Lehman’s Chemistry Department Recognized for Successful Pre-Med Program

By Beauty Kolade

Ezekiel Olumuiyide working with a High Performance Liquid Chromatography machine. Photo by Beauty Kolade.

Lehman’s pre-med program was recently ranked 16th out of the 20 best pre-med college programs, according to onlinecollegeplan.com. Lehman was the only CUNY school featured in these rankings, as published on Jan. 9, and its Bachelor of Science in chemistry was named the best of all its pre-med programs. 

“51 percent of all of [Lehman’s] pre-med students were accepted into medical schools like New York Medical College, Touro, George Washington and SUNY Downstate,” said Dr. Scott Calvin, the senior advisor at Lehman’s pre-health program. “This percentage is higher than the national average of students applying to U.S. medical schools, which is around 40 percent. I have seen the program growing ever since I’ve been working.”  

According to Calvin, pre-med students comprise nearly half of the 975 students active in Lehman’s pre-health program, which also includes tracks, such as pre-dentistry and pre-pharmacy. Of the 443 pre-med students, 43 are chemistry majors. 

Pamela Mills, Interim Dean of the School of Natural and Social Sciences and former chair of the chemistry department, credits innovative pedagogy as one source of the program’s acknowledged excellence. “Lehman received this recognition as a result of collaborative effort between both the instructors and students who performed their respective duties,” Mills said. 

One innovation that she and chemistry professor Donna McGregor brought up is the flipped classroom teaching style to the program. “The flipped classroom system was my main contribution; it involves students watching relevant topic videos posted online, participating in answering class questions using iClicker, and getting help from assistants during class and at office hours when necessary,” said Mills. “Our goal was to make the class an active learning site for students. Active learning is like playing an instrument, you’ve got to practice to progress and be ready for the concert which is the exam.”

“The chemistry department has provided me with the opportunity to obtain the research I crave and intend to utilize when I get into medical school.” 

– Lamount Evanson, 20, Lehman sophomore chemistry major

McGregor recalled, “Five years before my arrival in 2015, the average GPA for the traditional teaching style in general chemistry I and II was 1.65 and 1.81 respectively. After the introduction of the flipped classroom method of teaching, the average GPA from 2015 to 2017 increased to 2.74 and 2.67 for both classes respectively [and] the pass rate increased by 40 percent and 35.5 percent in both classes.”

Several chemistry majors told The Meridian that they agree wholeheartedly with the department’s recent accolades. “I was not surprised with this news because in my opinion, compared to other departments, the Chemistry department has taken a forefront at representing Lehman,” said Andre Ferguson, who graduated in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry. 

“The department is growing. For instance, there are now more teacher assistants for chemistry courses, compared to when I was an undergraduate at Lehman,” he added. “I was able to become a scientist while I was a student at Lehman by gaining wet lab experience, participating in presentations and also attending research lectures. Now I’m an adjunct professor at Lehman and this experience will help me learn and improve skills that will help me in medical school.” 

Sophomore chemistry major Lamount Evanson, 20, also praised the department for giving students the chance to work as teaching assistants. Evanson, a chemistry TA, explained: “This experience will contribute to my preparation for the MCAT, a standardized test needed for admissions to medical school. As an international student, there not many research opportunities outside of campus that I am eligible for. However, the chemistry department has provided me with the opportunity to obtain the research I crave and intend to utilize when I get into medical school.”

“The chemistry department is very supportive regardless of a student’s performance in class,” said sophomore Ezekiel Olumuyide, 18, a chemistry major and aspiring physician. “The professors there…are always involved in helping students, making chemistry easy for us to understand… and give students the opportunity to gain a high yield of undergraduate experience.” 

NYC’s Proposed Financial Plans Put More Costs on CUNY Students

By Felicha C. Stevens

Mayor Bill de Blasio pictured in 2013. Photo courtesy of Flickr.

While New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ten-year plan for the city, FY20, makes big promises about greater affordability, his 2020 budget proposal calls for large funding cuts to city agencies including CUNY, Citywide Administrative Services Department, New York City Health and Hospitals, and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). 

Announced on March 7, the $92.2 billion plan incorporates a loss of $600 million dollars in federal money, which will result in cuts to the funding of agriculture, education and health care organizations. Budget shortfalls will include $125 million in financial assistance for families in need, $59 million in vital health services for New Yorkers and $300 million in education funding.

According to  NYC  Open Data statistics, these cuts will burden 1,620,356 New Yorkers who rely on government assistance to help with their monthly expenses, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Human Resources Association (HRA). CUNY students and their families will be affected in major ways, some by multiple cutbacks at the same time. 

“I suffer from a lot of illness. I’m HIV positive and I struggle to make it,” said James Foster, a 60-year-old student at Lehman’s Adult Learning Center, “If they cut my food stamps that means I would have to spend more money, I’m only getting $192.00, and food is very expensive.” Foster will be affected by the cuts to both financial assistance for families in need and health services. 

