Meal points shortage at SBU

FSAThe end of the semester at Stony Brook university is rapidly approaching. With the pressure of finals and graduation, one would expect  for food consumption to increase around campus.

However, taking a quick look at the different dining halls all over campus, it seems as if not much eating is going on. In fact, a lack of meal points is currently forcing students to look for alternatives to feed themselves.

According to the Faculty Student Association, over  6,000 students are currently enrolled in one of the four residential meal plans the university offers.

The FSA website also states that “ Resident students, who live in a residence hall or area designated as non-cooking, must enroll in a resident meal plan regardless of class year or tenure at Stony Brook.”

This leaves most students with four meal plan options to choose from. Naturally, more than half of those students have enrolled in the cheapest meal plan option, the Bronze plan.

This plan which costs $1,930 per semester offers a total of 1325 points. This equals to about $10 per day.

However, according to James Lekstutis, a student resident assistant in Roosevelt quad, a single meal in any of the dining halls on campus costs about $9. This leaves students with a dollar to spare for the rest of the day.

According to Campus Dining Services Marketing Manager, Carly Shephard, the Bronze meal plan is not targeted to full time resident students. “There are some students who work for campus dining and get discounts or free meals, the bronze plan would work for those students.”

More expensive meal plan options are available for students, including the silver, gold and platinum plans, which offer a larger amount of meal points.

However, in an effort to reduce the costs of attending college, students prefer to deal with the cheaper option, even if it means restricting their diets.

Student Iftear Naser, says at times he restricts his food intake up to a single meal per day in order to budget his meal points throughout the semester.

Alternatives to buying food in the dining halls include attending club meetings and events that offer free food,  cooking easy-to-make food, surviving on noodle soup and mac and cheese or visiting the food pantry located in the union building.

According to Shephard, campus dining is constantly working to help students with low to no meal points offering a variety of promotions and events such as midnight breakfast, strawberry fest, and discounts in certain products at the dining halls.

“We need to educate students,” said Carly Shephard, ” and Campus Dining is currently working with those who need our help,” she added.

To see some students reactions on the topic, take a look at the video below:
https://vimeo.com/127698200

Meal Points from Diana Lopez on Vimeo.

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The arts in jeopardy at Stony Brook University as Craft Center and Art Gallery close

In the wake of announcements that Stony Brook’s Student Union would be vacated by January 2016 to make way for renovations, questions arose on the fate of the many clubs and organizations that occupy offices throughout the building.

Rooms 081 and 049 in the basement currently house the Craft Center, which holds frequent events that according to Andri Achilleos, 21, a double-major in studio art and art history, allow students to “relax and get away from the stress of work and classes,” and the Ceramics Center, where students, faculty and members of the local community gather to mold everything from sculptures to dishware.

The plans to relocate the two spaces, according to employees and frequenters of the Craft Center and its services are non-existent.

Also being lost to the Union reconstruction is the Student Activities Center Art Gallery.

According to Samantha Tracy, president of Stony Brook’s Fine Arts Organization, the space is being vacated to make way for the offices of the religious organizations that are currently housed on the second floor of the Union.

“I had to tell the future president and the future members that I’m not sure if you’re going to have a gallery space and be prepared to not have one,” said Tracy. “A huge learning tool in the art world is being able to look at your fellow students’ artwork and to share ideas. So now you have this matrix of ideas from other cultures, from other artists, from people of different ages and different skill levels, and you can walk around and you can talk about it and discuss concepts. Just that visual stimulation is a huge process in learning. That sharing of ideas really benefits Stony Brook and the Stony Brook community.”

This has raised concern amongst students and employees of the Craft Center and Art Gallery, who argue the value of having organizations and events like the Craft Night and student galleries on campus.

Along with Samantha Tracy and Emily Brownawell, a senior studio art major and avid user of the Ceramics Center, Achilleos began two petitions for the Craft Center and Art Gallery to raise awareness of the situation among the student body, reaching 1,200 signatures and earning the Craft Center administration a meeting with Dean of Students and Assistant VP of Student Affairs Tim Ecklund, who heard the case for maintaining outlets like theirs on campus.

“We didn’t start the petition as craft center employees, but as students,” said Achilleos. “We can actually show that students care.”

