Bronx Residents and Lehman Students Criticize Kanye’s Pro-Trump Tweets

By Jorel Lonesome

Kanye West performing at the Museum of Modern Art. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. 

“People viewed Kanye West as an outspoken visionary who rapped about racial issues in his songs, but he has done a complete three-sixty and turned into an ignorant sell out,” says Qianna Stratton, 30, Bronx resident and paraprofessional at P.S. 134 in Hollis, NY. Stratton along with many other Bronx residents objects to the 40-year-old rapper and producer’s recent provocative statements that caused a popular uproar. 

On April 25, West tweeted a photo of himself wearing a Donald-Trump-signed “Make America Great Again” hat alongside hip-hop music industry executive Lyor Cohen and the CEO of Universal, Lucian Grainge. West expressed his love for Trump in a series of tweets stating that he considers Trump “his brother.” West then tweeted about “free thought,” stating that he does not always necessarily agree with everything people do. “That’s what makes us individuals,” he said, “and we have the right to independent thought.”

Four days prior, West had tweeted his admiration of Candace Owens, a black activist and Trump supporter who believes black people have been brainwashed by the media to vote for democrats. “I love the way Candace Owens thinks,” West tweeted. The rapper also debated Hot 97’s Ebro Darden for 30 minutes, and continued expressing his support for Owens. A week later, in a TMZ interview on May 1, West told his interviewer, “when you hear about slavery for 400 years...for 400 years? That sounds like a choice.” 

Since Kanye West’s seventh studio album in 2016, “The Life of Pablo,” little news had been centered around the celebrity until the Pro-Trump issue started. West’s upcoming album, titled “Love Everyone,” is currently set to be released on June 1, 2018, and many Bronx residents believe West will say anything controversial for media attention to stay relevant. 

Kanye West at Lollapalooza Chile in 2011. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

“He acts and what he does is an act. He feeds off controversy and likes the publicity,” said Ryan Esquivel, Bronx resident and program coordinator for The Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health at NYU.

Some Lehman students think West’s mental breakdown during his career has affected his opinions. “Kanye has a lot of problems," said Sadou, inventory specialist at Best Buy, and student at Lehman. “I think it all began from the loss of his mother, which he can’t get over, and I think his opioid addiction and the people he hangs with has affected his thought process,” he continued. “Kanye is causing uproars on Twitter to promote his next album, but he doesn’t need to tweet by the minute about his love for Trump to get attention.”

West’s pro-Trump support has received backlash from African-American communities because the president has made racially charged comments and is associated with anti-black policies which have been documented for years.

“People viewed Kanye West as an outspoken visionary who rapped about racial issues in his songs, but he has done a complete three-sixty and turned into an ignorant sell out.”

- Qianna Stratton, 30, Bronx resident and paraprofessional at P.S. 134 in Hollis, NY

In a New York Times article “Donald Trump’s Racism: The Definitive List,” from Jan. 15, 2018, David Leonhardt and Ian Prasad Philbrick compiled racist remarks Trump made publicly. They state that “Trump treated black employees at his casinos differently from whites, according to multiple sources. A former hotel executive said Trump criticized a black accountant, saying “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks.”

The article also states that according to the federal government, Trump’s real-estate company tried to avoid renting apartments to African-Americans in the 1970s and gave preferential treatment to whites. 

“Supporting Trump implies you agree with the things he’s done,” said Anna Spencer, 28, security guard at Allied Barton. “Kanye’s appreciation for Trump shows that he doesn’t care for the racist things Trump has said about African Americans during his career as a businessman and politician.”

Anaïs Marcelo, Bronx resident and store associate at Modell’s Sporting Goods in Pelham, NY, dislikes West. “With so many people saying his writing and producing is excellent, this is probably true. I don’t care for his style of music, and his public persona rubs me the wrong way,” she said.

