Monthly Archives: April, 2009

2008 Pulitzer Prize NY Times Journalist Amy Harmon visits the College

NY Times Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Amy Harmom (courtesty: NY Times)

NY Times Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Amy Harmom (courtesty: NY Times)

By Mike Smollins

Amy Harmon, a 2008 Pulitzer Prize winner from The New York Times, presented her work to a full crowd of students and faculty in the Islip Arts Theatre on Wednesday, April 22.

The special ceremony started off when English professor Molly Altizer-Evans stepped up to the podium. “This is the second annual Pulitzer Prize series,” Evans said before giving a background on Harmon. Harmon then took the stage and began to speak to the audience.

Harmon covers genetic impact and she won the Pulitzer for expository reporting for her series entitled “The DNA Age.” Harmon started as a reporter for the LA Times from 1990-97. She started as a feature writer for science and health covering topics about adult offspring.

In 1997, she came to the New York Times and just 4 years later in 2001, she won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. While Harmon has been very successful, she knows that the readership of newspapers has gone down in recent years. “This is a time when the work I love to do is in peril,” Harmon said.

Despite the decline in readership in newspapers nowadays, the New York Times is up for five Pulitzer Prizes in 2009. Due to the papers going out of business, Harmon mentioned that her colleagues have turned to regular blogging as well as live blogging. While the readership goes down, Harmon still believes in what she does. “Long form national journalism deserves a place in our society,” Harmon insisted.

Harmon went to the University of Michigan and became an editorial editor. E-Mail was a new technology back then and she learned how to do that while also free lancing. She interviewed at the LA Times and ended up working in the Detroit borough writing about the internet, a new commodity back in 1997.

Harmon writes for the Science Times section every Tuesday in the New York Times. She writes about the social impact of science and technology. Harmon had a child and was offered DNA tests, which really sparked her interests in her field.

One story Harmon wrote was on a 23-year-old woman named Katie who was at risk for a disease called Huntington’s Disease and had a 50% risk of getting the disease if her mom had it. Unfortunately, her mom didn’t want to be tested, and Harmon spent time with them as the story unfolded.

Another story was about a young woman who inherited a chance of breast cancer from her mother. Deborah Linder, 33 years old, or “Deb” as Harmon referred to as, had an 87% chance of inheriting the cancer from her mother. She never had the cancer, but opted for an operation to remove her breasts without ever being certain. The operation was called a prophylactic mastectomy.

Deb’s surgery was a success, and Harmon reported her recovery in what was an amazing story. Harmon wanted to write a story about heredity but didn’t quite know in which direction she wanted to go with it

“I interviewed a dozen families before finding Deb,” Harmon said revealing the amount of research that goes into this sort of journalism. Harmon also added that her field has changed so much that she is not just a reporter, but also must be a photographer and videographer. “Our genre is about showing stories through multiple technologies,” Harmon added.

Harmon was supposed to visit the College on March 25, however due to a story she was reporting, she had to cancel and reschedule it. Harmon is working on a story with a man who has ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. There has been some improvement in the search for a cure as there is now a pill that can potentially help people live longer. Harmon had to cancel her first visit to see the man take the pill for the first time. It was the culmination of a family’s quest to get him the drug. The story is still in progress.

“I like to write stories that aren’t news or typical trend stories,” Harmon said, “I love to write narrative stories that unfold with one character or a few characters,” she added. One of those stories includes a story about two siblings who found out their father was a sperm donor, and not the man who raised them. The story unfolded with the siblings meeting their real father for the first time.

Due to being so close to the people and stories she covers for so long, Harmon can’t help but sometimes get wrapped up in it all. “I feel myself getting emotionally involved in my stories,” Harmon said, “but I feel that’s okay.”

Harmon isn’t the traditional journalist. She actually reads her stories back to the people she reported them on afterwards to make sure everything is accurate before printing. Harmon does stories that she’s personally interested in and some people actually write to her for her to do stories on them.

Harmon mentioned that a company called 23 and Me tests people’s DNA for any risk of diseases that may be hereditary for $400. The company runs many tests to help people discover their risks. Harmon originally trained to be a reporter, but she is now trained in audio reporting and has a video team. “The more you know the better,” Harmon said. “The more technologies you have, the more it helps you tell a story in different ways.”

