Mike Napolitano: An Alumni in Music and in the Community

When someone thinks of the Music Department, the first image in their head might be the music heard or the instruments played. However, one may not immediately think of those who operate behind the scenes ensuring the smoothness of the program. One of these people is Mike Napolitano ’04, MA ’17, a Marist alumni who has worked with the department since his graduation.

Mike (who members of the music department call Mikey) grew up down the road from Marist in Wappingers Falls. When recalling his music origins he explained “I went to high school down the road at Roy C Ketcham High School. I was in band, choir, chamber choir, wind ensemble and jazz band”. He graduated from Ketcham in 2000 where he went down the road to Marist College and studied communications. Yet what made his experience at Marist memorable was that of his time within the Music Department.

Mike Napolitano ’04, MA ’17 at his desk

Immediately when Napolitano was a freshman on campus, he started in the Marching Band and his love of music further grew. He kept heavily involved with the music department through the singers, band and other small ensembles. Yet it was his senior year that opened a brand new door. “It was my senior year. We had a blackout on the east course and I had my appendix removed” he chuckled “This meant I had to miss marching season”. He had an extended recovery because of the surgery, yet he contributed behind the scenes of the band helping Music Director Art Himmelberger work with the band. Because of this, he was able to find a job at the campus after graduation. After working in Human Resources at Marist for the fall of 2004, a position opened up which included organization of finances and course registrations, in which he was asked to join. “I was kind of picking up on the process while volunteering at the offices” he mentioned while explaining his transition from HR back to the Music Department.

During his time at Marist, Napolitano got involved with the Band service fraternity known as Kappa Kappa Psi. When asked about his involvement, he described it as such “When I became a member in 2002, our founding fathers graduated out. it left us with four members and we had to step up and become leaders”. He served as the role of President and upon graduating served as the Chapter Sponsor for Marist. Yet his impact on Kappa Kappa Psi expanded far beyond that of Marist. He explained “When I became chapter president in 2003, we had a visit from one of our chapter presidents … It was that introduction to what the national chapter provided me helped me understand that what we have on our campus is somewhat greater and larger” This individual became his mentor as he helped expand the fraternity’s role on campus.

In 2011, he further got involved and chartered a Kappa Kappa Psi Alumni Organization which supported initiatives in the area. “Once that happened,” he described “there was a little bit more exposure for what I do in the community that came to be noticed”. He expanded his horizon and worked with the National Alumni Association of Kappa Kappa Psi. He then served on the National Council and was getting national attention with getting an Outstanding Alumni Award to Marist’s chapter being recognized on a national scale. He eventually moved off from the Alumni chapter board and became a District Governor in 2016 (an overseer of chapters across the Northeast United States).

Finally, when asked what his motto was regarding day to day life, he explained four words: do better, try harder. “We can be the best that we can be and sometimes we falter but we are contributers to a greater cause [musical excellence]”. Through his time at Marist and working with the National Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi, Napolitano learned that by understanding people have a greater role in the greater good of music education, progress and achievement is brought to those around you. It is that that has made Napolitano an important aspect of the Marist College Music Department.

McNamara Does it All for Marist and Ireland

Marist men’s baseball pitcher Conor McNamara finds excitement in his new role with the team and his past and upcoming experiences with the Irish National Team.

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“I have a connection with the Irish team,” said McNamara. “He knew me and brought me in for a quick bullpen and threw on camera for them. They sent it over to the Irish guys and that was it.”

The pitcher found himself a spot in the bullpen on the Irish National Team. They are playing for a qualifying spot in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

The World Baseball Classic is an international tournament that is similar to the World Cup for the world of soccer. It involves 16 teams that are selected through a lengthy qualification process. McNamara has the chance to reach the big stage with his national team and play in one of baseball’s most coveted tournaments. He sees optimism with his national team and hopes to reach the coveted World Baseball Classic with his teammates from Ireland.

“We’re looking to qualify for the World Baseball Classic if we win this next upcoming tournament,” said McNamara. “It’s exciting.”

