All posts by Signal Contributor

Helping former inmates rejoin society

By Kaitlyn Njoroge
Correspondent

The Chi Upsilon Sigma chapter of the National Latino Sorority and the Peer Pride Mentoring Program on campus brought Terrell Blount, a former inmate and Rutgers graduate, to the College on Monday, Oct. 20, to speak with students and faculty about re-entry resources for prisoners and to share his life story.

The lecture began with showing a scene from “Fool Me Once,” an episode in the popular Netflix series “Orange is the New Black,” in which a recent re-entry inmate, Taystee, explains how hard life is on the outside after being released from prison. Blount agreed that life for prisoners post-release is difficult, saying it’s almost impossible to find jobs or a place to live with a criminal record and a sixth grade reading level — the average level at which New Jersey inmates can read.

According to Blount, 65 percent of the prison population in New Jersey serve minimum sentences, with 56 percent serving less than five-year sentences. When inmates are released from prison, they are often placed in transitional houses located mostly in Newark and Camden for approximately a year. At the same time, they are expected to work in order to be able to leave when the year ends. However, 70 percent of the money earned goes toward house fees, which leaves former inmates unprepared to become financially stable. Some house owners do not encourage the pursuit of education in their first year, either, due to the fact that former inmates need all the money they can spare to pay toward the house. The situation contributes to the lack of both education and money for former inmates.

These circumstances are what Blount wants to change. As a former inmate himself, education opportunities offered inside the prison are what helped turn his life around.

“I see prison education as an eye opener which helped me to see the world around me,” Blount said.

Before taking college classes, Blount said he “was blind” to the power of education. In prison, he was only exposed to business classes that focused on how to own a business, a subject he wasn’t interested in at all. After meeting the Dean at Rutgers University at 24, he enrolled as a freshman, graduating four years later with a double major in Communication and African American studies.

However, not every former inmate is as fortunate. As an activist for prison reform, Blount works at NJ-STEP, a program which provides post-secondary education for those in prison. Inmates enrolled in the program are able to take classes ranging from Japanese studies to linguistics in order to earn liberal arts credits. Those in the program can maintain a set of credits to be transferred to any college in the state and further their educational careers.

The realization of how hard it is for some people to receive an education hit home for many members of the audience.

Financially, the college courses offered in the NJ-STEP program are free, and the books are provided by both professors and the Bill Gates Foundation. Through NJ-STEP, Blount helps inmates receive as many grants as possible for college entry. There are also re-entry case managers that teach workplace etiquette and help create inmate resumes. Essex County College also offers free courses to former inmates with 0 to 9 credits, providing everything but housing.

Blount ended his speech by telling the audience how to distinguish between “passion and interest.” He believes that in order to thrive in society, people must discover what they love to do. Otherwise, it is “so easy to be tricked into pursuing your interest and not your passion,” Blount said.

Being passionate about helping inmates pursue higher education allows Blount to perform his job at full potential. His enthusiasm serves as motivation for student volunteers like freshman sociology major Yuleisy Ortez. She explained how important it is to her to, “help people better themselves and have a brighter future.”

Blount believes above all that people have an obligation to help the less fortunate receive an education — by doing so, the world may change for the better.

Otis discusses the opportunities of art in Trenton

By Harrison Duhr
Correspondent

When many College students think of their close neighbor, Trenton, they associate the city with negative connotations, such as crime and unemployment.

Trenton is more than that, however, and on Friday Oct. 24, students had the chance to learn more about the positive current events going on in Trenton at Mayo Concert Hall when special guest Lauren Otis stopped by on campus.

Otis is the founding director of Artwork Trenton’s All Day, one of Trenton’s biggest cultural events.

The all-day festival allows individuals to explore Trenton through artist studios, gallery spaces, workshops and public art. There are expected to be about 65 participants this year when the day kicks off on Saturday, Nov. 8.

One of the important themes emphasized by Otis was the importance and significance of community created by art.

“When people can come together and appreciate the beauty of art, it truly is a remarkable thing,” Otis said. “The sense of community that can be brought to the city reminds us that Trenton is so much more than what most people think.”

Another important discussion point that branched off from the feeling of community was the impact of networking.

“Art All Day is physically only a one-day event, but the amount of networking created among artists, organizations and businesses lasts a lifetime,” Otis said. “We give people a chance to not only have future work, but also the chance to do something they love.”

It’s also important to note that Art All Day is not the only cultural event the city has to offer. Other highlights include the Trenton African-American Cultural Festival, the Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market and the Windows of Soul.

A big reason why all these opportunities are possible is due to the business Artworks.

This 50-year-old company, 25 years in Trenton specifically, focuses distinctly on promoting artistic diversity by making sure the appreciation and importance of the arts is not ignored.

Otis, a fellow board of trustee member for five years now, had nothing but good things to say about the company.

“The great thing about Artworks is the fact that it’s not limited to just one demographic. There are opportunities for all ages, interest levels, and artistic ability,” he said.

After the lecture, many students asked questions focused on how Otis got to where he is today, but one question that stood out from the rest was when freshman Tim Hosmer asked, “Did you ever expect to make such a difference in people’s lives?”

Otis paused for a second and had to really think, but his response was certainly worth the wait.

