Category Archives: Op-Ed

Your Right to Vote

By Anthony Lucero

 

Where will college students find themselves Nov. 6? The answer should be simple, the voting booth. This Election Day 2012 is as important, if not more, than any other before it.  This election is not only about the black and white politics every presidential race is about, but this election is about upholding our democratic right to vote.

With the presidential race nearing its end there have been more and more attempts to create obstacles that would prevent citizens from casting their vote. New state regulations calling for new levels of identification in order to cast a vote have posed a threat to the number of those who can actually vote. These recent efforts put forth by swing states like Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania can prove to be the pivotal factor in the wining of these states. The reason behind these new regulations is to prevent “voter fraud”.

Voter fraud is a crime that is very much punishable. A common type of voter fraud occurs when individuals cast their ballots in spite of “knowing” that they are “unqualified” to vote and thus this is viewed as an attempt to defraud the electoral system. Another common type is individuals impersonating other voters at the poll. Now the word “common” can be very loosely interpreted here because these occurrences are as rare as getting struck by lighting.

A recent study by Justin Levitt, associate professor of law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, indicates that between the years 2000 and 2010, only 13 people were found guilty of impersonating someone else in order to vote in their name. The fact of the matter is that these laws are being placed and lobbied by biased groups and people for their “greater cause” to limit citizens from voting in order to get their man in office.

What is sickening about these boundaries being imposed is those who will be affected most will be minorities. Studies by the Black Youth Project, a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization, has shown that in the 17 states with these new laws, numbers in the range of 700,000 to a million minority youth voters could be turned away due to lack of valid ID. This doesn’t even count the rest of the youth or elderly, poor, disabled, even veteran voters that will be affected by these laws.

It’s horrendous to think that there are those willing to strip people of their country given right in order to win an election. It is for that very reason that this election is vital and that students do their part and exercise their right to vote.

It does not matter if the vote is a Republican vote or Democratic vote. It doesn’t even matter if it is for an independent. The point is that the vote is cast. For students who are not yet registered to vote, the deadline to register in New York is Oct. 12. Students can register online through http://www.vote.nyc.ny.us with a valid ID from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. Students will also find registration forms in their campus libraries up to the deadline, and will have librarians as a reference guide to help with any questions they might have about the form and how to vote.

If there are those who can stand in line for hours to buy that new gadget or gizmo, they can surely put the same effort to casting their vote. It is not the time to go backwards and allow for bias groups and people to deny Americans a right that so many of our fellow country men and women have sweat, fought and died to protect. For info on the polling place nearest you, search with the Online Poll Site Address Locator or Call the Voter Phone Bank at 1.866.VOTE.NYC, and remember don’t forget to vote

Student Weighs In On Husband’s Gluten-Free Lifestyle

By Marietta Menchini    

     Sitting on the couch eating my lunch, I am already thinking about what we will eat for dinner.  It’s only Saturday afternoon.  Rich is eating salad with some sort of leftover chicken added to it.  Crumbled gluten-free crackers are his croutons.      

           “What do you want for dinner tonight?”

            “I don’t care, it’s lunchtime…”

            “Where do you want to eat?”  “Do you want to eat out?”

            “I don’t care.  Whichever you feel like….Mama’s or Outback?”

            The truth is we really don’t have much choice and it’s not because we live in the boondocks.  These are the only two restaurants we have found in our neighborhood that offer a safe dining experience for my husband.  After years of calling ahead, talking with managers and owners of various restaurants, and then carefully explaining the reasons for this precaution, we’ve simply decided to stick with restaurants that offer a gluten-free menu.  It’s just too risky at times, to step out of that comfort zone.  Rich has celiac disease and so does my daughter.  So, when we choose a restaurant we have an interesting set of criteria.  Have we eaten there, AND has Rich gotten sick after eating there?  What should be a fun social event, most of the time, is not.  Who wants to eat out and get violently ill afterwards?  Rich has often asked the question, “Do we really have to go out, tonight?”  My response is always, “No,” even though I am lying. 

            If we are feeling particularly adventurous, we may take a long ride to PF Chang’s.  They offer Asian-themed gluten-free food, but with a disclaimer on their menu that goes something like “We will do our best to accommodate the dietary needs of our customers.”  The ride to Westbury is quite a trip, and this restaurant is always crowded at dinnertime.  We always wait at least a half hour or more to be seated at this restaurant.  But they offer this gluten-free menu and, more importantly, Rich hasn’t gotten sick after eating there.             

            Sometimes I notice a look of isolation in my husband’s eyes.  After packing his clothes for a business trip, his next chore is packing enough food to get him through the trip just in case he can’t find an Outback in town.  I’ve never really asked him how it all feels because I am aware he doesn’t like to talk about it.   Occasionally, he will send a text, “Good news! I found an Outback on the way to the hotel!” and I will sigh with relief.  He is a really good sport about this lifestyle and, fortunately, he is one of those people who “eats to live” and not “lives to eat.” 