The case Achilleos and other advocates for finding a new place for these outlets is the necessity for stress relief provided by artistic endeavors.

“I definitely know that a lot of students, especially with the Craft Nights, come here to destress and to relax,” said Mikaela Batista, a graduate student in the Art History program who recently started working in the Craft Center.

According to Kate Valerio from Stony Brook’s Health Education office, the stress relief afforded by art is very real.

“There are definite health benefits to finding ways to distract yourself and use your hands” said Valerio. “[Health Education] has utilized the Art Gallery in several ways to support destressing of students. We’ve hosted poetry night in the Art Gallery among other events. Finding ways to utilize your hands has a definite stress-relieving effect.”

Batista said, “[The Craft Center] is just a great place to come and be creative. You don’t have to be an artist to enroll in a class here or learn or to meet new friends. I think that should be something that’s valued here, especially for students.”

Long Island drivers suffering from pothole plague

Another brutal winter, another trail of roadway destruction left behind. This past winter in particular left Long Island’s roadways obliterated by cracks and potholes and Long Island residents desperate for repairs.

Five months into the year and Long Island is still fighting a plague of potholes. Due to budget restraints, budget cuts and time constraints, elected officials are having a hard time fixing these broken roads, leaving Long Island drivers, and their vehicles, to pay the ultimate price.

Potholes form when water seeps into roadway cracks and freezes, expanding the roadways with it, and then thaws, leaving behind a gaping hole where the frozen water once was.

PC: Emily Benson
PC: Emily Benson

According to a study by the Law Office of Michael Pines in San Diego, potholes are rated number 19 of the top 25 causes of car accidents. Potholes are also detrimental to any vehicle, and can put enormous strain on your tires, wheels, and suspension. A direct hit of a pothole can result in a loss of tire pressure/ tire air, and usually requires attention and immediate replacement.

According to analysis by TRIP, traffic on New York State’s highways increased 21 percent between 1990 and 201. In 2012 alone, around 213,000 vehicles used the Long Island Expressway daily between Exit 37 and the New York City line. With such an increasing presence on their roadways, Long Island’s roads are taking on even more wear and tear. Neglect of these increasing numbers will only lead to worse consequences for drivers and their vehicles.

Kenneth Schwier, service manager at Stony Brook’s Village Automotive Center repair shop, said that because each vehicle is unique, the range of damage that could happen to one’s car or truck varies from person to person.

Largely due to the large amounts of snow and ice from this past winter, Schwier says a higher number of cars than usual are coming in this year with problems caused by potholes or cracked roads. Schwier says there is a good chance that any damage done will be costly.

“We just had one vehicle come in from road problems and that was around $1,000,” said Schwier. “Officials are slow to fill in the potholes so they just sit there.”

However, elected officials are trying to battle these excessive potholes just as much as residents, but are losing due to lack of funding.

PC: Emily Benson
PC: Emily Benson

Glenn Jorgensen, Smithtown’s superintendent of highways, said that their budget has been getting slashed more and more each year. The amount got so low that Jorgensen had to request additional funding at the last board meeting, but even that won’t be enough to fix the roads that need the most help.

“Years ago we use to get $500,000, but the town board controller cut it down to about $265,000. This year they gave me $150,000 and I went through that pretty fast obviously and I had to request another $100,000,” said Jorgensen.

Each year, the Smithtown highway department lays out a road program listing all the major roadways that need to either be paved, micro sealed or completely reconstructed. The 2015 road program  has hopes of repairing roads in Smithtown, Kings Park, Commack, Saint James, Nesconset, San Remo, Hauppauge and Fort Salonga.

PC: Emily Benson
PC: Emily Benson

While patching and repaving these roads is important, experts say that the best thing that can be done for damaged roads is to prevent things from getting worse.

Former NYC Transportation Commissioner, Lucius T. Riccio, said neglect, not winter, is the primary cause of potholes in an interview with Newsday.

“There are many roads that get through the winter without potholes. That’s because they’ve been resurfaced on the proper replacement cycle and maintained,” said Riccio. “Preventive medicine is the best medicine for people, and preventive maintenance is the best medicine for roads.”

Stony Brook University officials say that they are taking prevention into serious consideration with their plans to repair campus roads.

