Should teachers use emojis? Students offer mixed reactions

 In this day and age most college students are big texters. What comes along with that are the emojis and they are small digital images or icons used to express an idea or emotion. They liven up text conversations and make them more entertaining.

Some teachers, in an attempt to be more relatable and seem cool to their students, use these emojis in emails and messages to their students. The reaction from students is mixed. 

In a Twitter poll, “Is it weird if one of your teachers attempts to use emojis in their messages?,” the results were dead even: 10 voters thought is was OK, while another 10 didn’t.

Kevin Kamping, a 20-year-old liberal arts major, thinks it’s OK. “I don’t find it weird if a teacher wants to throw in an emoji here and there. It makes the teacher more relatable and shows a lighter side to them.” Teachers are always trying to relate to younger students, using emojis is just another tactic, he said.

While some students don’t have a problem with the emoji use from a teacher, others feel differently.

Lucas Moreno, a 20-year-old liberal arts major, said, “I hate the fact that my teachers try to use emojis. It feels like they are trying too hard to relate to students that it gets annoying seeing them try over and over. It just seems forced. Just be yourself.”

SCCC launches ‘Suffolk Gets Green’ challenge

Photo courtesy of Suffolk County Community College’s homepage.

As the days go by, the need to fill one’s day with activities and hobbies increases exponentially. To address this Suffolk County Community College recognizes this want, and has presented its student and faculty with opportunities to provide enough incentive to pass the time.

One such incentive started on April 22, otherwise known as Earth Day.

By participating in environmentally friendly activities sponsored by Suffolk, one can remain actively aware of their environmental impact as well as assist others to create a safer, cleaner community.

At Suffolk, students and faculty are encouraged to “get green” by participating in the “one less challenge,” a challenge which pushes for people to use one less plastic item from their everyday lives.

The challenge, aptly named Suffolk Gets Green, while active during the month of April, does not need to end simply because it is no longer April. Indeed, students and faculty – especially those in need of an activity to pass the time – can take up an actively green lifestyle at any time.

“I think it’s nice for Suffolk to keep this up on their webpage, even after the allotted date has passed because it’s a nice message: going green,” said Jessica Dennis, an environmental science student says.

Dennis, who is currently not working and remains at home for most of the day continued, “I like the idea of being able to fill up my day with little activities; it helps the time pass and keeps my anxieties at bay.”

Above all else, Suffolk commends those participating to do so with creativity. In fact, anyone who wishes to be recognized for their efforts can do so by sending in their pictures which document their environmental efforts to will then share the image on their college social media channels.

Additionally, for anyone who is uncertain of how to start their green lifestyle, Suffolk provides a few ways to reduce. They start with, “brew a pot/cup of coffee instead of using a coffee pod; use a glass or reusable water bottle instead of a plastic bottle,” and close with, “wear your glasses instead of contacts for a day or two.”

Although, these are not the only ways to be green.

Milton Moore, a sociology major who has, “an avid love for all things green,” said that people can take it one step further.

“Shop from small, local businesses to improve the local economy; use tooth tablets instead of toothpaste; buy in bulk, with your own glasses and containers to avoid plastic packaging and eat less meat.”

Moore said that the agricultural industry is “one of the highest contributing factors” to greenhouse gases, so when one “reduces the incentive to buy, and encourages others to do so as well, the agricultural industry, cattle included, may have their numbers reduced, and their environmental impact changed. At least, I hope.”

Regardless of how to “get green,” being green is important as maintaining a healthy and stable environment to live in is a worthy, and exceedingly necessary cause.

Susan Hayword, a 21-year-old chemistry student adivsed, “We only have one Earth, so it’s important to take care of it.”

Near the end to a semester of struggle, SCCC’s fall semester plans uncertain

As a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, as of March 19, New York state switched schooling to be completely online. Teachers, professors, and students alike at SCCC have been forced to become accustomed to a new approach to studying, working completely at home for every class.

The move to remote learning has been a challenge to some students, who, while not having to commute to school, either have had a hard time adapting to the new way of learning or miss the interpersonal relationships.