Harmon didn’t study science in school, so she interviews scientists about the scientific parts of her research. “One of the worst things I do is take up a lot of scientists’ time, but don’t quote them. I spend hours with scientists trying to understand the science factors behind the social issues,” Harmon said mentioning that she always e-mails them to let them know if she doesn’t end up quoting them.

In Florida, Harmon sat in on a class learning the topic of evolution for the first time ever and she saw conversations sparked for the very first time as the kids first heard of evolution. It was never taught in Florida prior to that.

Harmon said that she spends so much time researching and writing the stories. The story with Deb took three months for her to complete. Harmon is proud of her work and glad that the decline in readership doesn’t affect the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, “I’ll have people come up to me and say ‘I started reading the story and I didn’t think I’d read it to the end, but I did.’” For Harmon, that alone makes all the research and effort worth it.

Columbine redux: Guns on campus for protection?

By Francesca Prestifilippo
On the morning of April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold went into Columbine High School in order to carry out their yearlong plan of wreaking havoc on their school. The teens carried duffle bags that concealed homemade propane and pipe bombs, along with guns and knives that were hidden under the trench coats that they had worn that day with intentions of taking the lives of hundreds. One teacher along with 12 students died at the hands of the shooters before they had taken their own lives. Also about two dozen others out of all of the other survivors suffered serious injuries from gunshot wounds inflicted by the shooters.

This tragedy was considered to be the deadliest school shooting in the United States up until eight years later when a student killed 32 people along with himself at Virginia Tech.

One would think that after Columbine and Virginia Tech, that the government would issue stricter laws concerning gun control in order to prevent another tragedy from occurring. Surprisingly enough, there has been a state law passed in Utah that has allowed students attending public colleges to carry a concealed weapon with them on school grounds. This law was passed in response to the Virginia Tech massacre.

Supporters of the Utah state issued law argue that the Virginia Tech tragedy might have been cut short had a teacher or a student with a gun chosen to intervene. In addition, lawmakers refer to two other incidences that were similar to Virginia Tech in order to support the law. The first incident took place in Mississippi in 1997 when a teenager shot and killed two students at Pearl High School. An assistant principal, who kept a .45-caliber pistol in his truck, chased the shooter outside and prevented him from doing any more damage. In a more recent incident following the passing of this law, there was an 18-year-old male who shot nine people at a shopping center in Utah leaving five of the nine dead. However, there was an off duty police officer at the scene who just happened to be carrying a concealed weapon (even though it was a violation of mall policy) and he ended up weakening the gunman with gunfire until reinforcements arrived. Despite that, the shooter ended up dying in a shootout with the police. Lawmakers consider this incident evidence that concealed weapons could deter further deaths.

Even though this law had been passed with the thoughts of better ensuring the safety of students and faculty on campus, there is always the chance that it could backfire. Sure, they say that people who are allowed those permits wouldn’t do anything to endanger the lives of others, but then again how can they be so sure? I mean, the shooter responsible for the Virginia Tech massacre (Cho) was issued a gun when it was clear that he was an unstable individual. And not to mention how the gunmen of the Columbine High School massacre were able to acquire firearms so easily through their accomplices.

According to statistics provided by the FBI, there were 12.7 million background checks on potential gun buyers last year in comparison to the 11.2 million in the previous year.

I think that allowing college students to carry a concealed weapon with them around campus and into their classrooms is just asking for trouble. Regardless of whether or not they have met standards set by the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and have been issued a federal firearm license, there is still the risk that they could become a threat to the student body if and when they ever choose to use their firearms for purposes other than protection.

For instance, if the individual is intoxicated or under the influence of some type of illegal substance that alters their judgment and/or behavior, and they are at a college dorm, it could lead to the murder of innocent lives. Also, a person’s carelessness could cost them either their own life or someone else’s life due to their gun accidently going off. Plus, think about the impression it is going to have on children and teenagers who already see way too much violence in the media as it is.

This could in fact bring about another high school or university shooting in the future years to come. I mean wasn’t the Columbine High School massacre supposed to teach people that resorting to violence is never the answer? And that no bloodshed is worth the long term effects that continue to haunt the survivors as well as the victims’ families till this day.