“I think Kanye is an interesting artist,” said Lloyd Richards, Jr., music counselor and student at Lehman. “I don’t believe in what he said in terms of slavery being a choice on TMZ. I think he wants attention leading up to his album. He makes good music, but I just don’t agree with the things he says. Everyone has the right to his opinion, but Kanye does not state the facts about history.” 

Bronx Residents Oppose FCC’s Eradication of Net Neutrality

By Jorel Lonesome

New Yorkers oppose the FCC’s ruling to eradicate net neutrality. Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Along with politicians, activists and tech companies, many Bronx residents oppose the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) ruling on December 14, 2017 to discard net neutrality, which demands that ISPs treat all web traffic the same. Without net neutrality, internet service providers (ISP) such as BT Broadband or Comcast could influence what we see online and how quickly we can access it. 

Bronx residents feel that ending net neutrality further disadvantages them economically. “Net neutrality has an important place in this economy,” said Carlos Diaz, Jr., 33, Bronx resident and part-time Teaching Assistant at Tiegerman School for Language in Woodside Queens. “Shopping, banking, and online trading on the internet will charge extra fees. It will just be too costly,” he added.

Without net neutrality, “There will be a domino effect. Small businesses on the internet will go out of business and people will lose jobs,” agreed Jamila Magoro, 30, Bronx resident and Tax Preparer at Liberty Tax Service on East Fordham Road in the Bronx.

Businesses, she added, “can’t get any traffic on their websites without paying ISP fees to get traffic from people who visit their sites. Many customers that buy products online will cancel their services because they can no longer afford to pay for additional fees to access certain sites.”

Until net neutrality was rescinded, data from big and small companies alike traveled on the same frequency at the same speed, thus the ISPs could not favor one company over another. Under net neutrality laws, larger companies can’t overtake their competitors. Even to watch videos on YouTube, browse Facebook, or read the news, an ISP is required.

Without net neutrality, companies will have to pay ISPs more money, favoring bigger companies that can afford to pay for better service. This could also lead to higher prices for customers. ISPs would charge customers premium prices to watch videos online or listen to music at times when websites are busy. 

However, ISPs argue that if there was less regulation and they were able to charge a premium for faster service, they could reinvest the money in a better infrastructure that could include improved access for people in remote and rural areas.

According to Harper Neidig in an April 3 article, in TheHill.com, “most Republicans want to replace the net neutrality rules with legislation…” which they hold, “…will end the regulatory uncertainty that the telecom industry faces with the prospect that the rules will change every time the White House switches parties.”

Network Neutrality logo. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Attorneys general across 20 different states are suing the FCC for axing net neutrality rules the Obama administration enacted in 2015. States such as Washington began to take initiative to counter congressional action by signing their own net neutrality bill, followed by legislatures in New York, Maryland, Montana and California. Courts are now opening more avenues for companies to file lawsuits against the FCC’s net neutrality changes. Kickstarter, Etsy and Foursquare were among some of the companies taking legal action against congress. They contend that net neutrality creates a level playing field which spurs innovation by giving small startups a fighting chance to grow and even surpass their big rivals. 

As the net neutrality debate continues, ISPs wait for the FCC’s repeal of internet regulations to take effect. Major broadband providers such as AT&T and Comcast agree with the FCC’s move toward giving gatekeepers more power over the people. They believe open markets on the web and breakthroughs of online products are hindered by too much internet regulation. 

Aside from the debates regarding the fate of net neutrality, Bronx residents also disapprove of the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality. People also feel axing net neutrality regulations is unlawful and won’t allow the autonomy for internet users to search information they want to see. 

Bronx resident and real estate business owner Sharai Pérez, 40, said, “It should be illegal. It’s totally unconstitutional. There shouldn’t be any type of rule on the internet that companies and government powers can control. Net neutrality represents freedom unless the content is harmful or inappropriate.”

Bronxites Tackle Discrimination in XFL Revival

By Jorel Lonesome

XFL logo. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Vince McMahon is relaunching his ill-fated Xtreme Football League (XFL), and many Bronx residents object to its new discriminatory rules and what some see as McMahon taking a page from Donald Trump’s playbook. 

