to smack the ball three times then bounce it three times. Her teammates have also pointed out to her that before she serves she always takes a step back before approaching forward.

Hot says athletes keep themselves sane by creating superstitions. Many student athletes, such as Hot, have developed superstitions to what they say, “get their heads in the game.”

Kalyssa Daley, second baseman for the John Jay softball team, explains her rituals that she claims adjusts her technique. She first steps into the batters box with her right foot and touches her bat to the plate. Daley then swings her bat to her shoulder and adjusts her glasses with her shoulder three times.

“Being a good athlete means calming yourself down,” said Hot. “Whoever is mentally strong is going to succeed at the end of the day.”

Katelyn Davis, from the women’s soccer team, uses music to get herself pumped and mentally ready. Her superstitions include jumping and touching the top of the goalie bar before the start of a game.

Hot watches an inspirational video from former National Football League player Ray Lewis giving a pre-game speech to mentally prepare herself before games.

“You need two things. Confidence and preparation,” Hot said.

From Melendez’s perspective, athletes like Hot can develop muscle memory psychologically by using sports skills such as mental imagery or visualization.

“There’s two ways to visualize a perfectly executed technique. Visualize another person doing it, like highlights on television, or seeing as if you are doing it in the moment,” Melendez said.

He describes the research studies he witnessed where people were taught visualization skills.

“They’re sitting in their chair visualizing their routine and they start to twitch and their heart rate goes up,” Melendez said. “They start to sweat because in their mind, they are rehearsing their skill perfectly.”

Melendez, who still plays competitively today, was a student athlete playing ice hockey at the Division I level as an undergraduate student and still uses visualization skills.

“As a hockey player, which is very technique driven, I spend a lot of time thinking and visualizing myself playing the sport and then I am making all the right moves in the games- the key is to visualize using the correct form.”

Melendez explained that the brain does not know the difference from playing and visualizing. Part of muscle memory is making the neuro connections so that the muscles don’t need to think as much when making movements.

For example, Hot hears her volleyball coach Eder Matheller tell her to “stop thinking” and “just do it.” This is because the movements as an athlete should become instinctual and based off of muscle memory.

According to John Jay Men’s Soccer Coach, Nathan Bell, with a master’s degree in sports psychology, “The visualization part of muscle memory is key but you have to spend more time in the gym.”

Bell comes from a coaching background with the New York Red Bulls and his own soccer club in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

He explains how division three athletes resort to visualization skills. This system is learned by monitoring and seeing movements, which your body then replicates.

Bell explained that movements and techniques should be learned in a stress free environment in order to increase effectiveness of muscle memory. For some athletes, it is all about keeping a psychological order in their rituals.

One of the captains of the Men’s Basketball team at John Jay, Kendal Jordan, has been an athlete for 15 years.

Jordan’s rituals occur when he shoots his foul shots. He rotates the ball, takes a deep breath, bounces the ball twice, takes another deep breath, and then takes his shot. Jordan explains that he needed a technique that would buy him time to relax.

“If I take my time, it works every time.” Jordan confesses that if his technique fails him, then his mental state is brought down along with his performance.

Bell included that for players like Jordan, the younger an athlete starts to play, the easier it is to create a memorized movement.

“If you’re trying to learn a new skill at 20 rather than three years old, you will pick up on instruction much faster at 20 but your muscle memory will build much slower,” Bell said.

Jordan watches repeats of basketball games to mentally prepare himself to play. Before he plays, Jordan listens to music that he feels helps him focus.

Bell claims that when watching someone play, who plays similar to oneself, it teaches the body how to move in that way. He explains the technique he uses, called “modeling a professional.”

“One thing I did with my team is that I sent a YouTube clip of one specific professional player to each team member to watch before a game,” Bell said.

Coach Bell’s visualization techniques are focused on making the player a better athlete and increase their mental capacity to play at a higher level.

“Obviously these videos of professionals play at a higher level,” Bell said. “But for a team member who is very passionate, I gave them a professional who will inspire them and show them the technique at the same time.”

Is Violence Ever Justified?


By: Joseph M. Gomez  

On a bright, crisp October afternoon in New Jersey, the heated rivalry between the New York Jets and the New England Patriots resumed for the 2013 NFL season.  There was no drama unfolding on the football field. However, an unscheduled event that took place in the MetLife stadium corridors that became the event highlight, one which would generated controversy and spark a heated debate.

In American society, social norms have dictated how men and women are supposed to conduct themselves.  Traditionally, men have been told to never lay a hand on a lady.  However, is it fair for a woman to strike a man first and for that man to hit her in return?

