All posts by Signal Contributor

Women’s reproductive rights are human rights

By Stephanie Cervino

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development where nations across the globe, including the United States, declared that reproductive rights are human rights. Over the past two decades, much progress has been made. Yet, around the world, 222 million women in developing countries who want to plan and space their families still lack access to modern birth control and 47,000 women die from the inability to access a legal abortion with an experienced provider. While right here on our campus students can visit the Planned Parenthood office within Student Health Services to obtain sexual and reproductive health services and birth control, off campus and abroad, we still have our work cut out for us.

While students are offered resources on campus through Planned Parenthood, there is still a lot of work to do to ensure reproductive rights. (AP Photo)

While students are offered resources on campus through Planned Parenthood, there is still a lot of work to do to ensure reproductive rights. (AP Photo)

To tackle these significant challenges, in 2015 government members of the United Nations will set new global development goals. And they’ve issued a call for people around the world to contribute to this process by defining the “World We Want” in an online survey and on social media. Beginning last month for International Women’s Day and continuing this spring around major UN conferences, including the Commission on Population and Development, supporters of women’s health and rights are responding to that call with a manifesto defining the world we want.Planned Parenthood Affiliates of New Jersey (PPNJ) work to make the world we want a reality every day. For nearly 100 years, Planned Parenthood has worked to improve women’s health and safety, prevent unintended pregnancies, and advance the right and ability of individuals and families to make informed and responsible choices. And PPNJ is uniquely positioned to engage in UN processes as global citizens — over 20 percent of our state’s population was born in countries other than the U.S., so lawmakers in the state have a particular duty to represent the interests of these global stakeholders. To that end, here’s a little more about the world we want.

In the world we want, access to health care doesn’t depend on your postal code. Or your gender. Or your sexual identity. Or the language you speak. Or the color of your skin.

In the world we want, the College has zero sexual assaults, zero unintended pregnancies and zero obstacles to comprehensive and respectful health services for all students.

In the world we want, politicians don’t come between a woman and her health care provider.

In the world we want, girls are just as likely as boys to stay in school, go after the jobs they want and become leaders in their communities.

In the world we want, there are no new HIV infections, and those living with HIV are able to make decisions about their health and lives, just like anybody else.

In the world we want, young people are empowered and trusted with information about sex so they can prevent unintended pregnancy and protect themselves from STDs.

In the world we want, all people have equal protection and equal benefit under the law.

The world we want is free of stigma, discrimination and violence. And reproductive rights are recognized as human rights. The world we want acknowledges that the only way forward is to protect and expand these rights. In the world we want, all people control their own bodies and their own destinies. This is the world we want. And this is the world we’ll fight for.

Standing together for Ally Awareness Week

The Day of Silence ended with a coffeehouse. (Kyle Bennion / Photo Assistant)

The Day of Silence ended with a coffeehouse. (Kyle Bennion / Photo Assistant)

By Tiffani Tang
Staff WriterFrom Tuesday, April 8, to Friday, April 11, the College’s LGBTQ alliance club, PRISM, held Ally Awareness Week.

Ally Week is held in order to encourage people to be allies against anti-LGBT, bullying and other forms of harassment.

“An ally is somebody who is willing to go out of their way to fight for a cause that is important to them,” junior computer engineering major Kari Gilbertson said. “An ally is not a label, it is an action. Every cause needs allies to spread the word and recruit more allies. They are the gateway for success toward our cause.”
This year, the first event was “Different Spectrums within the Spectrum,” an activity that required everyone to stand up and walk between two pieces of tape, which resembled a “spectrum” of extremes. When prompted with a question, attendees would have to choose a side depending on their answers.

The questions started off light and jokingly, asking attendees if they preferred subs or hoagies.

As the night progressed, the questions became more serious. The topics ranged from privilege to confronting people who made harmful decisions to bullying to gender policing to standing up for personal beliefs.

And with each question, participants were encouraged to expand their views and explain why they chose their position on the spectrum.

“Reporting a hate crime is one way to be an ally,” event coordinator and freshman criminology major Robin Schmitz said.
The following day, “RENT,” a famous show and movie about six friends and their struggles with AIDS, was shown in the Cromwell lounge.

On Thursday, April 10, students were joined by the College’s professors who stand by the cause. The professors spoke about the importance of being an ally, as well as the different types of allies.
Ally Week ended with the National Day of Silence and a “Breaking the Silence” coffeehouse.

Students were encouraged to not speak in order to bring awareness and represent those who could not speak up for what they believe in. There was a table set up in the Brower Student Center for allies to sign a banner against LGBT hate crimes.
Later on that night, students performed poetry and music that was inspired by the week.

