New App Means No More Lines for Lehman Students

By Shaiann Frazier

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

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

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

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 The previous system relied on an outdated system known as Qmatic, which resulted in students sometimes waiting for over an hour in long lines at the Financial Aid Office and the IT Center.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lehman’s First Singles Mixer Draws Enthusiastic Crowd

By Shaiann Frazier

A Single Mixer’s picture frame made by coordinators of the event that attendees could take pictures with. Photo by Shaiann Frazier.

The line leading into the Faculty Dining Hall of the Music Building stretched around the hallway  as students waited with curious faces, hesitant smiles, and much excitement for the Singles Mixer Event to begin on Wednesday May 9. “I saw the flyers and I was thinking it would be great to meet new people and get to know the people around campus,” said Efren Vaquero, 20, a double major in computer science and graphic design. Vaquero added she was “looking for more friendships and connections. I’m not seeking relationships.” 

The Single Mixers event was sponsored by the Lehman Wellness Center and the Student Government Association. Its purpose was not only to bring singles together but to also make new friends and break down the barrier of first encounters and impressions. 

 “It was just an idea that sparked in my head about people on campus who are single and need to find someone,” explained Sheridan Dunne, 28, a P.E.E.R Educator for the Lehman Wellness Center, which helps students foster healthy and balanced lifestyles. “Especially students who are always complaining about not having friends, which helps with that by putting all these people together that share at least one thing in common,” Dunne added.

“We were only expecting 60 people because we didn’t know if people were going to be interested in something like that because it’s never been done on campus before,” said Nikita Shetty, 23, a coordinator of wellness education and health promotion at the center. “And then we got 207 people who showed up, but we had to turn away people because we didn’t have any more seats available.”  

Once each attendee reached the sign-in table, they were a given a number and goodie bag filled with condoms, candy, flyers related to health education awareness, and a raffle ticket. Participants were free to sit anywhere, with each table having four seats, two post-it notes which read “Stay,” and 20 questions meant for breaking the ice with someone you were meeting for the first time.

Scheduled to begin at three, the event started late due to the unexpectedly large turnout. But once everyone was seated, discussions opened about what to expect on a first date, bringing your own money during a date, and who should pay. The conversation became very heated and decisions were split over who would pay the bill. 

After this, the mixing began. Those seated near a post-it that read “Stay” had to remain sitting, while those who weren’t had to find someone to mingle with. They then had two minutes to talk. When the time was up, the original seated person would go to a new table and mingle with someone else. The mingling stopped when a person made it across the entire room and managed to talk to almost everyone.

If an individual had found someone who peaked their interest, they had the option of exchanging numbers, with blank cards left on the table for that purpose. Dimitrios Lefas, 21, an English major, said, “I only got one number. And the process of getting the number wasn’t scary or hard.” 

Kenya McDonald, 21, a business and marketing major, said she felt the energy in the room. “I could feel how eager a lot of guys were based off of them being extra enthusiastic.” McDonald added, “It’s just a vibe I picked up, to be honest.”

Some students claimed their presence was unintentional. Christina Johnson, 20, a social work major said it was an accident that she came to the event. “But now I’m hoping to meet new people and I guess mingle,” she said, “even if it’s not guys.”

Lehman physical therapy major James Morgan, 25, also said he was there by accident. “It’s more so that I was really hungry, so that’s what got me here,” he explained. However, he said he doesn’t have a problem with talking to people, and that “dating people in college is the best, it’s pretty dope.” 

The three-hour event ended with dinner, music and a raffle in which some participants won water bottles and sweatshirts. By this time, the uncertain faces had been replaced with laughter and smiles.

Ferdinand Essizewa, 20, a nursing major, was one of those smiling. He said he enjoyed the discussion because he got to see different points of view which made socializing easier. “I got one number which was really easy because I’m a charismatic person which helped a lot.”


Spring Break Service Trip Broadens Student’s Horizons

By Shaiann Frazier

Shanel Spence and Lehman L.I.F.E on first day of the trip before heading to the community of San Jose de Garcia in Nicaragua to volunteer. All photos courtesy of Shanel Spence.

