All posts by Maria Camila Hernandez

Journalism student at Suffolk County Community College. Inspired by topics relating cultural differences and minority groups in society.

For SGA’s elections to have more involvement, it needs greater authority

The college holds the Student Government Association’s elections each spring semester. This year, they happened from April 8 to April 13 — five days during which students could vote online, in the college’s website homepage for their favorite representatives running for office for the 2018-2019 school year.

However, the recent elections didn’t do as well as last year’s. This time, 197 students from the Ammerman campus voted. Compared to 2017, when there were 405 hits, the number is significantly low. But why?

One of the main reasons was the number of candidates running for the vacant positions, said Laura Garcia, the current president of SGA. In 2017, two candidates ran for president and two for vice president.

As a result, “there was more promotion, debate and campaigning,” she said.

This year, only one person ran for president. Besides that, no one ran for vice president, secretary or treasurer.

Another reason can be the lack of awareness about what SGA actually does. Most people might infer that this organization has a lot of power in the decision-making processes that happen on campus. However, this is not the case for the student governance bodies at Suffolk County Community College.

SGA’s mission is to advocate for students’ rights, responsibilities and freedoms. It serves as a channel between faculty members, students and administration. However, no one holds a seat on the SCCC board of trustees, nor does SGA have a say in how student activity fees are spent, as do many student government organizations, including all four-year SUNY colleges and universities. SGA’s job is to communicate any issue to the student trustee, Jerome Bost.

Bost is the sole student representative on the college’s 10-member board. He represents all the students from the three campuses, exposing their concerns and being that voice in the decision-making process.

SGA spends a good portion of its annual budget mainly in giveaways, as minor contributions to the wellness of the student body.

“We want more ability to be able to oversee certain things, which is what we’re pushing forward now,” said Garcia. SGA is very limited in what they actually do on campus, so they try to help other organizations in events, as a way of promoting the services that the campus offers.

I think that this factor also plays an important role in how much students around the campus are informed, not only in the elections, but in the overall SGA’s role. The majority of the students don’t show much interest in what happens with this organization. Many others might do, but lacking the knowledge and information.

The Student Government Association in the Ammerman campus needs more promotion, better ways to get to students, who are intended to be the ones benefited from SGA’s work. If students are more involved, then more would be interested in being part of it, as well as voting for people to represent them. However, it is important to take away some of the limitations that restrict them to do more for the college community in general.

‘Walk A Mile In My Shoes’: Spreading awareness about oppression

A group of students who participated at the event, walking through and looking at the signs posted on the walls. Photo by: Maria Camila Hernandez. (April 10, 2018)

On April 10, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, together with Campus Activities and the Center for Social Justice and Human Understanding, held an all-day interactive workshop about forms of oppression and stereotypes in society.

The event, “Walk a Mile in My Shoes,”  was part of a month-long series of activities called “Equal Justice for All” held college-wide. April 10’s event was an experience-based activity, where groups of students could walk between two walls, and look at signs about different forms of discrimination and oppression that were displayed.

Subjects such as racism, immigration, anti-Semitism, sexism and ableism  — discrimination against disabled people — were explained to students in form of graphs, charts, pictures and news. Students at the event could relate to some of the terms, as was the case of Laura Garcia, a liberal arts major and president of the Student Government Association.

Signs, pictures, news and charts were among the elements displayed on the walls.

Garcia comes from a Mexican immigrant family. Even though she doesn’t have to deal with the remarks of oppression, her family does. “My parents or family members who don’t speak the language very well, do face more discrimination when going out. So the event did hit close to home in that instance,” said Garcia.

The Eaton’s Neck Room in the Babylon Student Center was packed each hour, as different groups of people went in to live the experience. Around 30 people were led to sit in a circle for the activities following the walk through the walls. They were given random labels attached to their backs, and then they had to guess the label by stereotyped expressions associated with the word.

“We want to create awareness, to enhance communication with others. It is important now, because with the Internet, people are constantly communicating with others from different cultures. The world is diverse, and we need to learn how to connect better,” said Malika Batchie Lockhart, assistant of the Multicultural Affairs office.

Malika Batchie Lockhart
Malika Batchie Lockhart, assistant of the Multicultural Affairs office, talks to the attendees about labels and what they mean for a person.

In addition, students were shown a video regarding microaggression, generally defined as indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group. In this way, students could understand such term and the effects it has in the process of communicating with others.

“People are treated differently and given privileges depending on who they are. We have to see from different perspectives to all the alternatives to look at things,” said James Banks, college coordinator of Multicultural Affairs.

All the information and the subject matters of the program were intended to leave students with a sense of respect and tolerance towards others. As Batchie Lockhart said, “People don’t walk around with labels, so you don’t know who are you hurting with the things you say.”


Women’s History Month: Recognizing dedicated women on campus

Among the many dedicated women at Suffolk County Community College, Lorraine Perdomo, right, is a professional assistant in the Campus Activities department. Photo by Maria Camila Hernandez

March is National Women’s History Month. It is a good opportunity to recognize the work of many women who are contributing to progress and change at our college.

Whether it is in administration, learning centers or general services, all of the women in our campus devote great effort to share their skills with the college community. These women represent every woman on campus. This is a recognition for their hard work and unconditional desire to give their best to those who need it.