“Growing up, I wanted to make a difference in my life by creating great art that I could enjoy,” Otis said. “Although I now know that creating opportunities for others to make great art who normally wouldn’t have the chance is more rewarding. Never could I imagine art would have such a positive impact on those I surround myself with. It truly is an honor.”

Artworks focuses on promoting artistic diversity and art appreciation. (Kyle Bennion / Photo Editor)
Artworks focuses on promoting artistic diversity and art appreciation. (Kyle Bennion / Photo Editor)
‘Visual Voyage’ gallery opening draws large crowd. (Photo Courtesy of TCNJ Center for the Arts)

Art gallery explores children’s book illustrators

By Samantha Malnick
Correspondent

Created to explore the media and styles of award-winning children’s book illustrators, the College’s fall exhibition, Visual Voyage, attracted more visitors than expected when it opened on Wednesday, Oct. 22.

The gallery was full of laughter and smiles, people pointing their fingers and furrowing their brows at over 50 works on display, with plenty of adoration given to the various uses of materials.

“We tried to have as much diversity as possible,” said Emily Croll, director of the Art Gallery and Sarnoff Museum. “We wanted to include so many different styles and capture all the different sides and views of the artists.”

The purpose of this exhibit was to hone in on the different media and let the visitors explore the works of artists such as Chris Van Allsburg, Jan Reynolds, Faith Ringgold and Leo Lionni.

“I was having so much trouble choosing which pieces to put in the show,” Croll said. “There were so many incredible artists that we liked, so we weren’t sure what to send out.”

Media varied from piece to piece — some were complex, others were more simplistic. There were artists who used acrylic, crayon, marker and tissue paper in one piece, while other artists used media like oil on washboard, woodcut print with acrylic paint, silkscreen on silk, and scratchboard on oil paint.

Terri Epstein, an ’05 graduate from the Art Department, came back to the gallery for the first time since she left College. She was amazed when she saw some of the works in real life.

“It’s interesting because the pieces are the same as in print, but here, up close, the texture is so different,” Epstein said. “It’s really incredible.”

The overall atmosphere in the room was exciting and positive. Visitors were intrigued by the works they were analyzing. People who had just met for the first time were deep in conversation — alumni were reminiscing about the building and how it has come such a long way.

Amanda Intilli, a junior art education major who works for the Art Gallery, was glowing with excitement about the exhibit.

“I was almost crying from some of the pieces,” Intilli said when exploring the gallery. “Seeing them during my childhood, while I’m growing up and then seeing them in person was just crazy to me.”

She was most excited to see the work done by Chris Van Allsburg from “The Polar Express.”

“I think that it’s exciting because it’s children’s books,” said Debra Lampert-Rudman, author of “Iris the Architect.” “Most of the books we’ve all read or heard about before.”

Neither the College’s Art Gallery staff nor visitors expected the turnout to be so large.

“Half the people in the audience were from off-campus, so I think that’s really great,” Croll said.

“This was a really good turnout,” Epstein said, looking around the room. “Especially on a Wednesday afternoon, on a rainy day. I would not have expected to see so many people. The gallery really has improved a lot since I’ve last been here.”

‘Visual Voyage’ gallery opening draws large crowd. (Photo Courtesy of TCNJ Center for the Arts)
‘Visual Voyage’ gallery opening draws large crowd. (Photo Courtesy of TCNJ Center for the Arts)

Alumni shine during a Homecoming Rat show

By Erin Cooper
Correspondent

Former students came back to town with a burst of sound on Friday, Oct. 25, for Alumni Night at the Rathskeller. By 5 p.m. a crowd had already gathered, comprised of current students and alumni alike. They greeted each other with handshakes and hugs, their conversation buzzing between the brick walls.

Shane Dermanjian, junior international studies major and College Union Board Rat chair, was busy setting up before the show.

“A lot of alums show up because it’s the Rat,” said Dermanjian, who was expecting more than the usual turnout of 60 to 80 for CUB’s Rat shows.

Not only was it Alumni Night, but the Greek Alumni were having their reunion in the Rat, too, with free food drawing considerable numbers to the crowd.

The night’s first performer was Paul Bernardo aka PA Angelo, class of ’11, backed up by Derek Krommelbein on drums. Wearing worn, torn sneakers and bearing a black electric guitar, Bernardo’s sharp, acidic vocals were accompanied by humming riffs and the sure rhythm of Krommelbein’s bright blue drums. Bernardo was an active performer, jumping up excitedly, then later getting down on the floor as he continued to play his guitar.

The performance was unexpectedly interrupted midway by an unidentified person with a special announcement: “Antonio is still a virgin,” he declared, and the crowd, including the presumed Antonio, laughed. With good humor, PA Angelo included Antonio in the lyrics of his next song, much to Antonio’s amusement. “Thank you, Antonio!” Bernardo called out at the song’s end.

The Dundees took the stage next, featuring Dan Gibson, Matthew Mance and Sam Moeller, all from the class of ’14, and Matt Prestia, who did not attend the College. The Dundees have existed as a band for four years.

The powerful vocals from Gibson rose over the surge and crash of the band’s three guitars as they played. It was an energetic performance, complete with dancing on stage, presided over by the guitars’ wall of sound.

