Lehman Counseling Center Increases Campus Presence with Group Initiatives

By Kathryn Fornier

The Lehman College Counseling Center logo. Photo courtesy of the Lehman website.

This semester, Lehman’s Counseling Center has opened its doors to a wide variety of student groups and workshops in an effort to build a safe, supportive space for students.

Currently, there are 11 groups at the Counseling Center targeting mental health and wellness. Karen Smith Moore, the Director of the Counseling Center commented, “Students fill out a questionnaire and the counselors and I develop the groups based on survey feedback from students.”  She added, “I think everyone can benefit from self-care…wellness and taking care of their emotional well-being, so we try to develop a range of groups that will support students.”

There is a Mindful Cooking and Eating group, hosted every Tuesday at noon, which teaches students how to decrease their spending on food while using stress free recipes, which are simple and easy to follow cooking instructions with minimal ingredients. Attendees can also find ingredients for healthy meals at the group meetings. “The counseling center purchases the food and it is a part of a campaign and health and wellness initiative called Healthy Lehman” explained Moore.

On Wednesdays, mats for stretching and meditation are offered to those who attend the yoga group. Lehman senior Ismelda Liz, a Sociology major, commented, “They really set the mood, they dim the lights and put music. With the music and the aromatherapy it really comes together…It’s really no-experience needed…[we do] stretches that are comfortable for people.”

Counselor Hawa Niangado explained that the groups also serve as an opportunity to explore and build new relationships. She noted that the Art Therapy group she leads has some of the highest attendance numbers, attracting both returning members and newcomers. “The first year that I did this it was a lot of new students…but [students] have come back again,” she said. “Because it was so successful, the following semester we decided to have two groups with one on Thursday and one on Friday.” 

The other groups offered are the Meditation Group, Worry Warriors, Digital Media Therapy, Healthy U, Keeping Your Cool, Multicultural Group, Stress Less, and U Connect. Their availability on campus helps students manage the expectations of their home lives, friends, and even themselves. 

This is important given statistics indicating that student mental health is an increasing issue on campuses nationally. According to a 2017 Healthy Minds survey, 94 percent of 8,000 first-year students with depression from 48 campuses reported that their mental health difficulties had impaired their academic performance. 

Students have a lot of stressors to deal with that can be triggers of depression. In a 2017 article “Depression and College Students” for the journal Healthline, Michael Kerr writes, “Many students are unprepared for university life. Today’s students face high debt. They also have fewer job prospects after graduation than previous generations.”

David Rosenberg, a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience, agrees a 2018 article for The Conversation titled, “1 in 5 college students have anxiety or depression. Here’s why”. He states that of the main causes of depression and anxiety, “social media and technology are among the most dangerous of these factors. Excessive use of each tends to engender impaired social interactions and an increased sense of isolation.”

To combat these factors, Moore said, “We at the Counseling Center do all kinds of things in individual sessions, group sessions, class presentations, and workshops arranged to give awareness to mental health topics. We also do outreach and campus wide events.” She added, “All our services are free and confidential and in a safe environment.” 

Jasmine Galloway, a sophomore psychology major at Lehman who uses the counseling center services, said, “I find the groups offered to be super helpful and I recommend people should at least visit once.”

Is Dining Dollars a Wise Investment?

By J. Manuel Rivera Cortes

Dining Dollars poster. Photo by J. Manuel Rivera Cortes.

Lehman’s Dining Dollars, a system first implemented in the fall of 2016, offers students tax-free meals and 5 percent back for every $50 they deposit. The program has the potential to help alleviate the financial burden that many Lehman students experience. However, its two major incentives, tax-free dining and bonus dollars, may not be enough to convince the student body to buy into it.

Students can enroll by downloading the Blackboard Transact eAccounts app from the App Store or Google Play.  They can then use their Lehman logins to access their Dining Dollars accounts and add funds to their cards through any cafeteria cashier or at kiosk stations located on campus.

Director of Administrative Operations, Diane Clarke, stated that, “Students are able to save more from [tax-free] dining than the bonus dollars of the program.”  But while the program promotes savings of approximately $150 every semester, many students are unaware of its existence. 

“Never heard of it,” said senior English major Nelson Fernandez.

The price, quantity, and quality of the food offered at the cafeterias may explain the low enrollment.  “It sucks,” commented Crystal Jackson, a CUNY office assistant for the School of Education. “The quality isn’t worth the price. They’re overcharging us for garbage.”  

Lehman senior Alice Tharay, an English major, agreed: “[The food] is mediocre for the price we have to pay. [It’s] worth less than we pay.” 

Junior Davidia Boykins, a biology major, said, “I feel that the food is delicious but overpriced.”

The average price of a simple breakfast like coffee and a bagel with cream cheese can range between $2.75 and $5.50, while lunch and dinner costs from $6.85 to $11.75. As a result, students are upset that the quality of the meals is not worth the weekly financial burden.  High prices and subpar quality cause students to purchase food off campus.

Another downside to Dining Dollars is that it requires students to use up the entirety of their funds before the end of the semester or forfeit them to the system.  Senior Yesnuel Ramirez, a Computer Information Systems major, exclaimed, “That’s unfair, man. That’s actual dollars spent. Tangible money. If it doesn’t roll over, where does it go?”

Lehman senior and film major Robert Velasquez disagreed: “It’s a good program…If you forget your cash, you’re able to use the card to buy some food.”

Junior Waverliey Torres, a Biology major who has used Dining Dollars in the past, commented: “It’s nothing amazing.  I don’t really eat at the café too often anymore, so I don’t know how much I’m saving.”

Jesus Hopped the A Train Wows Audience

By J. Manuel Rivera Cortes

Poster courtesy of Lehman Stages.

Poster courtesy of Lehman Stages.

“Jesus Hopped the A Train” opened in the Studio Theatre Oct. 17. The production received a standing ovation once the curtain fell.  The contemporary play was written by Stephen Adly Guirgis, who has been part of the New York theatre scene for the past 20 years. He won the 2015 Pulitzer for drama for “Between Riverside and Crazy”. This play is the third Guirgis original to grace a Lehman stage, following “Motherfucker with the Hat” in fall of 2013 and “Our Lady of 121 Street” in the winter of 2008.

Directed by Lehman Theatre professor Jennifer McCabe, the play entailed moments of humor as well as addressing serious themes like disillusionment in society.  

“Jesus Hopped the A Train” follows the lives of two convicts on Rikers Island: Angel Cruz, played by Giovanni Ortiz, Lucius Jenkins, played by Jonathan Carter. Cruz is a young Puerto Rican man arrested for shooting a religious leader, Reverend Kim, who he believes to be the leader of a cult that brainwashed his best friend. Matters take an unexpected turn when Reverend Kim dies during surgery, and Cruz is charged with his death.

Jenkins on the other hand is a serial killer who has connected with his lord and savior, Jesus Christ. Cruz must come to terms with the consequences of his actions, while Jenkins fails to take responsibility for his own.  Both men are transformed by the sadistic Officer Valdez, played by Shantelle Watkins. She takes them on a journey that causes them to accept  their circumstances.  

