A Foray into Modern Fandom

I’ve never been a “sports person.” When I was younger I participated in team sports the way all kids do. Partly because they were fun and they gave me the chance to see my friends on weeknights, partly because my parents suggested that I might like them. But, truth be told, I would rather have been at home reading a good book. I am still this way.

I don’t see anything particularly wrong with sports. I don’t hate them, really, I just don’t understand what all the fuss is about. I am unenthusiastic about them, bottom line. Sometimes I even find them sad. Every year these teams of talented athletes compete with each other to prove they are the best at what they do. They put everything they’ve got into this competition, they live for it. And someone wins and someone loses. And the losers dust themselves off and try again next year. And we call ourselves fans, and sit in front of our TVs, and put our faith in these people who we have never met. And sometimes they let us down, and sometimes they don’t. Either way, year after year, we humans define ourselves by these groups of people who have nothing to do with us, and it is this fandom that disturbs me.

On one side of the spectrum, we see "Daisy", who wonders how non-sports fans survive.

On one side of the spectrum, we see “Daisy”, who wonders how non-sports fans survive.

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The New Souldog: a Delicious Local “Oasis”

The new Souldog on Main street, Poughkeepsie.

The new Souldog on Main street, Poughkeepsie.

The newly renovated Souldog is more “soul” than “dog” these days. Since coming under new ownership this past January, the restaurant has a new look, a new menu, and a mission to be a fun, family-friendly hangout that can provide good food to  everyone. The restaurant is still gluten free, but it’s no longer all about the hot dog. Now—besides several hotdog options—you’ll find soups and chili, chicken and fish dishes, sandwiches, and a curated selection of gluten free beer and wine.

The tempting gluten-free beer selection at Souldog.

The tempting gluten-free beer selection at Souldog.

To make sure no one is left out, Souldog aims to satisfy customers with restrictive dietary needs. New owner Susan Wysocki who also runs the local Babycakes Cafe, has created a menu that provides quick, affordable options for gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian diets as well as dishes that are safe for other, more specific restrictions. Wysocki calls the restaurant a “gluten-free oasis.” Manager Janet Morris knows from experience how hard it can be to find a restaurant when struggling with dietary restrictions. Her sensitivity to certain proteins has made eating out difficult, but she points out several of her favorite, safe Souldog dishes (she particularly loves the barbecue chicken).

The gluten-free fish tacos taste as good as they look.

The gluten-free fish tacos taste as good as they look.

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6 Things College Students Should Know About the Stock Market

A look that could be described as mild terror flashes across the face of Marist College senior Connor Norton when he is asked what he knows about the stock market. Knowing that he has only a few months until graduation, said Norton, has made him realize how unprepared he is for certain “grown-up” concepts. “I don’t feel confident at all,” he said, looking abashed, “I’ve never had any training in investments. I wish I had been taught how to interpret trends, or what type of industries perform certain ways…It’s hard to even talk about it  now because I don’t know enough about what I’m saying.”

Connor is not alone in his worry. A nationwide survey conducted by Inceptia in 2012 showed that 89 percent of first-year college students who responded scored in the “C” range or below on a basic financial literacy test.

Marist College student Matthew Hunt reviews current stock trends online.

Marist College student Matthew Hunt reviews current stock trends online.

“We aren’t learning these things in school—or anywhere,” said Marist College senior Odessa Turner-Blanker. “Even small things like the ability to finance your car. For example, when you hear that the Dow is really down today, some people understand that means they can’t apply for a car loan this week, and other people don’t have a clue what that means or how it affects them.”

Understanding the basics is, as with most concepts, the first step in the learning process. To begin your financial education in the stock market you must:

1. Get started:

Brian Haughey, the director of the investment center at Marist College and a professor of finance, believes it is important that a person begin participating in smart investment at an early age. Haughey gives this analogy: If a 23-year-old begins investing now, and puts about $5,000 per year into stock investments until he or she is 65 years old, and if the market earns them about 15 percent over that time-span, that person will have accumulated about $8 million in stock by the time they retire. On the other hand, if that person were to wait until they are 28 years old to invest, they will need to invest twice as much money per year, about $10,000, to accumulate the same amount.