The first act took the stage. Bernard Miller, a 2013 English graduate, performed Bob Dylan’s “Tangled up in Blue” before being joined by Daniel Fitzgerald, a junior interactive mulitmedia and communication studies double major, and Connor Mullin, a sophomore political science major, to cover “Here Comes Your Man” by Pixies.

Mullin played “It’s Only a Paper Moon” by Nat King Cole, a sweet solo that left the audience snapping along.
He was rejoined by Miller and Fitzgerald for their last piece, an original, “Jessica’s First Love.”

Sophomore communication studies major Jared Sokoloff followed next, armed with a guitar and his voice.

He dedicated Fleetwood Mac’s “Songbird” to a friend who wasn’t present and then dedicated “Where the Streets Have No Name” by U2 to anyone who wanted to break down walls.

Ryan Eldridge, a freshman political science and Spanish double major, played two Chopin pieces for attendees. “Nocturne in E major” and “Nocturne in E minor, E5 major” were both sweet waltzes that enchanted listeners.

Senior women’s and gender studies and sociology double major Remy Lourenco and Gilbertson sang a cover of “Picture” by Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow.

At one point, the background music stopped, but the audience began to clap and the duo continued a capella. It was great to see such a supportive group.

“Awesome performances,” Eldridge said, smiling with approval.
The floor was opened up as an open mic and several people jumped at the opportunity.

There was some more singing, a poetry chain and several more impromptu performances.

“It’s not angry, but it’s about unrequited love,” said the final performer, incoming freshman Amanda Skriloff, about her piece.

The piece represented the internal struggle of keeping silent and keeping those strong feelings hidden. It inspired audience members to be an ally so these struggles might one day cease to exist.

College worker excited for the future

By Liane Librizzi

You don’t have to be a student at the College to learn here.
Though the thought seems rather paradoxical, it’s a proven fact that to work diligently at achieving your goals and furthering your passions doesn’t necessarily come with a tuition price. As a matter of fact, quite the contrary — you can even get paid for it instead.
Just ask Bessie Gardner.

Gardner, of Trenton, N.J., has been wearing many hats since she began working at the College eight years ago. Her day typically begins at 8 a.m. when she works with building services until 4:30 p.m., keeping Travers clean and aiding in snow removal on days that require it.

“I like helping out wherever it’s needed,” she said with a smile.
Yet, her eyes began to glisten with true satisfaction as she began to tell of her night shift in the TDubs kitchen. The sound of clanging pots and pans in the background, Gardner stood in front of roughly 60 pieces of wheat and white bread, preparing to make more than 30 sandwiches that would later be sent to the Library and C-store as “To Go” options. It takes about an hour and half to make the orders of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, along with the buffalo and chicken Caesar wraps that would be set out as options for students in a hurry the next day. Gardner, though, is slow to complain — she’s too driven to be drained.

“My goal now is I’d like to go to school to further my education … I want to go for culinary arts,” she said with excitement. “Once I (pay off my vehicle this year), I am looking to move forward.”
Gardner further went on to explain how her 28-year-old daughter is soon opening a restaurant in Texas, and she projects that she may be able to work with her there once she obtains her degree.

“I love what I do, but I also try to keep my mind focused on trying to move ahead,” she said, wiping the counter before beginning her sandwich-making.

Little does she know, with every sandwich she makes, she’s one step closer to achieving that dream, reminding all of us that our work at the College, though sometimes unnoticed, can be just the beginning to greater things.

Lime Correspondent: Science and Chemistry Behind Limes and Citrus

By Patrick Gallagher

The last few weeks have been bleak in the world of limes. With their not going down anytime soon, airlines have decided to ax the little citrus from their in-flight meals and are even replacing it with lemon. In fact, one article I found in my research has even proposed that lemons are just as fine a substitute for limes in most scenarios. This brings us to quite the junction in this horrific lime climate — limate, if you will — what truly differentiates a lime from a lemon? Physically, there are a multitude of differences. Limes are green and smaller, while lemons are slightly larger and yellow. But when it comes to cooking, how does one account for the differences in flavor? The answer to that lies in chemistry.

Before delving into the differences between limes and lemons, it is important to give a brief overview of the flavor chemistry involved with citrus in general. One of the most prevalent chemicals in lemons and limes is ostensibly citric acid. In the culinary arts, it is often used to give foods a more sour flavor. Of all citrus, lemons and limes have the highest concentration of citric acid, constituting up to about 8 percent of the fruit’s dry weight.

Scorbutic gums.jpg

Both limes and lemons contain a compound mentioned on this blog once before: ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C. This chemical has proved vital in preventing scurvy. Scurvy is a condition caused by a lack of vitamin C that inhibits the synthesis of collagen, a vital structural protein that constitutes a large percentage of connective tissue in the body. In fact, the connection between ascorbic acid and scurvy goes beyond the ties of science — ascorbic acid’s name is derived from the Latin name of scurvy, scorbutus.