            Another fortunate turn of events recently has been that gluten–or rather, gluten-free–is being mentioned much more frequently these days in the mainstream.  Television shows such as Parenthood, the Celebrity Apprentice and Man Up, have turned it into a punchline.   The shows make fun of the food or the person that needs the special food, especially if this character is causing a dining-out annoyance.  Chelsea Clinton caused a media frenzy when she ordered a gluten-free wedding cake.  Celebrities such as Elizabeth Hasselback, Zooey Deschanel, Keith Olberman, Gywneth Paltrow and Miley Cyrus have gone gluten-free.  Food manufacturers are jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon, too.  In fact, Chex is labeling their newest cereal gluten-free.  It’s not really new, though. They just removed the malt barley ingredient that contained the gluten, slapped a new label on the box and raised the price.  Could this newest food trend be something more?   There is a buck to be made here, and by golly, these manufacturers will make it.  Just double the price of your original product, meet the gluten-free requirements set by the FDA and wait for celiacs to buy it.  They have no choice because their life depends upon it. 

            According to Celiac.com, celiac disease is identified as genetic disorder that affects 1 in 133 people.  It is an autoimmune disease that is triggered by ingested gluten.  This trigger, a protein that is contained in wheat, barley, spelt and rye grains, produces antibodies that circulate in the bloodstream and cause an immune response in the body.  This immune response is an internal war of sorts, whereby the body begins to attack itself.  In some individuals, the response to the gluten affects not only their digestive organs, but other organs in their body as well.  These symptoms can be neurological, gastrointestinal, or appear as skin rashes that may cover parts of the body.  There are many individuals who may not realize they have the disease and can be outwardly symptom-free, but their gastrointestinal system is damaged and goes undetected.  The symptoms are varied and, without an endoscopy, you may never know you have celiac disease.   There are no medications to cure this disease.  To say the least, the disease is cured by removing gluten from your diet.    

            “Just eat gluten-free, “ the doctor says.  This sounds so simple.  Living gluten-free requires more than just eliminating gluten from your diet.  It requires a spirit of adventure, commitment and a willingness to be unafraid to try new tastes.  Sometimes, these tastes include things someone would never be willing to try before a celiac diagnosis.  It is a lifelong commitment to this gluten-free diet.

            Before purchasing any food item, the ingredient list must be read.  So, food shopping is now a literary event as well.  Every food purchase, meal preparation, business trip, vacation and every dining out experience requires careful planning, research and time.  I can still remember standing in the grocery store, trying to find safe foods for my family, and the tears welling up in my eyes.  “What am I going to feed them?” I shudder when I recall these moments.  It has become much easier now thanks to “trendy” eating styles and clever marketing trends.  Many supermarkets have now incorporated health food aisles.  Just recently, Stop and Shop announced their stores have begun labeling their gluten-free items with a blue and white labeling system to assist with customers’ shopping selections.  Times sure have changed in the twelve long years since my early, tear-filled shopping trips.

            “So… let’s eat out?”  We feel like going out to dinner.  But it is still a question.  Deciding on what kind of food is irrelevant.  Adding to a stressful situation, I know I will check out the gluten-free menu and try to imagine what I would order if my life depended on it.  The silent prayer that begins in my head goes something like this, “Oh, please, kitchen person, pretend your life depended on this meal.  For GF’s sake, don’t cross-contaminate!” 

            Rich is so sensitive to gluten at this point in his life that a few crumbs of  wheat bread, or even a spoon that has stirred wheat pasta that might again be used to stir his gluten-free pasta, will cause severe gastric disturbances and flu-like symptoms that can last for the rest of the evening.  So much for a relaxing dinner out with my husband.  Half the time, I would rather stay home, mess up the kitchen and open a bottle of wine.   Twelve years later and we are still navigating through the fog.  The headlights are on, but it’s so difficult to see what’s really on that menu.  The menu does not tell you that Chico in the kitchen can’t tell gluten-free bread from wheat bread. 

             There are times I pray in my own kitchen over my meal preparations.  Once while I was preparing gluten-free pasta and wheat pasta side by side on the stove, I mistakenly used the same spoon to stir both pots.  Needless to say, dinner that night was a disaster.  Trust me; it’s no fun poisoning your own family.  Wheat pasta is a now a thing of the past in our kitchen. The kitchen is almost entirely gluten-free.  There is a lone “gluten” cabinet containing a loaf of wheat bread, a box of granola bars and a bag of pretzels, but that’s about it.  Because fast food is a minefield that the entire family simply avoids, our Friday pizza nights have changed a bit.  Rich often tells me I make a terrific homemade gluten-free pizza.  My daughter has even suggested that I should write a gluten-free cookbook.  As I recall this compliment, the edges of my lips curl into a smile. 

            The great thing about gluten-free dining is that when it works, it works so well.  This is a disease that is entirely curable with diet.  How fantastic is that! No drugs, no special treatments, just safe, healthy dining.  Oh yes, and a bit of careful planning.