“I’m more appreciative of the small things I took for granted. This experience humbled me,” reflected Shanel Spence, 22, a biology major and Lehman senior on her seven-day trip to Nicaragua. Born and raised in the Bronx by parents originally from Jamaica, Spence interns at Cavalry and Mount Sinai Hospitals with hopes of becoming a pediatrician. She also mentors incoming freshmen through Lehman’s SEEK Program which provides assistance to college students in need of academic and financial support.  

Spence with three doctors, Lucelia Quiroz (right), Dr. Karelia Torrez (middle) and pharmacist Carmen Pineda (far left) on the last day of volunteering in the community Santa Teresa in Nicaragua.

On Apr. 2, Spence boarded a plane to Nicaragua with 25 peers on another aid mission, this time to help people without access to adequate medical care. The trip happened in collaboration with an organization known as Global Brigades, an international non-profit organization that uses holistic models to meet communities’ health and economic goals. 

Shanel Spence on day three of volunteering before arriving to the community of Santa Teresa, in Nicaragua, for the first time.

Spence’s spring break trip to Nicaragua happened through a stroke of luck. “I actually planned to go to Florida,” she said. However, through Lehman Life, an organization that provides service opportunities to Lehman students, she was able to attend the trip.  To afford the journey she had to raise roughly 2,000 dollars to cover her expenses. “I didn’t have difficulty in raising the money,” she said, “because I had a lot of support and people who wanted to donate.”

Spence and her team volunteered in San Jose de Garcia and Santa Teresa, two communities in Nicaragua. There her day began at six in the morning, with breakfast by seven and a bus that left at eight for the “compounds,” which she first found overwhelming. “I was nervous, I didn’t know how to feel because it was a new experience for me.” 

Spence learning how to detect a UTI in female patients while shadowing one of the doctors, named Dr. Ramos. 

Spence was not used to the lack of basic services she found in that part of Nicaragua. There was little to no water or access to sufficiently sanitary bathrooms. “When I got there, it was a whole cultural shock for me. We had to use hand sanitizer every time we went to the bathroom. And at one point there was just a brick and wooden stall outside.”

Spence quickly learned how to appreciate how easy her life was compared to what locals were enduring. “It was a tough situation to adjust to, because where I come from I’m used to having hot and running water.” 

At the compounds, she worked with a team of eight doctors to assist roughly 400 patients. The compounds were divided into six sections: the GYN, physical therapy, the pharmacy, triage, consultation, and the dental area. “My favorite part was the triage because that’s where the most interactions with people happened,” said Spence. 

Her patients were a variety of ages with numerous ailments, the most common of which were UTI’s, meningitis, and hypertension. “Observing the GYN doctor changed my mind about what path I wanted to pursue in the medical field,” she explained.

Spence also developed an unexpected friendship with a 7-year-old girl who arrived at the compound for dental issues. “She was so mature for her age. I wondered to myself how does a little girl have such a good mindset. And then I realized that they’re raised differently,” said Spence. 

Spence’s day ended at five with dinner at the hotel, where she and her peers reflected on their day.  Spence made two close friends on the trip, “Binto and Alimata. We always checked on each other, [and] all of us who went on the trip together got a chance to learn about each other.” 

Spence with a young girl in the triage, who wanted to know how the sphygmomanometer works. And Spence allowing the young girl to test the instrument on her. 

When it was time to go back home, Spence said, “I was actually sad about leaving.” The trip made Spence want to revisit the compounds in the summer. She is also thinking about pursuing a career as a doctor serving similar communities. The youngest of two children, Spence will be the first college graduate in her family. After graduation, Spence plans to take a gap year to study for the MCATS and apply for medical school. 

“I appreciate what I have more than did I before,” she said. “These people don’t have much, but they still appreciate the life they have and they live. And I feel like we take that for granted every day.” 

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.”

Lehman Students Denounce Lack of DACA Deal

By Shaiann Frazier

Protestors stand with DACA. Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Nearly two weeks after the Trump administration’s legislative deadline passed, the future of over 700,000 immigrants remains in limbo, and Lehman students continue to demand their renewed protection under legislation known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The White House had designated March 5 as the deadline to reach a bipartisan deal on the bill, but two federal judges, in California and New York, issued injuctions on January 10 and February 13 respectively that block this deadline. While this gives those covered by DACA more time to apply for extensions, it also leaves them worried about their future in America. 