“I think this is just his Donald Trump maneuver where Vince persuades the masses to get people interested then over time he’ll walk away from it,” said Bronx resident Raquel Brahmbhatt, 29, cashier at Gamestop on Greenwich St in Manhattan. Brahmbhatt believes that McMahon and Trump have similar approaches to gaining an audience for their shows. “Right now he’s a salesman, a clever businessman. So right now he’ll say whatever gets people’s attention.”

This will be the second time McMahon tries to get his extreme league off the ground. The original XFL debuted—and then failed—in 2001 as a joint venture between WWE and NBC. XFL’s gimmicks included fewer rules, rougher play, scantily clad cheerleaders, cross promotion with pro wrestling superstars, and innovative use of technologies during games, including player microphones and aerial cameras. However, fans quickly soured on the poor quality of games and focus on eccentric personalities. 

On Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, McMahon, the chairman and chief executive of WWE, announced his plan to relaunch the XFL. The reboot will be owned by McMahon’s Alpha Entertainment, a separate company from WWE. As he continues to revive the XFL, he will remain in his current position with WWE. This updated XFL will have eight teams, 40-man active rosters and a 10-week regular season schedule followed by playoffs. Its quicker, “family-friendly” version of football will limit games to about two hours. 

However, McMahon also created new standards this time around, including a ban on players displaying their “politics” during games, a policy many Bronxites say is unfair, especially the rule against kneeling during the national anthem. In the XFL, players must stand for the national anthem, a practice McMahon sees as an opportunity to gain NFL fans who have expressed dissatisfaction over the ongoing player protests against racial injustice.

“People don’t want social and political issues coming into play when they are trying to be entertained,” McMahon told ESPN. “We want someone who wants to take a knee to do their version of that on their personal time.” McMahon also stated that he will not allow players with criminal records to join the league.  

Some Bronx residents and workers argue this is opportunism and that it’s going too far. “Vince McMahon can always change the rules around,” said Bronxite Stephen O’Hara, 41, a retail sales associate at Home Depot in New Rochelle in Westchester County, New York. “I think he will reject players with criminal records that involve assault and domestic violence charges. The DUI and marijuana charges shouldn’t rule someone out. Violence, on the other hand, is a different story. I personally don’t want to see athletes that beat their wives, making thousands or millions of dollars for games that they play.”

Bronx residents also see McMahon’s decision to ban athletes that have criminal records from the XFL as hypocritical since the WWE chairman allows wrestlers with a rap sheet to work for him. “It’s contradictory of Vince McMahon to be annoyed at NFL players for having ‘politics’ interfere with the games and then have rules that are basically ‘no politics unless they’re mine,’” said Bronx resident Nicolás Cruz, 28, a cashier at Hot Topic in Kings Plaza Shopping Center in Brooklyn. “With that rule applied to WWE there’d be almost zero wrestlers on the roster. Wrestler Scott Hall was arrested years ago for choking out his girlfriend after falling into a drunken rage. Hall shot a man with his own gun and admitted that he killed him.” 

Fellow Bronxite Daniel Weeks, 33, a volunteer at National Parks Conservation Association in New York City, agreed. “Wrestler Randy Orton might be one of the top stars of the WWE right now, but he has been suspended by the company for violating their wellness policy,” said Weeks. “Randy got arrested for going AWOL many times in the Marine Corps, and disobeyed orders from a commanding officer. He went to military prison for it.”

Kevin Draper argues in the New York Times that “McMahon is following, President Trump’s lead on politics as well as showmanship.” He points out that “Trump, who has denounced N.F.L. players’ protesting racial injustice by refusing to stand during the anthem, has long been involved with the McMahons and W.W.E. Linda McMahon, Vince’s wife, was appointed by Trump to run the Small Business Administration on Feb. 14th, 2017.” 