“It’s kind of weird to be back and not be a student,” Gibson said of his return to the College. “I feel like a grown-up, and it’s weird.”

The Dundees played shows in the Rat when their members were students, and according to Gibson, there were “more people (in the Rat) than there have ever been.” The band’s name came from one of the band’s former drummers, whose grandmother lived in Dundee, Scotland. The drummer eventually moved away, but the name stuck around.

When asked what he’d been doing lately outside of his work with the band, Gibson chuckled and said he was “trying to get a job.” In addition, Moeller is starting graduate school at Rowan.

Angie Bernardo, the mother of PA Angelo’s lead singer, was in the center of the crowd that night, cheering enthusiastically first for her son and then for the Dundees. She was also impressed by the turnout at the Rat.

“It’s so much energy, the young people,” Angie said. “It’s good for them to have a place to come.”

Bernardo performs with sharp vocals and powerful rhythm by Krommelbein. (Michael Cort / Photo Assistant)
Bernardo performs with sharp vocals and powerful rhythm by Krommelbein. (Michael Cort / Photo Assistant)
President Obama meets Ebola survivor Nina Pham. (AP Photo)

Why the Ebola hype shouldn’t scare you

By Alyssa Sanford

We all know the facts: Ebola is a highly contagious and deadly disease, claiming the lives of thousands worldwide. According to CNN, this is the worst Ebola outbreak that the world has seen since the disease appeared in the 1970s. Doctors and aid workers are ill-equipped to contain the disease.

Patsaouras Plaza at Union Station was closed off for 90 minutes over an Ebola scare.
A woman adjusts her mask outside a closed-off building after an Ebola scare in Los Angeles. (AP Photo)

The mainstream media does a great job of whipping Americans into a frenzy because very few of us stop to consider the facts. What are the chances of the average American contracting Ebola and spreading it across the country?

The answer? Slim to none.

For one thing, the mainstream media focuses on the sheer number of infected patients outside of West Africa. Even though high-profile patients are now declared “Ebola-free,” new reports of patients in quarantine have appeared in the media. On Thursday, Oct. 23, amid reports that Amber Vinson, one of two nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, was cured of Ebola, the news surfaced that a doctor in New York City was diagnosed.

Almost all of the Ebola patients in the United States have been cured of the disease and are on the road to recovery, as of Thursday, Oct. 23. This includes the NBC cameraman who contracted Ebola while on assignment in Liberia and two American aid workers who fell ill over the summer.

So, what’s the common denominator in these cases? The infected were all in close contact with Ebola patients. Vinson and Nina Pham, who both treated Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas, intubated the patient and performed dialysis, thus exposing them directly to his infected bodily fluids. The infected were not average Americans who contracted Ebola in their daily travels. They were healthcare workers and journalists dedicated to stopping the disease’s spread in West Africa.

President Obama meets Ebola survivor Nina Pham. (AP Photo)
President Obama meets Ebola survivor Nina Pham. (AP Photo)

Shepherd Smith, a FOX News TV personality, decried the mainstream media’s response to the recent Ebola cases in the United States in a Wednesday, Oct. 15 broadcast.

“We do not have an outbreak of Ebola in the United States,” Shepherd reminded the audience. “Do not listen to the hysterical voices on the radio or the television … The people who say and write hysterical things are being very irresponsible.”

The hype “lacks basis in fact or reason,” according to Shepherd, because the media is neglecting to explain the disease’s spread. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that “Ebola is not spread through the air or by water” and that the virus can be killed by bleach and other disinfectants, but these facts rarely appear in mainstream reports.

We shouldn’t worry about contracting the disease, even if someone suspected of having the disease is in close proximity. The media recently attacked NBC’s chief medical correspondent, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, for leaving her voluntary quarantine in Princeton to get a bite to eat in nearby Hopewell, but Snyderman may not have even left her car or come into close contact with anyone on her trip. She never had Ebola to begin with, therefore invalidating the media’s concerns.

Recent quarantines of airplane and cruise ship passengers were equally ridiculous because the passengers were merely suspected of having the disease.

We need to stop worrying about an Ebola outbreak in the United States. We have some of the best hospitals in the world, an abundance of disinfectants and very few opportunities to come into direct contact with Ebola patients. So before you start wearing a hospital mask and hazmat suit in public, remind yourself that it’s hype, not fact.

Two American Ebola patients making a full recovery

By Candace Kellner
Correspondent

Workers wearing protective suits conduct a training exercise to deal with suspected Ebola cases. (AP Photo)

President Barack Obama is tentatively more optimistic after learning that the battle with Ebola has taken a new turn: Two Ebola patients in America have been cured of the disease.

“It gives you some sense that when it’s caught early and where the public health infrastructure operates effectively, this outbreak can be stopped,” Obama said to CNN.

The condition of Nurse Nina Pham, who contracted Ebola after treating patient Thomas Eric Duncan, has shown improvement. In a statement released by her employer, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, Pham said she is feeling better.

“I’m doing well and want to thank everyone for their kind wishes and prayers,” she said, according to the hospital. “I am blessed by the support of family and friends and am blessed to be cared for by the best team of doctors and nurses in the world.”

Pham’s dog has also been reported to be doing well. Samples from her dog, Bentley, tested negative for the virus. Bentley is being cared for at a Dallas animal shelter.