McNamara saw his role switch this season from starting pitcher to reliever and has since embraced the new role. He is pitching nearly every game rather than starting once every few days. He has garnished in the excitement of the tougher aspects of being thrown into a game.

“So far, it’s been different,” said McNamara. “I enjoy it. I enjoy the high energy and coming in with guys on base in a tight spot.”

McNamara sees more intensity in his new position in the bullpen. The transition from earlier innings to later ones is one that he realizes brings higher significance to his outings.

“It’s more of the high leverage innings,” said the 20-year old. “You’re only out there for a short period of time so you kind of have to make the most of it. You have less room for error. Every pitch is a high-pressure pitch, that’s the biggest thing.”

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A change in scenery has been nothing for Conor McNamara. He has a steadily declining 4.74 ERA and has been a key piece to the Marist bullpen throughout the season. McNamara started the season with five shutouts coming out of the bullpen until a rough six run outing against Eastern Carolina University. A dominant 4.2 inning outing against Monmouth on April 6 showed the dominance that McNamara can bring, striking out seven Hawks on Marist’s way to the victory.

Between the two squads, McNamara continues to prove his worth and show his versatility, something that will get you far in the world of baseball. For now, Conor’s focus is with Marist. The Red Foxes are 7-5 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with hopes to repeat the history of the 2017 team that went on to win the conference.

“We know what we want to do and we’re just taking it one game at a time,” said McNamara. “We think we can do it with the team we have and we’re gonna give every team we face all we’ve got.”

Genocide Survivor Shares His Story

Students gathered in Hancock on April 12  in remembrance of those who died in the Rwandan Genocide just 25 years ago. This year, the school welcomed a survivor of the genocide, Daniel Ndamwizeye, better known professionally as Daniel Trust. Trust said in his talk, “Sometimes I would cry and pray, ‘why am I alive, why did I not get killed’ through it all I always had hope that it would be better for me one day.”

Trust was born and raised in Rwanda and is a survivor of the Genocide. He immigrated to the United States when he was 15 as a refugee.

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Trust Speaking to Attendees

Trust was five years old when the genocide began. He was the youngest of eight children. His father was Hutu and his mother was a Tutsi. Just before the Genocide started, Trust recalls his parents calling him and siblings into the living room. “They asked us to pray because something terrible was going to happen to us. We prayed for protection and my parents were Seventh-day Adventists, and we lived close to the church. Many people at the time thought that if they went to a place of worship they would be safe. Myself, my mom and two sisters, we went to hide at the church we worship at.”

After a few days in the Church, people with machetes came and took everyone they found outside and began killing them one by one, he recounted. He recalls how frustrated he was hearing his mother’s screams, but was unable to do anything. “At the time in Rwanda, the killers had no mercy, if they knew you were Tutsi somehow someway they would kill you. That moment of my mom being killed was the last memory I have of her.”

Trust hid along with two of his sisters, however, they would be caught trying to run away and killed. His father also was caught trying to find safety and was killed as well. The people who killed his family would go on to steal all their possessions and set their house on fire.

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Students Listen Attentively to Trust

However, Trust speaks with a positive outlook. He said, “When I share my story I always say I survived by the grace of God because I could have been killed as well.”

Eventually, Trust was able to make it the Congo for safety until after the genocide was over. However, he still faced a number of hardships. “I was constantly beaten for doing anything. If I was washing dishes and I do not do it correctly, I was beaten for it. If I was being helped with homework and I said two plus two equals five instead of four, I would get beaten. I was not allowed to have friends, and life was just very hard for me. And because of everything I was going through I performed very poorly in school. Sometimes I would cry and pray, ‘why am I alive, why did I not get killed’ through it all I always had hope that it would be better for me one day.”

In 2005 Trust was able to move to Connecticut. He attended high school, and by the time he graduated he was very involved academically and with extracurricular activities. He was then able to receive a number of scholarships, allowing him to attend Southern Connecticut State University. There he graduated in 5 years and worked full-time will working towards his degree. At the age of 19, he got a job at TD Bank and worked there for many years. In 2013 he was able to buy his first home. After purchasing it, he went to a grocery store and bought himself a cake to celebrate. He also buys himself a cake for his birthday every year. Trust emphasizes the importance of focusing on the positive things in life and celebrating yourself.