Tapanga Perry, 18, a freshmen and nursing major at Lehman, said, “I feel that people’s DACA shouldn’t be taken away because everybody has the right to live the American dream. And it wouldn’t be right to send people back.”

DACA was an executive order created by former President Barack Obama back in 2012. It allowed undocumented immigrants to legally reside in the US for two years without the fear of deportation. Under this order, immigrants received background checks and were given two-year renewable permits that allowed them to receive an education, secure legal jobs, and obtain valid driver licenses. 

To be protected under DACA, immigrants had to be between 15 and 31 years old when submitting their request, and to have been residing here since before June 15, 2007 as mandated by the Department of Homeland Security. This past September, the Trump administration rescinded DACA, and gave Congress six months to negotiate a deal that would keep those under DACA free from deportation and protect border security. As the March 5 deadline came and went, neither Republicans nor Democrats managed to come up with a passable bill.

Both parties proposed bills that ensure the pathway to citizenship for most immigrants, but Trump rejected them. A bill needs at least 60 affirmative votes in the Senate to pass, as well as an affirmative majority vote in the House before it reaches the president’s desk, where he may still veto it.

“The fact that a deal hasn’t been reached saddens me because I feel that [DACA] is an opportunity for people to be able to advance in their lives and get a better education.” 

- Frances Latalladi, 42, a Lehman senior and journalism major

As the law now stands, those under DACA will continue to reside in the U.S. until their work permits have expired. New applicants who applied before September 5, along with renewal applicants that were processed before October 5, can remain in the U.S. Now that the issue will be taken up in the court system, those who couldn’t make the deadline have a temporary reprieve, but must still live in fear for their long-term future.

George Abraham, 22, a junior and business administration major at Lehman said, “It’s depressing, these are families you’re talking about who are being treated like they have no values. There’s no remorse.”

According to a recent report from the Department of Homeland Security, 983 undocumented immigrants protected under DACA could lose their protected status every day, and nearly 30,000 people could be deported each month for the next two years if Congress fails to reach a deal.

The most vulnerable group under DACA are the “dreamers,” a term used to refer to people covered under the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act of 2001, which offered legal status to undocumented immigrants in return for attending college or joining the military.

According to a report from the Migration Policy Institute in 2014, over 241,000 DACA immigrants were enrolled in college, and nearly 57,000 of them had already earned a bachelor’s degree. 

Frances Latalladi, 42, a Lehman senior and journalism major, stressed how vital this opportunity is for many Dreamers. “The fact that a deal hasn’t been reached saddens me,” she said, “because I feel that [DACA] is an opportunity for people to be able to advance in their lives and get a better education.”

Bryan Diaz, 21, a computer science major at Lehman, agreed. “I feel like there’s many [dreamers] that need an opportunity in life,” he said. “And by getting deported they are being deprived of it.”

Michael Anti, 22, a computer science major at Lehman who was born in Ghana, also questioned the logic of the Trump administration. “I have a friend who’s under DACA and he’s a nice person,” he said. “And I don’t see why they would want to deport somebody like him, he’s contributing to society, he has a goal, and he wants to do something good.”

Lehman Students Anguished by Libyan Slave Trade

By Shaiann Frazier

West African migrants are prime targets for Libyan slave traders. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

“As an African, I feel those who have been taken into slavery are my brothers and sisters,” said Felix Mwake, 32, a teacher at Lehman’s Child Care Center. Mwake, who was born and raised in Kenya, was referring to the slave trade in Libya, where migrants and refugees -- mostly young people from sub-Saharan countries -- are being sold as farm laborers via the same smugglers who brought them illegally into the country.

After CNN footage surfaced in November showing two young Nigerian men being sold as farm laborers for $400 a piece in the city of Tripoli, many reacted with disbelief. For Americans, these slave auctions are reminiscent of those that plagued the Americas centuries ago, when Africans were taken from their homeland and forced into slave labor.