Gallery hosts works of Susan Sills Through April 4

By Cassaundra Mariotti

For the past month, the free standing cutouts of Susan Sills’s artwork have been displayed in the Maurice N. Flecker memorial gallery in the South Hampton building. Sill’s artwork is part of a modern tradition that credits viewers with intelligence.

During the Mid 1980’s Sills began to create her two dimensional cutouts of Birchwood and oil paints. Sills brings her work to another levelby combining her modern day cutouts with real still life objects that we use in this world today. For instance, in one of her paintings she has two Japanese women sitting down with a teapot next to them and a piece of cardboard from a happy meal box in the corner. Sills brings the past and the present together making them one. Sills idea is to have her artwork interact with the people. She wants the people to be able to relate to her cutout images. Each one of her cutouts brings a new meaning into this world. If you look more closely at Sills’ artwork, you can almost feel as if the image were looking at you, as if they were trying to reach out to you. It sounds crazy but if we just take a little look closer we might just see the story behind the work.

Another creation of Sills was to bring people from different paintings and put them with each other in one whole painting. Not only is she trying to have interaction between real people and the cutouts, but she wants the cutout images to have interaction with each other. Sills is not an easy artist to understand, but she reveals her secrets through her work, which will be displayed in the gallery through April 4.

Arthur Kleinfelder, the art director in the South Hampton building offers some tips for better understanding Sills’ work. Kleinfelder showed how to view art in a very in depth way.

“You have to look deeper into the artwork you are looking at. Look at what is behind the people in the painting or who they are looking at,” Kleinfelder said.

A painting will tell a story of a thousand words, it’s just up to you to put the story together.

“Paintings start to become objects. They want you to know the person in the painting,” Kleinfelder said. Learning the history of art can be very beneficial and more students should become aware of the possibilities there are in learning about the inner depth of art.

Kleinfelder said he feels that the gallery is very valuable for the students, and it provides a good learning experience.

Another artist who is very well known for his work has almost the same idea as Susan Sills, his name is Gabriel Ladderman. Ladderman is known for the founding father of post modern figurative art and his still life creations. He has emerged as a key figure of new realism in the 1960’s and the 1970’s. Both Susan Sills and Gabriel Ladderman tend to use interaction within their artwork. Their artwork may be a little hard to understand but, at the same time they are very meaningful. They both like to put different sets of characters with other different characters. They want to break up the normality of every other painting, and mix it up a little.

Sills’ cutout images with their real life objects have shown humor and interaction. We as the viewers have more of a chance to become educated about the real truth behind the water colors.

The Maurice N. Flecker gallery has been known to show the artwork of other artists as well. Sydney Tillim and his paint soaked paper and the May arts show, presenting different pieces of art through clothing are two examples. The art galleries of the Ammerman campus bring different creative types of artists into the gallery to empower the students with knowledge of art. The gallery is open to the public as well as students Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Earth Day Student Photo Contest Winners to be Announced April 22 by physical sciences department

The 2008 Earth Day Student Photo Contest Winner.

The 2008 Earth Day Student Photo Contest Winner.

By Rhyanne Green
The 3rd Annual Earth Day Student Photo Contest is set for April 22 at noon in the Smithtown Science Building Lobby. Students who are currently enrolled at the College with an ID, can submit a photo up to 11’’ x 14’’. The theme of the photo contest is, “The Celebration of Earth and Beyond.”
The photos are being accepted on Friday, April 17, no later then 3 p. m. by Professor Joan Horn, the contest committee chair and contact person. Photos can be brought to the Smithtown Science office building main office (room 100). The best picture related to the Earth Science theme will receive a price. The first prize winner will receive a $100 gift card to the Suffolk County Barnes & Noble bookstores. Second and third prize winners will receive $25 gift cards to Barnes and Noble. Mrs. Christina Scott of the department of Physical Science volunteers as an Assistant Contest Coordinator. Scott helps by accepting photos in the Smithtown Science building’s main office.
“The contest is designed for all students on all campuses who have a favorite photo to submit. Since the judging criteria is based on contest theme, artistic expression and overall appeal, a student does not need to be an accomplished photographer to participate,” Horn said. However one year, Professor Horn received a photo of a backyard and a pool, but it was disqualified because it did not pertain to earth science or the theme. As long as the theme and subject matches, the photo can be submitted.