“That dog was very important to her,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told CNN. “We want to make sure that dog is as healthy as can be at this point and being taken care of.”

In hopes to keep the outbreak from further spreading, the United States has decided to monitor all travelers entering the country from Ebola-affected areas as of Monday, Oct. 27. U.S.-bound passengers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are required to land in one of the five U.S. airports with advanced Ebola-screening technology.

In a statement made by the World Health Organization (WHO), officials emphasized that the organization opposes banning travel as a solution to regulating the virus.

“(The WHO) does not recommend any ban on international travel or trade, in accordance with advice from the WHO Ebola Emergency Committee,” the statement said.

Many in the United States have suggested prohibiting infected individuals from entering the country by plane. However, several individuals in the scientific and medical field conclude that banning air travel will make the infected harder to track because they would try to cross borders by land.

Several international airlines have already banned flights to Ebola-stricken nations. Kenya Airways suspended flights to Sierra Leone and Liberia. British Airways also stopped flights to these two nations back in August. If the United States were to implement a travel ban, it would be the first air-travel ban in U.S. history.

Erini – perfect dinner for a special occasion

By Jenna Ryan
Correspondent

Recently, my family came to visit me: another visit, another restaurant. Where to, you ask? Well, Erini of course! The restaurant is not far from the College at all, a mere 10 minutes away. The exterior of the restaurant was really nice, lined with tiki torches and a chiminea in the center. It felt like I was on a tropical island.

Upon entering the restaurant, I immediately felt like I was in a fancier version of my dining room. Because it is October, they also had nice Halloween decorations up. We made a reservation, and I do recommend making one if you decide to go, especially on weekends when it can get a bit crowded. My party was seated and the waitress told us the specials. Everything on the menu sounded delicious — we decided to get the Caprese salad and corn chowder as appetizers, and baked chicken, stuffed shrimp, ribs, chicken piccata and grilled salmon for our entrees. The mozzarella cheese in the Caprese salad is made fresh in the restaurant, making it one of the best tomato and mozzarella cheese combinations I have tasted. The corn chowder was also tasty and satisfying.

My grilled salmon was delicious, and although I did not try any of the other dishes, my family raved about them. Although I am trying to think of some displeasing aspect of Erini’s in order to balance my review, I cannot think of a single thing. Everything was beyond delicious, and I am already planning my trip back there.

With a meal so delightful, it would be insulting not to finish it with dessert. We ordered the crème brulee and a flourless chocolate cake. The crème brulee was just exquisite, and I am dreaming about it as I write this. The service was also fantastic. Our waitress, Leni, was very accommodating and made sure everything was safe to eat due to my younger cousin’s peanut allergy.

Overall, it is a bit pricey for a college student’s budget, but if you have a special occasion coming up, I highly suggest dining at Erini. The venue exuded class and coziness, which resulted in a very interesting and pleasant combination.

Erini Restaurant

1140 River Rd, Ewing Township, NJ 08628

Phone: (609) 882-0303

Community and legacy

By Lily Kalczewski
Correspondent

Members of the College community – past and present – come together to celebrate Community Fest and Parents’ Weekend. (Kyle Bennion / Photo Editor)
Members of the College community – past and present – come together to celebrate Community Fest and Parents’ Weekend. (Kyle Bennion / Photo Editor)

Two huge white tents were set up on the field in front of Kendall Hall this past Saturday, Oct. 18, hosting local organizations, groups and vendors that were all gathered to participate in the annual Ewing Township Community Fest.

Community Fest abounded with a variety of organizations and plenty of entertainment flourishes. The Ewing Green Team set up a table to promote recycling and environmental sustainability. Even the Ewing High School Robotics team made an appearance. For entertainment, there was live music, inflatable slides and bounce houses, accompanied by face painting and George the Magician. More importantly for foodies everywhere, food trucks lined the festival, providing attendees with a number of dining options.

From the College community, students and parents visited the College and Community Fest as a part of Parent’s Weekend. Several visiting parents had once been students themselves and explored the College and reminisced about its path over the years.

The turnout at Community Fest showed that although the College has undergone many changes since it was established, it still maintains a larger sense of community. After contacting alumni who currently have children attending the school, it was clear that their favorite attribute of their alma mater was the close community feel.

As Michele Prescavage, class of ’91, observed when she was a student, the College “always had a small town feel,” and she believes that this remains the same even now. Having such a close community allowed the Alumni to meet lifelong friends and even spouses, as with the case of Susan and John Infosino, class of ’79 and ’77, and Michele Prescavage and her spouse, Jim, ’93.

“The enduring friendships I’ve kept up are no doubt the best thing from the past,” Ken Baumann, ’82, said. 

“What my child likes most about TCNJ is the tight knit community,” Susan Duthie Warwick, ’89, said about her daughter’s experience so far at the College. “She can walk on campus at any point and see multiple friends, and the tight-knit community definitely rolls over onto the professors and staff.”

The Prescavages’ daughter agreed adding that the school offers “a very welcoming campus.”

Nonetheless, the alumni noticed that along with the name, the College has undergone many alterations, specifically to the buildings which have changed in both amount and appearance. Warwick remembered the diversity of the buildings and how some “were very old with a lot of character while others sported what was considered a more modern look.”

