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?”