Terence Harrington, Stony Brook University’s Assistant Vice President for Facilities and Services, said he has been surveying the campus roads and noting areas that need patching.

“To prepare for next winter we are continuously inspecting our roads and walkways for any major issues and repairing them before the issue becomes larger,” said Harrington.

PC: Emily Benson
PC: Emily Benson

For Long Island drivers, it does not matter how the roads get fixed just as long as they do.

“It’s definitely a safety hazard because you don’t want to damage your car but at the same time you have to be mindful of other drivers,” said Domnick  Raymond, a freshman psychology major at Stony Brook University. “I understand that there is a lot of congestion on these roads. I wish they would work on them more so safety could be better and it’d be a more enjoyable ride.”

Stony Brook Fights Sexual Assault

By Jimin Kim and Bridget Downes

This April, Stony Brook University hosted its largest ever Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). A total of 33 events took place in just 22 days to inform students and the community on how to prevent sexual assault.

Student groups and university organizations collaborated to hold a variety of sexual assault awareness programs. Each event took its own unique approach in teaching students on how to prevent sexual assault, or power-based violence.

While one or two presentations a week about sexual assault awareness is typical for Christine Szaraz, the Prevention and Outreach Counselor for the Center for Prevention and Outreach (CPO), she attended up to four events each day in April.

“I’ll never say no to these presentations because it’s taken my entire career here at Stony Brook to see the level of demand for these kinds of services reach this peak,” said Szaraz.

Reported rape decreased in Suffolk County and New York state in 2012. But, sexual assault reports increased at Stony Brook that year. According to an SBU campus police report, there were 17 sexual assaults at SBU in 2012, which is five more than in 2011 and 10 more than in 2010.

In addition, the recent scandal of SBU alumna Sarah Tubbs who sued the school for “deliberate indifference” for how it handled her sexual assault case has drawn more attention to the topic of sexual assault on college campuses.

Moderator Christine Szaraz stood on the podium as campus officials spoke about preventing sexual assault and resources for victims at the Panel Discussion on Campus Sexual Assault Policies and Resources. Photo by  Jimin Kim (April 29, 2015).
Moderator Christine Szaraz stood on the podium as campus officials spoke about preventing sexual assault and presented resources for rape victims at the Panel Discussion on Campus Sexual Assault Policies and Resources. Photo by Jimin Kim (April 29, 2015).

According to Szaraz who moderated the Panel Discussion on Campus Sexual Assault Policies and Resources on campus, sexual assault has always been a problem in colleges in the U.S.

“I think what may contribute to the idea that the level of intensity around violence has increased, or maybe there’s more violence than there ever was is the media attention and presence,” Szaraz said.

Michelle Tepper, left, sat on the panel with Karen Dybus, right, physician assistant for SBU's Student Health Service, who spoke about how her department addresses sexual assault. Photo by  Jimin Kim (April 29, 2015).
Michelle Tepper, left, sat on the panel with Karen Dybus, right, physician assistant for SBU’s Student Health Service, who spoke about how her department addresses sexual assault. Photo by Jimin Kim (April 29, 2015).

She discussed how sexual assault goes beyond the physical attack commonly associated with rape. She said that people today are more educated on what actually qualifies as rape, which is when someone has sex with a person who simply says no. This has led to more people identifying and reporting sexual assault.

“If someone thinks that rape is this really narrow limited set of circumstances, it’s just a stranger jumping out of the bushes with a knife or a gun, then you’re not going to see a whole range of circumstances that legally qualify as rape even if it’s happening right in front of you,” said Szaraz.

Johnathan Sacco explains the steps students should take when they identify someone who is in danger of sexual assault. Photo by  Jimin Kim (April 29, 2015).
SUFA President Matthew Sacco explained the steps students should take when they identify someone who is in danger of sexual assault. Photo by Jimin Kim (April 23, 2015).

Matthew Sacco, a senior English major at SBU, tried to inform students that sexual assault can manifest itself in more subtle ways. He is the president and founder of Students United for Action (SUFA), and organized a campaign called “Light in the Dark” where members inform students about how to intervene as a bystander witnessing sexual assault. During the evening of Thursday, April 23, SUFA members taped glow sticks to pamphlets with information about bystander intervention and handed them out to students.