“Today the campus is redesigned with many new buildings in the Georgian Architecture style,” she said.

Alumni are also relieved when it comes to parking. According to both Warwick and Susan Infosino, parking has definitely become a lot easier since they’ve attended.

Furthermore, recognizing the quality education they received, many alumni agree that the education at the College has since been enhanced. Comparing their education to their children’s now, some alumni believe that the curriculum is more challenging, and that even getting accepted to the College is harder. As the Prescavages observed, “The reputation of the College has improved since our time.” This can be attested to the recent ranking by U.S. News and World Report listing the College as the top public school in the northern region.

Overall, the alumni look back on their college days with happiness, gratitude and pride. Due to the education they received at the College, all the alumni have been successful in their careers. Infosino credits her time at the College for discovering her passion in life, which is “serving young children.” She says it’s where she “learned about persistence, patience and not giving up.”

The alumni have all had fantastic experiences at the College, and now, it’s their children’s turn to make some memories. Warwick and the Prescavages each currently have one daughter attending the school. The Infosinos’ son just graduated from the school, and their daughter is currently a freshman. Lastly, Baumann has two sons currently enrolled. Despite the alumni’s children having family ties to the school, it’s not the only reason they chose the College.

“TCNJ would have been on our son’s short list of schools even if both of their parents hadn’t attended here,” Baumann said. “You cannot dispute the well-deserved national rankings the College has received.”

Furthermore, with the construction of Campus Town, the coming renovation of the Brower Student Center and the introduction of the STEM Complex, the College is continuing to change physically as well. But as both the alumni and their children would agree, the campus remains ever beautiful.

Bonnie Watson Coleman presents campaign to College

By Bri Ozalas
Correspondent

The College Democrats invited N.J. General Assemblywoman and Congressional candidate Bonnie Watson Coleman Friday, Oct. 17, to speak on student issues and her political platform in hopes of encouraging students to vote in the midterm elections on Tuesday, Nov. 4.

Watson Coleman (NJ-D), a Mercer County native, the first African American woman to serve as the Majority Leader of the New Jersey General Assembly and also as the chair of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, made a pit stop at the College as part of her campaign to become the first African American woman to represent New Jersey’s 12th district. She is running to replace long-time Democrat Rush Holt.

“We need to be clear who we are and who we stand for,” said Watson Coleman in her speech, which focused on the importance of a government that works together, listens to students and comes up with solutions for a better society.

“It’s our responsibility to go across the aisle and work with Republicans … It’s our responsibility to build relationships and work together,” Watson Coleman said. “Blaming others is not government. It’s not democracy.”

After her speech, the College Democrats named Watson Coleman the “Honorary Chair of the TCNJ College Democrats.”

“She’s long represented N.J. at a local level, and it’s a great opportunity to have her come in,” said junior history and urban studies double major Sam Fogelgaren,  president of the College Democrats. “We wanted to have her speak to students because she represents students and their needs.”

Watson Coleman stated that she, if elected, will fight to support Pell Grants and the N.J. Stars Program, a scholarship program that covers the cost of tuition at New Jersey’s 19 community colleges.

When asked about the introducing the idea of free education like in Germany, Watson Coleman said it would be difficult and not likely, but that she will work for “making higher education more affordable.”

While she did not state whether she was for or against the legalization of marijuana, she did state that she believes in the “decriminalization” of marijuana and that we need to “separate out the threats to society.”

Unlike many “loud-mouth, dysfunctional ultra-conservatives,” as Watson Coleman said, she believes the Affordable Care Act is the “most significant achievement since the start of Medicare,” and although she says it is not perfect, it allows for “opportunities to improve upon from patient and provider perspectives.”

Watson Coleman’s opponent in the upcoming midterm election is Republican Alieta Eck, MD. Eck, a graduate of Rutgers College of Pharmacy in N.J. and the St. Louis School of Medicine in St. Louis, M.O., is the co-founder of Zarephath Health Center is Somerset, N.J and has been in private practice with her husband since 1988.

Husband-wife duo ParkeHarrison inspire with art

By Gabriel Salazar
Correspondent 

To start this year’s Visiting Artists Series, husband and wife Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison took the stage at Mayo Concert Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 8, to discuss themes present in their photography and sculpture, as well as the influences behind their art.

They started their first project “The Architect’s Brother” in 1995 as an exploration of the sometimes destructive relationship between man, technology and nature. Their artwork conveys the bleak and surrealistic relationship between humans and nature and how sustainability, at the same time, remains a sliver of hope.

“We made (‘The Architect’s Brother’) in the ’90s before it got real,” Shana said, speaking about the state of the environment as a global issue.

As a presentation of their different works of art were projected on a screen, the ParkeHarrisons discussed how they wish to affect the viewer of their artwork.

“We want to hit the viewer in the gut with something visceral, then rise in the body in an intellectual way,” Shana said. In addition, Robert said that the duo “(wants) to play with your sense of reality.”

They elaborated on three main themes present in their body of work: nature, humans and technology.

Describing themselves as “from the Midwest, suburban and middle class,” the ParkeHarrisons felt the need to make art that would transcend race and be easily relatable for any viewer. From this starting point, the theme of the everyman appeared in their work. Using this artistic vehicle, the artists hoped that viewers of their work would be able to put themselves into the image and witness the despair caused by the interaction between humans and nature.