“Trump has also hosted wrestling events at his properties,” Draper adds, “and has been involved in the showmanship, once shaving McMahon’s head in the middle of a ring. Trump was also involved in an alternative professional league in the 1980s, owning the New Jersey Generals of the short-lived United States Football League.”

While Draper states that McMahon had not consulted with Trump about the XFL, he notes that McMahon’s “ban on politics during games would extend to the president’s positions.” 

Bronx native Nathan Daniels, 26, a Remote Computer Programmer at Euro-Pro Operating LLC in Boston, MA, agrees that McMahon is backing Trump’s positions. “I think Vince McMahon’s ideas or rules for the XFL are linked to his relationship with President Donald Trump,” Daniels said.  “McMahon and Donald Trump worked together for years. Trump was a part of WWE’s main event storyline at WrestleMania 23 ‘The Battle of the Billionaires story arc.”  

It remains to be seen whether McMahon’s new XFL venture will gain more traction than the original version. McMahon expects the XFL League to start play in 2020, according to the New York Times.

Marvel’s ‘The Punisher’ Aims High but Falters on Gun Control

By Jorel Lonesome
Logo of Marvel’s “The Punisher.” Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Logo of Marvel’s “The Punisher.” Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Las Vegas Shooting on the night of Oct. 1, 2017 left the upcoming Netflix series “The Punisher” at the center of much controversy. Following the shooting, which left 58 dead and at least 527 wounded, Netflix and Marvel canceled the preview panel for the upcoming series at New York Comic Con and delayed the release of the show until a month later.

The show as it was finally released wants to be more than just another absurd action fantasy. What distinguishes it from other gun-saturated franchises is that it aims to be grounded in real-world 21st century American issues, and whether vigilante justice is ever justified. Though it attempts to critique the consequences of vigilante justice, and tries to include a debate about gun control, it does not provide the right conversation about central issues in the current national conversation. While the writers attempt to address gun violence in America, they fail to capitalize on the issue, and the series largely fails at questioning the violence portrayed in some of its episodes. Despite this weakness, however, “The Punisher” is an excellent addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, sharing continuity with the films and other television series of the franchise.

Its weakness on gun control is evident in episode 9, “Front Toward Enemy,” which tries to introduce a debate about Americans’ right to bear arms, but ultimately lacks the credibility to make the overall message meaningful.  The plot has the character Lewis Wilson (Daniel Webber), a young veteran who has difficulty readjusting to civilian society, eventually resort to terrorist actions, planting some bombs throughout the city as part of his pro-gun, anti-government agenda. Following this is a debate on character Ricky Langtry’s (Dov Davidoff) radio talk show between Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) and pro-gun-control Senator Stan Ori (Rick Holmes.) This debate is the weakest part of this episode. Senator Ori wants more gun-control laws, a stance that Karen, who carries a gun for protection, opposes. Rather than let the characters have a genuine debate about aspects of the issue, the show reduces Karen and Ori’s positions to a basic pro- vs. anti-gun debate.

The problem with this framing is that their debate isn’t the argument people are having in the real world. Politicians aren’t asking to abolish the Second Amendment. They want to close loopholes in background checks to prevent troubled people from purchasing weapons. They’re also asking for practical gun laws such as banning semiautomatic weapons and attachments such as the bump stocks that allowed the Las Vegas shooter to fire 90 shots in ten seconds.

The series tries to be cleverly ironic when Ori stresses he’s totally against guns, but hires Anvil, a governmental security company of armed guards, to carry guns protect him from retaliation by Lewis. Still, disarming trained security guards isn’t what the actual gun debate is about in America. The thought of mainstream politicians trying to take away everyone’s guns is illegal, given how often that conspiracy theory is used as a topic in anti-gun-control propaganda. “The Punisher” doesn’t need to address the issue of gun ownership. Ultimately, it only adds social commentary without tackling the actual debate.