The cuts were ostensibly made in response to the state’s $2.3 billion shortfall in the 2019 Income Tax Revenue and a $1.6 billion projected shortfall in 2020, according to nyc.gov. City agencies were able to find $1 billion in savings from the 2019 and 2020 preliminary budgets, but this leaves another $750 million in agency savings needed. Many Lehman students and staff fear the outcome will make their lives harder.

“I find it outrageous [and] I’m extremely upset about it! I know it’s going to hurt my students. I know it will affect me. I’m hoping the numbers are just negotiating points rather than real numbers,” said Mindy Levokove, a reading, writing and math instructor at the Adult Learning Center for GED preparation at Lehman. 

Lehman junior Genesis Ramos, a 22-year-old English and journalism double major, concurred. “As a student, it affects me. The money that is being cut is the money that I need for my books. It’s the money that I could be using for Metro Cards or to get food on campus.”

“The food in the grocery store is expensive, we get a little bit of food stamps, and we have to use that to budget for 30 days. You have to budget how you eat because we need those food stamps,” said Michelle Solomon, 53, a Castle Hill resident and student at Lehman’s Adult Learning Center. 

De Blasio’s FY20 plan promises a more affordable city, with guaranteed healthcare access  for  600,000 uninsured New Yorkers, improved access to care including mental health services and more financial contributions to “3-K for All.” However, many students remain skeptical of these promises. 

“I feel like it’s insane because I don’t think we are going to see the money being used for this stuff,” said Ramos. “If we actually see this it will be good for us, but it’s hard for many people, especially, when you come to the Bronx to see the things they say they are doing. They say they will have better public health care and we don’t. Many people complain that their health care, especially when it’s public, is really expensive and they have to pay out of pocket.” 

Felicia Turner, a 28-year-old student at Lehman’s Adult Learning Center and mother of two small boys, disagrees. “I have a 6-year-old, and school is a big deal. Kids need their education,” said Turner, who has benefited from “3-K for All.” “It has helped my son a lot with his ABC’s; his reading level has improved a whole lot. The pre-K he was in had four teachers. It was hands-on, and they knew how to deal with kids.”  

“The government operations are laughable, except nobody’s laughing.” 

- Mindy Levokove, a reading, writing and math instructor at Lehman’s Adult Learning Center

The FY20 will launch in the summer of 2019 in the Bronx and city-wide in 2021. The ten-year plan will cost $104.1 billion dollars with the majority of its revenue going towards infrastructure. The financial plan summary anticipates that 37 percent of the budget will focus on infrastructure and 29 percent on government operations, leaving only 22 percent for school, and 12 percent for housing. 

“I feel like there might be a little bit of neglect when it comes to [school costs],” said Gregory Morelo, a 23-year-old Lehman senior and music major. “It does sound like a real low number in comparison to everything else, especially since there are thousands of students across the city that would also need financial assistance because they’re attending school.” However, Morelo supported the focus on infrastructure “because some of the neighborhoods here in the Bronx are a little bit outdated and run down. They deserve to be updated.” 

“They can take all the money away from government operations as far as I’m concerned,” Levokove said. “The government operations are laughable, except nobody’s laughing. I want the mayor to stop running all over the place and make good on all of the promises he made before he became mayor.” Before he was elected, she recalled, “I believed what he said, and other than the universal pre-K, I don’t see what he’s done. He needs to focus on helping people in the city and forget what else he’s got in his mind.”

For Lehman Students, Higher Minimum Wage Means Cuts in Hours

By Juan A. Santos

Street art in Singapore reads “Minimum Wage?!” Photo courtesy of Flickr.

“Superiors decided to cut personnel by keeping 3 out of 4 employees who will now have to work more,” said Lehman sophomore Ahsanul Hague, when asked how the recent rise in New York State’s minimum wage impacted his workplace. Hague, a business and computer information systems double major who works at Dunkin Donuts, explained “I don’t have an issue with a decrease in hours since I’m working part-time. I have already seen an increase in my salary since the minimum wage increase, which helps me save…but my ex-coworker [is] not so good after he was laid off. The store was struggling to function 100 percent.”  

In New York, the minimum wage increased from $13.50 to $15 an hour on Dec. 31, 2018.  This marks the twenty-second increase since President Franklin Delano Roosevelt introduced the federal minimum wage in 1938, which started at 25 cents per hour, according to minimum-wage.procon.org. 

Many activists hailed the increase as a victory for workers. “The ‘fight for $15’ an hour has gone from a rallying cry to facts on the ground in just a few short years,” said Paul Sonn, the state policy program director of the National Employment Law Project, which advocates for low-wage workers. “This demand was from the fast-food workers who explained that was the minimum they needed for a decent life.”  

However, for Lehman students who work, the effects of this increase have been mixed in the first three months of the year. The disparate outcomes have been seen as a blessing for some and misfortune for other employees and employers this fiscal quarter.  

“As a student assistant worker at the Counseling Center on campus, I have experienced a noticeable increase on my weekly income statement thus far,” said Lehman senior Daisy Flores, a diet and nutrition major. However, Flores observed that many of her coworkers were laid off. “Two-thirds of our staff at the center consists of unpaid interns. I gained more hours and more work while fellow co-workers got phased out as more unpaid interns came in. They worked 9 to 5 p.m. replacing phased out co-workers’ hours.”