Ortiz and Carter put on rousing performances as murderers. McCabe implemented serious themes, while incorporating levity and humor.  The initial exchange between Jenkins and Cruz was tense yet humorous. Lou’s positive spirit complemented Angel’s pessimism in a comedic way. McCabe was able to direct the actors in a way that created a balance between the gravity of the situation and the lighthearted moments.   The audience was overcome with laughter when Valdez was attempting to break Jenkins spirit and Lou commented, “I have rights.” 

“Carter does an amazing job relaying the inner conflict of his character.”

– Lehman senior Albert Huertas, a history major

The revelation about Lou’s fate resulted in gasps from the audience. Senior Albert Huertas, a history major, said, “I was shocked, I thought Lou was gonna beat it. Carter does an amazing job relaying the inner conflict of his character.”

Lehman alumna Cynthia La Cruz Jimenez said, “It was so great! They did an amazing job.” Albert Huertas agreed: “I don’t normally like plays, but this was freaking sweet!”  

The eight student actors were transformed by their onstage experiences. Watkins said, “My journey has been impactful. I believe in [McCabe’s] vision. She allowed us to grow as actors and as students.”  

Senior Christine D’Onofrio, who played Mary Jane Hanrahan, concurred: “This experience has been life changing and eye opening to me…[McCabe] is extremely good at constructive criticism. We respect and trust her.”

Contemporary Art Expresses Fantastical Reality

By Teresa Fanzo

Peter Hamlin’s “Living Matrix Palace.” Photo by Teresa Fanzo.

A new exhibit at Lehman College Art Gallery, Castles in the Sky: Fantasy Architecture in Contemporary Art, features architecture with a twist, conjuring an imaginative reality.

The show, which opened on October 13, 2018, highlights the work of artists from different backgrounds and aesthetics. Lehman senior Eric Ramirez, a graphic design major, observed, “The artists are creating works that push the boundaries of architecture in ways that reflect their individual stories and life experiences”. 

Some artists chose to go to extreme lengths by making enormous sculptures while others created simple paintings drenched with symbolism. Robert Hite’s “River Tower, 2007” is an example of one these huge sculptures. The impossible-seeming sculpture droops at the top, almost like a dying flower, representing the merging of fantasy and reality by standing tall despite its sad droopy quality. 

Gustovo Acosta’s “Eclipse.” Photo by Teresa Fanzo.

Robert Hite’s “River Tower.” Photo courtesy of Marie-Claire Milius.

Robert Hite’s “River Tower.” Photo courtesy of Marie-Claire Milius.

Julie Langsam expresses this idea more directly in her painting, “Gropius Landscape (Master’s House Kandinsky / Klee), 2014,” which shows a modern house with a cloudy sky. The bottom half of the painting is abstract with three big blocks, each containing different patterns made up of smaller blocks. The colors in the bottom half are similar to the ones in the top, a movement which represents reality shifting into the abstract.

Laurent Chéhère’s painting “Cabaret, 2017” is smaller, at 90 x 90 cm. The painting shows a floating house with an elephant hanging at the bottom. The artist brings her own twist by adding things to fit the theme of a carnival, such as a doll face and a lollipop as well as the elephant, likewise showing the merging of reality and fantasy. 

The strange elements are what seem unreal here, the doll face especially, all turning out to be real things. The fantasy element comes with floating sky. This modestly sized painting also shows that within the exhibition space, not one size or type of piece overpowers another. 

All the pieces in the gallery use architecture to represent the idea of the convergence of fantasy and reality, while fostering an atmosphere of wonder. The artists featured in the exhibit created pieces that portrayed the unimaginable, impractical, and inspiring designs for architecture that tests their own boundaries and reality itself in ways that are almost shocking. 

Lehman senior and art major Jadie Meprivert said, “Each piece is able to shine.”

New Halloween Is the Goriest Yet

By Hector Bello

Promotional poster for “Halloween.” Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Four decades after its original release in 1978, “Halloween” leaves fans with mixed feelings.

“Halloween” tells the story of sixty-year-old serial killer Michael Myers, who murdered his sister Judith in 1963 and was locked up until his escape in 1978. Since then, Myers continuously returns to his quiet hometown in Illinois to prey on new victims.

In its 40-year run, the franchise has had tremendous success with 11 films about the infamous Michael Myers, played by actor Nick Castle. The first movie grossed a total of $70 million worldwide. The newest movie grossed a total of $77.5 million in its first week, topping the box office for the month of October.
 
Michael Myers kills the most people in the 2018 film -- a total of 17. Throughout the movie, Myers sadistically terrorizes his victims. In one scene, he steps on his psychiatrist’s head. In another, he pins one of his victims to the wall with a knife. He also destroys a man’s jaw and takes out all the teeth of another man.
 
The gruesome, bloody scenes evoked skepticism in audience members like Lisa Sheridan, a student from the CUNY Graduate Center. She commented: “Long on gore, short on plot. The movie serves its market ‘date night movies for high schoolers’. I tend to fuse ‘Friday the 13th’ and ‘Halloween’ in my mind because they were so similar.”
 
Other students appreciated the film’s dark humor. Alana Johnson, a York College graduate, said, “my favorite scene was when the killer went into the house of the babysitter and the kid ran downstairs screaming that he saw the Boogeyman. That was funny.”    
 
Funny or not, the bloodshed is relentless. Michael Myers is shot and stabbed repeatedly in the movie but does not die. Spoiler alert: in the end, Myers’ sister, Laurie Strode (played by Jamie Lee Curtis), locks him in a gas chamber inside her basement and burns him alive. Injured, she manages to make it out of the house alive after a final fight with the serial killer. 

Her survival is an example of one way the film goes in a new direction. Most of the previous movies, with the exception of “Halloween III,” show Strode running away from her brother, who wants to kill her after he murders her immediate family. However, this time their roles have been reversed, with Strode now much stronger and ready to defend herself against her brother.
 
The alteration satisfied some fans. “The new twist did a lot of justice to the franchise,” said Jason Moreno. “It was a solid movie…[with] nothing stupid.”

Johnson agreed, “I don’t really like horror movies. However, it was a great movie and I don’t regret coming.”
 
To all the gore and horror fans, “Halloween” will not disappoint. 

Malek Shines as Mercury in Queen Biopic

By Michael Omoruan

A poster for the UK release of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Photo courtesy of Flickr.

According to a report from Deadline, the biopic on the British rock band Queen was in its development stage for almost 10 years. Now the wait is finally over. The film, called “Bohemian Rhapsody” after one of the band’s most well-known songs, features Rami Malek in the lead role of Freddie Mercury. Best known for his Emmy award-winning portrayal of Elliot Alderson, an introverted cybersecurity engineer on USA Network’s “Mr. Robot”, Malek plays one of the most charismatic and legendary performers in rock ‘n’ roll history. He plays the role almost effortlessly, from Mercury’s humble beginnings as a baggage handler to his set at the Live Aid benefit concert.