Some students on campus have said they did not know about the Earth Day contest.
“I found out two days before spring break,” said Elizabeth Brenner. Brenner said she will be entering the contest since she has heard about it. Brenner said she is very excited about the contest.
“It causes you to look beyond humans and animals as the subject of the photo and focuses towards the earth and nature,” Brenner said. Now that she has the knowledge of the Earth Day student photo contest, Brenner said she will spread the word to other students on campus.
A new addition to this year’s contest is a “faculty showcase.” Any Suffolk County Community faculty member may also submit a photo no bigger than an 11’’ x 14’’ sized photo. The photo can go on display, but the faculty member can not compete in the contest. The faculty will not win prizes. The best faculty photo, (faculty) will be able to have a picture of themselves up in the Smithtown Science building lobby.
The contest is very exciting and it changes every year. Professor Sean Tvelia said, “I am always surprised at the pictures and the quality,” said Physical Science Professor Sean Tvelia. The photos are also exciting because they illustrate how students learned something about Earth Science.
“It is very exciting to see the students come in with their photos and explain why they are submitting and what method they used,” said Scott. The photos reflect what students learned in earth science. The contest display is located in the front lobby of the Smithtown Science Building.
On the back of the photo students should tape a card with name, phone, email, date and title of photo, Horn said. Photos must belong to each participant and the work must be unpublished. Anyone who wants their photo returned must state that in writing and hand it in during the submission. For any more information regarding the Earth Day Student Photo Contest, contact Professor Joan Horn whose office is located in the Smithtown Science Building on the second floor. The International Year of Astronomy can be included as well. The pictures of the sky and the stars are part of the earth, and any photos of those images will be accepted.. Scott and Horn meet and tally up the results of the contestants. After they calculate the results, they then present the gifts to the winners.
The department of physical science is in charge of the contest. The department received contributions from faculty and the College Bookstore. Associate Professor of Physical Science Darryl Butkos contributed to help fundraise for the prizes of the contest. The bookstore contributed towards the gift cards. The photo contest was originally created by Professor Sean Tvelia. Tvelia was assisted by Butkos and Horn.

Getting in Shape While Earning Credits

By Samantha Lujan

Fitness is an eminent part of life; it strengthens our bodies and provides mental stability; and what not a better way to do it while earning school credits. Suffolk County Community College offers many Physical Education classes that can help you stay in shape.
Here at the Ammerman campus, you can find a variety of selection of classes you can choose from. There are classes for those who dance, for those who like to play sports and for all those who want to stay or get in shape.
“It is important for students to find something that interests them while choosing a Physical Education course. With that in mind, our department here at the Ammerman Campus offers a wide variety of different courses including fitness based classes, dance, adventure, individual, dual, and team sports. Of course, I would like to see our course offerings continue to grow; among the courses I would like to see are mountain biking, archery and kayaking/canoeing.” said Physical Ed professor Elizabeth Tomlet.
Professor Tomlet is one of the physical education teachers here at the Ammerman campus. She has been teaching here for three years and also teaches a variety of different courses including Fitness Walking, Jogging and Fitness, Body Toning, Cardio-Kickboxing, Total Fitness, Sports Conditioning, and Weight Training.
Staying healthy is crucial to the success of a student, and what most know is that you cannot stay healthy without exercising. The majority of students spent tremendous amounts of money going to local gyms. Some gym clubs require enrollment fees and deposits while others just charge for the monthly fee. With that in mind, at Ammerman you can pay the credit and class fees and be on your way to a healthy you.
“It’s great, you are earning credits and being healthy,” says Maggie Porcelli, an Early Childhood Education major with a minor in Dance Therapy student here at the Ammerman campus, when asked what she thought of the idea of students getting in shape through the many physical education classes offered here.
Just like there are many students who do not take advantage of the classes offered, there are others that do. There has been an increased number of students wanting to get in shape perhaps because the summer is a few months away, and nice weather means people are outdoors more often.
“Many students do take advantage of the classes offered here at SCCC. I have plenty of students who carefully plan their Physical Education classes so that they are getting a great workout and valuable knowledge while receiving college credit and not paying gym membership fees.
The classes vary in size all depending the activity, space and equipment needed. Male students tend to stay within their traditional working out ways such as weight training, sports conditioning, while body toning, yoga and cardio-kicking boxing are classes that appeal more to female students.
There are tons of benefits that emerge from these activities; it all depends on how much effort is put in them and what the individual goals are. The changes students see on their body also depends on what kind of goal they have in mind and whether they want to lose weight, gain muscle, or simply have a healthy state of mind.
“I have had students see changes within their bodies after taking many different Physical Education classes. Whether it is improved levels of physical fitness, body composition, skill, and technique or just simply a better self-image, all are positive changes and well worth taking a course.”
“I’ve gained more muscle, strength, I’m toned and learned self-defense” said Valerie Iannelli a Radiology student whom decided to take challenging classes to stay in shape rather than paying to go to her local gym.
Although the preparation for each course varies depending on the type of course that is being taken, just remember that hydration is extremely important and it can have a negative impact on how your body and mind works.
“Getting in shape while completing a mandatory college requirement sounds like a great deal to me! It saves many students time and money spent at the local gyms.” Said professor Tomlet.
Stay tuned because not only does Suffolk offer many great physical education classes, there will be a brand new course – Fitness Adventure in the fall of 2009.