Johnathan Sacco hands out a flier and a glow stick about sexual assault bystander prevention to students in the Union. Photo by  Jimin Kim (April 29, 2015).
Matthew Sacco hands out a flier and a glow stick about sexual assault bystander prevention to students in the Union. Photo by Jimin Kim (April 23, 2015).

The glow sticks were intended to invite more students to hear the members discuss their mission, rather than trying to gain their attention by simply giving them a piece of paper. The Student Union was their main destination where crowds of sororities and fraternities huddled around the entrance, waiting for their rides to attend house parties off campus.

“After doing this outreach for a very long time, you understand when someone is ready to have a conversation or even when having a conversation about sexual assault is triggering someone’s personal experiences,” said Sacco, who spent the night handing out glow sticks to students and engaging them in conversations about the mission of “Light in the Dark.”

SUFA President Jonathan Sacco discusses with SUFA volunteers, Kathleen Loverde and Tanya Barbot about their strategy for handing glow sticks and pamphlets to students about how to stop sexual assault as a bystander. Photo by  Jimin Kim (April 29, 2015).
Matthew Sacco discusses with SUFA volunteers, Kathleen Loverde, a junior business major, and Tanya Barbot, a junior psychology and sociology double major, about a strategy for informing students on how to stop sexual assault as a bystander. Photo by Jimin Kim (April 29, 2015).

“It’s been really amazing to be a part of this because I’ve had so many great conversations with people and I think it’s been really amazing empowering advocates who really didn’t know how  to address the issue.”

A core theme of SAAM was emphasizing that sexual assault doesn’t discriminate whom it affects.

“Sexual violence is not about women, it’s about community,” said Dr. Smita Majumdar Das, CPO Assistant Director. “Men, women, everyone is equally impacted by violence. So, when we’re looking at a community, we’re looking at how we as a community change our norms and step in when violence occurs. It’s about you, it’s about me, it’s about everyone to play our part in this.”

SUFA volunteer Tanya Barbot sticks in a student’s backpack a glow stick and its accompanying flier featuring information about stopping sexual assault as a bystander. Photo by Jimin Kim (April 23, 2015).

Tanya Barbot, a junior psychology and sociology double major, volunteered to help SUFA with their “Light in the Dark” event. She sought to inform both male and female students about the issue of bystander intervention.

“There’s a lot of people who are afraid to step in because they feel like they don’t really have a say in what’s going on or they’re afraid of the repercussions of what can happen,” Tanya Barbot said, as students chattered around her in their fraternity or sorority groups. “But, they need to understand that they need to protect other people.”

“Light in the Dark” wasn’t the only event on SBU that looked to spread sexual assault awareness. On April 27, junior english major, Christine Publik, hosted an event titled “50 Shades of Grey Areas” in the H Quad on campus. She used the event to tackle the important issue of how to define sexual consent, and to avoid the “grey” areas.

“Consent is defined by SBU as a negation or the act of saying no,” said Publik. “Rape culture, victim blaming and what people think consent is in general is really important for me because the policies are there, but there are so much more in between like the ‘grey’ areas.”

The “50 Shades of Grey Areas” event on April 27 sought to help students understand how to define sexual consent and prevent sexual assault. Photo by Bridget Downes (April 27, 2015).
The “50 Shades of Grey Areas” event on April 27 sought to help students understand how to define sexual consent and prevent sexual assault. Photo by Bridget Downes (April 27, 2015).

Publik’s event title is a play on words in reference to the highly acclaimed and controversial book and movie adaptation “50 Shades of Grey.” The story drew attention to abusive relationships, which is closely associated with domestic violence and sexual assault. Some argued that the relationship between the two characters falsely portrayed a positive BDSM relationship. Hence, Publik’s use of the title “50 Shades of Grey Areas.”

Groups of students marched on Wed. April 14 at the academic mall to protest against sexual violence in the “Walk in their Shoes,” event. Photo by Bridget Downes (April 14, 2015).
Groups of students marched on April 14 at the academic mall to protest against sexual violence in the “Walk in their Shoes” event. Photo by Bridget Downes (April 14, 2015).