One of the main points both artists emphasized is their desire to challenge the viewer’s perception of reality through different mediums. Their artwork is not just a simple photograph, but rather different artistic techniques to enhance the experience of the viewer.

The couple also discussed challenges, particularly the struggle to decide what artistic medium could be most effective. The question of what will impress the viewer the most is one they constantly ask themselves.

For example, they paint over the photographs and use certain parts of other photos to achieve a multidimensional look — props that were used in their work were presented to the audience as well.

The shift they took from black and white art to color not only altered their style, but also the themes in them.   “We became too comfortable with black and white,” Shana said.

They took a couple of years off, did research and created new imagery. Their shift from black and white to color was accompanied with a different way of thinking, as well.

In their past works, the human was the focus, but in their colored works, nature has become the protagonist.

A third form of art they ventured into was sculpture. They worked with shoemakers to create some of their pieces independently from their other artwork. Their largest sculpture to date is seven feet tall.

After an hour of speaking, the ParkeHarrisons opened the floor for questions from the audience. Many questioned the prevailing theme of despair in the work.

“There’s always a balance, but it tips toward despair,” Shana said. “There’s some amount of hope, the possibility of turning the other way as a race.”

Artist 1
The couple focuses on themes of hope and despair. (Michael Cort / Photo Assistant)
The College should offer more resources to its students with mental health problems to prevent further tragedies. (AP Photo)

Mental health resources lacking at College

The College should offer more resources to its students with mental health problems to prevent further tragedies. (AP Photo)
The College should offer more resources to its students with mental health problems to prevent further tragedies. (AP Photo)

By Vincent Aldazabal, Shannon Kane and Hailey Marr

There are times when tragedy catalyzes an urgent response that compels necessary criticism in the defense of hope and the preservation of human life. Paige Aiello, Michael Menakis and, most recently, Sarah Sutherland each committed suicide during their time at the College. Their absences are deeply felt on campus and our hearts are indeed broken.

Sutherland is the third student to have taken her life in the last two and a half years, while Paige Aiello and Michael Menakis committed suicide in the spring of 2013 and 2014, respectively. This number does not include attempts or even the number of individuals contemplating such a choice, but it does give us an insight to the abysmal state of mental health care on campus. This is a brutal reality that we cannot ignore, and we would be remiss in placating the shortcomings of our campus’s institutional leadership and the student body’s own lack of empathy. This piece is dedicated to the memories of three beautiful people and intends to initiate a  campaign of hope predicated upon serious institutional reform and individual empowerment which are now both overwhelmingly essential for the very sustainability and survival of the College’s students. If our students and administrative leaders cannot work to heal broken hearts through the mobilization of humanitarian efforts and committed economic measures for its students, just like it has for academic interests, our public education system is fundamentally broken.

The tone expressed in President Gitenstein’s email following this recent tragedy is ultimately symptomatic of the willful ignorance of systemic hindrances to student’s mental health, as it exists at the highest levels of this college. This disregard is evidenced by the critical lack in funding given to resources like Counseling and Psychological Services, or CAPS. Many students who have attempted to utilize CAPS have expressed that the work counselors tirelessly participate in is admirable, but they are obviously underfunded and, as a result, understaffed. Given the continuous thrum of construction equipment present on all corners of campus, the message sent to students is clear. For those in charge, the outward appearance of the College is being addressed as a higher priority than that of students’ mental healthcare. The fact is, while our mental health resources are of a high quality in their limited availability, they are not as “extensive” as Gitenstein claims. They will not be extensive until they are allocated funding and resources proportional to their importance, which are now of tantamount value. That students should sometimes have to wait upwards of three weeks to speak with a mental health professional after an initial intake with CAPS, and that they are only allowed to see a professional for a very limited number of appointments, is regrettable. Students are forced to look elsewhere for help. This marginalizes individuals who do not have access to transportation to and from campus or those with subpar health insurance that leaves them unable to afford treatment. There is a very clear bottom line in this situation, and it’s high time that the College’s administration adjust its priorities and put students’ mental health and safety as an immediate platform of essential reform. It will take more than rhetorical gestures and reactive measures to prevent any further tragedies.

This change will be difficult, as we are faced with an increasingly rigorous corporate strangling of academic institutions by private power. Yet our moral consciences are gravely threatened. We must cease praising the accelerated pace of constructing Campus Town if we cannot center financial resources and humanitarian plans to provide serious constructions — institutional and personal — that secure acceptable tools for long-term mental healthcare. In the face of overwhelming grief, we must re-evaluate how we are utilizing the precious time we have here in college. This will require leadership and student collectives to re-emerge from the loss that compels us and be propelled to move forward to build support lines, media campaigns, academic outlets and crucial long-term care for those struggling with mental health. The College must be provoked from the top administrative corners to the brightest minds and largest hearts to form an inclusive community that prioritizes empathy in the pursuit of safety.

Perhaps of paramount importance is the need for bureaucratic interferences with care to be dismantled — most certainly limited by the political power of insurance companies — so healthcare professionals are not limited to healing voices of desperation, most poignantly when the very real expressions of suicidal ideation and feelings are conveyed. Any voices that immediately respond to say radical change is impossible must consider the tragic ramifications of current practices. Either we challenge what we’ve been told is “just how it is” or knowingly await the next heartbreaking and pitiful email from Gitenstein.