Malek is joined by Ben Hardy as Roger Taylor; Joseph Mazzello as John Deacon; and Gwilym Lee as Brian May, who were Mercury’s bandmates. A cameo appearance from Mike Myers is a golden nugget for Queen fans. In 1992, Myers starred in “Wayne’s World”, a motion picture spin-off of his “Saturday Night Live” character, Wayne Campbell. In the iconic scene, Campbell, along with his best friend Garth Algar, played by Dana Carvey, sing along to the Queen song “Bohemian Rhapsody” in Garth’s AMC Pacer.  However, in the film “Rhapsody”, Myers plays EMI record executive Ray Foster.

In an interview Myers gave on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, he described the character as “fictional,” based on a number of record label executives who doubted that anyone would enjoy the ambitious, revolutionary sound of Bohemian Rhapsody. In this role, Myers crushes it doing what can be best described as Shrek if he were raised in Liverpool during the 1970s.  

Ironically, this cast was not part of the original vision of the film. Instead, according to Deadline, big names like David Fincher, director of “Social Network” and “Gone Girl”, were. Eventually, 20th Century Fox settled on “X-Men: Apocalypse” director Bryan Singer to helm the film, which was plagued with production issues. After halting production due to his inability to arrive on set in London, Singer was replaced by “Eddie the Eagle” and “Rocketman” director, Dexter Fletcher for the remaining scenes.  Although Singer still holds the title of director, Fletcher was given the executive producer credit. 

Various audiences were on the edge of their seats after seeing the embodiment of timeless classics like “We Will Rock You” and the eponymous title song. The sound mixing and cinematography was impressive. The dazzling display of lights brought it all together and the Dolby theater speakers made it feel like a live performance was taking place. 

The film brilliantly conveys the dark side of fame and fortune, as well as Freddie Mercury’s promiscuity. When Malek comes to terms with his AIDS diagnosis, the audience sees his true acting ability, as the vulnerability in his eyes is palpable.  All of the band members were played exceptionally well, and one can definitely foresee Oscar nominations for Malek and costume designer Julian Day. The issues and conflicts that halted production on this film are barely noticeable. Anyone who’s a true a rock n’ roll fan or loves a great biopic will love this one.

The Charmed Ones Return to Fight New Battles

By Kimberllee Mendez

The Charmed logo. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Charmed logo. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

The most powerful witches of all the magical realms, aka the Charmed Ones, are back and reimagined for 2018. A definite must-see, this reboot showcases the power of sisterhood with all the special effects a fantasy show needs.

Gracing the WB network, now the CW network, for eight seasons in the 90s, the original Charmed Ones—sisters and witches by birth -- fought demons, warlocks and everything evil using unique spells. Prue, Piper and Phoebe each had a different power: telekinesis, freezing the flow of time, and foresight, respectively. 

The new series features new names, new faces and some new magic. In episode one, biological sisters Melanie and Maggie Vera reunite with Macy, who has lived alone for most of her life, after their mother is murdered by a demon from the Underworld. These sisters have the same abilities as the original trio, but Maggie can also read people’s thoughts.

One defining moment from the original pilot episode recurs in the reboot: the night all the sisters are reunited in their home, all the lights go out. This shows the Power of Three is formed and united, allowing their powers to be awakened. This Power defines what the Charmed Ones are: their combined powers makes them unstoppable to any demon they face. 

In this version, they are also facing a social scene set in today’s age of social media. The sisters are regularly online, and a lot of women-driven movements such as #MeToo are shown making headlines. One subplot introduces a protest movement starting in the college that Mel and Maggie attend. The protestors demand that a professor who has molested a student be removed from his position and Mel is shown protesting all over campus. 

Mel is also openly gay and in a relationship with the homicide detective, Niko Hamada, who was her girlfriend before Mel knew of her own magic and the case of her mother. Their relationship becomes strained after Mel’s mother is murdered and three months later Niko leaves Mel. The new sisters also have a different ethnic background and different skin tones than other main characters, something that was not seen in the previous show. 

This updated show promises all girls that they have a little magic within them and proves that sisterhood is worth more than anything. It should certainly be on your DVR list to watch this month.

Lehman Soccer Regroups After Playoffs Loss

By Emmet O’Boy

The Lehman Lightning. Picture courtesy of Lehman Athletics Page.

After three long months, Lehman’s men’s soccer season ended at the semifinals of the City University of New York Athletic Conference (CUNYAC) playoffs. 

After winning the playoffs two years in a row, “this loss was especially disappointing,” Lehman Lightning head coach Toma Gojcevic told The Meridian. On Gojcevic’s desk sit the two first-place trophies from 2016 and 2017 for the CUNYAC. Currently on his second term as head coach, Gojcevic looked up and sighed, “I thought we were gonna add a third one this year.” 

Lehman Lightning finished the 2018 season with a 6-10-2, a record that earned them a spot in the playoffs. They had high hopes for another victorious season after winning the CUNYAC finals for two consecutive seasons. But after the loss of some team members, Gojcevic was skeptical about whether the team was prepared. He was not pleased with the results of the 2018 season and was frustrated at losing more than half of the games. 

During the playoffs, Gojcevic’s fears came true when the Lightning suffered a 0-2 loss to Baruch College on Oct. 30. Defeat prevailed when Lehman received a handball, which resulted in a penalty kick that Baruch scored. Towards the end of the game, Lehman went on total offense and put most of their men forward to try to tie up the game. With about nine minutes left in the game, Baruch then got a long ball down the field and scored again.

Gojcevic already has his sights set on next year. During a rundown of the returning players, he talked about how the Lightning only has 14 players on the current roster for next season. “One of the hardest things for me as a coach was that I couldn’t get certain players to buy in.” 

“No CUNY has ever won a game in the NCAA Tournament out of any CUNY school. We want to be the first team to do that.” 

– Lehman Lightning head coach Toma Gojcevic

After losing Rafael Emiliano, Omar Moro, and Salh Alzubidi, Gojcevic is looking to “restructure the defensive line, and find new goal scorers.” He hopes to add new players who are willing to buy into the program he is building. Although it is a tall order, he and his coaching staff are already in the process of recruitment for next season. 

With new talent also comes an increased need for leadership on the field, so Gojcevic is looking at his returning seniors for help. Rising senior Chris Mulholland is someone whom Gojcevic believes could take on this role. Originally a midfielder, Mulholland switched to the goal position for the Lightning because the former player was injured.     

Gojcevic will not rest until he is back at the top of the CUNYAC. He wants to make an impact that exceeds CUNY schools and reaches national level. “No CUNY has ever won a game in the NCAA Tournament out of any CUNY school,” he said. “We want to be the first team to do that.”

Bullet Shatters Glass in Carman Hall

By J. Manuel Rivera Cortes

Carman Hall. Photo by J. Manuel Rivera Cortes.

On Oct. 23, Professor Amod Choudhury discovered a bullet in his office in Carman Hall.  

“I was on a phone call with the Dean’s office when I noticed a copper-like bullet on the ground near the window,” said Choudhary. Upon further review he noticed a small hole in the pane of glass near him.