Trust his now a youth advocate, an international speaker and is the President and CEO of the Daniel Trust Foundation. His foundation is a non-profit for low-income students and teachers that are or hope to make big impacts on the community and individuals who may not have the same advantages as other students.

“I would not be here today if it was not for all the people who invested in me,” Trust said.

 

ROTC Weekend in the Woods

Cadet Sasha Schmitt took on strong leadership roles this weekend as the ROTC program traveled to West Point to complete three full days of rugged field training.

Schmitt spoke highly of the field training exercise trip, also known as FDX. She explained that the best part is coming back and looking at everything she accomplished.

“Somethings I didn’t even know I was capable of doing. It’s also crazy to think that you really can survive off of just the basics.”

Schmitt comes from a family of impressive leadership roles. Her father, Paul Schmitt a West Point graduate, has had a long career in the military. He now works as a Defense Attaché, meaning he is responsible for military matters between the United States and the Ukraine. Having such a good experience with the military, Sasha’s father is the reason that she joined the ROTC program at Marist College.

“I actually didn’t really know that I wanted to do it in the beginning, but my dad convinced me because he said that I’ll learn a lot of other valuable life skills other than army tactics. He told me to try it out for a semester and if I didn’t like it I wouldn’t have to continue, but I really liked it so I stayed with the program” stated Schmitt.

As a junior with two years of training experience she was able to put her skills to use and fill some big leadership roles.

Throughout the weekend Schmitt was a Squad Leader, meaning she was in charge of three to five other ROTC members, making sure they knew and understood their mission. She also was a Platoon Sergeant, a job where she was responsible for ensuring discipline for squad leaders.

After participating in three FDX weekend trips, Schmitt felt ready to take on these roles.

“I personally think that every time I do another one I feel more and more prepared” said Schmitt. She explained that the first time she went she didn’t know what to expect. She’s learned important lessons such as packing her bag properly so it’s easy to access her necessities in the field, or even waterproofing all of her belongings.

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Cadet Schmitt, on the right, posing with Cadet Brehm under a poncho tent.

All of Schmitt’s hard work in training will be put toward the summer which she will spend at Fort Knox in Kentucky, participating in a 37 day training camp that will test her on everything that she’s learned in ROTC.

Besides from the FDX trip that takes place every semester, Schmitt gains practice by attending physical training three days a week at 6:15 in the morning.

She is also required to take a Military Science course that helps her develop leadership abilities, and teaches her important knowledge that she will need once she is commissioned into the army.  

Schmitt is already planning for the future, as she’s signed a contract into the army, requiring her to serve for four years. Once she graduates in May, she will be commissioned as a second lieutenant.

She will eventually pick which area she prefers to go into, and she’s hoping to get military intelligence, which entails collecting and analyzing information in order to guide and assist commanders.

Schmitt stated that she will decide later on whether or not she will stay in the army for longer than four years. However, after she serves, she would like to own her own business or work with international logistics.

For now, Cadet Schmitt is working hard in her classes and focusing on her ROTC program, which she really enjoys.

Schmitt commented on the close dynamic between the members of Marist ROTC. “I love it. We’re a big family. I always have their back and they always have mine.”

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Members of Marist’s ROTC Program.

SNR Showcases Senior Fashion Students one Catwalk at a Time  

Marist Fashion students are buckling down in preparation for the 33rd Annual Silver Needle Runway Show (SNR) on May 10th, 2019. Students create what is once an empty space into an environment that feels like a show right out of New York Fashion Week.

“I’ve heard the show is going to be huge and really outdo itself from previous years. I absolutely love the Fashion Program here, it’s one of the top in the country. Although I’m not a Fashion Design Major, it is incredible to see the talent that is behind each sewing machine and how each student really creates walking forms of art,” said sophomore Jenna Rinaldi.

