Opinion: Language as a Requirement

As a place of higher learning, college is supposed to give us the tools we need to excel in our intended careers. Our courses are intended to prepare us for the real world and globalization is a reality our generation will have to face – a reality we should embrace.

Advertising, Public Relations, Sports Communication, and Journalism are all concentrations that fall under Marist’s Communication major. They are all also fields that require extensive face to face contact with people of all backgrounds on a daily basis.

According to a 2015 report by Instituto Cervantes, it is estimated that by 2050, the United States is expected to have 138 million Spanish speakers, making it the largest Spanish speaking country in the world. In major U.S. cities such as Los Angeles and Miami, Spanish is already spoken just as frequently, if not more frequently than English on a daily basis.

In order to be the best we can be, it is essential that Marist requires its Communication majors to take more language courses as a part of the major curriculum.

Brent Sverdloff, a Marist adjunct professor of Spanish, says the ability to Spanish and English has unlocked so many doors and granted him a life full of adventure.

“Without languages, I wouldn’t have had the adventures I’ve had. I’ve run with bulls in Spain, I’ve been to the Galapagos Islands, I’ve gotten lost in the Amazon jungle, I’ve run out of gas in the Andes I’ve been caught in political riots in the Basque Country in Spain; I’ve met some very interesting people and have had a lot of cool jobs”.

Sverdloff says his hero is Indiana Jones because he took something as dry as archeology and made it full of emotion, romance, and adventure. “I thought to myself, the world needs somebody like Indiana Jones for linguistics,” said Sverdloff.

Sverdloff said he doesn’t believe he is Indiana Jones himself, but after everything he has experienced and achieved he loves teaching because he can share the gift of language to others. He said he tells his students, “I’m passing the baton on to you, now you get out there and live a life full of adventure”.

So even if we aren’t running with bulls in Spain or trekking through the Amazon jungle, as Communication majors we can still benefit so much from learning another language.

For whichever concentration, the ability to speak to interviewees, potential clients, or professional athletes in their own language is incredibly valuable. It creates deeper connections, more accurate information, and richer stories.

Becci Casas, a Marist senior and Public Relations major already speaks two languages, says being bilingual has been a great advantage in her professional life so far.

“It is very helpful on my resume and has become useful at work, especially if I am the only Spanish speaker. It allows me to stand out in comparison to other candidates and shows my value to a company,” said Casas.

Casas also agrees that students should be required to take more language courses because they would better understand and appreciate how hard it is to learn, master, and be fluent in another language.

“Not only would students be learning the language, but would also have a better understanding of the background and culture of that country and their native tongue. So many non-Americans migrate to the United States and make the effort to learn the language, but it’s less often that you see the opposite,” said Casas.

As students looking to excel in a field of constant interaction and communication, language should be at the forefront of our studies. Our generation should defy the pattern of education before us and strive to have language held on an equal pedestal as the rest of our studies.

Requiring Communication students to take more language courses would be a small push in the right direction.Lowell Thomas Communication Center, Marist College

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Health Based Approach to Gun Violence

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. — An evidence-based outreach program works day in and day out to reduce gun violence in the city of Poughkeepsie, keep the community safe, and educate on their health based approach. SNUG, or GUNS spelled backwards, looks at gun violence from the root causes in order to create lasting change.

“Unfortunately in poor communities of color, gun violence is seen as something as normative, so our goal is to change that perception. We feel like if we can change that perception, as generations come along those generations will see gun violence as not a viable option for conflict resolution,” said Danny Hairston, a coordinator for SNUG.  

According to Hairston, the reactive way in which the media covers gun violence in black and brown communities contributes to this perception that it is normal. He says he would like to see more coverage on SNUG’s shooting responses, as well as more about the underlying issues.

“Every time someone is shot in the city of PO we respond within 72 hours. There is a gathering of individuals to announce the fact that there was a shooting so it’s not brushed under the rug, so that people don’t dismiss it. We are out there lamenting the fact that it happened and urging the community to come out and help us do something about it,” said Hairston.