Public Safety quickly dispatched three officers to complete an initial investigation. Director of Public Safety, Fausto Ramirez then contacted the 52nd Precint. Its forensic team was able to extract the pane of glass for laboratory examination. They figured out that the bullet was fired from a distance.  

Memorial of Paula Soto. Photo by J. Manuel Rivera Cortes.

Ramirez said, “The act is believed to have occurred in an adjacent neighborhood across Reservoir Avenue.”  The NYPD declared the incident as a violation of the Penal code 120.25, defined as reckless endangerment in the first degree.  

Ramirez questioned the 50th and 52nd precincts about any possible gunfire activities during the discovery of the metal fragment. He told The Meridian that no report of this was confirmed.

Ramirez recalled the tragic death of Paula Soto, a former Lehman student. On March 19, 1991 Soto was killed by a stray .22 mm bullet shot from the 4 train while playing softball on the campus field 150 yards away. Ramirez, a public safety officer at the time, was the responding officer to the shooting. He explained that Soto was rushed to the hospital but died four hours later. A memorial in her honor was placed near the Shuster Hall building.

According to a report released by the 52nd Precinct, there  were 15 shootings in 2017 and 2018. The report also states that these numbers reflect a 42.3 percent drop over the past eight years and an 80 percent drop over the last 25 years.

Lehman currently has 144 operational video cameras and 188 call boxes all throughout Lehman College to help ensure student safety.  The NYPD also dispatches sector cars to patrol the perimeter of the Lehman campus during the evening hours.

Despite these measures, the most recent incident has raised concerns among students, with some stating that a checkpoint should be implemented where students must swipe their ID cards to gain entry to the campus. Senior Neil Omancharan, a Diet and Nutrition major, said, “I don’t like the idea of not having a swipe system when it concerns my safety.” 

Train Dysfunction Frustrates Lehmanites and Local Riders

By Perla Tolentino

A view of the Kingsbridge Road subway station of the 4 Train, close to Lehman’s entrance to the Student Life Building and Sports Field. Photo by Perla Tolentino.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) transports more than 5.6 million New Yorkers on a daily basis. But recently, despite official pledges to improve the system, Lehman students and many other riders suffer the consequences of poor subway service on their daily commutes. 

Jeanine Guido, a Bronx resident who takes the 4 and 6 trains daily, said, “Some of the main delays I experience everyday are due to medical emergencies and lots of investigations and train traffic issues… trains are running slow in the mornings and they are very unreliable. It’s almost certain that you will get to work late.” 

Data released by Mass Transit Magazine shows a total of 65,487 train delays this October alone, which is more than triple the average from six years ago. According to the Fiscal Brief of the New York City’s Independent Budget Office, the average number of delays per month in 2012 was approximately 20,000. This year, the MTA posted 6,229 times in their alerts section for the first 10 days of November. These accounted for elevator and escalator outages, NYPD investigations, sick passengers, signal problems and track incidents. 

Three consecutive injuries were reported by the New York Post on Nov. 1. A man fell on the tracks at the 96th Street subway station of the 1 train around 2:47 p.m., causing major delays. He survived but bled profusely from his head. Two hours later, a passenger broke a leg on the train tracks of Jay Street, while another was struck by an N train.

These incidents have been escalating, despite the “action plan” the MTA anticipated since July of last year. According to “Bloomberg Online”, the plan concluded that more than $830 million was needed to fix the main causes of breakdowns and delays. This budget was also supposed to cover the expenses for new cars as a way to prevent overcrowding issues and to improve maintenance for elevators and escalators. 

With these costly projects and the continuous decrease in riders, the MTA’s debt is projected to reach $3.3 billion by 2022, according to the comptroller’s office. The surprise resignation of MTA chairman Joseph J. Lhota the day after midterm elections, poses another challenge for the MTA  regarding the end of incidents and delays. 

The result of such incidents is an increase in rider frustration. “The 4 trains are always crowded and delayed,” complained Michael Spencer, a Bronx resident who travels to Brooklyn every day.  “People are rude due to constant pushing, causing fights, accidents and more delays. I’ve been late to work so many times due to signal problems and sick passengers that I decided to use another route instead.” 

“I usually ride the 2 train in the mornings and the 4 in the afternoons. Sometimes the 2 train doesn’t work on the weekends and we have to take a bus, so getting to our destination takes extra time,” said 25-year-old Ellieth Recarte, a junior English major at Lehman.  She added, “Most of my friends come from Brooklyn all the way to the Bronx and they experience horrible delays.” 

Fordham Road D train subway station where a man was attacked with a hammer and an 11-year-old boy was robbed his phone. The D train also stops at Bedford Park Boulevard, which is connected to Lehman. Both incidents were reported by NBC News Channel 4. Photo by Perla Tolentino.

For those Lehmanites residing in New Jersey, the story is the same, but the commute is even longer. Joseph Yeboah-Mensah, an adjunct professor of mathematics, says, “My biggest frustration is when I have to come in the mornings.  There is always some kind of delay. I usually take the NJT, A and 4 train to come to Lehman. [At night] sometimes I get home by midnight when I finish my 7:50 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. statistics class.” 

Maria Sarmiento is another NJ resident who works in Brooklyn. She was on the New Jersey Transit the day a man was struck and killed on the tracks near Brick Church on Oct. 2. “I remember I took the train around 6:15 p.m. and made it home by 10 p.m. since we were forced to take a longer alternative route.” 

Claudia Drobchinskaya, a Brooklyn resident who rides the D and B trains, talked about difficulties with both lines. “I take the D and B train daily. Trains are always late and crowded, you have to ride standing in one leg and with your bags on top of your head if possible [and there] is always a sick passenger or a police investigation.” She continued, “When the D or B trains are down, I take the F, but I feel unsafe since there’s many substance abusing passengers.” 

Lidia Ochoa, a 25-year-old CUNY LaGuardia Community College student from Queens who rides the F train daily, concurred. “There are many crazy people in the F trains, either because of drugs or mental problems. They scream or start acting weird on the trains, it is very uncomfortable”.  

Some platforms have also proved more dangerous. New York Daily News reported the case of 55-year-old Edwin Pinez who was pushed to the tracks by a younger suspect for no apparent reason. The incident took place on the 4, 5 and 6 train Brooklyn platform before 8:00 am on Nov. 9, 2018. Pinez was later treated at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Meanwhile, the MTA continues to search for solutions. NYC Transit Authority’s CEO Andy Byford told the New York Times that delays can take up to 90 minutes to fix depending on the nature of the accident. His main goal is to reduce the number of delays by 10,000 every month. Byford had proposed platform doors as a solution to track accidents and stated that the cost of installing of these across all stations would be more than $1 billion. This proposal has now been postponed, with Byford instead investing in more elevators and escalators.

“It’s fair to complain,” Recarte said, “since we’ll have to pay $126 dollars for a monthly metro card, but the service doesn’t change.”

New App Means No More Lines for Lehman Students

By Shaiann Frazier

Students using the computers at the renovated IT Center that has freshly painted blue walls. All photos by Shaiann Frazier.

