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.”

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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.

http://https://twitter.com/sbu_spj/status/589543578461982720

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.”

http://https://twitter.com/bridget_downes/status/589165490045644800

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.

Social media mayhem before and after JRN 320

Prior to the start of JRN 320, I had attempted to increase my social media presence by starting a Tumblr, where I’d post mostly game and comic reviews and blog posts about whatever nerdy thing I was into at the moment.

I realized that it’s really hard to get Tumblr followers if I’m not posting porn or Doctor Who.

But during the class, I tried something else. I had never live-tweeted an event before taking this class and doing the first assignment, though I was sure I had a solid grasp of what needed to be done for it to work.

Inspired by that assignment, and by what I had seen major gaming sites do in the past, I decided that a weekend trip up to Boston for PAX East 2015, one of the largest video-gaming conventions in the world, would be a prime time for some live-action journalism.

I performed the majority of my live tweets from The Stony Brook Press’s account, as I was trying to boost our social media presence and truth be told, we managed to grab a few followers from outside of Stony Brook.

I did my best to relay a solid amount of all the cool things I saw, including panels from industry insiders providing tips on everything from how to break into the industry, to what makes video game music so great.

By the end of the first day, I realized how exhausting live coverage is, especially when it’s being done entirely from a cell-phone.

By far the worst part was using the WordPress app to upload updates to my article on sbpress.com and having to navigate to Twitter with my phone’s browser to get the embed codes for my tweets.

It was a wonderful experience though, one I hope to do again and relatively often.

Since then, a few other reporters have live-tweeted events from the @SBPress Twitter account, somewhat inspired by my efforts, including the Oscars and Wrestlemania and the NCAA finals, and every time it has garnered the account a few more new followers.

Freezing, but fashionable

The photo story, SBU Frigid Fashion, by Kayla Shults and Abby Del Vecchio, illustrates how Stony Brook University students are dressing to cope with this frigid winter season.

The greatest strength of the photo story is how genuine each subject looks. The students don’t look like they were forced to model their clothes and they all seem to be enjoying themselves. Also, the photos capture students in their natural environment, including the campus library hallway and the Student Union lounge.

I really enjoyed the quotes in the photo captions. My favorite one was by Oscar Icochea who said, “You gotta be a baller on a budget.” So, Kayla and Abby illustrated the students’ unique personalities, helping the audience get to know them as people and not only models.

Oscar Icochea’s motto when it comes to his fashion sense? “You gotta be a baller on a budget.” Photo by Kayla Shults and Abby Del Vecchio.

As far as what the duo could have done better, the photos could have been enlarged in the blog post to make them stand out more. It would have been great to see the finer details of each student’s clothes in larger photos.

Furthermore, I would have liked to have seen more photos of Yelizaveta Lysakoea. Although she is the featured image, another photo and caption of her in addition to the single picture of her in the blog post would have fleshed out her character.

“Sweaters, leggings, mittens and scarves are the most important things to wear,” said Yelizaveta Lysakoea, a 19-year-old psychology major. “I always have coffee because it’s so cold.” Photo by Kayla Shults and Abby Del Vecchio.

Parts of some of the photo subjects were also cut off. The shoes Lysakoea wore weren’t framed in the photo in the blog post, as well as the top of her head in the featured image.

Featured image of Yelizaveta Lysakoea. Photo by Kayla Shults and Abby Del Vecchio.

In addition, taking group photos of multiple students dressed in winter clothes could have enhanced the photo story. For example, these photos can depict the camaraderie between college friends bundled up in thick jackets in the cold.

For the photo story I published with Janelle Clausen, “No sleep for the studious,” group photos portrayed the pressures of midterms by featuring students who teamed up to study.

For 22-year-old Gabriela Cardoso, left, who’s a senior biology major, the Student Union lounge is a safe haven to study with her friends, Arely Sosa, a 21-year-old health science junior, and Tayisha St Vil, a 21-year-old women’s studies senior. Photo by Janelle Clausen (Feb. 28, 2015).
For 22-year-old Gabriela Cardoso, left, who’s a senior biology major, the Student Union lounge is a safe haven to study with her friends, Arely Sosa, a 21-year-old health science junior, and Tayisha St Vil, a 21-year-old women’s studies senior. Photo by Janelle Clausen (Feb. 28, 2015).

Kayla and Abby’s post can be very popular on social media because it tells a story through pictures. Rather than an 800-word feature story about SBU winter fashion, the photos in the story don’t demand as much time for the audience to enjoy. The photos can be added to a personal album on Facebook, which can be shared to friends. Those pictures will attract people to check out the Facebook post, which can include a link to the actual story. For Twitter, the best picture can be featured in the tweet to draw people to the blog post linked in the tweet.

Kayla and Abby portrayed how students are dressed to survive this freezing winter. Aside from a few technical critiques, the photos captured students in the moment and felt quite genuine. As a student myself dealing with the cold, I enjoyed how the story showcased students who forego fashion for warmth, and others who expressed their style despite the cold.