Obama’s Community College Plan Challenging Congress

By Dan Bruno

Credit to heatherrobinson.net

How does two million additional Americans being educated and being given relevant job experience sound to those who live here? Pretty good.

President Obama is announcing an $8 billion Community College to Career fund, proposing that community colleges be given the opportunity of training two million workers for well paying jobs in high demand industries such as manufacturing. More spending on education is always good. Hey, Congress, how about making way for those fighting Americans trying to make their way toward achieving not a desirable income or a sought-after one, but one that can withstand the financial responsibilities of today’s world?

Enrollment at community colleges nationwide has increased by 25 percent over the last decade and now tops more than 6 million students. The average American who possesses an associates degree earns roughly $38,200 a year, an increase of about $8,000 over a high school graduated, but $14,000 less than someone who possesses a bachelor’s degree.

However, a bachelor’s degree can be very expensive to obtain these days with rising tuition costs. The average student pays nearly $30,000 at a public school to obtain a bachelor’s degree. Multiply that roughly three times to get the tuition bill for a bachelor’s degree at a private university at $105,000. Jobs are also not easily found after graduation, but Mr. Obama’s proposal for community colleges may help that fact.

The president wants to impose an incentive to community colleges who have set up opportunities with employers in certain fields to land their graduates permanent jobs after graduation. What better way is there to help feed a starving economy of willing and able Americans? President Obama is trying to throw a bone to those willing to attend college and pay the prices for it—albeit much lower at community colleges. But will congress follow suit? This remains to be seen.

Many students are left without work as the employment rate is still hovering around 9 percent. In the age bracket of 20-24, nearly 9 percent of graduates are unemployed after finishing their degrees. That’s nearly 1 in every 10 students that doesn’t have a job. I don’t have the statistics for those that do have employment but might not be specific to their field of study, or it may be entry-level and unpaid or poorly paid and not indicative of the average statistics for wages in that field.

How many students have you heard of that are just sitting around at their parents house after they worked a long, hard two-to-four year sentencing, regardless of the college they attended? I assure you, most of these students did not plan for this to happen nor are they happy about it. They are perfectly willing (for the most part) and able to work with the education they paid for. Therefore, Obama’s proposal to joust $8 million more into a community college fund that will aim at better educational opportunities and employment opportunities is a no-brainer.

Personally, being a community college student and having experienced a public four-year school as well, I’d like to see community colleges be challenged more and gain a reputation as harder than expected and earning higher wages. Who wouldn’t? To some, community college is a joke. Some call it thirteenth grade. Extended high school. That may be so in some places, I’ve only experienced one community college, so I can’t speak for all. However, I know the advantages in attending one with lower tuition costs, convenience of being a homebody (and the financial responsibilities that would go along with moving away to an out-of-state school or school away from home.) I also know that more employment opportunities and educational opportunities for colleges on the rise with a 25 percent enrollment increase over the last decade is self-explanatory congress.

College’s Desire2Learn becomes Desire for New eLearner System

By Robert Frenke

Maintaining a full course load on campus while working a full time job, or even raising kids is nearly impossible for some students at the college. Many problems arise, such as conflicting schedules, sick kids and any number of unforeseen incidents that might occur throughout a semester. Many schools offer Instructional Management Systems (IMS), such as the Desire 2 Learn (D2L) learning suite. The online courses the college offers allow students to attend classes when they can fit them into their schedules from the comfort of their homes, attempting to make it possible for full time students to maintain full time lives.

The D2L website, http://www.desire2learn.com, calls it “a user friendly, intuitive learning management system with sophisticated course building capabilities, extensive reporting, assessment and collaboration options, and unparalleled flexibility for matching the learning environment to the unique administrative, teaching, or learning preferences of the organization.” Hundreds of clients have chosen D2L to assist them with their learning requirements. These organizations have entrusted their brand and their success to D2L, according to the website.

The college implemented D2L in 2008, replacing its predecessor, Blackboard. Personally I find D2L to be a less than desirable IMS. On top of monthly scheduled maintenance, D2L sometimes goes down for upgrades, glitches in the system, and just generally needed repairs which can make it difficult for both the faculty and students.

Take the case of Paul Pagano, a non matriculated student. He took one online class last semester and found it more time consuming than either of the two classes he took on campus, and did worse in it the than any other class. He had problems receiving answers from his professors in a timely manner and often found the system glitchy. Pagano also said that he often had trouble logging on during times that fit into his schedule due to maintenance issues.

Many students and faculty find the system both difficult and complicated to use. They encounter glitches and other problems as their courses progress. So, I decided to check some other institutions using the D2L system to see how they’re fairing with it.

What were the results?