The SNR show originated in 1984 and since then has increased their professionalism and talent to new heights. Each show holds over 1,000 guests, including professionals in the field to critique seniors on their work. The event showcases the work done by senior design students during their semester long Senior Thesis Project.

While many show-goers are in awe of the numerous pieces students have designed, many forget about the individuals behind the scenes that enable the show to take place. Those in the Fashion Show Production Class showcase their artistry and display their ability to host such a major event to over thousands of individuals each year.

“This is my second year as a member of the Creative Team for the Production Class. The class is an extremely fulfilling experience but that definitely comes with hard work,” said sophomore Amanda Lauro. “It can sometimes feel more like an internship, making it great for a resume builder and talking point in interviews. You truly get as much out of the class as you put in and are given as much responsibility as you prove yourself capable of.”

While the work of design students is showcased through the fashion show, the class controlling all aspects of the show is the Fashion Show Production Class. In order to be apart of the class, students are required to go through a rigorous interview process as well as sharing a portfolio of their work. While being in the class sounds like a lot of work, many students express that the experience truly prepares them for the real world.  

“While there are so many fun and exciting times throughout the process of planning the show, if someone were to ask me if they should apply to the class I would first and foremost stress the time component,” said junior Dylan Skinner.

Besides finding a place to host the show and dealing with ticket orders, the Fashion Show Production Class advertises the show by creating promotional videos and showcasing photos to draw students in to attending this highly anticipated event for the fashion community at Marist. From simple coffee sleeves Starbucks has been giving out, to Instagram stories SNR volunteers have been posting, all the little details add up to what students hope to be a packed audience on May 10th.

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The class also holds a number of fundraisers to decrease the cost of the show, as this year they have gone over budget. “The biggest challenge of the class is working within a tight budget, we want to make the show as amazing as possible while also keeping finances in mind. But, with this you have to become an expert problem solver and use your creativity wherever you possibly can.” said Lauro. Some fundraisers they have done include a Candy Bar and pairing with local frozen yogurt store, Sweet Frog, to raise some extra cash on the side.  

Overall, fashion students and those in the production class are looking forward to this event that truly showcases the talent and hard work the Fashion Department puts into the program each year.

“When coming to the Silver Needle Runway Show, expect a high-production event that first and foremost works towards giving the amazing senior designer garments a great way to showcase their hard work. And with each tiny detail you notice at the venue, there was a Fashion Show Production team member slaving away, pulling all-nighters, and doing whatever they needed to do to make this night perfect,” said Skinner.

The event will take place on May 10th, 2019 in the Mid-Hudson Civic Center at 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm and tickets are available on ticketmaster.com.  

“If you want to experience what it’s like to watch a fashion show as professional as one you may see on the New York Fashion Week, this show is a must see,” said sophomore Skyler Caruso.

 

OZZI Machine Solves Wastefulness at North End Dining

 

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The OZZI machine.

 

The OZZI Machine will allow the switch from disposables to reusables starting next semester at North End Dining at Marist College.

“OZZI is a revolutionary system that eliminates traditional disposable take-out containers for all segments of the foodservice industry by utilizing enhanced technology,” said Tom Wright, the president of OZZI. “OZZI is designed for college and university campus dining centers.”

When a student orders food, the student gives the cashier a ‘token’ in exchange for the reusable, OZZI container that their food will be served in. Upon completion of the student’s meal, they bring the container to the OZZI machine located in the North End Dining facility which scans the container and spits out a token to be used for the student’s next meal. Once the machine is at capacity for containers it can hold, it will alert the staff who will then collect, clean and restock.

“As a college campus with on-going sustainability initiatives, we hope to engage the entirety of the student body and staff members to value and pursue their environmental responsibilities,” said Steve Sansola, director of student affairs at Marist.

Marist College students are estimated to waste 142 pounds of food each year. Beyond the issue of food sitting in the landfill, it is also sitting in plastic containers that can take up to 1,000 years to decompose. From noodle bowls to salads, everything is served in a single-use, disposable container at North End Dining. The OZZI machine will take these away and replace them with reusable containers.