Citral is one compound that gives citrus their scent, and is present in the oils of several plants, limes and lemons included. The scent given off is a strong lemon odor, and the compound is also known to have both powerful antimicrobial and pheremonal effects on insects. The main component of the citrus scent, however, stems from limonene, which takes its name from the rind of the lemon.

Having gone into this lengthy discussion on what chemical similarities limes and lemons have, what truly sets them apart? If they share such similar constituents, surely replacing one for another should not have much of a consequence on the taste bud. While they are similar, the subtle differences between limes and lemon are what  make our sense of taste so delicate and wonderful. In Harold McGee’s book, “On Food and Cooking, The Science and Lore of the Kitchen,” McGee presents a table outlining differences in acid and sugar content between lemons and limes.

 As made evident by the table, limes contain less sugar and more acid, which can explain the more bitter and tart flavor. While lemons are still acidic, their relatively higher sugar content makes them less bitter to the taste. But beyond the relative ratios of sugar and acid, there is something bigger at stake when replacing limes with lemons. Culinary cultures have been built alongside the lime, ranging from Mexico to Vietnam. To substitute limes for lemons is to actively ignore the years of culture derived from these dishes, as they were meant to be prepared. Times are hard for lime-enthusiasts, and some cannot avoid substitution. If this is the case, remember to honor the lime for what it has brought to the world, and, once this shortage is over, what it will continue to bring.

Echoes: Lessons from Spain

By Nicole Ciullo

Hello, again.

The icon of Paris. (Photo courtesy of Nicole Ciullo)

The icon of Paris. (Photo courtesy of Nicole Ciullo)

I am writing this post after taking a long siesta to re-energize from a busy morning of travel back to Spain from London. Though I only spent two days exploring the city, I am grateful to have been able to visit Westminister Abbey, the London Bridge and Big Ben. These experiences, among many others, have been dreams of mine since I was una niña; however, I never imagined that I would be able to cross them off the bucket list I made during my junior year of high school with these new friends that would become my family. This remarkable feeling of being able to accomplish one of your dreams, and discovering new dreams, is the focus of this post.

Nicole's new best friend. (Photo courtesy of Nicole Ciullo)

Nicole’s new best friend. (Photo courtesy of Nicole Ciullo)

One of the main incentives of studying abroad, aside from the educational aspect, lies in the capability to easily travel to other cities within your country or stay, as well as other European nations. During my trip to Spain, I have spent weekends in four of Spain’s most beautiful and interesting cities: Granada, Valencia, Barcelona and The Canary Islands. Because my friends and I had limited time in each location, days were often spent waking up at 8am, going to bed at 4am, and then waking up and repeating. Though exhaustion eventually would set in, these restless nights at cheap, sometimes dirty hostels, have been some of my favorite memories of my time abroad. On these trips within Spain, I watched a live flamenco show, visited La Alhambra, and ate some of the best food I’ve ever eaten, visited El Museo de las Artes y las Ciencias, went to the music festival AbroadFest, and passed endless hours soaking up the sun on the different coasts of Spain.

Smooching the Blarney Stone. (Photo courtesy of Nicole Ciullo)

Smooching the Blarney Stone. (Photo courtesy of Nicole Ciullo)

The most remarkable part, however, was discovering the other countries of Europe and dreams I never knew I had. I spent a weekend traveling through different cities in Morocco where I tried Moroccan food for the first time and rode a camel along the beach. I spent Saint Patrick’s Day weekend in Ireland where I learned how to dance an Irish Jig and kissed the Blarney Stone, believed to be one of the luckiest things in the world to do. In Paris, I visited the Louve and the Mona Lisa, climbed the Eiffel Tower, and visited Versailles; it was here I discovered that my destiny may be to leave home after graduation and move to Europe where I can truly engross myself in the beautiful culture that it has to offer.

Now that I am almost done with my time in Spain, I am nervous that I will have accomplished too much, seen too much of the world, and lose my desire. Pero, what I am finding is that I am not meant for one place. I do not want to settle or live a life sin de aventura.  I was meant to explore and discover new parts of the world through my own photographs.

Spain is what has taught me that maybe the future I imagined for myself is not what I really want.  I no longer think I want to teach Spanish in high school; or live in the United States; or even create a plan for my future.  Life is supposed to be lived and that is what I am doing, and what I encourage everyone else to do as well. The world is a big and beautiful place; go see for yourself.