“Some instructors reported frustration with slow file uploads and nondescript error messages, but the system was not down or otherwise unusable for lengthy periods as it was during those critical first weeks last semester. Having moved to D2L from Blackboard exclusively last spring, the problems in the fall were a real nightmare,” according to the article “D2L Off to a Better Start this Term” released on the WSU eLearner, the Washington State University’s Word Press site. Although, the article said it was off to a better start this year, a later article reported some of the same problems.

In February of last year Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN, released an article, “Students have problems with D2L,” which stated “Some APSU students are currently unable to access online classes through the link provided by APSU OneStop – causing them to fall behind in the first few weeks of school.
Not knowing why they cannot log into D2L or how to log in directly (rather than through OneStop) many students have missed class work and deadlines.” The article continued to say that it was due to an unexpected upgrade and they didn’t know of any other institution that had run into this problem, although many other institutions have reported similar problems.

Maybe it’s time to think of some possible solution. One possibility is to wait and hope that D2L will fix all the bugs, and actually make it a much more “user friendly” system. A more realistic option might be to get rid of D2L and adopt another IMS.

Canvas, just one of many other IMS’s, offers many more options than D2L. I think it has a sleeker design, smoother interface and more tools that would make it an all around more user friendly system for both the faculty and student body. Information about Canvas can be found on its website at http://www.canvaslearning.com.

One instructor, Christopher Danielson, from Minnesota State University has made the switch to the Canvas in his own classes, although the institution currently uses D2L. Danielson’s started a blog comparing the two systems that can be found at http://christopherdanielson.wordpress.com/tag/canvas/.

In his blog he posts pictures comparing D2L and Canvas. He describes different aspects and generally coming to the conclusion that Canvas is much easier to navigate through.

“Canvas is a tool that has been designed for the ways people use the web. The designers have thought through the things students will want to find there, and they have incorporated these things from the ground up,” according to his blog.

Canvas is only one of many options that will hopefully be considered once SCCCs contract with D2L has finished. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t too early to start researching other options for improving SCCC’s IMS.

Is Baseball The Real American Pastime?

Football is the True American Sport.

By Alexander Corrigan

Baseball is considered to be the national game, the national pastime, as American as apple pie and the Fourth of July. I whole heartedly disagree.

I contend that baseball is not the most American sport; it is really not that American, with two notable exceptions. The first being the overt marketing by huge corporations, as evidenced by the beer sponsors, the huge advertisements on billboards, and the fact the stadium is named after something corporate (like CitiField for instance). The second being the large number of players from humble foreign backgrounds coming to play in the big leagues, the show, the MLB, to make millions and live the American Dream.

Beyond the fairytale aspect of the American Dream and the corporate imperialism perpetrated by the various sponsors vying for millions, if not billions, of dollars, what is really American about baseball? Who decided that baseball was America’s sport? Why would baseball be our national sport? It is another sport we do not dominate in, we may have the best players in the world playing in the MLB, but how many of them are American?

Baseball does not exemplify what America, as a nation, is all about. It is not the most clear-cut choice to be our national sport. And frankly it is boring. Any true to the core red-blooded American will agree with me that Football should be America’s sport, game, and official pastime. And I’m not talking that silly foreign game Soccer or its mutant hybrid blood-sport cousin Rugby or Aussie Rules or Gaelic Rules.

One might actually contend that Basketball should be the national sport because it was the only one that was actually invented in America, well let me just say that is ridiculous. Maybe Lacrosse should become the national sport too. No, let me stop that argument right there, even though basketball is decidedly more American that baseball. How does that American national team not dominate every game like the Harlem Globetrotters? We’ve won more Olympic medals in basketball than any other country but how does the 2004 Athens squad win a damn bronze medal? Lebron, Iverson, Carmelo, Amar’e, D. Wade, I mean it was the second coming of the dream team and they placed third behind Argentina and Italy. Furthermore there are literally tons of excellent international players.

Getting that out of the way lets move back to baseball. Baseball is being played less and less by Americans, with incredible players being transplanted from Asia and Latin America. How many times have you seen a post game interview with a player that hardly had a grip on the English language? If your answer is somewhere around a million than you understand what I am saying. Furthermore have you noticed how every team in the league has a Spanish-language website, even going as far as to have Spanish jerseys (Los Mets I’m pointing my empanada at you). Now truthfully I have no problem with the Spanish websites and advertisements at all, but how can you call yourself America’s game? Seems like false advertising to me.

And when was the last time the American team did well in international competition? Well the World Cup of Baseball has been won by the American team only four times, while the Cuban team has won an astonishing 25 times. That is why this game is their national sport, it’s what Cubans play and what they’re good at. The Japanese team has won the World Baseball Classic every time it has been played, also names baseball as their national sport, the American team came in fourth only once. My point is baseball is simply not a sport that Americans can dominate in, and will not dominate in.

Plus when you really think about it baseball doesn’t really have enough action. It can be very long and very boring. Honestly who wants to see a three-hour game that ends with a one-to-zero score at the end of the game? I think taking steroids out of baseball took out the one thing American players were still good at, hitting the long ball.