Kurt Paschke, a 38 year old man from Long Island was caught on tape punching 26 year old Jaclyn Nugent, a female, in the face.  Paschke, who was a part of a group of Jets fans got in a heated confrontation with a group of Patriots fans including Nugent.  In the end, four individuals including Paschke and Nugent were charged for their roles in the altercation, they also received lifetime bans from MetLife stadium.

Their argument turned physical while in the corridors of the stadium, where punches were thrown.  On the video tape, Nugent was observed running towards the back of Paschke, she threw some punches which led to Paschke turning around and throwing a punch with his right hand into the face of Nugent.

So then, was Kurt Paschke wrong for hitting a woman in the face?  In an interview with CNN, Paschke’s lawyer, Bruce Barket had this to say, “Even a quick review of the video and just talking to a couple witnesses, you can see Kurt was defending himself and (he) shouldn’t have been charged at all and certainly won’t be convicted.”

According to Paschke’s attorney, his client was justified in hitting Jaclyn Nugent because he did so in self-defense.  Theresa Show, 21, a senior at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice says, “No, biologically men are stronger than women, and I think it’s wrong if men would punch back.  She added, “I believe men tend to be stronger.”

Show’s rationale, which can be disputed, is not necessarily out of the mainstream.  The view that women are physically inferior to men is a view that has been maintained across different cultures, religions and ethnic groups.

Another troubling case involving violence between a man and a woman occurred on a winter day in February 2011.  Oscar Fuller, 36, got into a dispute over a parking spot with Lana Rosas, 26.  What would result thereafter would come to surprise not just those involved and their families, but the entire City of New York as well.

Rosas, a woman, was standing in the street holding a parking spot for a friend in the Manhattan neighborhood of Greenwich Village.  Fuller, who was in his car and looking to park tried to take the spot.  When the two met face to face, a war of would break out which then lead to violence.

According to Fuller, when Rosas started hitting him, he threw a punch, hitting her in the face and dropping her to the pavement.  Rosas was knocked into a coma because of the incident and her family maintains that it was the force of Fuller’s punch that was responsible for her comatose state. Fuller denies this claim, saying that it was her head landing on the pavement which caused the severe injury.

Fuller was charged with misdemeanor assault, rather than the more serious charge of felony assault for which he was acquitted of.  However, Fuller was sentenced to a year in jail.

Wai Chen, 21, a senior at John Jay had this to say, “If a girl hit me I would not get mad, I would not have the same anger if a guy hits me.”  Chen argues that he could take the punch of a female and laugh it off but if he were hit by man it’d be a whole other story.

While there are those who believe it is wrong to hit a woman under any circumstance, and who argue that it is either immoral to strike a woman or that a woman cannot sustain a physical assault from a man, there are those who feel otherwise.

Take for instance Ken Leon, 23, a junior at John Jay College.  Asked what he would do if he was attacked by a woman, Leon said, “I don’t think I’ll hit a girl, if it gets to the extent that she keeps hitting me, I’ll lay one on her.”  He went on to elaborate a little more on what he believes is fair, saying “They want to go to war, they want to have the same rights, why shouldn’t they be treated as us.”

A view such as the one Mr. Leon has might come under attack as being a belief that only men might have.  Bianca Almeida, 24, senior at John Jay seems to have some of the same thoughts when it comes to male/female violence.  She said, “This system is made to benefit the woman… unfortunately the whole system is on the woman’s side.”

Almeida, who trained in combined martial arts back in her home of Astoria, Queens when she was a teen recalled occasionally hitting one of the boys in her class.  She joked that the chief reason she bugged him was because he could not hit her back.

In the lobby of John Jay College’s North Hall building, during the school’s community hour as students swarmed in and out of the building sat Professor and Dr.  Olivera Jokic.  Dr. Jokic, a professor of Gender Studies at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, was sipping on a cup of coffee she purchased at the nearby school breakfast stand and had several things to say regarding the issue of man/female violence.

When asked whether a man is ever justified in hitting a woman professor Jokic shot the question right back saying, “What do you think?”  In making her point she said is the use of reciprocal violence ever right.

The professor, who has a PH.D and two master’s degrees, one from the University of Texas and the other from the University of Michigan continued, saying “If a woman gets raped, should she have the right to rape the person that raped her.”  She then began to question and analyze why it is we as a society value and often feel entitled to certain things, “Why do we value football, parking spots and violence?”

She also believes that our society rape culture, Jokic explained it as, “A rape culture is one that blames the victims of violence that happens to them.”  She added, “We distribute blame and talk responsibility that men and women are different, that they have different relations to their bodies.”