Best wishes and adios,
Nicole Ciullo

‘Les Misérables’ comes home after superb tour

By Blaire Diezel

“Les Misérables,” the beloved novel by Victor Hugo, has returned to its home at the Imperial Theater after its departure from Broadway in 2003 (not counting the 2006-2007 revival when the show took residence at the Broadhurst Theater).

With this revival comes some new changes for those who have not seen the show in quite some time. The set design by Matt Kinley is taken from the recent tour that visited theaters across the U.S. and Canada from 2010 to 2013. The design was inspired by paintings of Victor Hugo himself and features projections of Hugo’s artwork during points of the show. A particularly noticeable example is the gray backdrop of the Parisian sewer system during “Dog Eats Dog.” Not only are these choices of backdrop striking, they are also appropriate and fit organically into the show.

Musical returns to Imperial Theater. (AP Photo)

Musical returns to Imperial Theater. (AP Photo)

However, the striking set design is not the only element that adds to the impact of the performance of the whole. The show’s original 27-piece orchestra has been condensed slightly into a 20-piece orchestra with significant changes in the show’s orchestration. The changes in some orchestrations give the show a richer timbre despite the reduced orchestra size. The musicians of the pit are truly masterful and give the music (composed by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil) a solidified place in musical theater history.

Vocalizing this beautiful, timeless score is a collection of notable West End and Broadway veterans, including Ramin Karimloo, Will Swenson and Nikki M. James, who portray the colorful yet morally gray characters of the show.

Karimloo, noted for his performance as Enjolras in the 25th Anniversary and Jean Valjean on the West End last year, is easily the strongest member of the cast as Jean Valjean, the show’s protagonist. Valjean is sentenced to 20 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread, and upon being released, he attempts to steal two candlesticks from a kind Bishop. The Bishop subsequently forgives Valjean for this transgression and tells Valjean to go out in the world and do good where he can. This redemption is what drives the rest of the musical forward. Karimloo’s understanding of Valjean comes across clearly in his masterful performance, suggesting that Karimloo clearly has put a lot of thought and effort into understanding who Jean Valjean is, and what impact the show’s events have on him.

Tony nominee Will Swenson, who portrays Javert — Valjean’s pursuing officer and the show’s often mislabeled villain — truly calls upon Hugo’s initial description of Javert: “Give to this dog-son of a wolf a human face, and the result will be Javert.” Attentive, unyielding and feral when unraveling, Swenson’s performance sets up a beautiful contrast to Karimloo’s Valjean.

Other lead males in the show include Marius (played by the endearingly awkward Andy Mientus), Enjolras (played by Kyle Scatliffe, a West End veteran making his Broadway debut as the stoic yet deeply passionate revolutionary leader) and Monsieur Thenadier (the real villain of the musical played by Cliff Sanders).

The women of the production truly are nothing to shake a stick at, as they give off powerhouse performances in their respective performances, although some performances faltered in their characters’ more well-known numbers.

Cassie Levy is a hauntingly heartbreaking Fantine, the role responsible for Anne Hathaway’s Oscar win last year. While Levy’s “I Dreamed A Dream” is not nearly as gut-wrenching as Hathaway’s, Levy more than makes up for it in the fragile way she portrays Fantine’s fall from grace. When she makes her return in the finale, she will easily bring you to tears.

Eponine, portrayed by recent Tony winner Nikki M. James, is a gritty girl from the slums of Paris who does not take nonsense from the members of her father’s gang and dreams of being loved by Marius Pontmercy. While some of James’s acting choices are spot-on (an altercation involving one of Thenardier’s gang members in which she takes the knife and bring it to the other guy’s throat after being threatened comes to mind), her singing fails to live up to the standard set by the Eponines before her.

James’s voice is thin and reedy and hardly suits the personality of a girl who has been in the streets, fights for everything and scares the pants off a group of grown men.

Keala Settle — another Tony award nominee — plays Madame Thenardier. She is nothing if not completely hysterical and inappropriate and charming in the skeeviest way possible.

‘Les Misérables’ is empowering for newcomers and long-time fans. (AP Photo)

‘Les Misérables’ is empowering for newcomers and long-time fans. (AP Photo)

Finally, Samantha Hill, a last-minute addition to the cast from Les Mis in Toronto after the mysterious replacement of Charlotte Maltby, is an endearingly sweet and earnest Cosette, despite her limited stage time. It is impossible not to smile when she sings.

For those new to the world of “Les Misérables,” or even those new to the world of musical theater, will find this show moving and empowering, despite the run time of two hours and 55 minutes (including a 15-minute intermission). Those familiar to the show may be a tad perturbed by some of the directing choices, but will quickly find themselves enjoying and reliving the story they fell in love with.

The ageless story of Jean Valjean is about the human condition: the good, the bad, the successes and the pitfalls. This revival of “Les Misérables” is clearly indicative of how triumphant humans really are and is highly recommended to anyone who has even the slightest interest of seeing it.