“I gained more hours and more work while fellow co-workers got phased out as more unpaid interns came in.” 

- Daisy Flores, Lehman senior and diet and nutrition major

With this raise, New York City joins several cities on the West Coast where the minimum wage has already hit $15, including San Francisco and Seattle. California’s minimum wage, which rises to $12 an hour for larger employers on Jan. 1, is expected to rise to $15 over the next few years.  

Sonn cited recent decisions by national retailers like Target and Amazon to raise their wages to $15 an hour. The country is now a patchwork quilt of wages, with some states still operating under the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour. Connecticut’s minimum wage is $10.10. In New Jersey, it is $8.85, though the state’s Democratic governor and Legislature, which is also controlled by Democrats, want to raise it to $15.  

Economists linked higher wages to better physical and mental health and reduced decision fatigue, which results in increased productivity, as reported by The Education & Labor Committee. Higher wages reduce turnover, recruiting and training cost for employers. For hourly workers in New York City who are not laid off, the increase can make a big difference. 

Rosa Rivera earned just $5.15 an hour and relied on government assistance to pay her rent when she started working at a McDonald’s in Manhattan 18 years ago. Now, 53 and a veteran of several rallies for better wages, Rivera’s eyes teared up as she spoke about attaining one of the main goals the workers had set.

“When I get my first check with $15, I’m going to be so happy,” said Rivera, an immigrant from El Salvador with three children. She said she was proud to pay her rent and help support her grandchildren without federal benefits.

As Demand Grows, Lehman’s Supply of Parking Spaces Gets Scarcer

By Deanna Garcia

An overlook of the Lehman parking lot from the Science Building. Photo by Deanna Garcia.

Over the last five years, Lehman’s enrollment has increased from 12,398 to the current total of 14,787 students, according to its Department of Institutional Advancement, and yet the college’s parking lot remains the same inadequate size. 

Divided into north and south sections, the lot has 866 total spots, including 17 handicap and 14 reserved. Andrea Pinnock, director of Auxiliary Services, reported that 1,708 parking permits were distributed to students this semester. “Both the student and regular faculty/staff parking lots are oversold since there are no assigned spaces and parking is available on a first-come, first-served basis,” Pinnock said. “This methodology has been used for many years and allows the college to offer parking to more students.” 

According to Dawn Burgos, director of Campus Activities, there are currently 200 students on the waitlist for the next available parking permit. To obtain a spot for the whole semester, students must have either paid their tuition in full or have a payment plan. Burgos explained that students have to pay the full rate of $75 for daytime parking or $55 for evening parking, which can be done upfront or online. 

“The day permit covers a full day every week, while the evening permit only covers 5:15 p.m.,” Burgos added. “We’re trying to accommodate more people by adding a day and evening feature. If people come in late, we’re able to provide more spaces for those students.” She explained that after 5:15 p.m., when most staff and faculty members leave, students are allowed to park in the faculty parking lot. 

Some Lehmanites, however, feel that there should be more spots available for everyone. 

“There are times, like after 10 o’clock or after certain hours, when it’s harder to find a spot,” said Jen Begeal, new media manager at BronxNet. “Sometimes I just have to wait for somebody to leave.”

Latrica Burton, a junior producer at BronxNet, is relieved to know that there is parking near her job. Before she started parking in the south lot, Burton used to park her car on the street, which was difficult at times. “It used to be tedious to run out during a show to put more money in the meter,” she said. “After I got a ticket, I made it my mission to get a parking pass.” 

“It’s such a lifesaver,” said Wayne Townsend, a Lehman senior and journalism major. “There’s always a spot.” He also observed of Campus Activities, “The permit people are the most efficient at Lehman.” 

On the other hand, senior Jasmine Ayala feels that there is a lack of information on how to obtain a permit. “This sometimes causes people to go back and forth without clear information of what has to be done.” 

Townsend and Ayala both agreed that the parking lot is worth the cost compared to using the meters around campus. “After a while, the meter prices add up,” said Townsend. 

Some students, however, prefer to find spots around campus, as opposed to in Lehman’s parking lot. “It’s easier to find spots if you know what days and times you can park in certain areas,” said senior Shanese Mullins, a 28-year-old journalism major. “I don’t think that I should have to pay for parking when I already pay for tuition.” 

Trump’s Emergency Declaration Upsets Lehman Students

By J. Manuel Rivera Cortes

President Trump views border wall prototypes. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

President Trump views border wall prototypes. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

“Isn’t that unconstitutional?” asked Lehman sophomore and psychology major, Ana Gomez, about President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on Feb. 15.  During his speech that day at the White House Rose Garden, the president alleged that the declaration was necessary to expedite his border wall plan.  Trump also said that national emergencies have been signed many times by past presidents and that “nobody cares.” Whitehouse.gov states that the president plans to utilize military construction money in order to build the wall.