“One thing that’s been pretty difficult is trying to stay motivated and on top of all my assignments amidst all the chaos and uncertainty.” said business major Ruth Blasczak, 22. “The professors seem to be doing their best and I’m very thankful for their efforts, but at some point it’s hard to expect too much since we’re all struggling one way or another.”

Due to the sudden switch online, some instructors, such as Spanish professor Jeanne Castano, canceled midterms and finals and instead created new assignments.

“The reason I did not give a midterm or final online is that I did not think it was necessary,” Castano said in an email. “The Chapter tests online are all open book. Most students do well on it.  They review it and look it up in book for answers which is educational and more realistic in real life.  Both exams (midterm and Final) were in class tests. However, now, they would be exactly like the on-line chapter tests which I thought were repetitive. I added the Paragraphs on certain topics because I thought the Mindtap lacked good written exercises.”

Out-of-class assignments, such as homework, were already online, so the switch was much smoother for the course to handle.

Some classes that met a specific timeframe on a certain day(s) of the week before the switch are still meeting up online through Blackboard Collaborate Ultra or Zoom at the same times as before the switch to remote learning. Some professors still offer office hours.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, whether or not the fall 2020 classes will be all online is uncertain, but both summer sessions will be all online.

Regarding the fall, “We are in regular calls with SUNY and are awaiting the guidance of Governor Cuomo and our Chancellor,” vice president of accedemic affairs Paul Beaudin said via email. “At this time, we simply do not know whether instruction will be remote, online, or face-to-face in classrooms with some form of social distancing. It could well be, too, that it is a combination of all of them.  What do we know, then?  We know that in a time of uncertainty faculty and students are seeking some level of reassurance.  We know that we miss seeing our students and colleagues very much, so please stay in touch with us.  We know that the health and safety of every student and employee of the College is paramount at this time.”

SCCC aids students without access to computers or the web

When the Covid-19 outbreak caused all SUNY schools to shut down for the rest of active school semester there were a lot of unknowns. How would classes take place now? Where will they take place?

Once the smoke cleared, it was decided to move classes online for the rest of the semester. But even then, there was panic among students without access to computers to access their classes. So Suffolk County Community College launched an initiative to lend laptops to students. 

Carol Wickliffe-Campbell, chief of staff to the president, oversaw an operation that was to able to hand out 167 laptops to students. Students emailed her and then applied online.

Once a student was approved, the laptop could be picked up at the main entrances to all of the Suffolk campuses. Public safety staff wore masks and gloves to be safe about the transaction students and would need to show their IDs and the public safety member would put the laptop in the back of their car without any contact between the two. If a student could not make it to campus, they were shipped to their house.

“Even though we were prepared and had a lot of laptops, SUNY provided 250 extra ones including some Chromebooks,” Wickliffe-Campbell said. 

Now, access to computers is helpful, but some students don’t even have internet connections. Suffolk handed out 30 internet hot spots. Wickliffe-Campbell said the program’s results have been “positive” and there have been “no cases of the laptops not working.” But if students did have trouble with their laptop there was an IT link to chat with someone to help with any troubles students may have had. 

SCCC congratulates the class of 2020 with ‘celebration boxes’

Suffolk County Community College is making sure students are recognized despite the cancellation of the commencement ceremony 

Graduating students of Suffolk County Community College will not be having graduation ceremonies this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic  

And while SCCC will not be conducting a virtual ceremony like some other colleges, it does plan to distribute a “SUNY Suffolk celebration box” to graduating students, acccording to email from the school. The box will include, “a congratulatory letter, the Suffolk County Community College alumni pin and decal, as well as a commemorative gift.”

“It’s an appreciated gesture, especially with all the stress we went through this semester,” said 21-year-old computer science major, Elijuwon Mitchell, of Mastic.  

“That’s really cool,” said Gio Hernandez, 21, of Shirley, who is studying architect technology. “Something’s better than nothing, so it’s nice that after years of work students can get something from the school as an award since they’re not getting the experience of walking across the stage.” 

Liberal Arts major Thomas Piña, 19, of Centereach, was overjoyed. “I think it’s great! During this time especially, it’s nice that my hard work is getting recognized and now I’m able to look forward to something else.”  