Art displays tumultuous times in Afghanistan

By Joe Passantino

The College will continue to present “Art Amongst War: Visual Culture in Afghanistan,” an art gallery exhibition looking at Afghan culture, through Thursday, April 17.

The timing of the exhibition coincides with the 35-year anniversary of the Soviets invading Afghanistan in 1979, marking the beginning of a lengthy period of turmoil for the nation.

The gallery draws in a crowd over the past month since its debut in March. (Courtney Wirths / Photo Editor)

The gallery draws in a crowd over the past month since its debut in March. (Courtney Wirths / Photo Editor)

“When I look at it, it kind of makes me excited that this kind of exhibition can be done,” junior history and English double major Alexa Logush said. “The point of (‘Art Amongst War’) is that lives still go on, even amidst war.”

Logush, an art gallery assistant, noted that the large tapestry in its center was among her favorite pieces. Visitors are encouraged to rub their heads on the bottom of the tapestry, which, according to Logush, displays symbols representing “air.”

The exhibit is multi-faceted, featuring a wide range of different styles of artwork. In addition to the aforementioned tapestry, there are photographs with powerful imagery, such as a group of men praying at a mosque and pictogram-like “war rugs” depicting camels, cars and soldiers, among other war-related objects.

A particularly interesting feature of the exhibit is “Love Letters from Home” by Aman Mojadidi, featuring 79 security announcements and wardens’ messages to the United States military. These notices paint a picture of the regular danger these soldiers have experienced within a perennially toxic environment. Notably, the 79 messages span only from 2010 to 2011, begging the question of just how many would be needed to cover the entire duration of the war.

The same environment has also affected Afghans to a strong degree. This is clear in drawings from Moshtari Hilal’s ink-on-paper series, such as “Antique Mujahideen,” which appears to depict an Afghan with a rat in his eye and blood on his fingers. The man is clearly in pain and possibly even in a state of decay. This is perhaps a statement on how the man has become a simple victim of the chaos surrounding him.

The exhibit does, however, feature its share of relaxing imagery as well. This is highlighted by a hand-woven silk dress with silk-screened calligraphy and a photo of balloons in front of an old, worn-down building. The latter may symbolize hope for a seemingly hopeless nation.

Jazz portrays Mingus’s story

By Ashley McKenna

Staff Writer


In the 1950s, the musical genre of jazz began to mature as it developed into an American psyche. For the first time, the stories of jazz were coming together in full force while jazz was recognized for its newsworthy characteristics.

As part of the Brown Bag Series, guest speaker Gene Santoro visited the Mayo Concert Hall on Friday, April 4, for “The Resurrection of Charles Mingus’ Epitaph.”

Gene Santoro, author of “Myself When I Am Real: The Life and Music of Charles Mingus” and columnist for The Nation and the New York Daily News, gave insight about Charles Mingus, a pivotal composer of the jazz era who changed the way people viewed jazz with his improvisation style.

Santoro described Mingus as 5’ 8” famous for the way he brawled with musicians. Known as “The Angry Man of Jazz,” the highly influential American jazz double bassist, composer and bandleader learned to channel his emotions into something artistic by retaining his fierce and soulful feel of hard bop. He refused to conform to musical integrity, which led to many eruptions on stage, fights and even dismissal of his members.

“He slapped trombonist Jimmy Knepper in the mouth,” Santoro said. “He took Sy Johnson (a jazz pianist and arranger) and started yelling at him and shoved him off the piano bench.”

A dramatic performance was the art of his set, and music was the key part of the show.

According to Santoro, Mingus wanted his side men to “perform in the moment.” The band members didn’t always know what the set would be.

“It was a drama workshop in progress,” Santoro said. “He wanted something new — something that would have voice not be borrowed.”

Santoro had his audience chuckling after describing a time when Mingus sat down and ate his dinner right on stage in the middle of the set because he was so bored of what his musicians were performing.

“I’m a guitar player,” senior music major Steve Thompson said. “So I found the comparisons between Mingus and Jimmy Hendricks really captivating.”

When Mingus’s mother passed, his actions changed dramatically and he started acting on ambition by writing suites to elevate his music and reflect his experiences.

“His music was his life,” said Santoro as he described the romantic artist who toured the world non-stop for over half a century.

With Duke Ellington as his mentor, Mingus brought a range of thematic ideas into his music, including human evolution. He pushed the boundaries of what jazz was able to do and instilled that it carried other weight and value besides itself.

“I thought that he was interesting because he was frustrated with racism, and when he could have passed for being white he chose the challenges he’d have to face as a black male instead,” freshman communication studies major Cristina Rodriguez said. “I just thought his story was pretty cool because he chose his life and was proud of it.”