“I think it’s a symbolic form of bullying,” said Lehman junior and English major Jennifer Monique Crespo regarding the border wall. “With all the reports and research, it has been shown that the border wall is not the main entrance that illegal immigrants use to enter the U.S.,” she added.

A report for the Center for Migration Studies found that the number of illegal immigrants who overstay their temporary visas is double that of immigrants apprehended at the border.  The Department of Homeland Security reported that in 2017, 701,901 immigrants remained in the U.S. past their departure date which dwarfed the 303,916 that were apprehended attempting to cross the border illegally.

Trump’s previous effort to fund the wall resulted in a 35-day shutdown, the longest in U.S. history.  He failed to acquire the money he demanded and on Jan. 25 he signed an act to fund and resume halted operations. This included paying the salaries of more than 800,000 federal workers across the country whose wages had been held since Dec. 22.  The online magazine Vox estimated that 380,000 employees were suspended and 420,000 more worked without pay.

“I think it’s a symbolic form of bullying that the president is doing.” 

- Jennifer Monique Crespo, Lehman junior and English major 

The shutdown also impacted students, since all financial aid checks, scholarships, and other federal aid were delayed. This impeded the enrollment of thousands of students, including the 59 percent of Lehman students who receive financial aid, according to Lehman’s Department of Institutional Research.

Lehman junior and computer science major, Guevara Torres said, “I was definitely worried, not so much about coverage [of the shutdown] but on what terms my loans would need to be fulfilled.”

NY’s Tuition-Free Program Has Not Relieved CUNY Students’ Financial Burden

By Perla Tolentino

Lehman College campus. Photos by Perla Tolentino.

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo introduced the Excelsior Scholarship two years ago to much fanfare as a program promising tuition liberation to all N.Y. four-year colleges. But while Cuomo’s big offer was said to be alleviating, Lehman and other CUNY students continue to suffer financially. 

The main drawback seems to be the requirements that become prohibitive for a majority of students. Qualified students may receive up to $5,500 per semester, but applicants must meet a long list of requirements in order to receive full aid, as reported by Forbes a month after Cuomo announced the program. These include an income of less than $110,000, full-time enrollment of at least 12 credits per semester and a total of 30 credits per academic year, and no student loans in default, according to N.Y. Higher Education Services Corporation. Applicants who enrolled prior to 2018-19 must have earned 30 credits per year before applying for the program.

According to the New York Post, Governor Cuomo stated that the scholarship was intended to support middle-income families because most full-time lower-income CUNY students already receive enough government assistance to cover their tuition without the scholarship. That might explain the program’s lackluster results, which show that over two-thirds of applicants, or 68 percent according to Times Union, have been turned down. The N.Y. based newspaper also revealed that the 30-credit requirement is the main fail line for applicants. 

Lehman College Office of Financial Aid, located in Shuster Hall room 136.

Only 4,155 students across all of CUNY have been awarded the Excelsior Scholarship, according to Center for an Urban Future. In 2018, Lehman had a total enrollment of 11,230 students. Only 168 of these students received the Excelsior Scholarship, a mere 1.4 percent of the 2018 enrollment year. This is a sliver of the 59 percent of Lehman students who qualified for grants or scholarships and the 21 percent who are utilizing loans or other forms of financial support in order to pay for school, according to the Department of Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment at Lehman. 

Because most financial aid only covers fall and spring semesters, the 30-credit requirement sets an especially high bar for working students who also depend on financial aid. Since they cannot afford to pay out of pocket for credits, they must take five classes each semester in addition to maintaining their work schedules, in order to be eligible for the Excelsior. 

Shut out of the tuition-free Excelsior promise, most Lehman students continue to seek other ways to cover their educational costs. “I knew about the Excelsior free-tuition program before and I have struggled a lot with financial aid. Unfortunately, I don’t qualify for either,” said Jesmy Pujols, a 35-year-old Lehman social work major in her third year. “I’ve had problems with my paperwork disappearing and my fall 2018 loan is still not even finalized yet,” she said.

“I knew about the Excelsior free-tuition program before and I have struggled a lot with financial aid. Unfortunately, I don’t qualify for either.” 

- Jesmy Pujols, a 35-year-old Lehman social work major

Steven Roa, a 23-year-old Lehman senior and English major, also reported difficulties with financial aid. “I’ve been struggling with financial aid since I was at LaGuardia Community College, and it was because they delayed my assistance,” he said. “I heard of the Excelsior Scholarship but didn’t look into it because I’m in my senior year.”

Lehman sophomore, Ashley Thomas, concurred. “Although I’m familiar with the Excelsior Scholarship, I have struggled with financial aid. In spring 2018 I had to take out a loan in order to cover my tuition.” The 22-year-old social work major offered this advice: “You have to be assertive and be knowledgeable. Ask questions and know the contact information of every financial aid representative available.” 

Former President Bush’s Passing Signals End of an Era

By J. Manuel Rivera Cortes

President Bush pictured in 1992. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

“The man served his country for over 40 years. He wasn’t the best president, but he served our country well,” said sophomore Orlando Green, a sociology major, regarding the passing of President George Herbert Walker Bush. On Nov. 30, 2018, the 41st president of the United States passed away at the age of 94, but his legacy still lives on.  

