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.”

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.”

Worries of Waist Training

It seems new trends come left and right, whether it being the latest hairstyle, blue being the new black, or the never-ending latest diet fad.

A new fad among some women to hit the scene is tight lacing, or better known as waist training. This is the practice of wearing a tightly laced corset to slim your mid-drift.

There are various reasons why women would put their bodies into such extremes. One in particular is to hopefully lose inches off of their waist. While other popular goals is to maintain an hourglass shape or to help lose post pregnancy weight.

With this, one would be reshaping their ribcage to the desired silhouette.

This is new but not so. Corsets were first worn by male and female Minoans of Crete, though it did not become popular until the 16th century France and remained a fashionable dress until the French Revolution. Though, wearing a corset during these times were for different reasons.

Women would wear them to push up their breasts so they would peek over the corset, creating a bustier look, as well as a less rigid bodice.

As time passed, style had evolved. Until the 1840’s were the desire for a tighter silhouette was desired. It wasn’t until the late years of the Victorian era that medical reports and rumors claimed that tight lacing was fatally detrimental to health.

Then again, in the late 1900s the small corseted waist was no longer fashionable. That is until now, in the new millennium, the trend has been reintroduced.

Waist training today works as so, first one is recommended to do research. Find out exactly what goal they are trying to achieve and the severity they are willing to go.

Then there is finding out the corset preference. There are a few, such as, brocade, cotton, leather and satin. What they all do have in common is that they are steel boned, helping to keep a maintained shape in the corset.

Tiffani, a team member and video blogger for the Orchard Corset Blog, says that there is no one answer when you will see results. Numerous factors contribute to results. It all depends on your commitment. How many hours and days you wear the corset, and if you are incorporating diet and exercise.

It is advised that to have proper results you must incorporate all of this.

With popular celebrities such as the Kardashian clan and Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, who swear by this based on their social media updates, their adoring fans are easy to follow.

Jessica Alba, another believer of waist training, revealed to Net-A-Porter magazine that she “wore a double corset day and night for months,” to help rid her post pregnancy weight.

Now whether this works or not, the most important question to ask is, is it safe?

Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, a clinical professor of OBGYN at Yale School of Medicine, says once you take the garment off, your body will return to its usual shape. It’s also uncomfortable, restricts your movements, and if you wear it really tight, it can even make it difficult to breathe and theoretically could cause rib damage. There are plenty other statistics about this but I am not going to list them all just yet.

This also plays into a psychological sense. Meaning, using the media to convince women they should portray a certain body image.

Psychologist Marci Lobel this can help produce eating disorders in women. Some studies, such as “The Thin Ideal,” show that girls in the second grade, who see their moms and women in the media striving for this “perfect body,” begin to develop body image issues at a younger age. Claiming that they hate their bodies, want to lose weight and are already on a diet.

 It seems that at the end of the day there is going to only be two things to get your body into a slimmer shape, diet and exercise, or just be happy with who you are.

A look behind Brookfest

Brookfest is one of the most anticipated events of Stony Brook’s year. The annual concert held in the spring features two to three musical acts performing for the stressed out students needing a break from finals and summer planning. Every year, the artists are announced months beforehand to garner attention on social media. When the concert comes around, students pack the chosen concert venue and sing along to the rock or rap act chosen by Stony Brook’s Undergraduate Student Government. Something equally traditional about Brookfest is the backlash from students. The selection of artists for Brookfest has vocal approval, but also a vocal minority of those disapproving of the artists selected. Some claim it’s because of a lack of a certain genre (mostly rock), others say it’s because of a lack of relevant artists. Regardless, these unhappy students can be heard around campus and on social media.

For this year’s Brookfest, which featured the likes of rapper B.o.B., alternative rockers twenty one pilots, and emo-rock stalwarts Panic! At The Disco, the student voice was given the chance to be a bit more present in the decision. Months before the artists were announced, the Stony Brook Undergraduate Student Government sent out a Google Form containing a list of possible artists for the show.

“We wanted to get a general sense of what the Stony Brook community wanted to see in their concerts, because we knew that in the past we’ve always gotten reports that students…didn’t get their voice heard,” says Danny Chung, the Vice President of Communications and Public Relations for Stony Brook’s Undergraduate Student Government. Chung claims the Google Form was used to create a poll that would be “a good reference to give [USG] a sense of what [the students] might want.”

According to Chung, this year featured a more diverse line-up of performers but leaned on the presence of rock than rap. Previous concerts have featured rappers like Mac Miller, Wiz Khalifa, Lupe Fiasco and Kanye West in the headlining spot. While that may please the large number of rap fans on Stony Brook’s campus, it leaves others feel left out and their voices unheard.

According to Kenneth Myers, USG’s Vice President of Student Life, polls were posted on social media in the past that focused on genres and “usually, EDM [electronic dance music] and rap is usually the thing that comes out on top…but because that’s usually the most voted thing the people who want rock music never really get that option. Not until this year.”

Myers explained that the USG is normally time constricted when it comes to selecting the artist. Myers claims that the booking process started in January, noting that it is difficult to plan Brookfest at Lavalle Stadium, where the past two concerts have taken place, due to scheduling and high costs. Myers also mentioned how USG bylaws used to prevent any early planning of fall and spring events. This year, Myers rewrote the bylaws so all fall and spring events can be planned in the summer, allowing more time for potential artists to be fished out.

For those who missed out on the Google Form sent out this year, Chung points out that there has been a way for students to voice their picks for Brookfest artists; attending meetings held by the Student Activities Board. The SAB work with the USG to find the most popular artists in popular music genres on campus, and they take student opinion into account when it comes time to vote for artists to choose from. If students were unhappy with the choices for Brookfest, Chung recommends making their presence known more next time.