Students and the Economy

by Samantha Lujan

The majority of students wonder how President Barack Obama’s 789 billion stimulus plan that was recently approved this past February would in any way help them.
“It will definitely help students…it will be increasing Pell Grant award eligibility” said Katie Briscoe Baum the director of financial aid here at Suffolk County Community College.
The atrocious economic times that the country is encountering have put forward many questions, but an inquiry that has crossed everyone’s mind is how exactly is this going to help students pay for tuition?
In a recent article published by CNN Politics, it stated that the stimulus package plans to call for greater investment in Pell Grants for college students, and $2,500 college tax credit to four million college students”.
“I’ve had to give school a break. I can’t transfer anywhere else until I start paying some of these loans… I can’t afford going to school full time and work full time” said Sebastian Correa, 22 a student here at the college whom has been affected by the economic hardships.
In these tough economic times students are forced to go out and find jobs that can help them make it through school.
“We have noticed an increase in student traffic since the semester started. Many students are coming in – asking for assistance in finding a job.” said Sylvia E. Camacho Director of the Career Services and Cooperative Education.
“For students who are looking for jobs off campus, there is Suffolk’s Job Connection – http: http://www.sunysuffolk.edu/jobs. This is an online job listing database with over 600 open jobs. Flyers and posters are posted all around campus, as well as a link on the College Web site. We also have some information in-house on our Jobs Board in the Babylon Student Center, 2nd floor and in our office – Job Notebook binders. In addition, there are several employers who visit on campus to recruit during the semester.” Said Sylvia Camacho expressing how the college is helping students.

Financial aid has also become a significant important part of a student’s affordability in regards to school. In order to qualify for financial aid or any other loan, there are several applications that a student has fill out each according to their needs. There are three types of federal student aid, there are four types of federal student aid grants and there are several loans that you can obtain.
“Better job steering students away from private loans” said Katie Briscoe Baum in regards to how the financial aid center is preventing students from obtaining high interest loans.
There is a process that needs to be followed, a FAFSA form must be completed, whether done online or mailed in. The FAFSA application is one of the requirements that is needed in order to determine how much assistance the student needs. This application takes an estimated hour to complete, for some students this is a long and excruciating hour due to the number of questions that the application contains. What students need to know is that there is a difference in all three applications. The requirements are different which is why they need to seek help from the financial aid office.
Some have said that “the department of education is trying to simplify the application and replacing it with a FAFSA EZ” which would facilitate not only the time that it takes to fill out the application but also it would increase the number of people who fill it out.
Financial aid is not the only source that students are going to for help, the enrollment here at the Ammerman campus has increased by a 6.4% which is much higher than 2 years ago. This means that many college students are opting to stay at home and attend local community colleges in order to save money, but yet continue with their education.
Companies are disappearing, many are filing for chapter 11, unemployment is increasing and students are struggling to pay for school. The Ammerman campus is pursuing to try ameliorating the situation. On April 15, 2009, A Career/Job Fair will be hosted from 10 am to 1 pm in the Babylon Student Center. Students who are looking for a job can stop by and talk to the many employers attending, all of which are looking to hire.

