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.”

What is Feminism?

What is Feminism? from Carlos Cadorniga on Vimeo.

Feminism, as it is legitimately defined, is a movement towards equality for every person regardless of what gender they align with; men, women and everyone in between would be on—at the very least—similar standing were feminism to prevail on a relatively large social scale.

Feminism, as it is often interpreted, is an intensely radical movement that encourages people—namely women—to hate men unconditionally, put all women on a pedestal and reject all aspects of traditional femininity. A common argument against feminism are people accusing feminists of giving female criminals a pass on their crimes—however heinous—simply because they are women. An example of female feminists rejecting femininity would be burning one’s set of bras as an attack on what they consider to be “female normality.”

If feminism were supposed to advocate gender equality, it would seem rather ridiculous that anyone would be against it so vehemently. Where did this hate come from? Where does the fault for its misinterpretation lie? Perhaps the blame should go to feminism’s more radical activists.

They say “the loudest bird is the one that’s heard.” This could easily be applied to feminism. Unfortunately, the loudest voices of feminism tend to be the ones that perpetuate its negative connotations. It’s these kind of extreme radical feminists that create blogging sites like “ihatemen.org,” a website where users post various experiences that have led them to, or provide examples of, why they hate anyone with an XY chromosome in their coding.

It’s easy to see the impact of these loud and pervasive voices unknowingly making a bad case for such a good cause.

In response to fitness supplement distributor Protein World’s controversial ads featuring a bikini-clad model posing beside the words “Are You Beach Body Ready?”, local feminists defaced the ads with permanent marker scribbles over the model alongside the words “NOT OKAY.” In response to this protest, Brendan O’Neill of UK magazine “The Spectator” decried their efforts. In an online editorial, O’Neill equated these feminist protests to Islamism, comparing these acts to Muslims in Birmingham defacing H&M bikini model ads after being “offended by [their] flesh.” Whether or not O’Neill understood the meaning of the protests, it was clear that his current interpretation of feminism is not only deeply ingrained, but very far off from its actual meaning.

What the majority of people fail to realize is that feminism represents so much more than something that’s good for only women. Feminism means respecting the choices that a woman makes; whether she’s desperate for a man or never wants to have kids, no one would have a problem either way. Feminism means a man not having to be judged for liking “Project Runway” more than he likes playing football; his interests would be his own and just because he likes something doesn’t mean he’s one thing or another. Feminism means not having to be defined by your body image; with disregard for current standards of beauty, no one would have to feel bad for not falling in line with such “qualifications.” Just because “fem” is in the word doesn’t mean that only females can benefit from feminism. As a movement for equality, feminism is something for everyone. It’s certainly controversial, but it is not something to be feared. If more people knew what feminism were fighting for, I’m sure they’d be more open to embrace it.

Stony Brook Athletics tackles challenges of academics

460,000 NCAA student-athletes have to fit their sports and social lives along with school work into their daily schedules. The problem is, there are only 24 hours in a day.

“It’s very hard. It’s very hard,” Courtney Rickard, Stony Brook’s Assistant Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Development, said. “I tell every recruit and their families when they come, I would have failed out of school if I had been a Division I student-athlete.”

There are some programs that help their pupils take the easy way out to squeeze sports and school work in, while still getting through the rigors of a college course load.

The University of North Carolina used “fake paper classes” for 18 years, according to multiple media outlets. Student-athletes never had to meet, and they only wrote one paper per semester. Stony Brook Athletics does not want to go down that road.

“We’re not the North Carolina scandal, we’re going to do it right,” Rickard said. “If we’re going to have athletics at Stony Brook, we’re going to do it right.”

That has not always been the case for the Seawolves. Way before Stony Brook’s baseball team went to the 2012 College World Series, the men’s basketball team beat the No. 13-ranked squad in the nation at the end of 2014 and the women’s lacrosse team earned a top-five national ranking this year, the Athletics Department found itself in trouble.

According to The New York Times, the school lost 12 and a half athletic scholarships for two seasons based on violations. The report states that, “some academically ineligible students were allowed to compete, some did not have satisfactory grade-point averages, and others did not have enough credit hours for graduation.”

Ever since, Stony Brook Athletics’ administration has worked with its student-athletes to make their two jobs—one as a student and another as an athlete— as successful as possible.

Student-athletes do not only have the pressure of performing in their respective sporting venue, but in the classroom as well. (Andrew Eichenholz)
Student-athletes do not only have the pressure of performing for their respective team, but in the classroom as well. (Andrew Eichenholz)

“You’ve got the athletics piece and you’ve got the academics piece and heaven forbid they want to join a club, they want to be involved in something, that’s a drain on their time,” Rickard said. “Our job really is to try to help alleviate any of that stress and really organize their day.”