Finally to the point Football is a sport that only Americans play well, for instance the Canadian Football League is comprised mostly of American players that didn’t make it in the NFL. It goes for the NFL Europe too. It’s a brutal sport where there is constant action, concussions and big hits. This is a sport that is dominated by the bigger, stronger and faster. It so perfectly echoes American sentiments and overall disposition. The game is played like Chess rather than Checkers, meaning there is a very complex strategy that goes into the construction of elaborate defenses and calling offensive plays. Football is also the biggest money making sport in the Unites States. It is the most watched and most profitable of the big four sports. It’s aggressive, violent, and strategic and only has 16 games a season, not 162 like baseball, making every game count.

Plus its so much bigger on the college level, have any of you ever watched a college baseball game? But everybody knows the Notre Dame Fighting Irish because of Rudy. Or have you ever been in the state of Florida during the yearly Gators v. Seminoles game? There are more businesses closed during the Florida (Gators) v. Florida State (Seminoles) game than on Christmas day. College football is a huge moneymaker for the university, and is the easiest way to solicit alumni donations. It is also what attracts those lucrative endorsement and equipment deals, like Penn State only using Nike products.

Which brings me to my conclusion, Suffolk Community College not having a football team wearing the Sharks logo is just about a step above terrorism. Not having a football team is basically like punching the American Flag in the face. And furthermore a good football team is all a school needs to have a “Good Athletic Program.” Plus think about all those public school kids with grades not strong enough to get into a division one school or didn’t have a chance to play for scouts, getting a second change to live their college ball dreams. In closing it is the opinion of this student that all Suffolk Community College is missing is a Football team, to play a true American Sport.

Student Celebrates Successful Adjustment to College Life

By Katie Ford

There is no stranger experience than adjusting to the college lifestyle after finally getting used to high school. Walking into a classroom full of 30 unfamiliar faces that you will be with for the next few months is a real uneasy feeling. The class is so full, yet so awkwardly quiet. Everybody’s head turns when the door opens with a new pair of squeaky shoes waiting to put the name to a face of their professor.

The college is a large commuter school made up of roughly 24,000 students. Everyone is here for different reasons whether it’s financial, “just getting the crappy classes out of the way first,” or trying to get their grades up after slacking in high school for four years. Whatever the reason, don’t listen to the “high school grade thirteen” rumors, Suffolk is a great place to start if you take advantage of the opportunity! Sure you can spend longer than two years here if you don’t meet the requirements to graduate but the choice is entirely up to you.

This is the time where everyone seems to be setting out to find themselves. What better place to do it than here at on campus? There are many different kinds of people here. We have the nerds, the jocks, the hacky sack group, the shirtless Frisbee players, the kids studying in the library, the kids sleeping in the library , the speed walkers, the turtle-pace walkers, the impossible-to-get-around-large umbrella holders, the underdressed girls and the boys who seriously need to invest in some belts. My personal favorites are the weather-confused girls; Uggs, a miniskirt, a tank top and a scarf… come on now, you don’t look cute and you’re making me wonder if you are hot or cold.

You will also run into those kids who never gave you the time of day in high school, but now that all 200 of their best friends have gone away to college, you are their best friend. You can either A. pretend to ignore them, or B. give in. My best answer for you? Stand up for yourself, pretend like you have no idea who they are like they did to you for four years. It will feel real good later.

The age of students here varies anywhere between 17 to… old. This has shown me that intelligence and the will to learn more is not marked by a certain age and that it is always possible to further your education. I saw a man walking through the hallways of the Southampton building wearing an “I’m retired shirt.” I also met a 42-year-old mother of two in my math class. She is the sweetest woman, looking to further her education towards her goal of becoming a nurse. Although she complains a lot about how math has changed since she was back in high school, it is a real eye opener to see someone so focused .This has really shown me that anything can be achieved if you put your mind to it. It’s never too late to forget your past and start fresh to get a good education; it’s never too late to reach your dreams.

Do you ever feel surrounded by others who will do anything, even run you down, to get out of here? Well, picture this. You are a mouse in a field of starving cats. The second you step foot into the parking lot to leave after class you hear engines start, blinkers clicking, and you see reverse lights from behind and in front of you. It usually results in a one or two-minute screaming match over who had whose blinker on first, but you just continue along your merry way happy to get out of here. The worst part of college life is definitely the parking lots. There are no where near the correct amount of spots for the amount of students who attend here. You basically have to arrive 45 minutes early for your class just to drive around looking for a parking spot for a half hour. Day two for me, lesson learned… if you arrive late, you will probably find a spot in one of the overflows so it’s your best bet to just start there and hike a mile to class. Just remember what lot you parked in, otherwise you’ll spend an hour walking through every lot trying to remember where you parked. Guilty as charged. Here at Suffolk it is safe to say the worst drivers in all of New York State have come together on one campus. Stop is the new go, 15mph is the new 55, and pedestrians rarely exist unless you beat them to the crosswalk and literally throw yourself onto it forcing them to stop. There is at least one car accident reported or unreported a week. I’ve witnessed three since my start here, just months ago.