However, many Lehman students told the Meridian that they are deeply distressed, but not surprised, by the news of this new slave market. Tashana Allen, 23, a political science major, said, “What is going on in Libya is very heartbreaking. To see that many West Africans are not only hoping for a better life, but are willing to journey across the Mediterranean Sea into Europe, then to be denied their right to life is beyond devastating.”

As a result of increasing cooperation between the EU and the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) inTripoli, the number of migrant arrivals in Europe has dropped dramatically. From August to October, arrivals in Italy, the main entry point, have dropped by more than 8 percent. This has resulted in hundreds of thousands of migrants getting trapped in Libya, where they are exposed to human rights abuses. In a report released by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), at least 2,500 refugees and migrants died in the beginning of 2017 compared to the 3,262 refugees who had died the previous year. The report also stated that the rate of mortality would be one death for every 50 people who make it to Italy.

In a 2016 report released by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the likelihood of dying en route between Libya and Italy was one in 23. Currently, 47,000 migrants have reached Italy from countries such as Senegal, Nigeria, and Gambia.

According to a report published in August of 2017 by the IOM, migrants from Niger are the most represented nationality, with 59,000 en route to Libya. Migrants from Chad are close behind, numbering 49,000.  All of them face the possibility of being auctioned off into forced labor.

Many commentators blame the current slave trade in Libya to the violent ousting of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, and the instability that followed his death. In October of 2011 he was killed following the NATO bombing of Libya. Fleeing from poverty and violence, many traveled the route to Libya in hopes of a better life. According to a 2017 report released by the IOM, 91 percent of sub-Saharan Africans who left their home countries did so for economic reasons.

Lehman student Safiatou Diallo, 21, a computer science major also said, “I’m not surprised…. North Africans have always been racist to Black Africans.”

However, once migrants are freed either by paying off smugglers or through UN organizations that help previously enslaved migrants, they are placed in refugee camps or detention centers. These centers are facilitated under deplorable conditions with many dying from malnutrition and disease. They are often run by corrupt militia groups who subject the migrants to routine beatings, sometimes even resulting in death, in exchange for money. A 2017 report published by Amnesty International said that of the 72 refugee camps, 30 camps had been facilitated by armed groups of criminal gangs.

Lehman students agreed that the issue deserves more public attention in the US. Genaro Perez, 21, a Lehman student and anthropology major said, “I think the issue should be talked about more and ironically maybe we [the U.S] or the UN should get involved. “It’s definitely a large humanitarian issue and one that we should not allow to flourish.”

Anel Vicente, 31, a early childhood teacher at Lehman’s child daycare who is also a minister at the House of Prayer in Times Square, also felt the impact close to home. “It affects me indirectly because a lot of the people that I have friendships or relationships with even the people that I minister are impacted by this. How do we make this stop [the Slave Trade] so that it never actually happens again?”

Mwake concurred, saying, “African leaders …need to go into Libya, stop this, get those who are already esnslaved, bring them back to their countries and give them opportunities.”

A New Conversation about an Old Problem: Lehman Students Push Back Against Sexual Harassment

By Shaiann Frazier

Lehman students took a public part in this conversation on Oct. 19, when post-it notes were displayed on a board outside the Lehman bookstore along with the message “Keep Moving Forward.” Photo by Shaiann Frazier.

“Catcalling makes you question your worth,” said Kuiana Prince, 23, a senior and multimedia performing arts major. Catcallers, she said, should “Try a different approach in going about it instead of going after a lady or guy like some kind of pet.”

Prince’s experience of harassment is all too common, as a groundswell in media and social attention to the topic has proven. Lehman students took a public part in this conversation on Oct. 19, when pink, purple, and blue post-it notes were displayed on a white board outside the Lehman bookstore along with the message, “Keep Moving Forward.” Dozens of Lehman students wrote and posted notes expressing their thoughts about being victims of violence and sexual harassment. 

Sponsored by the Counseling Center, the “Go Purple” event was inspired by the recent Twitter #metoo. Originally created in 2007 by Tarana Burke, founder of youth organization Just Be Inc., the campaign was revived this October by actress Alyssa Milano, for victims of sexual assault and harassment. The Lehman event aimed to bring supportive attention to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and street harassment. Members of the Counseling Center created the board titled “Messages of Hope” where any Lehman student could write a personal note to someone who had been a victim of violence in which they a received a note in return. 