The patriarch of his family, Bush dedicated over 40 years of his life to public service. He stepped into the political field when he ran for U.S. Senate in 1964. Narrowly defeated by Democrat Ralph Yarborough, he went on to serve as U.S. ambassador to China as well as director of the CIA before being elected President in 1988. He was the first Vice President in 152 years to be elected president. “Freedom is at the very heart of the idea that is America. Giving life to the idea depends on every one of us,” Bush said in his 1990 State of the Union Address. 

During operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Bush deployed U.S. forces into Saudi Arabia to help expel Iraqi troops from Kuwait during the start of the Gulf War.  

Joye Decker, a junior in an adult degree program student said, “I remember the Gulf war on television when I was a kid. It’s a black eye in our history.”  

Bush’s death surprised many Lehman students who were familiar with both his administration and his influence on today’s political landscape. “When I heard the news, I was shocked.  It wasn’t that long [ago] that Barbara had died,” said Lehman junior, Joanna Rosario.  

Others viewed his passing as a blessing for Bush since he suffered many ailments in his advanced age. After the death of his wife, he suffered a blood infection that led to sepsis. 

“He’s finally at rest,” said CUNY Office Assistant, Crystal Jackson. “He seemed so fragile after his wife died.”

CUNY $6M Grant Will Help Revamp Lehman’s Child Care Center

By Perla Tolentino

One of the playgrounds available by Lehman’s gate 3 entrance in front of Goulden Avenue. Photo by Perla Tolentino.

The U.S. Department of Education awarded CUNY a $6 million grant exclusively for child care centers. Lehman, Brooklyn, Baruch, Bronx Community, Kingsborough, and LaGuardia colleges were announced as recipients of the grant on Oct. 22, 2018. According to CUNY news outlets, LaGuardia will increase their enrollment capacities in 2019 to 263 and offer emotional and mental health resources for parents, and Kingsborough Community College plans to lower its childcare rate to as low as $1 per week for parents who attend classes. 

Lehman staff and student parents had many suggestions for how to use the funds at Lehman’s childcare center, which currently has six classrooms, two outside playgrounds, and a multipurpose room for gross motor play, after-school activities and celebrations. “I believe the funds should be used to create new programs including arts, crafts and music. They should reinforce the children’s food menu and library and also expand the playgrounds or invest in outside trips,” said Lisette Ventura, a 35-year-old mother and junior Spanish major at Lehman.

The center currently serves children between ages of two and nine years old and offers speech and hearing counseling, as well as education workshops focusing on behavior management and child development. The center also has a Pre-K program that offers full day classes to four-year-old children, funded by the New York City Department of Education. The goal of the program is to help with kindergarten preparation utilizing New York State Core Learning standards.

Another use of the grant money would be to pay for longer hours at the childcare center. Bronx Community College now plans to extend their hours from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m., according to AM New York. However, Jaci Maurer, director of Lehman’s childcare center, questioned this choice. “Leaving from the campus so late at night may be convenient for the students, but is it for the children?” she inquired. “We advertise to be open until 9 p.m., but in some cases until 9:30 p.m. I believe that’s enough.” 

Later hours would help Martha Vergara, a Lehman sophomore and social work major who has a 9-year-old son. She explained that “balancing school and parenting is very hard for the both of us.” She was unaware that Lehman’s childcare center was open until 9:30 p.m.  “What I’m doing this semester is leaving my son in the cafeteria until I finish my class.”

Lehman’s child care center. Photo by Perla Tolentino.

Maurer believes that there are more urgent needs than schedule changes, and that parents have been surveyed about their priorities. “Our focus is to support staff members and parents,” she explained. “Social work and family training are some of the resources we will most likely invest in, which will alleviate the financial burden of the parents, as well as their busy life. Our goal is to help families stay in school.”

According to a care.com survey from July 17, 2018, the cost of childcare is increasing every year, leaving only 30 percent of American families able to afford it. This research also revealed that 63 percent of parents agree that the cost of childcare can affect their career decisions. 

In the Bronx, where US Census Bureau shows that the median family income is $36,593 per year with a poverty rate of 28 percent, parents struggle to afford childcare needs. To help lower-income parents at Lehman, the childcare center works with the Federal Block Grant which helps students afford child care expenses based on their income level. 

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for these students who are thriving through college and taking care of their children as well,” said Maurer.

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.”

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?”

Lehman Students Fear Their Rent Will Triple if HUD Bill Passes

By Juan Vasquez

Ben Carson during his 2016 Presidential Election. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

A new bill from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) calls for a threefold increase in rent for Americans least able to pay. Ben Carson, the Secretary of HUD, presented the bill on April 25. If passed, it will affect fifteen percent of people living in federally subsidized housing, according to the Washington Post. The paper also stated that Carson suggested changes in housing law that would make it easier for housing authorities to create work requirements that tenants be employed to receive such benefits. The proposal has some Lehman students worried it will hurt them or their peers and families if it becomes law. 