A new app, LehmanQ, has made it easier for students to access the IT Center and the Financial Aid office this fall. LehmanQ is a mobile scheduling tool that allows students to avoid the hassle of long lines beyond making online appointments with these offices from anywhere using their mobile phone, computer, or a nearby kiosk center. 

On the first day of classes, many students were pleasantly surprised to find the Lehman IT Center in Carman Hall with freshly painted blue walls and the new kiosk center for making appointments.

Likewise, students visiting the Financial Aid Office were happy to realize they could make appointments online rather than having to take a ticket and then wait for service. The previous system relied on an outdated system known as Qmatic, which resulted in students sometimes waiting for over an hour in long lines at the Financial Aid Office and the IT Center.

The new system, LehmanQ, is mobile friendly. Instead of going to a kiosk or using a nearby computer, students can download a free QR code reader from the App or Google Play Store, allowing them to make an appointment from their mobile device. Once an appointment is made, students receive text alerts notifying them about their wait time and place in line. At any time, students can cancel their appointment, request more wait time, and even update their text alerts to voice calls.

A current Lehman student using the kiosk center located outside of the Financial Office.

Lillian Rivera, 21, a speech pathology major said, “I think the new system is easier, and more efficient, and less time consuming, because in the summer you had to stay on the line. But at least with the app you can do it on your phone, do something else, and come back,” she said. “It saves more time and it’s less of a headache.”

Vera Senese, Director of the Financial Aid Office, explained that the change of systems was student-driven. “The students came up with the idea and reached out to Ronald Bergmann. They weren’t happy with the financial aid system,” she said. “I jumped at the idea of a new system. It was something that I wanted to do for two years.”

After being presented with various models from vendors, the system, “QLess,” was collaboratively chosen with the help of various Lehman departments and staff.  “The model QLess seemed to have most of what we needed,” Senese said. The name was subsequently changed to “LehmanQ.”

LehmanQ was first introduced into the IT Center in the Spring of 2018, where it helped nearly 5400 students, but it wasn’t implemented into the Financial Aid office until this August. The upgrade makes a great difference there, since approximately two-thirds of Lehman’s nearly 14,000 currently enrolled students -- 66 percent in 2017 – 2018, according to Senese -- received some form of financial aid.  

Students making online appointments at the Kiosk Center to receive assistance from the IT Help Desk.

Raul Rosario, 23, a digital design major said, “A lot of people come to the financial aid office. It’s not just sitting here as before with the tickets where you had to sit and wait for a long time. Now you can do other stuff while waiting.”  

Maria Garcia, the IT Center’s day shift supervisor, said, “Our goal is to help the students as much as we can. We want to mainly help the flow of students who go to the help desk,” she said, “It’s very helpful. The students just have to adjust and get used to it.”

Ediltrudys Ruiz, Assistant Vice President of the Division of Information Technology, said, “The model is to empower students. And to help them use their time effectively and efficiently, and for students to take advantage of the time we are putting back into their hands.”

Donald Taylor, 20, a transfer student and business administration major said, “I find that it’s easy, and I like how it texts you when you’re up next.”

Janelle Kirven, a Westchester native, and accounting major said, “I think it’s good because we can see where some of our school fees are being utilized regarding the school and them trying to modernize student engagement activity.” 

Lehman Women Embrace Natural Hair

By Kimberllee Mendez

From left to right: Drumgool, Newsome, and Milan show off their hair. Photos courtesy of Dominique Drumgool, Bre’Ann Newsome, and Amber A. Milan.

“A lot of people inspired me to go natural,” explained Bre’Ann Newsome, a junior at Lehman, on her choice to wear her natural hair.  “I had this friend who had a much looser curl pattern and she stopped straightening her hair,” Newsome said. “She used to come to my house all the time and she would tell me ‘oh you need to stop getting perms,’ and I’m like what do you know? Then seeing my cousins and my best friend embrace their natural hair made me want to do it to. Embrace what I have.”

For Newsome, who went natural in July of 2016, the transition was daunting but satisfying. “Before I went natural I always permed my hair and used harsh chemicals which I’ve done for 10 years. My hair has always been processed, I did all of it,” she said. The defining moment for her was when she had to wear short hair, although at first, she had trouble adjusting to it. 

“I realized my natural beauty is all I needed.”

- Dominique Drumgool, a Lehman alum

Newsome is not alone in her choice. According to curlcentric.com, the demand for organic hair products is rising, with sales amounting to more than $750 million between 2012 and 2017, while sales of hair relaxers has dropped by more than 25 percent in the same time period.

Lehman senior and music major Amber A. Milan, who has been natural for five years, was inspired by such products, through a salon that goes by the name DevaCurl.  “My aunt found this salon that specializes in my hair texture and any other natural curly and thick hair. So, the fact that a place like that exists took my breath away,” said Milan.  With DevaCurl, she found that she was able to use products that made her hair stay curly and stylish.

For Dominique Drumgool, a Lehman alum who has been natural for six years, it wasn’t a person who inspired her to go natural, but a diagnosis. “What made me go natural in 2012 was when I got diagnosed with alopecia areata, but it was not a severe case,” she said. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune skin disease which causes hair loss in the scalp area, face area, and also occurs in other parts of the body. “I wasn’t too happy about it, but it inspired me to start my journey to having natural healthy hair.” Drumgool finalized her decision when she tried a perm and found “it didn’t work out for me, so I decided on doing the big chop.” 

Drumgool’s time at Lehman, away from her mom who previously had taken care of her hair, also contributed to her managing her own hair.” “In college I basically understood my hair more. And how to take care of it,” she said. “So, I braid and style it on my own, and have a procedure for washing and overall taking care of it.” 

Ultimately Drumgool found a greater sense of autonomy and independence in her choice. “The moment I defined my hair and said to myself this is my hair now is when I realized I didn’t need my hair to be straightened, permed or pressed,” she said. “I realized my natural beauty is all I needed.” 

Lehman Student Wins Fight against Cancer

By Kimberllee Mendez

Reyes when she started growing back her hair. Photo courtesy of Elvia Reyes.

“You feel like the world is coming to an end,” recalled Lehman psychology major Elvia Reyes, of the day a doctor told her she had breast cancer. On average in the U.S., according to breastcancer.org, 12 percent of women, or 1 in 8, will develop invasive breast cancer. Reyes, 31, a financial aid advisor for Christine Valmy International School, was part of that 12 percent.

“Around October of 2016, I first noticed the lump in my breast,” said Reyes. “I was concerned and decided to call the doctor in December, but it wasn’t until February that I got an appointment.” To receive a diagnosis, a patient has to undergo a variety of examinations to create a pathology report. This report helps doctors determine a diagnosis, what stage the cancer is in, and whether a recovery process can begin. 

Elvia Reyes with her son when she started chemotherapy. Photo courtesy of Elvia Reyes.

“In March of 2017, I was meant only to have the biopsy report, but the doctors wanted to do more tests after learning my mother had breast cancer, too,” Reyes said, “but when I was tested for a gene where it could transmit from my mom, I was negative.” Her doctor told her to expect her tests results after one week, but she received them within a few days. 