Keeauna Jacobs, 22, a senior and student engagement coordinator at the Counseling Center said, “Girls come to the Counseling Center far more often than you think whether it be harassment in their neighborhood or in the Lehman neighborhood.”

“Catcalling,” defined as whistling, shouting, or otherwise sexualizing a woman passing by, is evidently common in New York. “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman,” a 2014 short documentary directed by Rob Bliss and created by anti-harassment organization Hollaback!, shows a montage of ten hours of footage of Shoshana Roberts silently walking the streets alone while being harassed. The video was viewed over 40 million times. 

Hollaback!, the company that distributed the video, also conducted a study in which they found that over 84 percent of women will experience some form of street harassment before the age of 17. This harassment does not only occur on the streets but also happens on public transportation. According to a 2016 report released by the Wall Street Journal, sexual offenses on New York City subways had gone up 50 percent compared to the previous year. 

Lehman students who spoke to the Meridian said they’ve changed their behavior in an effort to avoid catcalling. Leda Obergh, 19, a sophomore and film major said, “I don’t want to dress up as I want to because I may appear sexually attractive to men but that’s not my intention.” She added, “I usually wear my headphones, so I don’t have to listen to what men say to me on the street.”

Shanel Spence, 22, a senior and biology major, also actively avoids men on the street. “One thing that I do for sure is that I cross the street when I see a group of guys or I walk in the opposite direction.”

Leticia Hernandez, 24, a junior and recreational major also took a similar stance. “Usually I start walking faster just so they don’t get close to me,” she said. “Or sometimes I give them a look to back away.”

Women are not the only victims of harassment, a 2012 study released by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that the percentage of males who experienced sexual harassment had increased from 16.1 percent to 17.8 percent. Although the findings could not conclude why the number of reports had increased in men, a possible contributing factor was that more men began to come forward and speak out. Numerous studies have shown that men don’t report incidents of sexual harassment due to shame and embarrassment.

Gregory Reyes, 18, a Lehman student who works at the front desk in the APEX said, “When a guy gets catcalled people just look at him like it’s a joke and it’s not as derogatory as when it happens to a woman.”

Lian Kizner, 19, a junior, dance and sociology major agreed. “I have experienced it and it’s really annoying,” she said. “Guys don’t have the authority to make a girl feel [bad] like that when they’re just walking down the street trying to get home.”

Michael Buckley, associate professor of the philosophy department at Lehman, advocated for more training for all Lehman students. “I am glad to know that Lehman requires some of its students to take workshops or online courses [about sexual harassment],” he said, “but I think the policy should be extended to every student and given several times throughout their time at Lehman like it is for faculty and staff.”

The New ‘IT’ Will Give You Goosebumps

By Shaiann Frazier

Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise in Andres Muschietti’s “IT.” Photo courtesy of Vimeo.

If you want to be scared and laugh at the same time, the latest adaptation of Stephen King’s 1986 bestselling novel, “IT” is the movie for you. Director Andres Muschietti does an excellent job of exposing the individuality of each character in depth, while adding an element of comedy which was missing in the 1990 version, a two-part TV miniseries directed by Tommy Lee Wallace.

Muschietti updates and internalizes King’s story of several Maine teenagers who unite against two attacks---relentless bullying and terrorism from an ancient shapeshifting creature which they call IT. IT mainly manifests as Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgård), and preys on and murders children using supernatural powers that feed off the fears of its victims. What makes the creature so terrifying is that it can only be seen by children and goes undetected by adults. IT also appears every 27 years, otherwise hiding in the local sewer system of fictional Derry, Maine. 

With a $35 million budget, almost triple that of the miniseries, Muscheietti’s version focuses less on brute horror and more on the individuality and struggles of each character. The use of drama balances out the brutality of the movie, which helps the audience empathize with each character. Take Beverly Marsh (Sophia Lillis), for example, who struggles with an abusive father and school rumors about her. Her friend Eddie Kaspbrak (Jack Dylan Grazer), another victim of IT’s attacks, suffers from mysophobia and an overbearing mother. Even though the movie is set up to scare the audience, each character affected by IT has to endure their own struggles in their personal life while attempting to not become another victim of the terrifying clown.