“I believe that raising the rent will limit the chance of students trying to graduate,” says Steven Gonzalez, a psychology major at Lehman. “I know quite a few people that have to take breaks just so they can focus on their jobs in order to pay for the classes they need, not mentioning the bills that they pay for housing.” 

English major Rhue Alice, a senior, told the Meridian “a lot of [students] would lose housing, and have to scramble for alternative living arrangements. I know a few people who in the past have had to drop out of school in order to work so they could live somewhere.” 

“A lot of [students] would lose housing, and have to scramble for alternative living arrangements.” 

- Rhue Alice, Lehman English major

According to the 2017 NYCHA Fact Sheet, over 204,000 Bronx residents rely on subsidized housing. And while rent under subsidized housing is capped at 30 percent of the household’s income, only 47 percent of those households actually earn income. This means that if any sort of rent increase were to come into place, more than half of those living in subsidized housing would not be able to afford to live in their homes. This bill has not yet reached the Senate.  

“If there is a need to gain more money, taking it from the those considered working class is a terrible idea,” computer science major Adrian Moore remarked. He also stated that “such a change would without a doubt affect the tenants who would have to work under a new system like that.”

Locals Fear New Kingsbridge Development Spells Gentrification

By Perla Tolentino

The ongoing construction site viewed from the 4 Train Kingsbridge Road subway station. All photos by Perla Tolentino.

Kingsbridge residents see a construction site at Jerome Ave and West 196th Street as one more sign of encroaching gentrification. According to a January article in The Real Deal New York Real Estate News, the project’s mastermind, Alan Bell, has reserved 40 of the apartments in the Kingsbridge project for the homeless. But locals fear they will end up priced out of both the building and the neighborhood, since the ongoing construction is close to the Kingsbridge armory renovation which is expected to send rents soaring. 

“When in one of the poorest counties of NY you begin to see sudden construction of buildings of such high price, you know the gentrification phenomena has already begun,” said Leonor Santana, a Lehman senior and business administration major. She believes that gentrification is occurring and that local rents will end up being so high that only wealthy people will be able to afford to live here. 

Official sources tell a different story. A spokesperson at C+C Apartment Management LLC, (one of the contacts listed outside the construction site) told the Meridian that all applications will be processed by Housing Connect under a lottery. The spokesperson confirmed rent prices for only low-income families which represent the 60 percent of the area median income and moderate-income families which represent 90 percent of area median income in New York. For the low-income, C+C Management confirmed, $860 for a studio apartment, $923 for one bedroom, $1,114 for two bedroom and $1,281 for a three bedroom apartment. For the moderate-income, confirmed rent prices are, $1,305 for a studio apartment, $1,399 for one bedroom, $1,686 for two bedroom and $1,940 for a three bedroom. C+C Management referred clients to the NYC Housing Preservation & Development website to understand their income types and qualifications before applying. They also said a 17-car parking garage will also be built.  

According to a Jan 2016 article by New York YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard), 30 percent of the apartments will be for homeless tenants, 55 percent for low-income families and the remaining fifteen percent for middle-income families with annual incomes ranging from $51,780 to $71,760. However, this range is significantly higher than the median income of Bronx residents as a whole, which was $35,302 in 2016 according to US Census Bureau data. 

An inside look at the construction of the building that will hold 137 apartments and a parking lot located under the Kingsbridge Road train station.

Research by The Furman Center, in collaboration with the NYU School of Law and Wagner School of Public Service, shows that Kingsbridge has seen a gradual increase in rent over the past 12 years, from $1,093 in 2006, to $1450 in 2017 of median gross rent, compared to Bronx rents overall between $1,600 and $2,800 citywide. The research also revealed that in 2016, 37.5 percent of tenants had to spend more than 50 percent of household income only on rent, and that only 6.4 percent of Kingsbridge Heights/Bedford residents own their own homes. This data indicates how the vast majority of locals in this community depend on affordable housing and suggests that apartments in the new Kingsbridge project may not be within reach of many.

“Only rich people will be able to pay that kind of rent if they construct the ice rink.” 

- Bryan Diaz, Lehman computer science major and Bronx resident

Mabel Rojas, a processor for the Department of Buildings, told the Meridian that while the project is “definitely residential,” with 137 apartment units, she is “not sure if [it is] low income because the owners are private, but they might sell to the city after.” [Full disclosure: Rojas is the sister of the managng editor.] Rojas also said that the 13-story building is mixed use so the ground floor will be used for business. “They paid over 40k to the city in fees, but the overall cost is not yet determined” Rojas added. 

Lehman students’ biggest concern is how long apartments in this building will stay “affordable,” and many told the Meridian that they doubt they will be. They also believe the project is another sign of the gentrification occurring throughout many Bronx communities. 

Bryan Diaz, a Lehman Computer Science major student who has lived in the Bronx for the past eight years, is convinced that the project is lucre-focused only. Like many locals, he believes developers are trying to cash in on the renovation of the Kingsbridge Armory, which is expected to bring more business to the area. “Knowing what is about to happen to the armory, they know constructing a building for rich people is more suitable,” he said. “They know only rich people will be able to pay that kind of rent if they construct the ice rink.” 