Similarly, the series fails to resolve its depiction of Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) and his crusade of vigilante justice with any significant challenges to his violent worldview. Supporting characters, Micro (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) and Curtis Hoyle (Jason R. Moore) encourage Frank’s vigilantism. Likewise, despite her loyalty to the law, Homeland Security Agent Dinah Madani’s (Amber Rose Revah) shows sympathy for Frank after he saves her from a car accident, though she remains suspicious that Frank is not that different from Lewis. Meanwhile, Karen supports Frank’s habits. “We must not tolerate those who use violence to communicate,” Karen writes in her featured article about Lewis, but this very critique of violence being used to solve problems isn’t a message that Frank seems to understand.

Aside from the gun control issues, however, “The Punisher” series triumphs and remains strong. Frank is an unstoppable force, and when it comes to the people he cares about, he will give up his sole mission in an instant. If you want to see intense action and drama, this is one of the best shows on Netflix to watch.

On Their Comeback Album, The Cool Kids Live up to Their Name

By Jorel Lonesome
Sir Michael Rocks performing at Southbound Festival in 2011. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Sir Michael Rocks performing at Southbound Festival in 2011. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

When Antoine “Sir Michael Rocks” Reed and Evan “Chuck Inglish” Ingersol announced their duo was splitting up shortly after releasing their hit album “When Fish Ride Bicycles” in July 2011, it seemed as though we might never hear from them again.

But, The Cool Kids are back with their new sophomore album, “Special Edition Grand Master Deluxe.” Released in September 2017, the 16-track LP features artists such as Jeremih, Syd, Smoke DZA as well as collaborations with artists such as Drake, Maroon 5, Lil Wayne and Travis Barker. The album does a great job at sounding both modern and nostalgic. It’s like a classic Cool Kids album but with noticeable artistic progression. In rap music today, it’s increasingly difficult to make an album that sticks for an extended period of time, but The Cool Kids serve their purpose once again.

Many of the tracks were produced entirely by Sir Michael Rocks and Chuck Inglish, with a plethora of drums, samples, disco tunes, synth, strings, horns, guitars, bass, and more synthetic sounds such as “Westside Connections,” “Get Out the Bowl,” “Checkout,” “Gr8Full,” “Jean Jacket,” and “Too Smooth.” 

The first track, “The Moonlanding,” comes in hot with a gust of intensity. This really sets the stage for the production style of the album--energetic beats, futuristic synths, and layered horns. The track features actor/comedian Hannibal Buress, as he begins with a Black Sabbath tribute. “The Moonlanding” shifts into a banger that includes a dynamic horn sample applied by Sir Michael Rocks’ slick fashion talk in the hook that is produced by tag team partner Chuck Inglish. Their lyrics relinquish their most savvy wordplay and also reference “The Purple Tape” and Pokémon.

Arguably one of the coolest tracks is “20/20 Vision,” which features great beat characteristics for Chuck’s production. According to Urban Dictionary “20/20” means “Completely seeing the truth of a situation.” Therefore, we may suggest that the theme of the track is about how The Cool Kids are also The Real Kids. When we delve into tracks such as “TV Dinner,” to name a few, it’s as if your head is inside a hornet’s nest, but with a rhythmic sound of a robotic alarm that blends perfectly with the dominant pounding of drums beating in an even pattern to entice you to bop your head.  

“Break Your Legs,” features drummer Travis Barker from blink-182. The song is edgy compared to their smoother sounds. You can definitely compare it to N.E.R.D.’s 2001 smash hit “Lap Dance,” which sets this particular track apart from the others. 

“On the Set,” produced by Chuck Inglish perfectly shows the dark and 90s atmosphere beat that both Boldy James (Detroit native and Mass Appeal signee) and Smoke DZA (Harlem underground representative) are known for. Inglish’s distinctive use of vocals and instruments is inventively cognizant. The base is layered on top of the smooth sounding vocals that follow and will make you feel as cool. They create unforgettable funky bass lines and 808 hits that fall in the line of new- and old-school Hip Hop. 