College Author Series Presents: Prof. Beard-Moose

By Liz Capobianco

As part of Suffolk Community College’s author series, students and faculty at the Ammerman campus had a chance to attend a lecture and meet and greet with Dr. Christina Beard-Moose Wednesday, April 1.

An Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Sociology at Suffolk, Professor Beard-Moose brings her recently published book titled, “Public Indians, Private Cherokees: Tourism and Tradition on Tribal Ground” to the Huntington Library on campus. The book, which was published by the University of Alabama Press and was published on January 13, examines the impact of tourism on the Cherokee Indian’s cultural identity. J. Anthony Paredes, Professor of Anthropology at Florida State University, states that Public Indians, “Private Cherokees” “makes and outstanding contribution to Cherokee studies and the anthropology of tourism.”

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The lecture begins when Dr. Beard-Moose invites those in attendance to view the various different Cherokee Indian artifacts that she has gathered over her years of exploration within the tribe. In 1996, Beard-Moose began her fieldwork in preparation for her PhD and her work continued for 10 years until she was granted her doctorate in 2006. Her concentration was in the area of Western North Carolina, which is home to the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation. The homeland for these Cherokee Indians in the Eastern Band is, more specifically, the Qualla Boundary of North Carolina.

Through the reading of excerpts from her book, Dr. Beard-Moose explains the many ways in which the tourist industry has impacted the Eastern Band. Beard-Moose presents the two faces of the Cherokee people. One is the public face that populates the powwows, dramatic presentations, museums, and myriad roadside craft locations. The other is the private face whose homecoming, Indian fairs, traditions, belief system, community strength, and cultural heritage are threatened by the very activities that put food on their tables. Through extensive formal and informal interviews with members of the tribe who ranged from age 15-90, she came away with stories and anecdotes from many different members of the tribe. Some members of the tribe were reluctant to give permission to use the stories in her book because many are distrustful of people outside of their tribe.

Dr. Gertrude Postl, a Professor in the Women’s Studies Department at the Ammerman campus, asks about the land grant to better understand why this particular Cherokee tribe chooses to run this way. For the Eastern Band, they are maintaining their land through a grant. They choose to maintain their land through a land grant so that no one else can buy a piece of the boundary. Cherokee is owned by specific families and can sell within tribe members. Families and decide who to tell their land to,” Dr. Beard-Moose explains. The families who own pieces of the land can later decide whom to sell the land to.

On the topic of casinos within the boundary, Prof. Beard-Moose explains the overall feeling within the tribe in regards to the rise in the number of casinos being built. “It’s not a bad thing. Now they have running water. They have electricity for every house. They have ambulance service. Their infrastructure is amazing and that’s all because of the casinos.”

There is also a problem with segregation within the tribe. Many tribal members want nothing to do with the modern aspects of the tribe and are unhappy with the land being sold for the casinos. There are even a few members within the tribe who live like they did 150 years earlier and choose to keep away from any modernization that is taking place elsewhere.

Perhaps the biggest topic of discussion during the lecture was the issue of racism within the Eastern Band. There are no blacks and no homosexuals within the boundary. Prof. Beard-Moose wishes that people outside of the Indian tribes were a bit more aware and more understanding of the lives that Native Americans choose to live. When attending a play that the tribal members were putting on for members of the community, Professor Beard-Moose heard many questions from other audience members, which lead her to believe that fiction truly does determine reality for many people. Some examples of questions she over heard were, “Where are the teepees you live in? When do young Cherokee men grow their feathers? Where are all the Indians?” It’s clear that there are many misconceptions and stereotypes from outside of the tribe and one of the goals for Beard-Moose is to help heal the institutional racism that is taking place.

Everyone who attended the book signing received a free book from Prof. Beard-Moose and also a chance to meet her and ask any questions about her time within the Eastern Band and her extensive field experience. “Public Indians, Private Cherokees: Tourism and Tradition on Tribal Ground” is available online at Amazon.com.

Behind the Scenes of the Glass Menagerie

By Cassaundra Mariotti

March 12 here at the Ammerman campus, The glass Menagerie, written by Tennessee Williams , will be premiering through out the week. The play was written in 1944 by Tennessee Williams, about four main characters, Amanda, Laura, Tom and Jim O’Connor who all portray life in diverse thoughts. The students in the costume department play a very important role in the organization process of preparing for the next upcoming play. Preparing for the plays is hard work and very time consuming, but it must be done. With the help of the students, the direction of Mr. Wittreich and the creative works of Mr. Wittkamper, the show will go on.