However you want to look at it, Suffolk is a smoking campus. Hip hip hooray for those of you who are smokers, boo for me. I can’t stand the smell of smoke, and know first hand what it can do to you. I watched emphysema and lung cancer take the life of my grandfather in 2009. Oh the things I wish I could tell people to get them to stop, but they wouldn’t care to listen anyway. The point that I am getting to is whether or not you want to be around it, you are most definitely going to be. No matter what door you take in or out of the building, there is no way to avoid it. It seems like most of the student body here are in fact smokers. I personally think it is absolutely disgusting. A smoke-free campus would benefit everyone, but unfortunately that is not the case here.

As I sat at the cafeteria table people-watching specifically for this essay, I came to the conclusion that there are many unique individuals who come here. You see people wearing shark hats, outfits that come close to resembling Halloween costumes and people who speak loudly enough to represent the entire student body as a whole. I guess everyone is unique in their own special ways, but then what makes us different because we are all essentially the same…right? All I know is that the individuality calls for some interesting conversations in the classrooms and that makes the learning experience fun. Suffolk is a great place to get a good education and either earn just your associates degree, or look to transfer to continue your education. Whatever your reason for coming here was, you have made a great choice as long as you take advantage of what the college has to offer. You will meet a variety of different people, and find your place fast. Plus, you won’t be buried in student loans like most of your friends who went away to school.

Illegal Downloading: The Side You Don’t See

by Jason Schwartz

In today’s world, prices on everything are getting higher, and for small time, and even big time
bands, money is becoming a huge issue, even in some cases resulting in bands breaking up.

That seemed to be exactly the case for Indiana based band Haste The Day, who recently after a farewell tour this past winter, called it quits due to financial reasons. The band, in an interview with Alternative Press Magazine began to describe their financial struggles through their early years as band “We used to take band money and buy peanut butter and jelly. We survived for a long time on Ramen noodles. You buy a big thing of Ramen, go into a gas station, use hot water from their coffee maker and put it in a Styrofoam cup. Sometimes they charge you 89 cents for the cup. That was a big deal back then, so you tried not to get charged 89 cents or you bring your own cup. It’s hard to get paid when no one comes to your shows when you’re a band starting out. But we got lucky and got support later.”

While musicians are making their living and putting in hours of hard work and dedication to produce a record for fans to enjoy, fans stab them in the back by illegally downloading their music.
While personally speaking to bassist James Scuderi of New Hampshire based band Armor For The Broken after purchasing their record at a show, he showed me his gratitude by saying “Thank you so much for buying our record, I’m glad to see there are still some real people out there buying records. You don’t know how much it means to us, every penny we make goes straight into our gas tank. We just wanna make it to our next show, that’s all we want”.

Illegal music downloading is growing more and more, with more access to the internet and different websites hosting illegal downloads. This, for a majority of people in the music scene is becoming a bigger problem day after day. To quote Oh, Sleeper guitarist Shane Blay from a Facebook blog this past February “STOP STEALING OUR CDs PLEASE.WE DON’T MAKE MONEY WHEN YOU BUY IT FROM STORES, COME TO SHOWS.WE DON’T MAKE MONEY FROM LABELS.BUY MERCH FROM US AT SHOWS IF YOU LIKE WHAT WERE DOING.”

After doing some research, I came to find an ugly truth. When you purchase a record from Best Buy, or any big retail store, the artist, no matter who it is will very rarely see even a penny of the money. In most cases, let’s say you buy an album for $10, the store will keep half & the other half will go to the label. Depending on the deal the label has worked out with the artist, they will either see not a penny, or less than half of what you paid for it. Keep this in mind next time you attend a concert and walk right past a bands merchandise table.
Now, for me personally, I am guilty of illegal downloading, but I always make it a point to buy an album (even if it’s already on my iPod) or a shirt from a band, because I know exactly where that money is going, and I know they need the money more than I do.

One experience that almost brought me to tears was when I attended a show for the band A Bullet For Pretty Boy, who recently while on their last tour, had $7000 of equipment stolen out of their van. What brought me to tears was that on my out of the venue, their drummer was standing with a bland look on his face holding a tip jar begging fans for money. I felt olbigated to give them whatever I could spare.

Now, the reason I feel this is such a large issue is because I know, for me just being in a small time local band trying to make it big time, even for us money is an issue. To see successful bands struggling is something that shouldn’t be happening. Illegal downloading, and buying from big retail stores is hurting the hard working artists. Support bands by going to shows, and buying directly from them. These guys need money more than the average working person. Not only do they work harder than most people, but they’re doing what they love, and it’s a shame to see such talent go to waste sometimes just due to financial reasons.