NATO disconnects Russia from military alliance

By Iman Saad

NATO has announced the suspension of all relations with Russia following the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region. In its statement, NATO announced that it will suspend “all practical civilian and military cooperation” due to no sign of Moscow withdrawing troops from the Ukrainian border.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen dismissed Russia from the organization after the country took Crimea from Ukraine. AP Photo.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen dismissed Russia from the organization after the country took Crimea from Ukraine.
AP Photo.

According to Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Russia’s actions serve as a great threat to European security. Foreign ministers from the 28 members of the Western military alliance met in Brussels last week. They discussed ways to boost the organization’s military presence in the region to quell concerns over Russia’s actions.

According to CNN, after the NATO meeting, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said, “It is important for everybody in the world to understand that the NATO alliance takes seriously this attempt to change borders by force … So, that is the wake-up call.”

A joint statement released by NATO ministers announced that they would re-review NATO’s relations with Russia at its next meeting in June. However, NATO and Russia would continue to work together on anti-narcotics operations taking place in Afghanistan.

NATO and Ukraine have announced that they would intensify cooperation and promote defense reforms through training programs. Tension between Ukraine and Moscow has continued to rise and energy company Gazprom recently announced that there has been more than a 40 percent increase in the price of gas exports to Ukraine.

Rasmussen told Al-Jazeera reporters, “We are now considering all options to enhance our collective defense, including … further development of our defense plans, enhanced exercises and also appropriate deployments.” NATO is considering the option of stationing permanent forces in the former Soviet Baltic state.

According to BBC News, the United States and European Union have imposed sanctions on members of Russian President Putin’s inner circle and other political officials. In response, Russia has retaliated with its own sanctions on U.S. politicians.

Echoes: Una vista de España

By Nicole Ciullo

Hola amigos,

My name is Nicole and I am a sophomore Spanish major currently writing this from my small cuarto in the beautiful city of Alcalá de Henares, Spain, a thirty minute train ride from Madrid.  Since my salida from Philadelphia Airport on January 7th, my life has become incredibly more interesting with each day being a new adventure.

A shot from Nicole's travels. (Photo courtesy of Nicole Ciullo)

A shot from Nicole’s travels. (Photo courtesy of Nicole Ciullo)

Before leaving for Spain, I was extremely nervous that the next cuatros meses would be the worst of my life. However, as my time abroad is slowing coming to end, the most important lesson I have learned is to not let fear get in the way of happiness. Spain, 3,616 miles away from the College, is a six hour time difference between here and home; It is a place where few people understand English and where people have to be mindful of the many cigüeñas in the sky. Spain is different, but the Spanish way of life is not wrong.

Here, people take siestas between 12 p.m. and 18 p.m., causing the entire city to close down.  You can get a glass of wine and tapa for three euros.  Nightlife at the discotecas do not start until 2 a.m. Adopting these changes, though strange at first, have allowed me to truly embrace the Spanish culture and grow as not only a Spanish learner, but also as a human being.

Though I have learned to love Spain, my trip has not been totalmente alegre. I have felt homesick multiple times, my phone was stolen at the most popular nightclub in Madrid and I have had to balance my new life here with the life I will return to at home.  Sin embargo, en realidad, the good outweighs the bad and I have no regrets about my journey to España.

At least once a week, I take the train into Madrid, which is a city that has so much to offer and has been the home of many “firsts” that I have experienced in Spain. Madrid is home to the famous outdoor market El Rastro where I bargained with shop openers for the first

A view from Spain. (Photo courtesy of Nicole Ciullo)

A view from Spain. (Photo courtesy of Nicole Ciullo)

time, as well as the home of the Estadio de Real Madrid, where I watched my first live partido de fútbol.  It is where I went to Kapital, one of the most well-known clubs in Spain, and the location of the airport, Madrid Barajas, which has taken me to other Spanish cities and all over Europe.

I have been blessed with this remarkable opportunity to see the world and discover myself through my travels, y por eso, I plan on enjoying each and every moment until I return to Los Estados Unidos at the end of April. I don’t know what will happen in the next month, but qué será será. What will be will be.

Until next week,
Hasta luego and adios.

Lions’ Playlist: Are you there, Spring?

By Susan Pereny

This playlist brings to mind that first day you need sunglasses or can go without a jacket. Maybe if we all play this playlist enough, the weather gods will favor us by remembering it’s April and giving us spring.

These songs are ideal for driving with the windows down, wearing a hoodie with shorts and having that glorious first-of-the-season ice cream.

Animal Collective- “My Girls”

This song, with its dazzling synthesized sounds and its steadily growing strength, reminds me of that first burst of spring: it starts out mild and by the end is clamoring with bright. Some parts even sound like birdsong.