“My cancer had already progressed to stage 2,” said Reyes. Tumors are generally categorized based on five stages of progression, from stage 0, a fixed tumor that will not spread throughout the whole body and can be easily removed, to stage 4, which means that the cancer has progressed and spread to other parts of the body.

Although anybody can get cancer, it is most common in women over age 50, according to the Susan G. Komen foundation. The website also states that in the U.S., fewer than 5 percent of women diagnosed with cancer are under 40, with the highest rate seen in women over 70. Reyes, however, was only 30 when she was diagnosed. “I was so young when my cancer developed, the doctors were surprised,” she said. 

When the doctors found out her tumor was stage 2, she immediately started treatment, which consisted of surgeries and two different types of chemotherapy. Side effects from chemo can include fatigue, early menopause, weight gain, and even heart problems -- according to the Susan G. Komen Foundation -- and can last even after the treatment is concluded. 

“When I was going through chemotherapy, I  knew I was going to lose my hair in the process, so I shaved my whole head,” said Reyes about starting treatment. She explained she was never discouraged through treatment, and always kept a positive mind. 

In May of 2018, after a year of chemo, a nurse told Reyes, “You are cured. No more treatment.” According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for stage 2 breast cancer is 93 percent. 

“When I went to my last treatment, I was relieved,” Reyes said, “but I still feel tired even now, with everything over and done.” She remains grateful for her family’s support, and the constant presence of her son and husband. “I was very fortunate to have my family by my side,” she said, “and they were my motivation.”

Professor McCabe Brings Jesus to Lehman

By J. Manuel Rivera Cortes

Jennifer McCabe’s headshot. Photo courtesy of Lehman College.

“Jesus Hopped the A Train” rolled into Lehman Oct. 17 thru 20, directed by veteran actor and assistant professor, Jennifer McCabe.  “As a director I get everything from my actors,” she said. “I am 100 percent an actor’s director.”  Having grown up in the theatre, McCabe explains it is a second family to her, and she brings the strength of that bond to her directing.

McCabe has over 30 years’ experience within theatre.  The child of thespians who lacked child care, she began watching her parents’ rehearsals at the age of two.

At 13, she joined their world, and began acting onstage while playing soccer for her school team. The latter would garner her a scholarship to college, where she slowly found that theatre was her love and motivating force.  To pursue it professionally she earned an MFA from the Actors Studio Drama School at The New School. After graduation she worked for a majority of the playhouses on Theatre Row, and this motivated her to become an educator.

Junior Shantelle Watkins, theatre major and business minor, said of McCabe’s directing style, “She makes sure we have a full background. Her technique helps us analyze and go deeper.”  

Senior Christine D’Onofrio, a theatre major in the Adult Degree Program, said, “She makes us feel safe.  She is able to pull things out of us. In this play, the character work is so important, we give meaning to it with Prof. McCabe guidance.” Both agreed that McCabe has brought them and their classmates into the creative process, and made them molders of the drama.

McCabe explained the idea for the production came to her in conversation with Professor Richard DesRochers, Director of the Multimedia and Theatre programs, who encouraged her to direct it for the Fall 2018 semester. For her, the most memorable scene of her most recent play is Act 2, Scene 4. “This scene feels like the final countdown.  It is very tense, and every player helps to build that tension.” She hopes that this production sheds light on what it means to take responsibility and on the extent to which we have become desensitized and disillusioned in our society.  It addresses the state of the criminal justice system, faith and forgiveness.

McCabe advises anyone interested in pursuing an acting career to know that there are many ways to participate in theatre that will help students to become better actors.  “Theatre is collaborative!  Therefore, you have to know how to work well with others.  Stay educated on the subject and its trends and purpose in society.”

Annual Medieval Festival Brings the Met Cloisters to Life

By Brittany Aufiero

Kathleen Finnegan strums a Celtic melody on the harp. Photo by Brittany Aufiero.

Tens of thousands of medieval history enthusiasts from across the five boroughs flocked to Upper Manhattan on Sunday, Sept. 30 to enjoy an afternoon of free festivities at Fort Tryon Park.  The sprawling forest was transformed into a market town straight out of a medieval fantasy world -- complete with crafts, vendors, and foods common to the Middle Ages.  Festival-goers embraced the theme, many of them choosing to dress in peasant robes or knightly armor, immersing themselves fully in the experience.  In the evening, the events concluded with a group of knights jousting on horseback on the tourney field.

Fort Tryon Park is home to The Met Cloisters, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art that specializes in European Gothic and medieval architecture.  The museum occupies four acres of land, and its castles and bridges are visible to all guests at the fair, adding to the authenticity of the event.

This year’s festival was jointly sponsored by the Washington Heights and Inwood Development Corporation (WHIDC) and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.  The WHIDC is a private and publicly supported not-for-profit corporation which has successfully kept the Medieval Festival alive in Upper Manhattan for over 34 years.  According to their website, for the past five years attendance at the event has averaged 60,000 people.  

For many businesses and performers in New York, the festival is an opportunity to advertise their crafts and services, and to bring awareness to the public about different cultural expressions of art in order to enrich communities.  One such business is UrbanGlass, which used their platform at the festival to bring attention to their outreach program, The Bead Project.  According to their flyer, the free program “was created in 1997 to serve economically disadvantaged women living in the New York Area.”

At another booth, Fordham University advertized their Center for Medieval Studies program.  Displaying replicas of manuscripts and handwritten texts from the Middle Ages, the school used the theme of the festival to highlight course offerings most likely to appeal to attendees.

Anatolia Fire Goddess of the Mystical Muses performs an illusion act. Photo by Brittany Aufiero.

One of the festival performers, Purna Shakti, is a member of the Mystical Muses, a belly dance duo which performs internationally and displays different forms of traditional dance from India and Egypt.  Hosting their show right outside the entrance to the Cloisters, the Muses drew inspiration from the folk dances such as tanoura -- which is derived from a spiritual Egyptian dance in which the performer wears a colorful, weighted skirt -- as well as Indian gypsy veil dances, in creating their routine.  Following each performance, they posed for photos and provided hands-on instruction to spectators.

Shakti, describing her experience as a performer at the festival, said, “We love to perform! The crowds are great, and it’s fun to be able to introduce them to new forms of dance that they may not have witnessed before.”  The Mystical Muses have performed at the Fort Tryon Medieval Festival for three years and expressed their wishes of returning next year.

Kathleen Finnegan, a harpist, celebrated her tenth year playing at the Fort Tryon Fair this September.  Though she travels to many different states throughout the U.S. to play, most of her time is spent in Florida and New York.  When asked whether she believes the yearly event makes a difference within the community she said, “I have had patrons of the fair, who didn’t come to the neighborhood in the past, tell me that they come at other times of year now because they see the beauty of the park and how much the [Cloisters] has to offer.” She added, “Of course, they use the businesses in the area several times a year because of that.”  

Through good food, dancing, music, and the arts, Fort Tryon’s Medieval Festival strengthens communities by supporting local businesses and exposing New Yorkers to traditions and practices that are foreign to them.  It is a hub of cultural exchange that looks to continue for many years to come.