Culturally we have rules, some written and many others unwritten that say how it is men and women must conduct themselves.  Maybe the answer to a violent act should not be another violent act in return, maybe we should consider not laying our hands on anyone.


New Kicks Equal Big Bucks


By: Donna Razawi

No taxes. No one to answer to. A weekly based salary ranging from $80 to as much (or even more than) $1,300. Spending money to make money? Wanna know where to sign up?

Many boys starting from the age of 11 and 12, are finding the buying and reselling of sneakers and brand name clothing to be a growing business.

Some students mentioned the fact that girls are not as predominant in the business. Kiron Mitchell, or KJ, a sophomore at John Jay, claims girls are only a part of the business in order to impress their boyfriends not because of their own interest in sneakers.

“Guys sell, because they love sneakers and enjoy the whole process. We don’t see that too often with girls,” KJ said.

As the search for employment becomes difficult and many are searching for ways to make pocket money, teens are starting to build their own businesses by buying and selling. This strand of entrepreneurship is “easy money” and most find it enjoyable.

Timothy Campbell, a senior who started his business at 17, explained how he gets a hold of his sneakers.

“It’s not difficult to actually get the sneakers, you just need money and connections,” he said.

Connections grow when you stay in the business for a long time and you make friends who work at stores. Then you can find the exact day a sneaker drops or how many are being made. Connections are what give you the upper hand.

Jorge Morales, a junior, has waited in line for the release of the Jordan Retro 7 Olympic, “The Love of the Game” sneaker. He once camped out from Thursday 9 am until Friday at 12 pm. Luckily it was in August so he didn’t need to worry about the cold. However it did rain.

While some people call it crazy, Morales explained, “Not only do you get to say you scored the hottest shoe—something rare—but you make money.”

The shoe sold for $163.85, but Morales later sold them for $450.

Some students who sell on the side claim their salaries range based on the number of released sneakers. During the colder months from November to February, sneakers are released the most.

Due to the holiday season, stores know it’s the giving season. More kids have some extra pocket money to spend on new kicks. Some of John Jay’s students have earned as much as $1,000 on just one sale.

Sophomore Kevin Paz, currently unemployed, said the cheapest thing he’s ever sold was $80 for a hoodie, he pocketed an easy $40.

KJ isn’t new to the business. He started in the seventh grade and he keeps growing with it.

“It’s a lucrative business, you don’t have to pay taxes” he said.

Those who do buy and sell explain that the business is easy when you’re smart about it. They follow trends and keep updated on who’s wearing what. Rappers, fashions icons, and all-star athletes can make certain brands famous. Most follow the A$AP crew, Wiz Khalifa, and Kevin Durant.

The criteria for a “good” sneaker to sell is the brand, history, and hype. Certain brands can bring in more money:a limited quantity is sold so the rarity of the sneaker is important. Popular brands include Bape, Jordans, and Supreme.

However, Paz argued,  you must know your customer and what they want to buy. Some sneakers are produced with a purpose; they commemorate a championship or are designed by a popular artist or basketball player. The “hype” refers to the popularity of the sneaker, how many people want it and overall the shoe being popular.

Besides connections, the way to get the hottest sneakers is by waiting in lines and winning raffles. Another way is by using the social media outlets, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay in the loop as to what’s hot and who’s selling what. Facebook groups like “NYC Buying and Selling,” and hashtags such as “kicksonfire” help create traction.

Those who sell the sneakers don’t do it just for the money.

Ajay Pahuja, a sophomore at John Jay, got his first pair of sneakers at 12. His father bought them, and from there he started selling. There’s no one to teach you how to sell or what to buy, but rather you learn on your own by trial and error.

“You have to love this. There has to be a point where you just loved your shoes,” he said.

Since there are no punch cards and no hourly wage, buying and selling isn’t a job, but rather a lifestyle. There is no destined time for everything but rather, you go about your day and the work part comes in; when you hear your friends talk about a new sneaker, the way you dress, and what you see on Instagram.

Th[Ink] About Your Future


By: Rehana Sancho


By Aruj Ali

By Aruj Ali

With celebrities like Lil Wayne, Rihanna, and Justin Bieber showing off their body art on places like their necks, arms, and faces, it is easy to see why young adults outside of Hollywood are increasingly turning towards the tattoo culture. However, students may be unaware of the long-term consequences of having a tattoo that may no longer appeal to the future you.

Although tattoos are seen as an artistic expression of one’s self,  should students be aware of the side effects of having a permanent ink on their skin? When a young adult decides to become tattooed, important factors like future career paths, placement of the tattoo, and understanding how the image they wish to portray in their early twenties may affect their future.