The baseball story is a home run

I would like to start this blog post out by saying that I think the entire class did a really nice job on this assignment. I was really impressed with all of the photos.

For this homework assignment I chose to review the baseball story because 1) I think it was well done and 2) I enjoy attractive, athletic boys (sorry, it needed to be said).

First off, I thought the idea for this story was really good. The question of “why would you choose college over professional baseball?” is something that I would like to know the answer to.

As far as photos go, I think they came out really nice. I really like the profile shots of the players. In the first one, of Johnny Caputo, there is a really good shallow depth of field. The background is blurred, but you can still tell where he is and I like where he was placed for the photo.

baseball1

I like what they did with the photo of the baseball field. I think for this assignment it was important to capture a photo of the field, however they faced the obstacle of all of the snow. The caption that they used really made it work though. It was a good set up for their topic to compare the snow covered field to the fact that the professional baseball players are in warm and sunny Florida preparing for their season because their project focused on why the players would choose college baseball over professional.

 

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I suspect that it was an obstacle to have to shoot through the nets during the teams indoor practice and I think  despite that the photos came out well, so good job with that.

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Also, I like the variety of shots. A photo that I really liked is the photo at the top of the post with the shoes and the baseball that is in focus. I think that was a good photo to put there.

baseball2

I also like that there are a variety of photos. They have action shots, the individual photos of the players, which look natural and not posed and even the coach during practice.

Another thing I like is the photo captions. A photo caption should be something that adds to the story and these captions did. I like the way they used to quotes of the players and their back stories in the captions rather than just in the blog post.

The only critique that I have is that they could have also gotten some shots of the players in a college setting. For example, if they got shots of them still in their practice clothes, but somewhere else on campus interacting with their friends or even studying. This is not something that would make or break their project, but it was just I thought I had when I was reading through it and I feel like I needed to throw a critique in there somewhere.

The last picture of the two players Zamora and MacEachern is a nice photo that captures a moment of the two kind of goofing around, that is what I assume they are doing anyway. I like that because it demonstrates that they are young and although they are passionate about baseball and hope to go somewhere with it one day, they needed that fun, college experience.

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I also want to note that I give Cam and Andrew credit because I know that it is difficult to get access to shoot sports teams in this way and they pulled it off.

So, good job guys.

 

 

A picture is worth a thousand cravings

Thanks to Kryssy Massa’s and Nicole Falletta’s report on various eateries around town, from international tastes to domestic dishes, options of where to eat have expanded. They made a good point in their lede; “If you feel like you are getting sick of campus food, or the usual Panera Bread and McDonald’s,” I personally do get sick of the mundane food options around campus and those within walking distance. I am a man who likes to try new delicacies, but on a wallet-friendly budget.

 

Their photos captured the textures and physical appearances of the food, almost like what food corporations do. The only difference is, the food corporations don’t give you what is advertised in the picture. The places documented by Kryssy and Nicole, one can actually see what is served, details of the food and how it’s crafted: The glistening burger bun, the viscosity of the mango lassi and the condensation on the jar of one of the lattes. Each detail denotes each food’s properties. It is details like these that capture a food-goer’s attention and craving for food.

 

It was great seeing the many faces, either employees or patrons, as it captivated the enthusiasm these people had. It suggested the various ambiances are inviting and jubilant- unless they only smiled for the photos and actually hate their jobs and the restaurants, but I doubt the latter. Even better I thought was that they included websites to a few of the restaurants with access to a menu of items (now I can plan on a future breakfast or lunch at one of these places).

 

A few things I would have suggested: First, maybe a little history blurb of each place such as how the restaurants started and its experiences over time. Second, some kind of mention of how to reach these places via public transportation for the few whom, unfortunately, do not commute around the area by car (though I do now how to get to these places using Suffolk County Transit: S76 to Stony Brook Village and Port Jefferson via Route 25A. The downside is this bus can only be caught on the opposite side of the Stony Brook railroad station. S60 to Port Jefferson from the Union to The Curry Club).


Overall, it is a great piece. Now, time to plan that next meal.

SBU Taandava Works its Way to the Stage

By Diana Lopez and Stephen Infantolino

The SBU Taandava Club worked very hard to put on a show this past Saturday. The Indian Classical dance team, hosted its second performance of  the show called “Jana Seva” at the Wang Center Theater.

Taandava members gather in a circle before each show. Photo Credit: Diana Lopez (March 7, 2015.)
Taandava members gather in a circle before each show to share positive thoughts. Photo Credit: Diana Lopez (March 7, 2015.)

However, before the big night started, dancers went through a long day of preparation. This routine usually starts around eight hours prior to opening doors to the public.