According to a March report by Norwood News, the Kingsbridge Armory will begin its long-delayed transformation between November 2018 and January 2019. Bell told Norwood News that the Kingsbridge apartment building has little to do with the armory project. The Real Deal New York Real Estate News also states that in 2010 Bell left the Hudson Company Inc., a market-rate development company he founded in 1986, to found a new affordable housing company named B&B Urban.  However, Bell has not yet mentioned having an action plan to block the increase of rent in the area, if the armory project actually happens. 

While it is impossible to foresee its impact for sure, many Lehman students remain pessimistic. Diaz believes that developers will transform the area by building hotels catering to future tourists. “Kingsbridge will become a totally different neighborhood,” he predicted. 

Lehman Food Bank Expands from Energy Bars to Seven Tons of Food

By Leonel Henriquez

The Lehman College Food Bank opened in 2017. Photo courtesy of Lehman College.

“To be clear, this is Suzette’s baby,” says Assistant Director of Campus Life (CL) David Charcape of CL’s Associate Director Suzette Ramsundar. The program Ramsundar fostered is the Lehman Food Bank. “She has done a lot to make this program a success,” Charcape said.

As Ramsundar tells it, the idea came to her at work. Hungry students would stop by her office and ask if she had any snacks, especially in the afternoons and evenings. She started keeping energy bars and other snacks in the cubby above her desk to give to anyone who asked. From these seeds, the food bank was born.  

“The most difficult part was at the beginning,” Ramsundar says of the struggle to get the program up and running. “Getting funding and then actually purchasing food to give out. We would get goods from the N.Y. Food Bank, BJ’s, Cosco and even the Morton William’s supermarket on Kingsbridge when we ran out of stuff.” 

From left to right: Shovaine Singh, Student Coordinator for Lehman Food Bank; David Charcape, Assistant Director of Campus Life; Suzette Ramsundar, Associate Director of Campus Life and Coordinator of the H.H.L. Leadership Development Center; Lilian Yang, Graduate Assistant of the H.H.L. Leadership Development Center. Photo by Leonel Henriquez.

The food bank celebrated its one-year anniversary on March 29. It runs on a volunteer staff of three and is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in room 120 of the Student Life Building. It is only for students and currently serves about 40 appointments per week. 

“We serve students by appointment after they make one online at lehmanfoodbank.setmore.com” says senior  Shovaine V. Singh, the Food Bank Student Coordinator. “They schedule their own private fifteen-minute appointment. We want students to feel secure in a no-judgment zone.” 

Lehman alum Dr. Christopher Emdin says, “It is difficult for students to think about doing homework when they are hungry and concerned that they have little or no food at home.” This concern is double in the case of adult students at Lehman. 

“When you consider that adult students around age 27 have their own family and have to consider feeding their children as well, time at school means time not working,” says Singh. “So it creates a difficulty for students to study when they have this concern on their minds that they have hungry children at home.” 

The recent purchase of a refrigerator allows the pantry to expand beyond canned goods and dry items. It now keeps some perishables, as well as fruits and vegetables, most of which come from a partnership with Corbin Hills to supply fresh locally-grown produce. Lehman alum Carlos Ortiz, now with Goya, reached out and secured a pledge of a 14,000 pound food donation.

The food bank also provides recipes for the food items donated, as well as caloric information, nutritional value and portion size. It is also looking to hold culinary workshops. “We want every student who needs help to feel that they are welcome. Any student can get food, no questions asked,” says Ramsundar. “More importantly any one can donate as well and help a fellow student.” 

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.” 

Governor Hopeful Cynthia Nixon Tackles NYCHA

By Andrea Nieves

Housing apartments on Rosedale Ave. in Bronx, New York. Photo by Andrea Nieves.

Along with calling for functional healthcare, justice and transit systems, New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon is taking on the city’s housing authority. For Lehman students who have endured harsh conditions in public housing, change couldn’t come fast enough. 

“This winter we didn’t have heat in our apartments,” said Lehman sophomore Danielle Serrano. “It took them forever to acknowledge our complaints and take action but even then, the heat didn’t last long. It would be on during the day but off in the night.”.

Nixon, 52, visited the Albany Houses in Crown Heights with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams to see the harsh living conditions that NYCHA tenants have been complaining about. Nixon and Adams met a few of the tenants and after seeing the conditions in which they live, Nixon said to PIX11 News, “It is definitely in a state of emergency.”

Among the many repair issues addressed, lead-based paint was found in many if not all NYCHA buildings across the five boroughs. 

Nixon said lead paint was the main concern, and that its dangerous to NYCHA tenants. This has led to a large-scale lawsuit brought against NYCHA. Nixon told PIX11, “I am very troubled that the chair knew about the lead paint and did not inform families. I can’t understand why she did that; That’s going to be a very hard thing to overcome.”  

Lehman students find it hard to trust the housing authority after their recent controversy. Lehman senior Mitali Sarkar said, “They can get away with not telling tenants because most people aren’t aware of lead in the paint. Most people are distracted by school or work so they don’t look for these things. I live in an apartment as well so to hear about people getting lead poisoning from this is very alarming.”