“The impact of that waste is not often considered and therefore we do not even reach the point of thinking about how we can reduce it. That waste is taking up valuable space when stored in a landfill, polluting our air when incinerated, and negatively impacting our environment in all cases,” said Aaron Tod, a Marist College senior initiating the input of OZZI.

With the support of the Campus Sustainability Advisory Committee (CSAC) on campus and the Marist College Dining Services, the machine is set to be installed this coming June.

“This system pushes students to be aware of and accountable for the amount of waste they are producing and therefore make a personal decision to reduce that by using an OZZI container,” said Kate Cole, Sodexo marketing coordinator.

Whether students will use the machine will be determined next semester.

“I don’t see why everything needs to be on plastic plates and bowls. Most people stay and eat in the North End, so they could just have metal forks and everything else,” said Becci Casas, a Marist College student.

Due to the lack of dishwashing space in the back and students’ tendencies to steal the dishes, this is not possible. The accountability aspect of OZZI with the tokens will help solve the issue of theft.

“North End Dining serves a few thousand meals per week; if everyone were willing to do their part and choose to have their food come in a reusable container, as a Marist community, we could make a significant difference,” said Phoebe Smith, Sodexo sustainability intern.

Sodexo, Marist students, and CSAC are excited about OZZI’s potential to reduce waste on campus while positively impacting the environment.

 

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Single-use plastic noodle bowl at North End.

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Plastic forks and coffee cups used by student Brian at the North End.

 

 

Valley Cafe Adds Flavor to Tuesday

On Tuesdays, Marist College students are swapping their meal swipes into the Dining Hall for tickets into the Valley Cafe. With a different menu each week, the Valley Cafe provides students with a unique lunch and enjoyable atmosphere that keeps students returning.

“I go every week,” Caroline Friske ‘20 said. “Whenever I’m free on Tuesday, I’m here.”

Friske along with her friends, enjoy the fun variety of grilled cheese sandwiches at the cafe on Tuesday, April 23. “The grilled cheese creates a nostalgic feeling,” Friske said. “I always ate grilled cheese as a kid and it makes me very, very happy to get that feeling back.”

The theme this week at the Valley Cafe is “Grilled Cheese,” which is a yearly favorite according to student intern, Elie Christoforides ‘20. The menu includes Tomato Bisque Soup, Chicken Bacon Ranch Grilled Cheese, Brie and Pear Grilled Cheese and even a vegan grilled cheese.

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Furthermore, each week the Valley Cafe has a new theme that is chosen by student intern, Elie Christoforides. “I’m the Valley Cafe dude,” Christoforides said. He has been interning with Sodexo for three years and his role includes organizing and planning the Valley Cafe. Originally recruited to help Chef Anthony develop themes and menus each week, Christoforides is now the imagination behind the menu. “Dining services thought there was a creativity that was lacking and I was hired to be the second-hand man of Chef Anthony and give that boost of creativity,” Christoforides explained. After Chef Anthony resigned, Christoforides now decides the themes, which are either invented himself, suggestions from students or ideas pitched from clubs.

“We look at suggestions from students and we get a lot of requests from clubs,” Christoforides said. Students can either email or text Sodexo any suggestions, comments or criticisms about the Valley Cafe. Sodexo also collaborates with clubs frequently, including the Italian American Society, Fox Pride and Asian Alliance. “Whenever we get a club, I’ll make sure to talk to the leader and tell them how it works to create a menu. Sometimes they want me to make a menu and other times they’ll make their own,” Christoforides said.  

In addition to requests, Christoforides also tries to incorporate special occasions or holidays. “I think when we first started doing grilled cheese, it was National Grilled Cheese Day. It’s become an annual thing because it was so popular the first year.” If there is no specific holiday or partnership with a club, it is up to Christoforides to invent a theme. Last year, the cafe had a lunch titled, “Netflix and Grill.” The dishes were all inspired by movies or television shows such as “Ratatouille,” fruit salad from the “Wiggles” and the infamous spaghetti in “Elf.”

