By Ariel Ransom
Riveting posters featuring bloodthirsty aliens and grotesque homicidal monsters cover neutral colored walls, and variations of literature textbooks reside in fully packed shelves in Professor William Burns’ office. Burns is content in his domain that praises the fascinating realm of horror and comics, as the professor enthusiastically critics the ideas concerning the architecture of villains in today’s comic book industry.
The sheer passion that Burns resonates as he speaks is utterly refreshing, and it is no surprise why the students on campus form such an appreciation for the professor. Yet, fans of Burns do not know about the past of the infamous professor on campus.
“I had a normal suburban upbringing. My father was a policeman, my mom worked for the IRS, and I grew up in Holbrook. We took one vacation a year, and I even played Little League.” William Burns, the Associate Professor of English, said. “Nothing traumatic, just a normal childhood!”
Burns attended Hofstra University as an undergrad, completing with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in English and Film. Continuing onto the Southern Connecticut State University, the beloved professor attained a Master of Arts degree in American Literature, and completed his studies with a Ph.D from the University of Rhode Island. However, Burns finding his way as a professor to Suffolk is heartening.
“I was on the job market, and I thought it was interesting growing up five minutes from the college, and going to school and college here [in Suffolk County].” Burns said. “If I didn’t have that sense of community and connection here, I wouldn’t be here.”
The sense of kinship Burns has for his childhood community aided him in gaining a position on campus, but the professor did not always want to be a teacher despite his astonishing fame among students. Burns was more interested with being an artist or movie director in his early schooling years, but admits that his skills are well-founded in being a professor.
“I don’t have an aptitude for anything else. Everything before teaching was an abject failure.” Burns said. “I just fell into it [being a professor at Suffolk]. I never thought about it.”
Professor Burns, despite his rising popularity, is humbled by the idea that students on campus are fond of him. Yet, students are not the only individuals who praise Burns, for his fellow peers acknowledge the unique charisma the professor has.
“He [William Burns] is in-tune with the modern trends in literature.” Edward Eriksson, a Professor of English, said. “He is into sci-fi and horror, and he has a lot of energy when he works with the students.”
Burns’ work with the students and devotion to their success is notable not only through his class lectures, but through his extra work in the Library Writing Center where he aids struggling students. The professor is proactive in helping students understand the mechanics of writing and literature, while still maintaining his comfortable atmosphere.
“I met him at my first semester of the Horror Science Fiction Club, and then I met him again in the writing center. When it comes to the Writing Center, I thought he was really hands on and helpful to everyone who sought help.” Donna Ossenfort, a Liberal Arts Major, said. “When it comes to the sci-fi club, I like that he showed movie clips because it opened your eyes to all the elements and different categories in sci-fi. I wasn’t in the club for long, but with him being in the writing center, he stood out because of his helpfulness and kindness towards the students.”
Burns has proven that he goes far beyond what is typical of a professor, as his unyielding kindness and energetic nature tares him apart from the typical campus educators. The unbridled passion and devotion Professor Burns emits when working with students is an astonishing trait that has fostered many supporters of the educator over the years, but Burns thinks of his popularity mildly.
“I don’t believe it [being a popular professor] what-so-ever. I just care about them [the students], and want to help them succeed in all aspects.”
Professor Burns’ humble nature is encouraging, but the wave of students who admire the professor is extensive. Witnessing the unique characteristics of Burns is encouraging, and reassures the students that the devotion associated with teaching is still alive on campus. Burns’ office is in the Islip Arts Building, teaches English 121 and 202, and is in charge of the Horror Science Fiction Club which is welcoming to enthusiastic new members.
By Julianne Mosher
Campus activity fees are becoming the most expensive statements tacked onto tuition. As tuition rises higher with each passing year, students are beginning to question how the fees relate to them on campus and how they are of importance to them.
On student tuition bills, $8 are set aside per credit for each person for campus activity fees. As an example, if one student is taking a full 18 credit semester, he or she will pay an extra $144 in fees. However, a part-time student with two classes adding up to 6 credits pays $48 in campus activity fees.
This adds up to a lot of money for the 14,000 students who attend the Ammerman campus. According to public tax records in 2009, the student activity fees gained more than $200,000 in revenue after expenses. Students paid about $3.5 million, but the school only spent about $3.3 million.
The money is split up between different organizations; student organizations, campus activities, operations and maintenance, athletics, and theater.
Each area receives different amounts for the year. Student organizations – which include clubs such as the Student Government Association – gained the most money from the revenue with over $600,000. However, theater received much less gaining only about $215,000 and athletics reaped about $300,000.
Lauren DiMarzo, a sophomore studying liberal arts, has a very strong opinion about the fees she is required to pay. She is currently enrolled with the school and hopes to begin studying nursing all while working two jobs.
“I work about 40 hours a week between my babysitting job and working at Best Yet. My parents help pay for my tuition, and I pay for anything else such as books.”
DiMarzo has a very hectic schedule. Like many of the students on campus, it is hard for her to join the various clubs the school has to offer. She was interested in perhaps joining the sign language club, but unfortunately she does not have time commit.
DiMarzo says she should not be paying for student activity fees because she simply does not attend anything. She believes it is a waste of money. “I feel that if students want to be involved in an activity or register their car to drive that should be a separate payment,” she said.
“I feel like many of the students are making their way through college on their own,” she said. “I understand why activity and driving fees are included in tuition, however, we are paying for something that we may not even take part in.”
There are about 67 clubs located on the Ammerman campus alone. Every year some are added and some are cut depending on how they work out with students. Of the 14,000 students attending the Ammerman campus, only a small amount of people actually stay for a club or an honor society during common hour. It is estimated that about 650-700 students are involved with clubs.
Sharon Silverstein is the director of campus activities and student leadership on the Ammerman campus. She is the woman in charge of foreseeing all of the student affairs that happen at the school.
Silverstein noted that the funding for campus activities covers more than just clubs. The fees also include child care, theater, athletics, publications, and all campus activities. They also cover the events that clubs sponsor, such as guest speakers, trips, and transportation.
“[The fees] give people the dollars to express themselves… that’s what the moneys for,” Silverstein said. “That is what school’s about. Expressing yourself.”
She also noted that when a student walks into the gymnasium – a seemingly normal act – to play basketball on the court, the money being put towards student fees is actually paying for that specific court. Certainly these fees are being used to aid students with a variety of different services.
But interestingly noted on the tax forms, the salaries and benefits of the persons in charge of the daycare system and those who also manage the money are supported with student funding. Also documented were those who never took leave or called in sick received crude absence compensation for their perfect attendance. But how could this be beneficial to students?
“The school takes advantage of the students attending and will find any way possible to collect money. It’s a business,” DiMarzo said.