Plagiarism’s Dark Cloud Loiters Over College Students’ Integrity

By George Verity

Recently an attempt made by U.K. academics and administrators to regulate plagiarism amongst students, has sparked a global debate of integrity and honesty. According to NewCastle University and plagiarismadvice.org, strict plans to crack down on this new-upcoming epidemic have been proposed; that would ultimately tax students for cheating. To go along with potential tax or fines so to speak, plagiarismadvice.org has created a point system for alleged offenders. Each offense counterparts to a certain quantity of points that adds together to formulate an appropriate penalty. Is this a valid plan? What has society come to when even the purest of all purest things: education; becomes corrupt and regulated through penalized taxation?

I feel that plagiarism, over recent years is on the rise because of time obligations and the internet. In today’s society, society has put tremendous pressure on young adults; particularly college students. Between social obligations, work responsibilities, religious duties and college life itself, young students press for time. All these engagements lead for no time to research and write term papers, exams and essays. I myself, in certain situations, have been pressed for time and had no time to do my assignments on time. However, I did not jeopardize my integrity by plagiarizing.

Some administrators and academic officials believe that students plagiarize because they don’t care about their work or are too lazy. In some cases this holds true, but I believe the contrary. I believe that they do care and that’s why they find a way to get their work done; no matter the cost. Students are so desperate that they will do anything to accomplish their work on time. This dedication leads them to plagiarize. I think these students that lay on the line their integrity; do this because they feel they are invincible to getting caught. Even though these students who plagiarize know it is wrong and socially unacceptable; in the back of their mind they truly believe they will not get caught: the teacher won’t notice, the teacher wont research, the teacher won’t mind. So they take the risk for a sense of accomplishment and a grade.

Another contributing factor to time management is accessibility. The internet has made it easier to plagiarize in today’s society. To plagiarize on the internet is just a click away. Most forms of plagiarism come from copying and pasting words and from ghost web sites that allow you to purchase already written essays on the topic over the internet. But that same access is available to the professor, ironically. I think these web sites that offer already finished essays are a tease and are the main problem when it comes down to plagiarism. It kind of goes along the lines of okay you’re not allowed to do this, hear this, or think this, but I want to for the simple fact that I’m not allowed to.

Proposing this point system plan is one thing but, implementing it is another. Plagiarism as we all know it to be; happens on a global scale impulsively. For this plan to be affective it would have to be adopted worldwide. I’m not saying this plan is a bad idea or that I don’t support it. I actually agree with this policy and think it is a good idea. But that is just the thing, it’s just an idea. In my opinion I don’t think this plan will work because I don’t believe these procedures and policies will be adopted and enforced worldwide. This problem is so large in scale that it is happening and reoccurring constantly. So to think that this problem will ever go away is just down right foolish. Plagiarism will always occur whether strictly enforced or not enforced at all. Hey you never know if a worldwide policy does take in affect, plagiarism will be on the black market along with nuclear weapons and alcohol prohibition during the 1930’s in the United States.

For now all we can do is try to prevent plagiarism with awareness and a good sense of integrity; even though it doesn’t help when students and professors turn their cheek and look away. That ignorance in place is igniting the fuel for plagiarism to burn. So if find the urge to plagiarize; just hold your head up high, your chest out and refuse to take part in the epidemic. Remember reputation and integrity is all you have in this world and that is directly controlled by your actions and words; not someone else’s.

Deception in Inception

By George Verity

On November 17th, Inception directed by Christopher Nolan, was presented on the Ammerman campus in the Babylon Student center at 8 pm. This blockbuster sensation that swept away all regions of the United States has now captivated students here on Long Island.

This all-star cast lead by Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, delivers a home-run performance into the eyes of all viewers. Each moment, from beginning to end, was packed with non-stop Sci-Fi action. However, the concept of deception and a dream-state-of-mind made this ironically a very open and honest movie. The director Nolan deliverer’s this to all moviegoers through a brilliant story line that requires spectators to observe a collection of rules, exceptions, locations, and specific jobs; to understand the overall picture.

To simplify a complex plot, this movie relies heavily on intertwine able personalities led by an “extractor” named Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) who, through the use of a special device, constructs dreams for an assigned object. Those dreams implemented are ideas that will influence the object to make a decision beneficial to the individual who hired the team. The team is also made up of people that have particular roles like “The Architect”, “The Forger”, and “The Chemist” in order to pull off the job.

To create dreams, the characters use a unique keepsake called a totem; this informs a character whether he is still dreaming or not. Furthermore, dreams have rules: dying in a dream forces the dreamer to wake up, exploring too deeply into a mind can cause an eternal slumber called “Limbo”, using memories to construct dreams is dangerous because it can blur the line between dreams and reality. In addition to those rules, intruding in the dreams of another will cause the dreamer’s “projections” (human illustrations created by the dreamer) to attack the intruders.

Inception may be complicated, but to simply put it; it is one of the best movies of the year. It will twist your mind in ways your mind has never been twisted before with built-in possibilities and outcomes; that one may do anything to pursue and accomplish.