Natalie Poona Phagu, founder of Taandava in her Senior year, applies makeup to Jaime Mangalathu, a freshman Biology major. Both dancers aspire to go to medical school after graduation. Photo Credit: Diana Lopez (March 7, 2015.)
Natalie Poona Phagu, a senior at Stony Brook University and founder of Taandava, applies makeup to Jaime Mangalathu, a freshman biology major. Both dancers aspire to go to medical school after graduation. Photo Credit: Diana Lopez (March 7, 2015.)
Natalie Poona Phagu, makes sure everyone's make up and jewelry is up to part. In this case, she is helping 20-year-old Steni Stephan, a junior Biology major. Heavy eye make up is a staple of the Indian typical attire. Photo Credit: Diana Lopez (March 7, 2015.)
Natalie Poona Phagu, makes sure everyone’s make up and jewelry are up to part. In this case, she helps 20-year-old Steni Stephan, a junior biology major. Heavy eye makeup is a staple of Indian performance attire. Photo Credit: Diana Lopez (March 7, 2015.)

Women are not the only ones who have to spend hours getting ready. In fact, men also wear heavy make up and jewerly for these performances.

Sharugash Kiruba, a 24-year-old Biochemistry major, helps apply eyeliner to Lars Folkerts, a 22-year-old Electrical Engineering major. Folkerts just began Bharatanatyam dancing this past year. Kiruba is wearing gloves to avoid getting red hand paint on Folkerts’ face. Photo Credit: Stephen Infantolino (March 7, 2015.)
Sharugash Kiruba, a 24-year-old biochemistry major, helps apply eyeliner to Lars Folkerts, a 22-year-old electrical engineering major. Folkerts just began Bharatanatyam dancing this past year. Kiruba is wearing gloves to avoid getting red hand paint on Folkerts’ face. Photo Credit: Stephen Infantolino (March 7, 2015.)

Although quite heavy in application, makeup is not even close to being the loudest decoration on the dancers’ bodies. In fact, all members of Taandava use ankle bells while performing. These bells can be referred to as Salangai, Chilanka or Ghungroo depending on what part of India you are in.

Kripali Gautam, a sophmore majoring in sociology and minoring in biology, puts on her ankle bells. Guam, has been practicing classical Indian dancing for eight years now.
Kripali Gautam, a sophmore majoring in sociology and minoring in biology, puts on her ankle bells. Gautam, has been practicing classical Indian dancing for eight years now. Photo Credit: Diana Lopez (March 7, 2015.)

But dancers aren’t ready yet, they have yet to paint their hands and feet in red. This is believed to draw away negative vibes, and it also emphasizes movements on stage.

Dancers paint their feet red using Sharpies before going on stage. Photo credit: Stephen Infantolino (March 7, 2015.)
Dancers paint their feet red using Sharpies before going on stage. Photo credit: Stephen Infantolino (March 7, 2015.)

A few retouches before going on stage…

20-year-old Tuhina Venkatayogi, a junior on the pre-physician's assistant track, retouches her lipstick. Venkatayogi is the current president of Taandava.
Tuhina Venkatayogi, a 20-year-old health sciences major on a pre-physician’s assistant track, retouches her lipstick. Venkatayogi is the current president of Taandava. Photo Credit: Diana Lopez (March 7, 2015.)

Taandava dancers are finally ready… For a run-through, that is.

Natalie Poona Phagu, practices her singing in order for the audio engineer to get her microphone levels correct. Phase has been dancing for 14 years now, and she began learning Bharatanatyam in 2002. Photo Credit: Stephen Infantolino (March 7, 2015.)
Natalie Poona Phagu, practices her singing in order for the audio engineer to get her microphone levels correct. Phagu began learning Bharatanatyam in 2002. Photo Credit: Stephen Infantolino (March 7, 2015.)
"Nataraja," a depiction of the hindu god Shiva, was displayed stage left, and has its very own spotlight throughout the performance. Photo Credit: Stephen Infantolino (March 7, 2015.)
“Nataraja,” a depiction of the hindu god Shiva, was displayed stage left, and has its very own spotlight throughout the performance. Photo Credit: Stephen Infantolino (March 7, 2015.)
Nikita Vozenilek, a 19-year-old sociology major, and Jamie Mangalathu, a freshman Biology major, preform on stage during a practice run of Jana Seva. Nikita has been studying Bharatanatyam for the past 12 years, and her birthday is this week. Photo Credit: Stephen Infantolino (March 7, 2015.)
Nikita Vozenilek, a 19-year-old sociology major, and Jamie Mangalathu, a freshman Biology major, preform on stage during a practice run of “Jana Seva.” Nikita has been studying Bharatanatyam for the past 12 years, and her birthday is this week. Photo Credit: Stephen Infantolino (March 7, 2015.)

It takes an entire day of preparation to put on a show like “Jana Seva.” Yet, for the members of Taandava, every hour spent in preparation is worth it, as they opened at 7p.m. to a full house.