According to The Daily News, NYCHA tenants filed a lawsuit against the city demanding retesting of apartments because they claim Housing Authority managers are lying to tenants about the status or lack of presence of lead in their units.

Since then, there has been “a political crisis” regarding NYCHA and their need for more money in the budget. Among the controversy, NYCHA chairwoman Shola Olatoye has resigned but denies her resignation was forced by recent scandals. 

On March 12, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. held a press conference in the Jackson Houses, along with Governor Cuomo to speak on the issues. Diaz said, “We know that the NYCHA residents day in and day out are living in unacceptable conditions.” Problems stem from molding, walls that are crumbling, roaches, lack of heat and hot water, and lead paint in the apartments. Governor Cuomo questioned what was being done by the Housing department to address these issues. “It’s not about blaming or shifting responsibility. Let’s just improve the lives of the people. That’s what government is about and that’s what we’re going to do” Cuomo says.

Nixon, who faces opposition to her run from the Democratic party, has also challenged Governor Cuomo over his sudden interest in reversing the longstanding deterioration of public housing. During a press conference reported by Charlotte Brehaut, Nixon rips into Governor Cuomo by saying, “We’ve all seen it. Andrew the bully. But worst of all his budgets bully our children and our families by shortchanging them, by boxing them in, by denying them the opportunities they are owed…And I am here to tell you that I am one woman who has the experience to say that the people of New York are sick of being bullied.”  

The 2018 New York gubernatorial election will take place on November 6, 2018. Nixon is running against Randy Credico as well as incumbent Governor Cuomo. If successful, Nixon will be the first female governor of New York. 

Nixon for Governor? Lehman Students Are on the Fence

By Shaiann Frazier
Cynthia Nixon, actress and activist, who plans to run for governor of New York. Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Cynthia Nixon, actress and activist, who plans to run for governor of New York. Photo courtesy of Flickr.

“The only words in my head are not again,” said Jason Nieves, 27, a Lehman business major. He explained, “It’s not because she is a female, it’s because she is a celebrity. Nixon can have all the qualifications, but it’s the celebrity part that’s going to affect the voting.”

Nieves was reacting to Cynthia Nixon’s candidacy for governor of New York, which Lehman students have met with a mix of doubt and guarded optimism. The Emmy-award-winning actress and activist best known for her portrayal of the lawyer Miranda in the HBO series “Sex and the City,” announced on March 19 that she will run against incumbent Andrew Cuomo in the upcoming Democratic primary, which will take place on Sept. 13. 

So far, Nixon has won support and praise from many of her colleagues, such as Sarah Jessica Parker, who acted alongside Nixon in Sex and the City, and Rosie O’ Donnell, a comedian and television personality. She has also gained support from Black and Latino communities because of her recent ideas to decrease mass incarceration, as well as from the LGBT community, of which Nixon is a prominent member. 

Lissy Dominguez, 22, a Lehman student and media and communications major said, “I loved her character in Sex in the City and it’s interesting that she’s running for governor years later.  I don’t see it as shocking, considering who our president is.” She added, “I think that maybe she will be a good change for New York.”

Many wonder whether she is capable of serving as the governor of New York. Benaiah Warr, 19, a film major said, “I just feel like a person who doesn’t have that much experience in that field shouldn’t run. We need a leader to be there, that will be able to do the necessary things to make the right decisions for the greater good of the city.”

Many also question her run for governor because of both her sexual orientation and her gender. America witnessed what it is was like for a female politician in the spotlight when Hillary Clinton ran against Donald Trump in 2016. Clinton was ostracized and relentlessly ridiculed through the media because she was a woman. 

Currently, data provided by the Center for American Women and Politics shows that of the 535 members of Congress, women hold 105 seats, 21% serving in the United States Senate. While a quarter of state legislator seats are held by women, a mere 12 of these are governorships. According to a 2015 study by the Pew Research Center, 31% of men and 41% of women  believed that Americans are not ready to elect a woman into higher office. 

However, some argue that the relative scarcity of women proves that more of them should be in government. Franklin Taveras, 21, a Lehman student and film and television major said, “I feel that it’s a good thing that a woman is running for the governor of New York … Because woman have been misrepresented in numbers in our government, and it’s overwhelmingly disproportionate.”

According to a 2017 study done by Politico, American University, and Loyola University, President Trump’s election has led to an increase in political action by women who are Democrats. The study also found that women in both the Republican and Democratic parties have been discouraged to run for office because of President Trump’s win.

Nixon has many plans if she gets elected into office. One is to legalize the use of marijuana which she believes can raise revenues in New York, if it is taxed. She also wants to address mass incarceration of Blacks and Latinos in New York, as well as fix income inequality as she believes New York has become “the most unequal state in the country with both incredible wealth and extreme poverty.”

Vennela Perikala, 21, Lehman student and film and pre-med major, said “I look at her and I think of Sex in the City, but it doesn’t take away from her. I support [her run] and I would go vote for her.”