When the amount of votes from the Google Form were tallied, Chung said that “about, I believe, 1500 students that filled it out, and that’s only, what, 10% or the undergraduate students” submitted votes for artists that they wanted at Brookfest. Even with the Google Form as a step forward, Chuns believes that the work is never done when it comes to informing students.

“We just try to give [the students] more information to be transparent about what the procedure was and, maybe in the future if they’re going to be here for another year, how they can really participate and make sure that they can influence the decision that’s going to be made.”

Rest easy, Stony Brook students because the USG is listening. Next time, just try to be a little louder.

Twitter follower count is your job security

This past weekend, April 17 and 18, was the Society of Professional Journalists Region One Conference held at the Hofstra University Student Center in Hempstead.


The panels that I found most intriguing and beneficial were “How to Brand Yourself” and “Emerging Trends in Photography.” The photography panel allowed guests to witness drone photography in action right there in the Student Center Theater.

While this was amazing to see in person and learn about (helicopter rides for aerial shots go for about $200-750+ an hour), I found the panel on branding oneself a little more valuable.

Bill Corbett, of Corbett Public Relations, Hilary Topper, of HJMT Public Relations, Rob Basso, of Advantage Payroll Services, and Giovanna Drpic, of FiOS1 News were the panelists. It was held in a small room, which kept things intimate.

The panelists explained various ways to market oneself based off of personal talents and interests. One student journalist in the audience asked how to narrow down her focus as a person interested in many topics, to which they responded that it is necessary to pick a single focus and hone.

Corbett, who refers to a cell phones as a “personal marketing device,” displayed his acronym BRAND in a digital presentation that he created. It stands for “believe in yourself and others will follow,” “reputation is your most valuable asset,” “authenticity builds trust,” “name recognition comes from personal marketing” and “determination is required for continued success.”

Corbett then followed this by saying that one’s follower count on Twitter is “job security.”


Drpic then explained that she was once asked in an interview, very bluntly, how many Twitter followers she had.

If that number isn’t high, and you haven’t marketed yourself and gained popularity yourself, a potential employer might reject you. Basso backed this up by agreeing that journalists these days have to build a following themselves that they can bring to the company, rather than rely on the company for an audience.

The New York Times’ “Snow Fall” is still stellar.

Though I read it when it was initially published, I chose to revisit Snow Fall, as it was one of the first instances of interactive data journalism that I’d seen and recognized as something distinct from just a numbers-driven story. This distinction comes primarily from its unique layout and interactivity, as well as the fact that while data-driven, it did not rely wholly on numbers and statistics, but also on facts and details about the geographic area the story takes place in..Reported by The New York Times’ John Branch, the Pulitzer-winning article recounts the struggles of 16 men and women after they fell victim to an avalanche while on a skiing and snowboarding trip at Tunnel Creek in Washington State. The event left some injured and three dead.

Another aspect of the story which really rang out to me the first time I read it and again this time, was how Branch manages to intersperse concrete numbers and statistics into the story while still providing a — narrative. One might think that any emphasis on numbers in a piece of narrative storytelling like this might detract from the strength of the narrative, but in this case it does just the opposite by doubling the impact by incorporating the numbers in sentences like: “Within seconds, the avalanche was the size of more than a thousand cas barreling down the mountain and weighed millions of pounds. Moving 70 miles per hour, it crashed through the sturdy old-growth trees, snapping their limbs and shedding bark from their trunks.”

Screen capture of one of Snow Fall's visual components
Screen capture of one of Snow Fall’s visual components

Neither do the animated infographics and backgrounds detract from the piece. They once again do the opposite by giving readers a very firm image of the ambience and tone intended by the narrative. They also provide valuable visualizations of what it’s like to be on the mountainside, and where the group’s travels up and down the mountain took them.

I was blown away by how tightly constructed and well-planned this piece was the first time I read it in 2012, and it still has the same chilling impact nearly three years later. It’s not any surprise whatsoever that it won the 2013 Pulitzer for feature writing.

Data journalism portrays how education affects wages

Data journalism is an eye-opening tool to illustrate how people with less education are paid low wages in today’s economy.

The New York Times story, Why American Workers Without Much Education Are Being Hammered, uses data to drive this point home. From 1990 to 2013, there has been shift of male workers from once high paying manufacturing jobs to positions in food service, cleaning and groundskeeping. Thus, less-educated males are receiving wages that are far lower than those from decades ago.

The graph below, assembled by The New York Times, illustrates the low wages men without a college degree are earning in this economy.

Photo credit The New York Times. Screenshot by Jimin Kim (April 22, 2015).

Also, the Times points out how the median wages of 30 to 45-year-old men who didn’t graduate from high school fell by a massive 20 percent from 1990 to 2013 after adjusting for inflation. The graph below from the Hamilton Project portrays this change.

Photo credit the Hamilton Project. Screenshot by Jimin Kim (April 22, 2015).

Therefore, statistics add credibility to how less education correlates to lower-paying jobs in today’s economy. Therefore, data journalism can strongly support a story.

FiveThirtyEight: Doing data journalism the right way

As far as data journalism is concerned, there’s really one name that has shot up through the ranks in the past couple of years. That name, is FiveThirtyEight.

Whether it’s making their name with ESPN in sports, or politics, they’ve done a great job of creating compelling pieces of data journalism, like the one that I picked out for this week.

Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 5.42.22 PMEngland’s preliminary elections are coming up later this year, and FiveThirtyEight is being creative with their pieces of data journalism, by creating maps and discussing the demographics.

FiveThirtyEight is a great source for data journalism and a unique angle on different things, not just in sports. Everything in the world now is going to start revolving around numbers and data analysis, so people are going to want to go towards this website rather than other ones in the near future.

And they’ve got a head start.