The physical scope of this movie is beyond belief. Worlds fall on top of each other, a freight train can burst onto a city street, hotels can lose all gravity, and everything that we know is impossible appears completely natural and ordinary.

To go along with the impossible; it’s an understatement to say that the cinematography is gorgeous, or that the sound design is sensational.

Inception also features one of the best fight scenes of all-time ever to take place in the movie world. The fight without gravity was simply mesmerizing. Unlike a comparable movie, The Matrix (1999), characters fighting in this scene cannot defy gravity if they choose to because there is no gravity to defy; it’s a dream state. All action scenes prior to and after the epic fight, are spectacular as well because they are equally visually lavishing and imaginative. The director is able to transform car chases into countdowns, fistfights into puzzles, and shootouts into other shootouts without taking away any value from the characters and the dialog.

Every character not only has a particular skill and task in Inception, but has a personality that mirrors and compliments their job description. Not only does that hold to be true but, the acting is superb and brilliantly acted.

With exception of the main character Cobb played by Leonardo DiCaprio, the audience learns about the characters of Inception not from long monologues about their past or dreams and memories but, how they interact with each other. Cobb’s relationship with his wife Mal (Marion Cotillard) is the foundation of Inception. This is supported by their separation; causing unbearable guilt and suffering. Therefore Cobb’s character has a hard time handling the nature of reality and its surrounding environments.

In a movie where the dialogue is as precisely constructed as the rest of the film, the audience has to act actively throughout the movie. Unfortunately, if one does not focus they will lose a few lines that could unravel several other outcomes. In different to other films, the moviegoer has the opportunity to fantasize or interpreting different outcomes based on the dialog and scenery given.

Overall I give this movie two thumbs and a grand total of 5 captivating-glamorous stars. This movie is a movie like no other. Odds are one will never see anything like Inception again. Now and a 100 years from now, people all across the world will want to see this movie over and over again, still wanting more.

Student Enrollment Increase Overpowers the Financial Aid Office

By Colleen Maidhof

Once a new semester approaches students who are in desperate need of the financial aid office can only shutter from the well-known sight of the generously long line that leads to it. Cramped mobs of students wrap around the financial aid office for questions, approval of student loans, and financial Aid applications that need to be dealt with before the new semester begins. The question is what causes such a frustratingly long line?

Suffolk County Community College has more students flowing in than ever due to the current position of the US economy. An increase of around 450 students this semester is making the college experience at Suffolk troublesome for many. With such large quantities of students not only is there a deficiency of parking spots and classroom space, but the lines leading to financial aid and registrar have also exceeded their limit. Lines to financial aid have become so monstrous that they have ascended out into the hallways.

One could compare this wait to a wait at the DMV’s. After waiting a good half an hour on the line to the financial aid office the impatient are likely to walk out the door with displeased looks in frustration. Unfortunately situations like impatient students making a run for it is what you hope for while waiting on the line. To avoid the ultimate test of your patience, some questions you may have can be answered on the phone and on the SCCC website. However; the information that can be acquired over the phone is only general information. On the website in the financial aid section, you can browse through frequently asked questions by other students that have answers provided. These two alternatives can be helpful to some, but the limited information that you can acquire from these alternatives cannot replace an actual person knowledgeable of financial aid information that you should have easy access to. 

Students who are unaware of the chaos of financial aid services can run into a dead end when it comes to being able to afford their classes, textbooks, and class expenses for their upcoming semester. Students who are unable to afford their upcoming semester because of their lack of financial aid may be forced to drop out, to beg family members and friends for money, or they may need to make some extreme sacrifices especially with the increased tuition.

With the increased enrollment of students not only is it making student life more difficult, it is making the very few financial aid administrators lives a living nightmare. They are beyond outnumbered by students. It is hundreds against a handful. They are constantly getting attitudes by frustrated students, complaints, phone calls, and plus they are drowning in paperwork that needs to be processed on a timely basis. The wait for student loans has also increased a good amount. Loans can take up to one month to be processed fully due to student growth that needs them and the overwhelmed financial aid administration. That is an intense wait for those who need of a loan right away.

It is easy to blame the US economy these days on almost anything and everything. Sure SCCC has more students enrolled, but the wait for financial aid that seems to take forever and a day is not the population of student fault alone. The problem is clearly the lack of financial aid administration.

When you walk to the financial aid office you can see that the staff members in that department are few in number. To balance out the enrollment increase, staff members also need to increase, so that they work more quickly and more efficiently. More workers will prevent forms from piling up and student lines from wrapping around the building. The solution is pretty simple. It is hard to believe it hasn’t been done yet. The addition of one more staff member could make a difference for everyone.

Something desperately needs to be done to end this frustration. If staff members do not increase something else needs to be done to organize the monster of a line of students. It needs to be done for everyone’s well-being, and for safety purposes. Too many students in a cramped area is a disaster waiting to happen.