Muschietti also focuses heavily on the bond that brothers, Billy (Jaeden Lieberher) and Georgie Denbrough (Jackson Robert Scott), share.  From the opening scene, it is evident how much Georgie means to Billy, especially when Billy creates a boat for Georgie to sail in the pouring rain, and calls it “SS Georgie.” The moment after they hug before Georgie goes out to play will have your heart pounding.

But in terms of pure terror, Wallace’s film does a better job with the awful Pennywise, who appears within the first ten minutes, by intensifying each scene where IT appears. For those who have seen the first adaptation, it is safe to say that the more Pennywise appears, the more scared the audience becomes, and the more difficult it becomes to gauge Pennywise’s next move, especially in the sewer scene when IT appears to all seven teenagers at the same time. Likewise, rather than emphasizing the relationship between brothers, Billy and Georgie, Wallace focuses heavily on how Pennywise affects Billy’s mental state along with the other characters. This build-up of anticipation makes Pennywise appear more unpredictable compared to the 2017 adaptation where one can expect the appearance of IT, although Pennywise doesn’t show up until 30 minutes into the film. For fans of the original, just having to wait for the awful Pennywise can be a deal-breaker.

However, if you can overlook some minor plot changes and Pennywise jumping out at you from the screen, the latest, “IT” will have you laughing while gripping your seat tightly in anticipation. For that darker and more subtle suspense, this film is worth every minute.

Lehman Community Disagrees over Puerto Rico’s Bid for Statehood

By Shaiann Frazier

The Capitol of Puerto Rico in Puerta de Tierra, San Juan. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

In June of 2017, 97 percent of Puerto Ricans voted in favor of making the commonwealth of 3.4 million America’s 51st state. While they wait to see whether Congress will pass a statute admitting the new state, many Lehman students with ties to the island remain divided or uncertain about its fate.

Numerous students told the Meridian that they were unaware that Puerto Rico is trying to become a state. Of those who know about the issue, roughly half told the Meridian they think it’s a great idea, while the rest think Puerto Rico should stay as is.

The island has been under U.S. control since 1898, following the Spanish-American War, and has voted against becoming a state four times: first in 1967. In 2012, 54 percent of the vote was in favor of statehood.

Currently, the island is in the middle of an economic crisis. In May of 2013, faced with a $ 73 billion debt, it filed for bankruptcy. According to data released in September of 2017 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment remains high and the poverty level has risen to 46 percent. Since jobs are low in demand and poverty has risen, many have been forced to leave their homeland.

“I’m only for [statehood] if we’re going to actually help…and I’m against it if it’s going to hurt those people even more.” 

— Lehman student life employee, Teddy Hernandez

One Puerto Rican native, Lehman student life employee, Teddy Hernandez, said, “I’m only for [statehood] if we’re going to actually help…and I’m against it if it’s going to hurt those people even more.” If Puerto Rico becomes a state it would gain access to more federally funded programs such as Supplemental Security Income Assistance, student loans, and others.

Some Lehman students questioned whether that leadership is beneficial. Melissa Ruiz, 25, a Lehman student who was born in Puerto Rico but raised in the Bronx said, “As a Puerto Rican I don’t think it should really become a state because the U.S. has had a hand in Puerto Rico’s infrastructure for too long now.”

On the other hand, Mike Garcia, 27, who is a senior at Lehman and from the Dominican Republic, said, “It’s actually a great thing… In that it will help us connect to Puerto Ricans a lot more and it will help us branch out to other Latin American countries and Caribbean islands.”

Those without direct connections to this island also had strong opinions, such as Jerilyn Day-Johnson, administrative assistant to the vice president for the Division of Student Affairs at Lehman who said, “I think it would benefit them economically because Puerto Rico has become quite impoverished over the years.”

Sophomore Andrew Jackson, born in Ghana, was also optimistic, “I think it’s something that’s long overdue,” he said, “Because the U.S has a lot of power over there, so it only makes sense that they get admitted as a state.”