Suicide is not an inevitable occurrence of our existence, and the struggle for what is ideal must be continually pursued in the face of social injustice. The best way to honor the memories of those we have lost in the struggle with mental health is to take serious preventive measures. Institutional reform is but the beginning. How we reconstruct our hearts’ intents will only be realized if there is a consensus that three suicides are three too many. Shall we rigorously pursue the protection of our humanity, or shall we continue to adhere to the same order that the powers at be have implemented?

Latino leadership critical for classroom success

By Karen Martinez
Class of 2014

This month, I have the privilege of celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month alongside 11 resilient and energetic pre-kindergarten students. This holiday represents a powerful opportunity for our tiny classroom community to expand my students’ conceptions of what it means to be Latino and to learn more about the unique culture and stories they bring to our classroom. Knowing that my students are so young and their educational journeys so new, during this month I cannot help but look to their futures, as well.

By 2040, nearly one out of every four U.S. citizens will identify as Hispanic. But as we see Latino leadership rising across the country, there’s one leadership shortage that hits home for me. Today, just 8 percent of teachers identify as Latino. This gap has real, immediate implications for Hispanic students and is a big part of what ultimately brought me to Wilmington, D.E. to teach my young learners. Here in my new home state, the U.S. Census reports that 44.1 percent of Hispanics over the age of 25 do not have a high school diploma. This is staggering, especially when compared to the overall Delaware population — only 15 percent of whom lack a college degree.

Growing up in Jersey City, N.J., I saw the need that existed in my community firsthand. When I enrolled at the College, I knew that I wanted to use my education not to “get out” but instead to give back. It was through tutoring at a local school in Trenton with Circle K that I saw that education has the potential to be the most powerful tool in shaping our nation’s future. Working with children of all ages and backgrounds at Kidsbridge Tolerance Museum reinforced my desire to focus on urban education, so I became an early education major. I knew that I wanted to make a difference for low-income students, but I also knew that if I wanted to really change my hometown, I would have to be part of something bigger than myself. That’s why I joined Teach For America — to be part of the growing network of Latino leaders fighting for social justice in the classroom.

As a Latina, I treat opportunities to get to know my students with extra care. This month, our unit is centered on the theme, “All about me.” During our first weeks of school, I encouraged my students and their parents to make our classroom home, bringing in family pictures and sharing memories from their early birthdays and holidays. For some of my students this unit was a breakthrough. One young student, Ryan, had always struggled with his behavior and orienting himself in social situations. During his “All about me” show-and-tell, he shared about his father being away and how it affects him and his family. After that opportunity to share and open up — fleeting as it may be for a 4 year old — I noticed a change in him and his trust for our classroom community. By bringing my full self to my classroom — as a woman, College grad and first-generation college student — I have the privilege of being both a window and a mirror for my students.

The sharing of a common identity is powerful to my students, but it’s certainly not the only way to connect — all students, even our youngest learners, need teachers who they know believe in them. The path toward meaningful change has been taken by regular people committed to making extraordinary things possible. Great teachers come from all backgrounds, identities and experiences, but we are united by this difficult and deeply inspiring work. Every day, I am challenged to play a role in the future I imagine and humbled to work with a group of students whose imaginations never cease to amaze. As you imagine your own future, I hope you’ll join us.

The men’s and women’s swim teams dominate in the season opener.  (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

Swim teams dominate at the Bradley Center

The men’s and women’s swim teams dominate in the season opener.  (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)
The men’s and women’s swim teams dominate in the season opener. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

By Joanna Shin
Correspondent

This past Saturday, Oct. 18, the College’s swimming and diving team started its season off with a big victory, competing at Ramapo’s Bradley Center against Ramapo College. Both the men’s and women’s teams delivered impressive performances and began their year with a great opening.

The men’s team showed their strengths on first event, the 200-yard medley relay. Senior Aleksander Burzynski, junior Joseph Dunn, sophomore Vince Masciandaro and sophomore Jin Roh swam to a winning time of 1:37.25. Reigning NJAC Rookie of the Year Ryan Gadjzisz and sophomore Scott Vitabile dominated in the 200-yard freestyle, swimming times of 1:44.42 and 1:46.27, respectively.

The team appeared to be driven with the two wins in the beginning events. However, they were only getting started.

“The guys went into the meet tired, but we all raised really well, and we still won most, if all, of the events,” freshman Chris O’Sullivan said.

The swimmers continued to take over their meet as Gadjzisz took another win in the 200-yard backstroke at 2:02.33, and Roh placed first in the 100-back with a time of 54.04. Freshmen Logan Barns and Joseph Dunn also took top honors in the 200-yard butterfly at 2:04.88 and 2:07.28, respectively. In the 100-breastroke and 200-breaststroke event, sophomore Andrew Nesbitt achieved the blue ribbon for both events, crossing with times of 1:00.60 and 2:16.60.

The men did not stop their wins. Four swimmers, Nesbitt, senior Brett Pedersen, Vitabile and Dunn ended with the fastest finish in the 400-yard freestyle relay at 3:13.61.