As a result of the interesting themes, the Valley Cafe provides students with a variety of dishes that they cannot eat elsewhere. “The Dining hall has its limitations and there’s a cap to what they do on the regular bases. Because the Valley Cafe is weekly, there’s more room for creativity,” Christoforides said.

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Moreover, the most challenging part of creating a theme is to avoid being redundant and also pleasing everyone, Christoforides explained. “It’s just one menu, so it’s going to be hard to attract everyone. There’s people that come weekly, sometimes they’re vegan or vegetarian and sometimes there are new people coming to eat for the first time,” Christoforides said. “It’s about making sure that throughout the year there is a balance between creativity and delivering the basics of a meal.”

The components of the each weekly menu include a soup, salad, three main dishes and at least one or two vegan options. Every dish is also distinctly labeled for students with allergies. Christoforides said about 50 percent of the ingredients are locally sourced within a 200 mile radius of Marist College, which supports the local economy and reduces the carbon footprint. “It is named the Valley Cafe because the food is coming from here in the Hudson Valley,” Christoforides said.  

Serving students fresh and fun lunches, the Valley Cafe invites all students to taste new cuisine they cannot eat anywhere else. Students like Friske truly enjoy their weekly routine of lunch at the Valley Cafe. Friske said, “I literally don’t take 11 o’clock classes, just so I can be here.”

Candidates Establish Themselves on the Debate Stage

Students hoping to be the next student body president had an opportunity to speak to the student body Thursday night at SGA’s Presidential Debate. Each candidate and their vice president discussed their plans for the upcoming school year and reflected on changes that took place with the current administration.

Students hoping to be the next student body president had an opportunity to speak to the student body Thursday night at SGA’s Presidential Debate. Each candidate and their vice president discussed their plans for the upcoming school year and reflected on changes that took place with the current administration.

A view of the stage before the debate

This election has three candidates from different backgrounds, diversities and interests on campus running for the office of Student Body President and Executive Vice President. The winner of the election will. Candidates include juniors Pamela Armas and Louis Higuero, juniors Mark Palmer and John Sasso and junior and sophomore Joe Sarci and Roda Mohammad. The debate was moderated by junior Tara Guainamo and Political Science professor Dr. Elizabeth Kaknes. The topics discussed range in a variety of topics from future administration to analyzing the newly approved Strategic Plan.

One of the most discussed issues of the evening was that of priority points. Some candidates were in favor of removing the system and moving to a lottery system. Mohammad mentioned “Marist has some of the best housing of all campuses. We have to remember that some people are living without a roof over their head. If where you are housed is the most pressing issue, people need to get their priorities checked”. Some candidates discussed a hybrid system of priority points and lottery. Palmer stated “By having priority points, it encourages student engagement on campus”.

Other issues of the night included discussions regarding Title IX training and the rise in sexual assault on campus. The Marist Circle reported that “two dating violence offenses, two instances of fondling, and six rapes on campus in 2017– an increase from the 4 reported for the previous two years”. Since the report, it has been a highly controversial topic on the campus and within the community. When asked about this, Sasso commented “The best way to address it is through education, you need to educate people on not only the detriment but the consequences, what you are putting that person through”.

Candidates Mark Palmer and John Sasso

Students also had an opportunity to ask questions of the candidates. When sophomore Leo Ruiz asked about what the candidates are going to do regarding disabilities on campus, Armas commented “I had a peer that is in a wheel chair that has to turn her desk around and she said it was too expensive to get a wheel chair accessbible desk. We need to make sure issues are being heard”. Palmer and Sasso also resonated that they plan to address this issue while also establishing a priority registration system for those students with disabilities.

Throughout the evening, discussions of campus issues from student life to faculty were debated and argued by the candidates. And after hours of opinions and thoughts, it will be up to the general public to cast their ballots and elect their choice of candidate.

There are three candidates who are running for the position: juniors Pamela Armas and Louis Higuero, juniors Mark Palmer and John Sasso and junior and sophomore Joe Sarci and Roda Mohammad. The debate was moderated by junior Tara Guainamo and Political Science professor Dr. Elizabeth Kaknes. The topics discussed range in a variety of topics from future administration to analyzing the newly approved Strategic Plan.