According to the school’s email, SCCC is in the process of creating an online frame for students to use and interact with on social media. They are also producing a video along with a collection of photos that can be viewed on a site for the 2020 graduation once completed. This website will also feature a scrolling list of the graduates’ names.   

“I think Suffolk did a very good job at communicating with students during this unusual time,” added Piña.  

The current crisis has taken a toll on many individuals and their families around the world. While most students understand that not having a commencement ceremony is for the safety of others and not the most severe repercussion given the conditions, graduating is a milestone that deserves to be celebrated with or without a ceremony.  

“Ultimately, I never imagined that my journey at SCCC would end like this,” Piña says, “but it goes to show that anything can happen life.” 

Security cameras: Public Safety’s Eyes in the Sky

Keeping people safe on campus is the No. 1 priority for public safety officials at Suffolk County Community College. One way they do this is with the help of more than 100 security cameras throughout the Ammerman campus.

Some of the visible cameras are upside down dome-shaped, and their main purpose is to record evidence to finalize incident reports. The footage isn’t being actively watched but is there to serve as proof, according to public safety director Baycan Fideli.

“The cameras are used to record the specific area so we can go back and see what happened during or after an incident,” Fideli said. 

At SCCC during normal circumstances, thousands of students come in and out with no way to prove that someone is a student unless approached by public safety and school ID is requested. Some students said they feel the need to increase the number of cameras visible to help fight against threats to their safety.

Security cameras are fundamental to any building; in a rare instance where something happens, there is video footage to prove it.

Matt Ventorola, who is in his third semester at Suffolk, believes “there should be more cameras and more security at the school to help prevent perpetrators from harming others.” 

But Christian Lent, a liberal arts major, said he feels “completely safe with how the campus is. Nothing really goes on. But if something goes wrong, public safety is there to do their job.” He added that he doesn’t think the school should increase the number of cameras on campus because “it’s a waste of money.”

Fideli said there is a plan to increase cameras if there is money available. 

Currently, there are no security cameras in parking lots. Fideli said this because of the cost associated with such projects. “It would cost thousands of dollars to trench on to the ground, which is a must if Suffolk Community College wants to implement cameras in the parking lot.”

He added: “If we rebuilt the parking lot and were able to trench underground, then we will add them …  anytime we have money available and are doing renovations then we will add cameras. Does it make a place safer? I don’t think so.”

 (Photo taken by Mike Gaisser)

Students claim Amazon is a better bet than the campus bookstore

Many students use the campus bookstore, but some say they would much prefer to spending their money getting their textbooks online with sites like Amazon rather than waiting on long lines in the basement of the Babylon Student Center.

“I wait on the long, brutal line, go up to the cashier and tell them what I want,” said Sarah Hiner, a 21-year-old second-year RTV major from Selden. “The most difficult part is figuring out which books you can rent and which ones you can buy. The experience going there is unsatisfying and the definition of time-consuming.”

Hiner said she bought books from Amazon because it was easier and the prices were lower than at Suffolk’s bookstore.

Justin McCall, a 21-year-old liberal arts major from Patchogue, had a similar take.

“Well, I’ve had two experiences with ordering books either online, picking up, or ordering in person and picking up,” he said, “Both of those experiences have not been pleasant whatsoever. When you order online and pick up in person, they require the receipt, the email confirming the order and your ID. This process just makes the lines long and very time consuming.”

In a poll posted on the Suffolk Sentinel’s Twitter account that asked, “Do you prefer purchasing books at Suffolk’s Ammerman bookstore or on Amazon?,” out of 26 votes, 77% said they preferred Amazon over 23% who preferred the bookstore.

McCall said he had no issues purchasing textbooks off of Amazon because he had no patience to wait in the long lines at the bookstore.

“Sometimes at the SCCC bookstore, you would have to go back multiple times for different books that were ordered, whereas with Amazon everything gets shipped right to your door, which is very convenient.”

McCall said he’s found “the same exact books on Amazon for the discounted price or even half the prices they are charging at Suffolk.”

The bookstore declined to provide statistics on sales over time to get a picture of how it has stacked up against online competitors over time. A representative said the information was confidential.

Photo: An overlook on the Suffolk’s Ammerman Bookstore, downstairs in the Babylon Student Center (Suffolk Sentinel/Jacqueline Santorelli)