Scott Jones, developer of tattooinfo.net, a website that provides information for tattoo newbies/hopefuls, explains tattoos can be priced in various ways. Although some tattoo shops may have an average hourly rate of $80-100, or are based on the size, and placement, may all factor into the price.

Tattoos are expensive and priced at the discretion of the prospective artist. Artists should also have valid tattooing license, a book of previous work and sanitized work tools . Before getting a tattoo, try to be informed of the process and the removal.

Britney Debnam, a recent graduate of Sarah Lawrence University, came to John Jay to interview for a job with Teach for America. Debnam was modestly dressed in black stockings, a white shirt, and a black blazer to mask any visible tattoos. Debnam has five tattoos; three are visible and are about six inches in length. One is placed on her foot, which is why she can’t wear nude stockings.

Debnam says every one of her tattoos are “little photos” of her past, but she does regret a few of her tattoos because they were last minute decisions, based on temporary emotions.

Debnam feels like students who are thinking about getting a tattoo should think about where they will be in next few years and how having tattoos may affect them. Although she regrets a few, she’s still in love with her two white ink tattoos.

The tattoos are a question mark and a comma, a homage to her days as her school’s newspaper editor. Both tattoos  are  mostly invisible until you look closely.

Professor Alexander Long By Aruj Ali

Professor Alexander Long
By Aruj Ali

John Jay Career Counselor, Barbara Young, admits employers will not always ask you about a tattoo, but if they see one it will be noted. Young, a Baruch Alumna, who holds a master in Public Administration, says if you have a tattoo, do research on the company’s personal appearance policy.

Young advises doing research will prepare you for what the company is looking for in an employee. She tells students,”If you’re going for a job at MTV, tattoos aren’t a problem,” but to also be wise and do your research.

Young explains the purpose of an interview is to “assess the image” after reading someone’s resume. So knowing the company will give you a better understanding of what they expect. Young’s advice for tattooed students? Don’t offer information unless asked for information about the tattoo. This way you’re not drawing more attention toward the tattoo than necessary.

Jordy Frias, John Jay junior, feels students get tattoos because of social pressure, family members who have tattoos, friends, and celebrity influences. “Tattoos are a commitment,” Frias said and, “they prevent you from your choice of certain jobs like the State Troopers and NYPD.” According to the NYPD website, they prefer non-visible tattoos, but if you do have a tattoo you have to be prepared to explain their meaning.

If someone is faced with the decision to remove an unwanted tattoo, there are a few options. The safest way to remove a tattoo is through a doctor. One procedure requires surgery, and another is the laser removal, which is the most popular method.

According to WebMD, 50% of all people who get a tattoo will have it removed by the laser method. The laser method sounds like a bug zapper, it beams a laser at the inked area, breaking the color down, which will eventually be absorbed by the skin. Although this method is one of the most effective, not every one’s tattoo will be completely removed, some will just have a faded scar look to them.

CNN featured an article on their website called “How to safely get a tattoo removed.” Expert dermatologist Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank  explains the minimum cost to have a small tattoo laser treatment ranges from 80- 100 dollars, and on average clients will have to have 5-12 treatments, maybe more depending on the coloring of the tattoo. Having a tattoo removed can cost you more than you initially paid to have it drawn on your skin.

By Aruj Ali

By Aruj Ali

An alternative to getting a conventional black or multi-colored tattoo would be to try a white ink tattoo. Debnam has two, a question mark, and a comma on her right hand in between her thumb and index finger. Although still noticeable if you look closely, it can be easily overlooked.

Debnam states that the white ink tattoo feels “more personal” to her because it’s only visible to her most of the time. Along with the white tattoo, she has another that says, “Ain’t I a woman,” a quote from female pioneer Sojourner Truth. Debnam explains that Truth, an abolitionist and activist for women’s rights, was one of her only female role models while she was a young girl, which is why that quote is special to her.

Frias tells students to ask themselves, “What is the meaning of this tattoo and is it my personal choice?” Young’s advice is to first, “Try a temporary tattoo, it can be removed.” This way you can see if a tattoo is right for you.  Debnam warns maybe, “wait until you know who you are before getting a tattoo because  corporate America likes conservative.

Are We Paying Too Much For Water?


By: Fifi Youssef


 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.

A Hard Knock Life: Overcoming Homelessness


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 (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.

The Social Disconnect of Social Media


By: Orobosa Omede


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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Graduates Receive Guidance


By: Rehana Sancho


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”.

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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.