Discovery- “So Insane”

This song is surprisingly danceable despite its many pauses. Discovery is a sort of pet project composed of one member of Ra Ra Riot and one from Vampire Weekend. The result is this futurepop electronic fun experiment.

Discovery- “Swing Tree”

Discovery is so bright and cheery, I might as well include another song of theirs for Spring. The title refers to a tree, so it’s relevant. Plus, the lyrics remind us of this beautiful season:

“When I hear that wind/
and I think of Spring/
Underneath an open window…”

The Guillemots- “Annie, Let’s Not Wait”

This storyline-song is pretty outdoorsy. There’s a field of corn, a river and even a fishing line.  “Annie, Let’s Not Wait” is a perfect song to welcome the sun.

BUT WAIT. It wouldn’t be spring without a rainy April, would it?  Here are songs for those rainy days.

Travis- “Why Does It Always Rain On Me?”

Yeah, this song is a freebie. Self-explanatory.

Chromeo- “J’ai claqué la porte”

This song is almost as mesmerizing as listening to the rainfall on a roof. It’s also quiet and understated like a drizzly, cloudy day.

Death Cab for Cutie- “Grapevine Fires”

The lyrics may at times be devastating, but they’re delivered in such a soothing tone that you can’t help but be a little calmed down by this song.

“Northern Downpour”- Panic! at the Disco

Hey Panic, see you April 15!

Mexican farmers face a harsh squeeze from drug cartels. (AP Photo)

Lime Correspondent: Bleak future of limes

By Patrick Gallagher

The future does not look bright for the lime. As prices continue to increase due to a prevalent shortage in Mexico, the limes are now going for more than a dollar each in American grocery stores. Look to the ShopRite here in Ewing and you will find limes for outrageous prices. At some stores, limes are sold three for four dollars, when there were times when a dollar could buy four. For the first time, consumers are feeling a squeeze in their wallets before they can get to squeezing their limes. Many restaurants are simply not playing this game: to combat rising lime prices, they are either not vending lime products altogether, or replacing them with lemons.

But more important than the consumer’s wallet, Mexican lime farmers are feeling an even harsher squeeze. The Knights Templar, a drug cartel that operates mainly in the state of Michoacan, has started harassing farmers, forcing them to pay taxes to the cartel or face death. The cartel has slowed the already weakened rate of lime export out of Mexico. The agrarian state of Michoacan has become an agricultural warzone, with armed men intruding lime farms and taking what they please alongside the cartel activity. In order to keep their communities safe, civilians have formed vigilante groups to fight off the Knights Templar, and in many cases, they have been successful.

On top of that, a bacterial disease known as HLB, or “citrus-greening” has been sweeping across Mexico for the past few years. Transmitted by an insect, the disease is one of the most destructive ailments to befall a citrus tree. HLB causes the fruit of the tree to become frail, misshapen and bitter. With improper fruit, the citrus tree affected typically does not live many years after the disease is transmitted. In fact, this disease has caused much issue in Florida, hampering the orange industry since HLB was discovered in the state in 2005. For now, HLB has been contained to only certain regions of Mexico, but because it is transmitted through an insect, there is no telling where it could end up next. Today, it haunts the state of Colima, but within years, all of agricultural Mexico could be affected.

The average American has nothing to do but twiddle their thumbs until prices go down, but there is a chance for a rebound. Scientists, especially those located at citrus-producing areas of the United States, such as Florida and Southern California, are working to combat HLB and find a way to preserve the citrus industry. The USDA is making great efforts to not only contain HLB, but fund research into creating citrus immune to this disease.

There seems to be little hope for our little green citrus in the short-term. As the Mexican people and government attempt to deal with the Knights Templar Cartel, people have died and will continue to fight and die over this crisis. Two weeks ago, I started this column so the TCNJ community could be better informed about my favorite fruit. As tensions grow higher in Mexico, there could not be a more apt time to be the College’s Lime Correspondent.  Limes are no laughing matter. I hope to bring more uplifting news next week, and remember — the moment you take this wondrous citrus for granted might be the last time you see it at your dinner table.


Lessons from current and former inmates

By Paul Kibala

Former inmates share their current successes and what being in Project P.R.I.D.E. has meant to them. (Courtney Wirths / Photo Editor)

Former inmates share their current successes and what being in Project P.R.I.D.E. has meant to them. (Courtney Wirths / Photo Editor)

Three current prison inmates filled the Mayo Concert Hall with poignant and personal stories of the varied wrongdoings that landed them in their current situations.This event, which took place on Wednesday, April 2, was part of Justice System Awareness Week and instituted through Project P.R.I.D.E. (Promoting Responsibility in Drug Education), a program that allows minimum-security inmates to discuss the decisions that resulted their incarceration at schools and community settings.