Additionally, groups of students gathered on the afternoon of April 14 for a march through the SBU academic mall. This event was called “Walk in their Shoes,” and was hosted by one of the campus sororities and Megan Smedley, an internship consultant at the SBU Career Center. Participants shouted, “Stop the violence, stop the silence,” catching the attention of many onlookers with their energy.

With the wide array of sexual assault awareness programs that took place this April, Szaraz plans to host even more events next year. She compared the amount of focus students gave to sexual assault awareness when she graduated from SBU in 2003 to the attention the topic draws today.

“So, what I’m seeing is the temperature generally having come up if we’re looking at warmer being better and more people getting involved and engaged,” said Szaraz. “When I was a student, I would say that the temperature was rather cool. It was tepid water. But, now the water is really warm. I don’t think we’re simmering, but we’re approaching that simmering point.”

Geologists talk about the difficulty of communicating science

Geologists share their struggle over communicating science from Julio Avila on Vimeo.

Carey Legett, known by his nickname Chip, is a geology graduate student, studying planetary surface compositions using methods such as near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy, but trying to communicate his work to the public is a challenge, he said.

“What we’re doing is so narrow and specific of a type of study and field that even other geologists aren’t familiar with this technique,” Chip said. “So the fact that, to someone that doesn’t have any science training at all that this is difficult to explain isn’t surprising.”

An explanation of his work can be understandable, as his work progresses, reading a graph depicting light wavelengths and color may raise eyebrows.

As for Professor Timothy Glotch, who proposed the project to NASA and receives funding from it said the challenge of communication may be with scientists themselves.

“I think the basic problem is that scientists spend too much time in their own heads,” Glotch said. “You don’t spend a lot of time about, ‘oh how do I tell somebody else about it?”

Glitch added that scientists use time to try to work on “problems that you want to fix.”

Scientists do get assistance on communicating their work to the public through the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University.

More to follow.

Stony Brook University using technology to revolutionize the classroom

Gone are the days of overhead projectors and the screeching noise of chalk on a chalkboard. Now is the time for Apple TVs and iPads to teach, increasing mobility for college and university professors and bringing more interaction between students and professors, and students and their fellow peers.

Stony Brook University is among the many schools in the country with technology beginning to take center stage and the University is wasting no time. Newly-opened Frey Hall is the technological hub of the school, utilizing Apple TVs in all four of the lecture halls in the building and designing a classroom that may look like it did 100 years ago, but is technologically advanced for 2015.

“The vision for the learning spaces at Stony Brook is supporting teaching practices that already exist but envisioning the ways that faculty want to engage students in the future and power a lot of that through really smart design and the use of technology whether it’s existing or emerging technologies,” the University’s Chief Information Officer Cole Camplese said.

According to Camplese, the classrooms of the future need to support three things in order to be successful. Really good wireless, different kinds of ways for faculty to interact with students and more flexibility.

This, in turn, will allow professors to teach as they please, whether it is to continue to stand in front of a class and lecture, or to walk around and engage their students while using the technology present, something Camplese strongly encourages.

“I think the future of teaching looks less like drill and practice, lecture and repeat, and doing more of that stuff out of the classroom and have time in the classroom to participate and do stuff,” the former Penn State Senior Director of Teaching and Learning with Technology said.

The goal for technology going forward is to be more of an aid in assisting students to learn. At a young age, students are put into groups by sitting at tables, making them work together and work as a team. As students got older, it was more singular in nature, with teachers having students do a lot of the work on their own.

Camplese wants to get back to the good old days.

“Learning is a social enterprise, and we do it better when we do it together,” he said.

There are some downfalls to it, however, as chemistry professor Joseph Lauher describes for his class. He has to use clickers, or quick answering devices to send answers to his laptop, because the phones have one significant downfall to them.

“They just simply aren’t fast enough,” Lauher said. “For what I’m trying to do with my class, they just are not fast enough. Would I love to just use the phones [for both the quizzes and clickers]? Yeah! But it isn’t fast enough yet.”

The big thing that the technology is going to do is unite students and bring back collaborative learning. This takes education back in time when in reality it is moving forward.

“It returns us to a time when technology wasn’t the driver of a classroom,” Camplese said.