Ever since Rickard started as an advisor at Stony Brook in 2003, Seawolves student-athletes have improved in the classroom. The department’s overall grade-point average has risen from a 2.86 in the 2003-2004 academic year to its current number of 3.08.

Stony Brook’s Director of Athletics, Shawn Heilbron, will soon unveil that the department seeks to bring the overall GPA to a 3.15 as part of a larger five year plan, per Rickard.

According to Dr. Richard Laskowski, who was the Dean of Physical Education and Athletics at Stony Brook over a decade ago, departments looking to increase performance both on and off of the field, as Stony Brook is attempting to do, face a challenge.

“You’ve got to bring in good students. But history shows, unfortunately, that generally the higher the level of athletic performance that’s asked for in a university, the more difficult it is to get those students who have high grades,” Laskowski said. “They’re more likely to focus on their athletic ability.”

An example is the University of Notre Dame, where according to Laskowski, who was also a high-ranking administrator at St. John’s University, the Fighting Irish have slightly lowered their standards for the sake of securing students who can help them the most on the playing field.

According to CNN, the academic fraud bug bit them in 2014. “Several University of Notre Dame students, including four football players, are being investigated over academic fraud allegations, the university said.”

Stony Brook's teams win conference championships, send student-athletes to the pros, and more recently, have increased their GPAs. (Andrew Eichenholz)
Stony Brook’s teams win conference championships, send student-athletes to the pros, and more recently, have increased their GPAs. (Andrew Eichenholz)

Stony Brook does not want to sacrifice its academics for anything.

“Because of the high standards we have here at Stony Brook, we always wanted to do that, that was always one of our goals when we were doing a strategic plan or a five-year plan, increase the GPAs,” Laskowski said. “But to do that, it’s hard to also increase the level of your athletic program, it’s not that easy. It’s very challenging.”

That is a struggle that Rickard and company deal with every day.

“Coaches don’t like surprises at the end of the semester,” she said. “but we don’t like surprises during the semester.”

Academic coaches meeting individually with students and teams holding study halls at the Stuart Goldstein Student-Athlete Development Center are some of the efforts made to keep students on track.

“It’s everybody at the table,” Rickard said. “Everyone involved with student athlete welfare coming to the table and working so that the calendar of things they have to do somehow fits in those 24 hours.”

To faculty, it is not about merely helping student-athletes skate by and just earn their degrees, either. Since Heilbron took the job a year ago, much time has been spent focusing on what comes next for the Seawolves.

“That hundred percent placement in something after graduation is going to fall on our shoulders here in student-athlete development and it really always has, but now it’s put into place, it’s written out,” Rickard said. “I think that’s a challenge because that’s a hard task to fill, but at the same time, that’s what our mission is. I always tell people on their recruiting visit, ‘if you come here for four years and you leave and you have no idea what to do after that, I have failed you.’”

Despite the obstacles, Stony Brook Athletics is not failing, but only building upwards.

Long Island Opt-Out teaser

By Kayla Shults and Abby Del Vecchio

Across the nation, parents have been refusing standardized tests that they feel do more damage than good for their children. Long Island has been highly involved with this movement, with thousands of students opting out of the math and reading tests this year.  This, is the Long Island Opt-Out.

First Amendment through our youth’s eyes

Eric Garner, Baltimore, Ferguson… What do all these cases have in common?

I will tell you what, all these cases put into questioning our public’s knowledge of our first amendment rights and freedom.

The First Amendment of the United States was established in 1791 by the founding fathers to give the people of this nation tools to protect themselves. However, it has been over two centuries since we adopted it, and with the recent controversies, we tend to question our rights and freedoms.

I embarked on an experiment to find out what are the thoughts of Stony Brook University students on the First Amendment of the United States today? in this way I was looking to find a possibly root to our increasing social problems.

During an experiment, I interviewed a diverse group of students around campus to find out what they know or not about the most important amendment on  the Bill of Rights, and whether they care about this or not.

The results of my research clearly reflect why our nation stands where it does today.

Special thanks to Stony Brook students participating in the experiment:

Alan Hong

Yunjiao Dong

Douth Pijush

Boreum Lee

Elizabeth Eunsong

Sound Credits:

Opening/ending song: Jimi Hendrix – The Star Spangled Banner

First Amendment: Keith Hughes – First Amendment for Dummies – The Basics of the 1st Amendment Explained