Overall, with its creative production, this album lives up to the anticipatory hype of the duo’s cult fans, and will be regarded as a good reference point for future experimental MCs.

Most Lehman Students Back #TakeaKnee, but Some Call Disrespect

By Jorel Lonesome

Members of the Washington Redskins kneel during national anthem before football game. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

On Sept. 1, 2016, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem before a preseason game against the San Diego Chargers, instead choosing to kneel. Following this, NFL protests gradually began to spread among different football teams and other leagues such as the NBA and MLB, and starting a national controversy. Most Lehman students and staff who spoke to the Meridian voiced support for the protests as part of a necessary conversation about racism in America.

“We need a larger voice,” said Samantha Anglero, 26, theatre major at Lehman. She added, “It’s centered around people of color tired of oppression. It’s a safe way of protesting where athletes are doing the right thing when America fails to do something about its flaws.”

Other Lehman students and staff concurred. “The protest now has nothing to do with Colin. This derived from the police brutality against people of color,” said Christopher Milton, director of pathways to student STEM success at Lehman. 

“Racial injustice, most definitely,” agreed David Williams, 27, a junior and recreational therapy student at Lehman.

The Oakland Raiders take a knee. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Kevin Rivera, a graphic designer and part time computer graphics and imaging major at Lehman, views it as a shift in historical perspective, “For one, it’s [about] inequality,” he said. “The pledge was written and took place during a time when it doesn’t apply to us now, especially people of color. More people are starting to see it as a serious issue. It went from pro athletes to people kneeling at work or at school. That is why it’s a mass attack by the whole NFL league.”

Indeed, since the protests took off, the NFL is now considered the least popular sports league in America. According to a zerohedge.com article dated Oct. 8, from the end of August to the end of September, the NFL’s popularity ratings dropped from 57 to 44 percent, and it has the highest unfavorable rating---40 percent---of any big sport, according to the Winston Group survey. The same research found that the attitude of those fans went from 73 percent favorable and 19 percent unfavorable to 42 percent favorable and 47 percent unfavorable, a remarkably sudden turn against the sport.

But while the majority shifted to disapproval, some feel that outright protest is going too far. In particular, a number of army veterans feel disrespected by recent protests.

“I understand that players like Colin Kaepernick is  standing up for racial injustice and violence against blacks by the police. I get that, but this is the American flag. They need to understand, you’re disrespecting those that served in the armed forces,” said Jerry Giles, 60-year-old Vietnam War veteran.  He added, “We’ve put our lives on the line to protect this country and kneeling sort of feels like a slap in the face.”

“You have young men and young women dying overseas for America,” said Annette Wyss, 21, a marine recruiter. “I don’t think kneeling during the anthem is appropriate.”

However, U.S. Navy veteran Kevin O’Carrol from Queens, New York disagreed and felt it’s okay for people to express their freedom of speech. “As a navy vet, I fought for their rights to protest against racial discrimination and our frustrations of inequality in the U.S.,” he said. “America isn’t perfect like any other country. It needs to be critiqued. There’s more things besides racism that is dividing us, but these are one of those that has lasted for so long and doesn’t seem to die out anytime soon.”

Milton echoed O’Carroll’s stance. “No man or woman has to stand for the flag if they don’t want to, because it’s a free country. I think it’s a travesty. The First Amendment allows us to express freedom of speech here in America, but when people of color do it, and it doesn’t agree with the mainstream, we’re shunned upon for it.”

Anglero agreed. “I think pro athletes should represent their rights for the U.S. constitution to express themselves when they feel they need to,” she said. “It’s not dishonorable at all to kneel or raise your fist when the national anthem plays, if you feel your country does not seem to treat you equally for the color of your skin.”

“This is their right to peaceful protest,” Rivera said. “I think there’s a form of injustice that should be voiced. Colin Kaepernick has been protesting for a while and he’s not on a team now. The NFL says they’ll support the players, but they still aren’t having him play in the games. That just shows us how much they care about colored people.”