Gaga Wows Audiences in ‘A Star Is Born’ Remake

By Michael Omoruan

The promotional poster for the film. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

The film, “A Star is Born” tells a great, compelling story brought to life by its extraordinary cast and outstanding soundtrack. Released on Oct. 5, the movie was co-written, directed, and produced by Bradley Cooper, who also stars in this modern remake of the 1937 film which featured Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. In his updated version, Cooper, known for his lead roles in “American Sniper” and the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies, plays a rock and roll superstar named Jackson Maine who stumbles upon Ally Campana (Lady Gaga), in a drag bar.  

Aside from cameo appearances in Robert Rodriguez’s “Machete Kills” and “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For,” this film marks Gaga’s first starring role, alongside acting legends Sam Elliott and Andrew Dice Clay. Maine and Ally develop feelings for one another as the film progresses and their chemistry builds. However, Maine has a problem with substance abuse which starts to cause conflict in their relationship. 

With little to no dialogue, Cooper is able to evoke emotion. In a scene with Rez, Campana’s agent, Maine is faced with a tough ultimatum and his internal conflict is evident. Cooper also sings well himself during the concert scenes, with his gruff, old timey rocker voice shifting to belt out vocals that shock the audience. Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Germanotta, gives an Oscar-worthy performance as Campana, whose nervous, uncertain nature seems relatable and realistic.

Cooper’s directorial debut also draws Oscar-caliber performances from the rest of his cast, which includes comedy legends Eddie Griffin and Dave Chappelle. They play old friends of Maine who show up in a crucial moment of the film. Chappelle’s character, Noodles, offers advice from his time in the spotlight to guide Maine on the right path, displaying great dramatic chops.  Sam Elliott plays Maine’s brother Bobby with just enough subtlety, sharing amazingly intimate scenes with both Cooper and Gaga. One of his lines summarizes a core theme of the film, “Music is essentially any note between twelve octaves… It’s the same story told over and over. All that the artist can offer the world is how they see those twelve notes.” 

In its realistic showcase of romantic relationships, while at times satirizing the entertainment industry, “A Star is Born” is comparable to 2016’s modern musical “La La Land,” which also has a great soundtrack. If you enjoy emotional, heartfelt romantic films, definitely check this one out at your local movie theater.

Fifth Lil Wayne Album Marks Artist’s Victory over Label Clout

By Matthew Mallary

Lil Wayne and Birdman perform at the 2009 BET Awards. Photo courtesy of Flickr.

New Orleans rapper and Young Money label head Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., a.k.a. Lil Wayne dropped “The Carter V” on Sept. 28, 2018. The fifth installment of the Carter series matters because it represents the end of a tumultuous legal battle between two titans of the hip-hop world, Wayne and label head Bryan Christopher Williams, or Birdman (a.k.a. Baby). The album had languished in production for four years. Now, after an incredibly fiery public beef between the two and an equally bitter legal battle, Wayne has emerged victorious, debuting at number 1 on the overall Billboard charts. 

The conflict goes back to 1991 when 9-year-old Wayne was already writing and recording verses. This intrigued Birdman, who started a record label, the now eponymous Cash Money Records, the same year. While Wayne progressed through several rap groups, eventually carving out a solo career as Cash Money’s marquee artist, Birdman was building the infrastructure. By 2008, Wayne was synonymous with hip-hop success, and crossovers with pop artists. That year, his album “Tha Carter III,” was named the top selling rap album of the year, and won a Grammy for Best Rap Album. 

This might seem like a happy ending to a tale of two people who struggled with poverty, crime, and the lure of gang culture. However, their very success led to the dissolution of their partnership and a new beginning for Lil Wayne. 

Their conflict stemmed from the fact that Wayne also founded his own label, Young Money Records, credited with discovering major artists like Drake and Nicki Minaj, two of the highest charting and selling artists of the last decade. Though he created it with Birdman’s blessing, the question of who owned the rights to both Drake and Nicki’s catalogue of high-charting songs eventually became a main point of controversy. In 2015, Wayne sued Birdman for these rights along with unpaid contract advances promised to Wayne and his Young Money artists. 

This suit delayed “Tha Carter V” which was originally slated to be released in 2014. With Birdman unwilling to release “Tha Carter V,” Wayne began to voice his displeasure with his boss in the media. Wayne told Rolling Stone magazine in 2014 that he “and his creativity were being held ‘prisoner…’” by Birdman and Cash Money Records. In 2015, Wayne took his grievances to the studio and the courtroom, suing Birdman and Cash Money Records for $51 million in damages. He also released the single, “Sorry 4 Tha Wait 2,” referring to his delayed album, both to hold over fans clamoring for more music and to send some shots Birdman’s way. 

In January of 2017, Birdman made a first push to reconcile with Wayne. He told hip-hip hop magazine XXL that “Tha Carter V” was “definitely coming out” and that “Wayne is one of the best artists ever to do the game, and I want to see him continue to do what he been doing, and I’m going to support whatever he’s doing.” 

Finally, in June of 2018, Wayne was released from his contract with Cash Money Records. According to Lil Wayne’s attorney Ron Sweeney in a statement given to Billboard, Wayne received a purported lump sum of $10 million, as well as the rights to his music. His lawyer said, “My client is happy. He is his own man, a man that owns his assets, his music and himself.”

Wayne references his dominance over the rap game on the third song, “Dedicate” where he raps, “I started this shit, they borrowed this shit/I thought of this shit, they thought it was it.” Wayne also brings along a cast of characters from the current rap game to provide guest verses on “Tha Carter V,” with heavy hitters Travis Scott, Kendrick Lamar, Nicki Minaj, and the late XXXTentacion, who made waves in hip-hop in 2017-2018. 

Birdman and Wayne seem to have reconciled. They appeared together at Lil Wayne’s Lil Weezyana Fest in New Orleans, where Birdman gave an earnest apology.  This is victory for artists over their labels, who possess far more money and lawyers. This was also a personal victory for Wayne and his fans, who have waited 4 years an album release. Lil Wayne fans -- the drought is over, and Wheezy is going nowhere. 

Journalists Offer Advice to Lehman’s Aspiring Journalists

By Hector Bello

Enthusiastic MSNBC journalists Daniela Pierre-Bravo, Devyn Rafols-Nuñez, Lauren Coffelt and Leonor Ayala with Director of Student Life, Michael E. Sullivan after the panel discussion. Photo by Hector Bello.

Tell new stories and be unstoppable -- this was some of the advice that three MSNBC journalists had for Lehman students hoping to work in media. Daniela Pierre-Bravo, Devyn Rafols-Nuñez, Lauren Coffelt and Leonor Ayala visited Lehman on Oct. 11, where enthusiastic students flooded them with questions about diversity in the industry and strategies for getting entry level positions. 

“One of the most important things that journalism students should know is that they can create their own narratives. The question to a journalist should be what is something new that you can bring to the table,” said Daniela Pierre-Bravo, the booking producer for MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “It’s more about making your own story more than anything, and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. Even though there are obstacles, there is no way that you should not make it in the journalism industry.”