SNUG’s approach focuses on treating gun violence as a disease, similar as you would with any epidemic. Hairston says the philosophy was actually established by epidemiologist of the world health organization, Dr. Gary Slutkin. He uses the AIDS crisis as an example, “where you had individuals within the gay community work as interrupters,” said Hairston.

“If you knew someone was inflicted with the disease, you provided the right resources and then you educated the community on how to not spread or contract that disease”.

This same logic is how SNUG approaches treating gun violence.

“If someone was shot in the city of PO, [SNUG] gets a call from the police department, my team is dispatched to the scene of the shooting and the hospital to ascertain what the likelihood is of retaliation. If we find that the likelihood is high then we seek to interrupt that by mediating the situation. With individuals who have been shot, if they’re families are affected by violence we provide and help them get in touch with support services,” said Hairston. 

This is then taken a step further with the community, where SNUG is constantly out canvassing and providing material on this health-based approach, all in an attempt to change the norms and educate people on the epidemic.

SNUG is careful to not force their approach on the youth of the community, because Hairston says if you are mandated to do something you’re more than likely not going to do it wholeheartedly. All of SNUG’s participants come out of relationships that are built one on one with outreach workers, who canvass the streets and talk to individuals directly.

“For us it’s having someone who they respect, demonstrate that using a gun isn’t the answer to solving the conflict. The other piece is providing opportunity for them, finding options for them, understanding how it is where they come from. At no time when we’re meeting a potential participant do we condemn them for being involved with a gang or for selling drugs, because when you start looking at the mass hierarchy of needs what happens is you see those two mechanisms are providing the base level of needs. So if you attack those things without dealing with the main cause, you lose the ability to speak to them and to eventually move them away from being involved with hustling,” said Hairston. 

More about SNUG and their resources can be found here.

Danny Hairston at a SNUG march in 2017. Photo credit: Alex H. Wagner/Poughkeepsie Journal.

Student Driven Sustainability

In the US, 40% of all the food we produce is going to waste. One head of lettuce can take up to 25 years to decompose in a landfill. Plastic, which the majority of food is served on, is not bio degradable. 90% of the trash floating in our oceans is made of plastic. On a college campus with over 5,000 students, food and plastic are produced and served every single meal of every day. So what is Marist Dining doing to minimize waste? What are Marist students doing? 

According to the sustainability page on Sodexo’s website, “Marist Dining Services is committed to environmental stewardship by integrating awareness, local action, and regional and global thinking into planning and decision making”.

Most recently, Sodexo has invested in paper straws at the cafes on campus, as well as straw-less iced coffee cups in the Starbucks served in the library and Hancock. Sodexo Field marketing specialist, Kate Cole, says it was part of the company’s 2025 initiative, in accordance with the Sustainable [United Nations] Development goals. “It really was company wide initiative and really started to grow because as a company we are always aiming for a better tomorrow,” said Cole. Although a small step, it is still important. “The straws are a small part of the grander scheme of moving towards a more sustainable future,” said Cole.

Apart from this, Sodexo has a number of other great initiatives in place.

Local sourcing food is a top priority, which reduces energy consumption, shipping waste and greenhouse emissions. Local farms provide Marist with milk, meat, baked goods, vegetables, and produce. The main dining hall also features a brand new oil recycling process, which ensures that all the oil used when cooking is properly recycled into biodiesel and not waste. Cole says the process began this semester but has been working great so far.

This all sounds great, yet is there room for improvement?

Sophomore Mia Ridgeway, President of Marist SEED, said “One idea I stress is that there should be compost bins in the dining halls…Looking at the conveyor belt where you put dirty dishes on in the dining hall, I always see so much food being wasted. This problem really bothers me because of all the energy and environmental efforts it took to produce that food is wasted”.

Lucky for Ridgeway, two seniors have already got the ball rolling. Last Spring, Erin Todd and Tess Cimino created two compost bins outside Foy Residence Hall which allows students to turn their food waste into valuable soil for the gardens on campus. These two compost bins have now grown into an entire campus wide initiative called Marist Compost. Cimino and Todd partnered with Marist Grounds and are now attempting to get compost bins at all residence halls.