The characters in the play appear in very essential ways, Amanda is the mother of Laura and Tom. Amanda is an original southern belle, a single mom who only wishes the best for her daughter and son. Laura is a very shy young lady who is crippled from childhood and spends her time making glass collectibles. Tom is the older brother who brings home the money, is an aspiring poet and also narrates the play. This play is the smallest play of the semester here at the Ammerman campus, but it still in tales a lot of wok that must be perfected.

A world of work is occurring in the room across the hall from Islip Arts 119, where student plays are being performed. The hum of sewing machines echo’s in the halls outside the busy room, where artists sketch costume designs for upcoming student productions, and seamstresses and their supervisor work together to produce the costumes. Mr. Wittkamper, who is the head of the costume shop directs the students in how to design costumes with the great knowledge of art and skill.

The costume shop is filled with fifteen to twenty sewing machines, Mannequins of similar shapes and tons of fabric waiting to be sewn together. Most of the fabrics are very old fashion and of an antique style. The costumes for this particular play are of a 1920 style. Most of the plays that are performed use very old fashion clothing. All of the students are able to participate in helping out with the costume making and organization. The students are sewing, stitching and ironing. These students are getting a great deal of knowledge to know what it is like to work behind the scenes of a major play.

During after hours the student’s next task was to go down to the storage room and do a great deal of organization. Each item of clothing was put together with its necessary category in little bins or on clothing racks. The storage room is filled with costumes from all different plays. Different centuries, cultures and clothing from women’s bras to men’s sleep wear. Twice a week eleven students get together to help organize, clean and prepare for the next upcoming play. These students are carrying and pushing heavy dressing racks to the acquired dressing rooms, cleaning the costume shop, dyeing the clothing for the costumes, sewing the clothing and making sure that everything is perfect. These students deserve a lot of credit for what they do behind the scenes of a major play. They are working hard to become of importance in their future.

Mr. Wittkamper, the head of the costume department contributes all of his time and effort into preparing for the upcoming plays. Mr. Wittkamper is the major contributor into making most of the costumes for the students. His sweat and tears are put into his work. He puts his trust into his students as well, to finish his work of art. Mr. Wittkamper stated, “This is a good learning experience for the students.” The students tend to have a lot of team work when it comes to preparing for this play. I was able to see two of the students sewing a dress and a jacket together. Another lady was drawing a skirt for the character Amanda. Mr. Wittkamper proceeded to make his own ruffles for one of the dresses, dying them and making sure they were the right length for the dress. There is a lot of creativity that goes into the work of a desired fashion designing.

Thursday February 26th was the night of the rehearsal of the Glass Menagerie. Mr. Wittreich, the director of the play attended along with three of the students acting in the play. Before the rehearsal began the students had to prepare to do their warm-ups on the small stage they were given. They proceeded to lye on the floor giving themselves relaxation through their bodies. Not enough people realize what it takes to perform in a play, the idea of rehearsing is very important, because one must be very relaxed when getting ready to perform. The three students continued to repeat different words in riddles one after another. They created vibrating sounds through their mouths to help the tension in their nerves. This rehearsal was mainly to see if the stage props were in their appropriate positions and that the characters were in good formation. I was able to see the rehearsal of the scene when Laura is introduced to the gentleman caller and she slowly falls in love with him.

There is a lot of hard work and effort put into the preparation of the plays at SCCC. The students that help put these plays together should be recognized for their work. Next time you go see a play remember what it takes to prepare what you are watching. Come see the Glass Menagerie written by Tennessee Williams on March 12th.

Mourning the loss of Blackboard, students hope for return

By Francesca Prestifilippo

Thanks to the modern convenience of online classes, students can now sit at the computer in the convenience of their own homes not worrying about being late to class or accumulating absences that could prevent them from finishing the course altogether. They don’t have to listen to a professor get off topic and ramble about something that happened to them during their college days or panic about giving an oral presentation in front of the class. It sounds easy enough right? It turns out that from my own experience that online classes require much more effort than that; maybe even more than your typical on campus course. And what is even more challenging as well as aggravating now is that this year the college has made the decision to switch from Blackboard to Desire 2 Learn (D2L).