MSNBC associate producer for NBC Nightly News Devyn Rafols-Nuñez emphasized the importance of writing: “The opportunities for writers in MSNBC are huge! However, it’s more pushed to the digital side nowadays but it’s the same principle. The company just hired 50 new journalists only to write. You definitely need to know how to write as a journalist.” 

Founded in 1996, MSNBC also owns Telemundo, which is a strong platform for bilingual students at Lehman. However, according to the Pew Research Center, in the last decade, “newsroom employment declined 23 percent,” a trend which might cause anxiety in college students trying to succeed in the industry.

The Chair of the Journalism and Media Studies Department Thomas O’ Hanlon, who worked for NBC for several years, explained that the panel could help students overcome these worries. “Information is valuable. It’s a new field for people that are graduating from college and to have an inside perspective such as this…is a tremendously useful thing,” he said. “Journalism is a profession that is gradually evolving. It serves a vital function in our society. I think it is exciting that there are many new opportunities in journalism and I look forward to seeing our students rise to that opportunity.”     

Lehman student Natalia Quinones, 23, a film and TV studies major, said she found the panel, “very informative. As a student majoring in film and TV studies, I found it very useful to learn more about areas in my field. I am glad that Lehman did this panel because it helps people like me.” 

Director of Campus Life, Michael E. Sullivan said, “The goal was to bring people from the journalism and media fields and have them hear the stories, know what it’s required to make it in the industry and just know what it takes to be a journalist. It was a great event for prospective journalists and Lehman took full advantage.”

CCNY Campus Goes on Lockdown After Another High School Shooter Scare

By Emmet O’Boy

The Towers at CCNY rest just a day after the school went into lockdown. Photo by Emmet O’Boy.

On the afternoon of Oct. 18, students and residents of the CUNY City College of New York (CCNY)  Towers were told via email to stay indoors after students at the adjacent A. Randolph High School reported a possible shooter on campus. According to the New York City Police Department (NYPD)’s Twitter account, the male suspect, a student at the high school, had brought a toy gun onto the campus. After a female student reported seeing the gun, the NYPD was notified, and both campuses were sent into lockdown mode. 

“The thought of [a shooting] is actually scarier than the situation itself, as I felt numb,” said Joseph Dankman, a senior at the Grove School of Engineering at CCNY. Dankman was sitting in class when he was notified of the possible threat. He added that students remained calm throughout the lockdown. He told the Meridian, “God forbid something were to happen, I would have had my guard down.”

Although the scare proved to be a false alarm, it marks a worrying trend -- American students are all too familiar with the event of a school shooting. According to Cable News Network (CNN), in the first 21 weeks of 2018, there were 23 school shootings, averaging more than one per week. 

Despite these statistics, minors are still able to get their hands on weapons, real and fake. As of 2014, the Washington Post reported that there are 30 states where a child is still legally allowed to own or be in possession of a gun. With strong political views on both sides of the table, gun control continues to fuel debate across the U.S. Meanwhile, American students have to go to school every day facing the possibility that it may be their last. 

Dankman said, “People use [these incidents] to defend the Second Amendment, and it can even be used as an empathetic route to get votes.”

Dreamers Persist Against Threat of DACA Termination

By Perla Tolentino

Dreamers and DACA supporters march in an event organized by Antonio Alarcon to protest against the elimination decree. Photo courtesy of Lidiya Kan.

Trump’s attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, has yet to reach a solution either in Congress or the nation’s courts. On Oct. 17, according to the AP, the Justice Department informed the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that if the court does not rule on the case by Oct. 31, it will request that the Supreme Court do so. DACA’s termination would result in the loss of jobs, education, and life plans for more than 800,000 dreamers whom the program guarantees the same rights as naturally born U.S. citizens. While their futures hang in the balance, CUNY Dreamers are redoubling their commitment to their goals and communities. 

“I feel extremely safe at Lehman and in NYC in general. I have been living here for four years and always feel comfortable talking about my status in class,” a female Lehman DACA recipient told the Meridian on the condition of anonymity. The student, an English and History double major, praised Lehman as “a great sanctuary school where I can be myself and not be scared about my status.” 

She also believes that Lehman should advocate more on behalf of DACA students, and offer them more opportunities such as financial aid, scholarships and funding for master’s or Ph.D.  programs. “We are hard-working Americans who know no other home but this one,” she said. “I really want DACA to get legalized, that will ensure that me, my sister and our friends can work, live and study without fear of deportation.” 

“DACA provides students with federal grants. It gives them a nation they can feel a part of,” said Lehman professor, John Paul Gonzalez, from the Department of Latin American and Latino Studies. “Most dreamers who graduate obtain degrees in challenging majors such as medicine and social work.” Describing DACA as one of the best opportunities ever created, he accused Trump of “playing political games. His whole plan is an act of racism.” 

According to data released by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the program has seen the number of applicants drop by nearly half. Numbers from the fiscal year of 2018 show a total of 286,247 applicants, which is only 51.78 percent of last year’s total. One reason may be that according to the USCIS website, after Trump’s order to halt the program, only renewals would be able to remain in the U.S. 

“DACA provides students with federal grants. It gives them a nation they can feel a part of.”  

- Lehman Latin American and Latino Studies professor, John Paul Gonzalez

However, DACA recipients have won many victories, including that of 24-year-old activist and dreamer Antonio Alarcon. Alarcon has been in several documentaries and his work inspires many dreamers and immigrants to continue to fight with hope and dignity. Besides joining the Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute at Lehman from 2016 until 2018, Alarcon has been working to help immigrants since the age 14 as part of a non-profit organization called Make the Road. 

“I worked for ten years organizing events and coordinating funds to help immigrants,” Alarcon told the Meridian. “We helped them with college applications and lawyer representation for their immigration cases.” He also pointed out that Trump’s new Oct. 31 deadline would move the case to the jurisdiction of a more conservative Supreme Court. “Brett Kavanaugh, who is an anti-immigration conservative figure is now to decide for DACA as the new judge,” he said. 

Dreamers on DC, spreading a message of hope after Trump’s order to end DACA was made official. The protest was one of the many events organized by Antonio Alarcon as part of his community work to help immigrants fight for their rights and to defend the program. Photo courtesy of Ricardo Acá.

Meanwhile, Lehman seeks to keep enrolled DACA recipients informed about new updates and their possible benefits through weekly conferences held every Friday to aid dreamers, and address immigration barriers. Lehman also hosted a Constitution Day Event to educate students on laws used to fight for DACA on Sept. 18, 2018 at the Lovinger Theatre.

“Thanks God I’m in college,” said another DACA recipient and Lehman student who also requested anonymity, “but I have so many friends and family members who can’t go to college because we don’t get enough support.” The student, a 21-year-old Spanish major, also suggested other ways Lehman can support Dreamers. 

“Mostly everyone at Lehman is open-minded and I love that, but I think there are also people who might not want us dreamers here. Lehman should bring the Dream Team back permanently, and provide scholarships for us, since they are very hard to find in other places. DACA shouldn’t be the only thing we have. It is amazing to have it, but what about everyone else who doesn’t qualify and has big dreams?”