As time progresses, Camplese wants to create a diversity of workspaces, where professors can use this technology as much or as little as they please. But the possibility of them being there is what he hopes will entice the professors to use it and realize that there is something there.

“The chalkboard challenged teachers in a way that computers are doing that now,” Camplese said. “It unlocked all of these potentials that scared the heck out of students.”

Well, right now, technology is unlocking a lot of potentials that is scaring the professors instead. But down the road, it will be a great innovation that the teachers will enjoy.

New York and medical marijuana


New York has become the 23rd state to open its doors to medical marijuana. Back in July of 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a limited medical marijuana bill. Supporters in New York are frustrated with the bill’s restrictions and how long it is taking to go into effect.

Kate Hintz is a supporter of medical marijuana. She has a petition on Change.org to pass the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act.

On March 24, U.S. Reps. Steve Cohen. and Don Young along with U.S. Senators Rand Paul, Kirstin Gellibrand and Cory Booker introduced the CARERS Act, which would prevent the federal government from controlling or interfering with the state medical marijuana laws.

Hintz wants this bill to pass for her daughter, Morgan. Morgan is four-years-old and suffers from Dravet Syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy that causes frequent and dangerous seizures.

The medications prescribed to Morgan have not only been ineffective, but have also given her terrible side effects. Doctors have suggested the use of cannabidiol oil, a form of medical marijuana.

Hints wrote a letter on change.org urging more people to co-sponsor the bill.

“Congress is lagging far behind the American people on this issue and it’s going to take all of our voices to change the status quo,” Gellibrand wrote in response to the letter.

Hintz is just one of many families who have a loved one suffering from ailments like this.

CNN has been reporting about medical marijuana a lot lately. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the chief medical correspondent, wrote a piece last month about how it is “time for a medical marijuana revolution.”

Marijuana at the federal level is still considered a schedule I drug, which is defined a drug with no currently accepted medical use and have a high potential for abuse.

“Marijuana, it doesn’t kill people, you can’t overdose on it. However, it has been scheduled as a class one drug for whatever reason,” Matt Elmes, a PhD student at Stony Brook University who conducted a study on marijuana said. “In recent years it has been a lot easier to study it and it seems to be easier and easier, so I think there will be a lot more studies coming out on the effects and benefits and how we can use this drug.”

Many medical marijuana advocated are unhappy with the restrictions that were put on the bill in order for Cuomo to pass it.

“It is the compassionate care act, but many people now refer to it as the Cuomo care act,” Brian Batrowny, a member of the New York Cannabis Alliance, said. “He refused to sign it [the bill] until there were several provisions made.”

The most notable provisions that Governor Cuomo made were that he eliminated ailments that were initially on the bill to receive medical marijuana as a form of treatment and to use medical cannabis it needs to be extracted into an oil form‑not smoked and not an edible.

Here’s what the medical marijuana law does say: A patient who has been certified by a doctor to use medical marijuana will register with the New York State Department of Health and receive a patient I.D. card. Specially approved organization can dispense the medical marijuana to these patients—under the Department of Health’s supervision.

In order to receive this treatment, one must have what the state defines as a “serious condition.” Some of these include, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and managing epilepsy.

One of the major issues for advocates now is the bill is taking a long time to come into effect.

Hintz spoke at a press conference at the end of April with her daughter about how mothers who have children with epilepsy often obtain medical cannabis illegally, which makes them technically criminals.

“How much longer do you want to delay,” she asked Cuomo.

New York’s medical marijuana program is set to begin next year.

In a press release on April 28, from Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried he addresses this issue. The release talked about how the bill came 298 days after Governor Cuomo signed the bill into law.

“To date, not one patient has received medical marijuana, and at least three children who might have benefitted from this well-known form of medical marijuana, have died since the bill was passed,” the press release reads.

Since July, advocates have been pressuring the Cuomo Administration to create an interim emergency access program for those who are suffering and may not be able to wait the amount of time that the Governor needs to get the medical marijuana program up and running.

Representatives like Gottfried and all behind the CARERS Act, have been doing that they can in the mean time to help.

“The failure of the Cuomo Administration to act in the face of the suffering of the terminally and critically ill and the deaths of at least three young children is unconscionable,” Julie Netherland, PhD, deputy state director at the Drug Policy Alliance, said.