To begin, you must create a brokerage account. Visit a brokerage website–Haughey recommends interactivebrokers.com–then apply and create an account. You’ll need to have some money to start with, a few thousand dollars is smart, but as little as $500 is fine, too.

2. Realize how investments will affect you:

“When you start your first job,” said LaRocco, “if the company has a 401k or some other investment plan, they will ask where you want your money to go. If you don’t know, you’ll be at a disadvantage.” LaRocco explains that the company might provide you with a list of investment options, from which you can pick what works for you. Continue reading

College Students Are at Risk for Relationship Abuse: Protect Yourself

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and whether you know it or not, students like you are at risk.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Youth Violence & Suicide Prevention organization, the highest rate of intimate partner violence is among women ages 16-24, and 32% of college students are victims of relationship violence. Now is the perfect time to increase your education about abuse and to evaluate the safety of your personal relationships.

The leading anti-relationship abuse organization at Marist College, Heart1, is a student-run club founded in 2010 by a Marist student who had suffered an abusive relationship herself. Though the club could not be reached for comment by the time of publication, the group’s online resource center provides Marist students with information on identifying multiple types of abuse, as well as providing contact information where students can find help. The site reminds students that a major issue surrounding relationship abuse is the question of abuse that is not physical. “A relationship can be unhealthy or abusive even without physical violence,” says Heart1, “Verbal abuse may not cause physical damage, but it does cause emotional pain and scarring. It can also lead to physical violence if the relationship continues on the unhealthy path its on.” Continue reading

Marist College Hopes to Create Official Student Veterans Office this Year

Shawn George, a 41-year-old junior at Marist College, is the president and official founder of the Marist Student Veterans Organization. Since its recognition as a chapter of the Student Veterans of America in 2011, the organization has been dedicated to assisting the growing population of student veterans at Marist College. George will transition to the role of Veterans Contracting Officer as the plans for the official Veterans Department of Marist College become finalized later this year.

The Marist College Rotunda and Student Center is the current home to the Marist's Veterans Liaison Office. Image Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e7/Marist_Student_Center.jpg

The Marist College Rotunda and Student Center is the current home to the Marist’s Veterans Liaison Office. Image Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e7/Marist_Student_Center.jpg

The role of the current Marist Student Veterans Organization is to help veteran students understand and use their military benefits to pay for their education. “We’ve made some huge strides in the last two years,” George said, “When I first started going to Marist, there was no orientation for adult veteran students.” George remembers having no idea how to find any of the buildings where his classes were located. “It was because of a glitch in the system,” he explained. “We’re considered adult students, no matter that were are on a traditional path. Everything we do goes through adult enrollment, not undergraduate admissions. No one had us on their radar. We have a nickname for ourselves, we’re the ‘non-traditional traditional-undergrads.’”

George’s new position as Veterans Contracting Officer means he will have the role of helping veteran students navigate the large amount of paperwork that they are required to file in order to gain their benefits and pay for school. “We have a lot of red tape, and there was nobody to help track it because of the way the system was set up,” George said. “It’s not that Marist didn’t care–we were just kind of an odd-ball to the system. We now have a special orientation for veteran students, so that they understand their benefits and what the government is expecting of them. They have GPA requirements and attendance requirements–it’s like being on a weird scholarship, but that scholarship is administered by the Department of Veteran Affairs.”

Marist is an official Yellow Ribbon School. This means that there is an arrangement between the school and the Veterans Association which states that after $18,500 is spent by the student towards their education, the college and the Department of Veterans Affairs split the difference. Most student veterans attending college today do so via the benefits of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, which provides funding for education and housing to individuals “with at least 90 days of aggregate service after September 10, 2001, or individuals discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days,” according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The bill provides support for tuition and fees, a housing allowance, and money for books and supplies. Officially, funding provided by the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill is capped at the highest in-state tuition, which for the state of New York is Cornell University, where tuition is about $18,500 per year. However, George said that because many veteran students are over the age of 22, they are not allowed to live on campus at Marist College and are required to find off campus housing for themselves. For undergraduate students at Marist who are not living on campus the cost rises to roughly $38,000 per year, this leaves veteran students with a bill of about $19,500 to be split by the college and the Department of Veterans Affairs once the required paperwork is filed. Continue reading