For Mouro Sow, 26, entrepreneur and Lehman graduate said, “The protests are necessary and is a conversation that needs to be discussed.” Yes, he said, players are protesting “due to racial divide. But it’s not to disrespect America and the soldiers that have fought for this country. I think you’re even more patriotic by standing up for injustice and police brutality no matter what your skin color or background is.”

 

Money and Location Keep Bronxites out of Gyms

By Jorel Lonesome

 

The Lehman community utlizing gym facilities in the APEX. Photo by Jorel Lonesome.

The Lehman community utlizing gym facilities in the APEX. Photo by Jorel Lonesome.

The Bronx could be in better shape, and Lehman students know it. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in 2015, nearly 98 percent of Bronx residents had access to exercise---but the borough’s adult obesity rate averages 28 percent, as does physical inactivity. So, what’s causing these unhealthy rates?

Students cite socioeconomic and environmental factors as their biggest impediments to fitness. Several said threats to their physical safety were their prime concern. Lehman sophomore Christina Lopez, 22, said, “Some gym locations in the Bronx are unsafe. The gym will open at 5 or 6 a.m., but that's also the time when criminal activity occurs while everyone is still asleep in their beds.” She also noted that increasing the use of fitness centers would boost the economy, too. “More gyms would bring more businesses relating to health and wellness, which would add more jobs as well.”

A study from citylimits.org confirms this connection between a flagging economy and a lack of gyms. In it, Jarrett Murphy and Katherine Guerrero note that “exercise awareness and participation increases with income, and the Bronx is the city’s poorest borough. Exercise takes time, and Bronxites spend more of their day going to and from work than residents of any other borough: Manhattan residents, on average, have 24 extra minutes each day to hit the gym than people who live in the Bronx.” Their review also pointed out that of eight major gym chains, there were only 23 in the Bronx compared to 71 in Manhattan.

Euriel Murray, a sophomore who plays for the Lehman Lightning baseball team, seconded this. “Better quality gyms aren’t in the Bronx, they’re mostly in the upscale parts of Manhattan. You basically get what you pay for and the equipment is not always the best.”

Lehman biological science professor, Stephen M. Redenti agreed. “I don't think there's enough people attending gyms. There’s not sufficient access to a variety of equipment, especially in less corporate gyms.”

However, Lopez suggested that independent gyms might be better for students because they would be more supportive. “Family oriented gyms like the YMCA, is not only safer, but people begin to know each other over time, to the point they develop a sense of community and friendship.”

Desiree Rosa, 20, a communications major at Lehman, also felt that a strong community would help get her to the gym. With her current work-life pattern, she said, “I get less social bonding. It’s ironic because my major in communications obviously involves interacting with people, but working part time and attending school doesn’t even make me think about going to the gym. Working, then heading to my classes is a workout in itself. I sometimes go for a jog, but not so often.”

One place students can work out close to home is Lehman’s Apex Center, an auxiliary gym. It holds a track, racquetball, basketball and volleyball courts, ballet and aerobic studios, and one of only two 50-meter eight lane swimming pools in greater New York that meet current Olympic swimming and water polo standards.  And it is free for students.

“Exercise takes time, and Bronxites spend more of their day going to and from work than residents of any other borough.”

- citylimits.org

Murray argued that education would also help raise community fitness. “We aren’t properly educated about exercise. We should get educated about calculating our calories, vitamins, minerals and learning different types of diets.”

However, some students blamed their lack of fitness on their drive to further their education. Angel Arroyo, 23, a junior and English major at Lehman, said “It’s the pressure to study hard, reading all given material and do well on these assignments” that keeps her from the gym. “I gained five to ten pounds during my first two years at college,” she recalled. “I was in a new environment, so I wasn’t able to keep up the same exercise level I was used to during high school.” But, she added, she has plans to buy a skateboard. “Maybe that will knock off a few pounds,” she said, “when I start riding in skate parks.”