Blackboard has been providing students with online courses since around 2001 and unfortunately has been replaced by a downgraded system known as D2L. Even though it is supposed to be for the purpose of higher education, the new system looks juvenile in its appearance and often has glitches along with other problems that both students and faculty members encounter as the course progresses. Whereas with Blackboard I encountered little to no problems or technical difficulties while using it two semesters ago. Plus Blackboard was just an all around more “user friendly” system. I had never seen anyone post a complaint on Blackboard about anything regarding the site or the course material.

On the other hand, when I took Mass Media and Advertising online using the D2L software last semester I often found myself feeling so overwhelmed and aggravated with this new system that I had even considered dropping the courses.

The professors weren’t having an easier time with it either, for they had to continually apologize for delays in their lesson plans because they would experience trouble getting the information on the website or problems with emails and pretty much  everything else that could go wrong ended up happening at one point or another. One of my professors in particular was very unhappy about the switch and many of my classmates were all on the same page. Those first few weeks in particular were especially brutal for the professors as well as the students trying to learn how to navigate through a whole new system and adapt to this change.

So why has the college decided to do this? According to a member of the campus distance education committee, Stephen O’Sullivan, an Ammerman campus philosophy professor,  the college made the switch because the original software that provided Blackboard (SUNY Learning Environment) was going away. Plus D2L appealed to the committee as well as the College president; so it seemed to fit the College better.

Ironically though there has been a 20 percent increase in the enrollment of students in online courses. You would think that with so many students disappointed with D2L that there would be a drop in online enrollment due to the comfort and familiarity factor that would be an issue for some students. I guess not all hope is lost though since there has been talk about creating an introduction module that would require students to learn the basic functions of D2L before beginning their online classes. This approach has been suggested in order to make the transition from Blackboard to D2L somewhat easier for students and to make them feel more comfortable about the new learning environment.  Also it would act as a deterrent for students who are considering dropping the online course after they have already started it.

Perhaps in the future, if the college decides to make another change such as this one maybe they could conduct a survey involving the students’ satisfaction with the original software before going through with the switch. Until then, I along with other disappointed students will continue to mourn Blackboard and hope for its return. I mean, after all, we are the ones who are paying for these classes.

 

Textbook prices: Has the campus bookstore gone too far?

By Matt Gibson

     These days in this troubled economy, people cannot afford to go out to eat, go on vacation, purchase a new house or car, or do anything else because everyone is practically going bankrupt. The stock market is constantly down and the hard-earned life savings of millions of Americans is slowly dwindling away. That’s why it seems unbelievable that our campus bookstore is still charging students so much money for textbooks.

     It seems that with every passing semester, the prices of textbooks seems to increase more and more, and every semester a bigger hole gets burned into our wallets. If you ask anyone if they think that the bookstore is charging too much money for textbooks, it is almost guaranteed that they will answer with a resounding “yes”. One would think that the cost of a used book would be a lot cheaper than the cost of a new book, but in the bookstore, a used book is just as expensive as a brand new book.

     For example, if you purchase the textbook for Introduction to Biology (BIO 101), it will cost you $150.00 for a new copy and $112.50 for a used copy. Another example is for PSY 101 (Psychology). A new textbook will cost you $96.65 and a used one will cost $72.50. Obviously, there are probably textbooks for certain courses that are cheaper or more expensive then the two previously mentioned, but those were just some examples. What is even worse than the amount of money the bookstore charges for textbooks is their textbook buyback system. The campus bookstore website states that “you could get up to 50 percent of what you paid for your books by selling them back to the bookstore.” However, what the website states is not necessarily factual information. Many students have claimed that they have been “ripped off” by the buyback program because they only received 5 percent or 10 percent of what they paid for their books, which equals less than half of the initial cost of the said textbooks.

     Perhaps one day the bookstore will realize the truth, that they are ripping us off with their excessive prices for textbooks and their ridiculous buyback program. With the high prices in the cafeteria and the college tuition that seems to become more expensive with each semester, the bookstore could afford to be a bit more lenient and cut down their prices. I am sure that they have mentioned the idea of lowering their prices a million times already, but saying it and actually doing it are two completely different things.