One of the most discussed issues of the evening was that of priority points. Some candidates were in favor of removing the system and moving to a lottery system. Mohammad mentioned “Marist has some of the best housing of all campuses. We have to remember that some people are living without a roof over their head. If where you are housed is the most pressing issue, people need to get their priorities checked”. Some candidates discussed a hybrid system of priority points and lottery. Palmer stated “By having priority points, it encourages student engagement on campus”.

Other issues of the night included discussions regarding Title IX training and the rise in sexual assault on campus. The Marist Circle reported that “two dating violence offenses, two instances of fondling, and six rapes on campus in 2017– an increase from the 4 reported for the previous two years”. When asked about this, Sasso commented “The best way to address it is through education, you need to educate people on not only the detriment but the consequences, what you are putting that person through”

Students also had an opportunity to ask questions of the candidates. When sophomore Leo Ruiz asked about what the candidates are going to do regarding disabilities on campus, Armas commented “I had a peer that is in a wheel chair that has to turn her desk around and she said it was too expensive to get a wheel chair accessbible desk. We need to make sure issues are being heard”. Palmer and Sasso also resonated that they plan to address this issue while also establishing a priority registration system for those students with disabilities.

Throughout the evening, discussions of campus issues from student life to faculty were debated and argued by the candidates. And after hours of opinions and thoughts, it will be up to the general public to cast their ballots and elect their choice of candidate as the next student body president.

Jessica Luther Brings Sports and Accountability to Crossroads

Marist welcomed freelance journalist Jessica Luther to campus last Tuesday night to discuss her groundbreaking discoveries on the Baylor football scandal.

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“There was nothing reported about the story when I got the tip,” said Luther.

Baylor University received a lawsuit from a graduate back in 2017 that included allegations against 31 Baylor football players for 52 separate accounts of rape between 2011 and 2014. The graduate included that she, herself, was also a victim of these allegations back in 2013. Jessica Luther was aware of many of these allegations well before when it went public back in 2017.

“I was tipped that a Baylor football player was going to trial for sexual assault in 2013,” said Luther.

According to Luther, the player had been previously dismissed at Boise State before transferring into Baylor. Those who knew the player at his former school warned Baylor about his past behavior.

“The athletic directors at Boise were very worried that he was going to hurt others,” said Luther. “Three months into his sitting year, his girlfriend reported him to the school and to the Waco Police Department. He was indicted the following summer.”

Recently, Baylor football standout defensive end Shawn Oakman was found not guilty on charges of sexual assault on February 28, 2019. Prior to these allegations, plenty of early mock drafts had Oakman projected as a first-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Luther contributed the lack of coverage from media and advocacy from the fanbase on the matter towards the religious roots that Baylor sits upon.

“Baylor is the largest Baptist university in the world,” said Luther. “The Christian underpinnings of Baylor made it hard to discuss things like this.”

If you go to Baylor’s website, you can easily find their mission which can attest to some of these Christian underpinnings that Luther was getting at. The mission states, “Baylor’s mission is to educate students for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment in a caring community.”

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Luther is known in the sports world as a top tier investigative reporter where the lines between sports and accountability tend to blur. Her detailed and lengthy coverage of this scandal is something that gave her the national recognition that she has today. She received the Halberstam Award for “sticking it to power” on the scandal along with her business partner Dan Solomon.

She now has a weekly independent feminist sports podcast called “Burn It All Down” that brings an alternative perspective to sports coverage through the female eye.

Once the story finally found its light in the media, the trickle effect immediately took place. By 2016, head football coach Art Briles had his contract terminated and Baylor University President Ken Starr resigned due to the backlash. Title IX Coordinator Patty Crawford was forced to resign as well. Jessica Luther points out her key emphasis when her reporting can create a domino effect like this one.

“I don’t want to defame,” said Luther. “I want to be as fair as I can possibly be with the information that I’ve been given.”

 

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.