As the men’s team conquered its first swim meet, the women’s team was also showing outstanding results.

“Our team has been training hard the last few weeks,” senior Carlyn Fallon said. “And while we’re excited to see where we are speed-wise, we’re also just looking to bring enthusiasm onto the deck and get to the wall first.”

The women’s team opened with their first win in the 100-yard backstroke by sophomore Brenna Strolla, who finished at 1:02.06. She took on many achievements this weekend, placing first in the 200-yard backstroke at 2:13.00 and in the 200-yard IM at 2:15.43. Senior and co-captain Summer Thomas won the 500-yard freestyle at 5:33.18 as Emily Rothstein was placed runner-up in the same event at 5:44.95. Thomas received second place in the 100-yard freestyle event, finishing at 55.66.

“The meet started out closer than we anticipated,” Thomas said. “But the team stayed positive and fought to the finish to pull out a win.”

The team continued to show no mercy as senior Brennah Ross participated in the 100-yard butterfly and got first place, crossing at a time of 1:00.61. Sophomore Colleen Magley, freshman Allison Huber, junior Lauren Rothstein and Thomas led another victory in the 400-yard freestyle relay at 3:49.03

Both the men’s and women’s teams will continue to strive and make improvements as the season goes on. With 12 new freshmen on the women’s team, Coach Jennifer Harnett said the team is “working on a meet lineup is going to be quite different from last year.”

“It may take a few meets to see how we are the strongest, but a win is always a great way to start the season,” she said.

The other Wes Moore: same name, different story

By Camellia Carbonaro
Correspondent

When author Wes Moore wanted to write a guide on how to raise children, his publisher rejected the idea, explaining that no one would be interested in such a book by a 30-year-old man with no kids of his own. Instead, Moore switched course and went with a different approach — telling his own story.

Moore says he and the other Moore both looked for positivity. (Photo courtesy of tcnj.edu)
Moore says he and the other Moore both looked for positivity. (Photo courtesy of tcnj.edu)

Moore visited Wednesday, Oct. 8, in Kendall Hall, to discuss his book, “The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates” — the required summer reading for incoming freshman this year, following themes of socioeconomic tensions and justice.

His second attempt at a book detailed the lives of two men in Baltimore, Md. Both are named Wes Moore and happen to come from the same area, but the two never get a chance to meet until they are well into adulthood. The first Wes, the author, loses his father at an early age from an untreated case of acute epiglottis. He is subsequently raised by his mother, who eventually sends him off to military school on account of his bad grades.

The other Wes is abandoned by his father and gets involved in the drug trade. Both men come from financially-struggling households and are raised in dangerous neighborhoods, yet end up with different futures. The first Wes manages to clean up his act and become a Rhodes Scholar, decorated veteran, White House Fellow to Condoleezza Rice, host of the Oprah Network’s Beyond Belief and one of the top New York business leaders. The other Wes becomes one of four men involved in a $400,000 jewelry heist.

Four men entered a jewelry store on Monday, Feb. 7, 2000, armed with guns and mallets. The customers were ordered to stay on the ground with their hands over their heads while the suspects smashed the jewelry cases and stole their contents. As the men were attempting to flee, an off-duty police officer, Bruce Prothero, pursued them to the parking lot. The suspects proceeded to shoot the officer three times at point-blank range and drove off. Prothero was transported to a local hospital 45 minutes later where he was pronounced dead.

At the time, Prothero was moonlighting as a security guard for the robbed store to make some extra money. He died at 35 as a father of five and a highly respected sergeant. A salesclerk identified the other Wes as a suspect and the four perpetrators (including Wes’s half-brother, Richard Antonio Moore) were arrested within a few weeks and sentenced to life without parole.

Upon the release of his book, Prothero’s family did not support its publication, “fearing it would give undeserved attention to a ‘cop killer,’” according to Moore. However, Moore explained that his intention is not to kickstart a “Free Wes” campaign. Moore has known the other Wes for close to a decade now and has found that he is both articulate and not what one would expect him to be. However, Moore does not believe in his release and states that his mission is to merely educate people on how to avoid such tragedies.

“The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine,” Moore said in his book. “The tragedy is that my story could have been his.”

According to Moore, there have been at least eight murders in his city since the start of October.

“I know the drill. We do the lantern visuals, sing songs … hold hands and then hold our breaths until the perpetrator is captured,” he said. “Then we blow out the candles and let go of our hands and try to go back to how things were before.”

Coming from a place where this is a norm, Moore has learned that “potential in this country is universal, but opportunity is not.”

If the reader’s takeaway from the book is that there is a good and bad person who just happen to share the same name, they have missed the point. Moore would rather readers treat it as a cautionary tale.

“Both men were searching for something positive,” he said. “One kid got it, one kid did not.”

Moore believes we must realize that “our lives are not that much different from others,” and that everyone has to undergo difficult circumstances. Only when we are able to overcome these difficulties do we realize it is worth it. He compares this to the life of a graduating college student whose mission should not be to “walk across a graduation stage and take a piece of paper” because “the definition of a higher degree is a person who translates personal success into something that actually matters.”

“Your life doesn’t start when you receive a credential,” he said. “It starts when you say, ‘The time is now.’”