Cimino says the hope is that in the future, there will be small compost bins inside every residence building and larger ones outside. “Our goal right now is educating students on what can and can not be composted. Hopefully by providing compost bins inside the dorms, it will become second nature for people living on campus,” said Cimino. This same concept could be adapted to the dining halls as well, yet Cole says it would need further logistical planning.

Driven by students, Marist’s environmental initiatives are progressing. Both within residence halls and in the dining facilities, efforts are being made to create a more sustainable future. Hopefully, that means a little less food is sitting in a landfill and a little less plastic is floating in the ocean.

Vegetable and herb garden on campus that provides fresh produce to Marist Dining. Soil provided by Marist Compost will be used in the garden once the weather begins to warm up.

Thrift Store Thrives in Dorm Room

Established only five months ago and launching from a dorm room, the thrift store Old Newzz is already shipping across the country. Caroline Ricci, founder and a senior at Marist College, combined her love for fashion and the environment and created a business in doing so. With each article of clothing being hand selected by Ricci, her store is truly one of a kind.

When most people think of fashion, they think of designer brands and famous logos. To Ricci, this was never the case. “Thrifting is something that I really like because it has a story from someone previous and there’s a story that you can tell with it. That’s something that I really like about fashion,” said Ricci.

Her passion began at a young age and was strongly influenced by her mother. “My mom is an art major so she’s super artistic and creative and when I was a kid she would always dress me. In elementary school, we started thrifting together and I always just had thrifted clothing. From there it just became my own passion,” said Ricci.

More than just a love for unique clothing, Ricci founded her store to do her part in leaving less of a carbon footprint. Her thrift store promotes sustainable fashion, which is essentially fashion that attempts to leave little to no impact on the environment. “In 2050, fashion actually is going to become 25% of the reason why we have global warming. It’s crazy to think that just one industry is going to be 1/4 of the problem. If this is one little thing that can make a difference and I already like doing it, the benefits work well together,” said Ricci.

A frequent customer of Old Newzz and Director of Community Engagement for the on-campus club, Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI), Caroline Verdic also values the importance of environmentally friendly shopping. “Sustainable fashion is a way to give clothes a new life to someone else, whether it’s buying from thrift shops or donating old clothes to organizations,” said Verdic. She also said her club, EFI, attempts to promote the same awareness and mindfulness of recycling your clothing and reducing your waste.

Lacy Catto, another customer of Old Newzz and senior at Marist, said she does her best to be sustainable, yet it is not always easy. “I do my best to avoid supporting fast fashion, but as a college student on a budget, and with a Forever 21 down the street it honestly can be hard,” said Catto.

The fact that Old Newzz is on campus makes shopping sustainably a little more convenient. “I love purchasing clothes from [Ricci] because it’s casual, usually through Instagram DM, and I am able to pick them up or she drops them off the same day. Nothing like instant gratification,” said Catto.

So how does it work? As Catto mentioned, shopping at Old Newzz is very easy and laid back. Ricci markets all of her items on Instagram, under the brand’s page @OldNewzz. If customers see an item they like, all they have to do is send her a direct message. Ricci then reserves the item in her dorm, ready for pick up at any time. She also holds pop up events a few times a month, which are advertised on her Instagram account.

Items range from vintage t-shirts to cropped puffer jackets to corduroy hats. Anything that catches the eye of Ricci makes the cut. Not afraid of the hunt for items, the pieces come from all over the country. “Name a state and I’ve probably thrifted there,” said Ricci. She also prefers hole in wall places rather than pre curated thrift stores, because she said it makes finding the pieces more fun. “This is something I enjoy doing and it makes me happy, so I might as well make other people happy and help them start shopping sustainably,” said Ricci. 

As far as the future for Old Newzz, Ricci plans to move to San Fransisco after graduation and continue to pursue her childhood passion there.