Allie, 22, three years into a six-year sentence, spoke of the tragic loss and betrayal that plagued her childhood.

“My father committed suicide when I was 10,” she said. “He was depressed and thought I would be better off without him.”

The uncle — who played the role of a surrogate father — soon began physically abusing her, and several months later, her best friend passed away.

“By 15, the façade of being okay all the time, the one I had built up for years, came crashing down, and I became hooked to the escape of hard drugs,” she said, commenting on the internal overflow of restrained emotion.

She was driving while drunk and high on marijuana at the age of 17 when she crashed into another car and killed the driver.

“I know what it’s like to lose a father, and on that day I took someone else’s father,” Allie said. “I vowed then and there to straighten up my life.”

Next to speak was Mike, 27, who is currently serving a seven-year sentence. Raised without a father, he assumed the role to help provide for his mother.

“I took the easy route,” he said, referring to the many robberies he committed to keep his family financially stable. “Having my family see me in that cell for the first time and realizing they’re the ones who have to send me money is the worst pain I’ve ever felt.”

Last to speak was Rachel, 28, who was raised in a seedy living environment by her grandmother and her drug dealer boyfriend after being taken from her physically-abusive stepfather.

Rachel’s life went into a downward spiral after her grandmother died while Rachel was pregnant at age 20. She smoked and drank alcohol throughout the pregnancy. Several months after the birth, Rachel crashed a car while drunk and fled from the police before eventually being captured.

“I would’ve reached out — I would’ve talked to somebody because as lonely as it is on the outside, it’s a lot lonelier in prison,” she said.

Rachel is not allowed to see her daughter.

Diverging from bleak realities of prison life and the choices that led to incarceration, Justice System Awareness Week ended on Thursday, April 3, on an uplifting note as former inmates spoke of their current success after prison life at the Library Auditorium.

Amy Rodriguez, 34, a graduate student at Rutgers University with a 3.6 GPA, spoke of the distinct value of education.

“While in prison, I realized just how important education truly is to bettering oneself, and it’s something I’m grateful to pursue,” Rodriguez said.

PRIDE Center to be a welcoming space for all

*Editor’s note: Since publication of this article, the group has found out it will not be getting a space. The funds raised will be used to do something different.

By Olivia Rizzo 

In today’s world, many young adults find themselves battling bullying and harassment at school. This can be a particular struggle for those who are a part of the LGBTQIAP+ community. A group of College students hopes to alleviate some of that struggle with the foundation of the PRIDE Center.

The PRIDE Center will be a school-sanctioned space that is aimed to be a social, academic and safe space for the LGBTQIAP+ community at the College. It is meant to be an inclusionary space that will provide the College a safe place to socialize and discuss topics and issues prevalent in the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as being a place to host club and group meetings.

The idea for the PRIDE Center began as the capstone project for the women’s and social change class. Seniors Amanda Castro, Catherine Inoa, Rose Samonsi, Victoria Swift and Lauren Wescott were having a conversation with women’s and gender studies professor Nelson Rodriguez when he brought up the College’s need for an LGTBQ center on campus.

The ladies in the class then began to research LGBTQ centers and discovered that many colleges and universities have such spaces on campus. They found that schools in the area, like Rutgers and Princeton, have LGBTQ centers and then began to look into what it would take to start such a center at the College.

“Currently, we do not have a school-sanctioned center that serves the LGBTQIAP+ community, and we feel that this is a gap at (the College),” senior English major Samantha Pena said.

She also stated that the Center will show that the campus stands in solidarity against harassment and bullying that may occur on campus.

The PRIDE Center’s home will be in Forcina Hall and is planned to open at the end of the semester. Fundraising to furnish the center with couches, books, computers and other supplies is ongoing. The goal for the PRIDE Center is to provide a library of books and other informative materials for students to use to further learn about the LGBTQIAP+ community.

“We hope that people will use our center as an educational resource that will supplement the learning of issues of gender and sexuality in a positive and healthy way,” Pena said.

On a social level, the PRIDE Center is meant to have an inclusive and accepting atmosphere. It will be open to any member of the campus community as long as they abide by the Center’s rules. The space is meant to build a sense of community for and by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual and questioning people and their allies.

“We want this Center to truly be a safe and social environment, where every person who falls under the LGBTQIAP+ umbrella can get to know and hopefully befriend one another,” Pena said.

The Center also hopes to co-sponsor with other student groups and host its events with guest speakers and workshops to help foster out-of-the-class learning in the future.

In addition, the PRIDE Center will show students, staff and others interested at the College that the campus is a community open to change and equality.