Sandra Sprows, associate dean of academic affairs

Sandra Sprows
Sandra Sprows is the associate dean of academic affairs at the Ammerman campus. She started in SCCC as an English professor in 1999. After that, she made her way up, starting as assistant chair of the English department, then chair of the department and finally accepting her current position. “That was a big step for me because I love teaching English. But I decided to do it because I have a very interdisciplinary mind, so I thought it could be interesting,” said Sprows. As dean of academic affairs, her main responsibility is to work with the academic chairs of the different departments on campus. In addition, Sprows works with the Faculty Senate, which is the governing body for the faculty, as well as in the Academic Standards Committee, which is a college-wide body dealing with any issues related to academics.
Sandra Sprows,
As part of her job, Sprows also supports students and faculty in the academic pursuit with things such as the curriculum for different programs, the academic integrity on the classes, and supporting the professional development of faculty. In addition, she stills teaches one English class a semester. “It reminds me why I do all the other things I do because, in the end, it’s all about what happens in the classroom,” she said. Sprows feels happy to work with professional faculty members, being able to work with different departments and looking forward to offering students a good academic experience.

Lisa Melendez, instruction librarian

Lisa Melendez
An important place on our campus is the Huntington Library. Lisa Melendez has worked as an instruction librarian for almost 25 years. Her work is to provide resources and information, and she is also involved in programming. “We had a women’s week on campus for over forty years. I was on the planning committee for that, at least for 15 years. For me as a librarian, it was also a way to connect people to information,” said Melendez. Besides her work in the library, Lisa is the faculty advisor for the Association of Latin American Students, and she is part of the Undocumented Student Task Force, connecting people to information in all the ways she can.
Lisa Melendez
The goal of Melendez and of the staff working at the library is to connect people with the information that they need. Also, they support classes being taught on campus with different resources, such as research process and academic materials. The variety of sources that they manage, and that are of easy access to students and faculty members, make their job of great importance for the college community.

Kathy McCoy, professional assistant, Honors Program

Kathy McCoy
Kathy McCoy is part of the Honors Program at SCCC, and she represents all the women who work hard for the Honors’ students on campus. McCoy started as College Aid in 2010 and has worked all the way up to professional assistant, now as a full-time member. What she likes the most about her position is to work with really good people in the Honors Program. In addition, she enjoys being able to interact with students more now that she works full time. “It is fun to be able to help students, to talk to them about what their future holds and what their plans are,” McCoy said.
Kathy McCoy
Some of her tasks are to keep records of the students in the program, to maintain scholarship and contact lists and to confirm all the graduating students with honors credits. Also, she occasionally advises students to create the schedules and decide what they want to take. Besides that, the people in the department also create the program for a convocation of students and take care of all the details behind the events held by the Honors Program. “We are a small department, so we all work together, hand in hand.”

Writing Center tutors

writing center
As part of our large community, these women working at the Rose Tehan Memorial Writing Center find a way to contribute. From left to right: Brianna Gianni, student tutor; professional assistants Danielle Berg, Carol Moore, and Kristen A. Hoffman. Moore is also an adjunct English instructor at Farmingdale State College. Hoffman is also an adjunct English instructor. They are always welcoming people and challenging them to become skilled writers.
Writing Center
This group of women, as well as many others working in the writing center, offer students individualized tutoring. Their goal is to help people become better at writing. The passionate work that they have performed for years has been a great contribution to the college community, and to those who ask for their particular assistance.

Lorraine Perdomo, professional assistant, Campus Activities

Lorraine Perdomo
Lorraine Perdomo works as a professional assistant at the Campus Activities department. She has been at SCCC for four years, serving as a bridge between students and the college. Perdomo is in charge of all the clubs and organizations on campus., as well as helping students who want to develop new clubs. She also does leadership training. such as helping to prepare students to be orientation leaders. “I think that when students are engaged on campus, not only academically, but also outside of the classroom, they are more likely to graduate, to build a relationship with the college and to return. It is how alumni relationships are developed,” Perdomo said.
Lorraine Perdomo
Her goal is to engage students to enjoy their time in community college so that they can have a memorable experience. The Campus Activities department understands the needs of students and makes everything possible to bring them different options to relax and to have a good time outside the classroom or workplaces. They work mainly to benefit students because it is valuable to them to build that relationship.

SCCC celebrates the Lunar New Year

At a Feb. 10 celebration of the Lunar New Year hosted by the SCCC Asian Culture Club, tradition and culture were the main dishes on display.

The Lunar New Year is one of the biggest holidays in the Asian culture. It is the start of their year based on the lunar calendar. There is no specific date for this celebration, but it is generally held between Jan. 21 and Feb. 10. This year it was Feb. 16. Each year is represented by an animal from the Chinese zodiac, and 2018 is the year of the dog.

Red and gold, which represent good luck, positivity and festivity in the Asian culture, decorated the entrance.

“There are different ways to celebrate this holiday, depending on the country. What we do here is a Chinese celebration, since there is a big Chinese community around,” said Linh Cai, a student at SCCC and member of the Asian Culture Club.

Suffolk County is the home of more than 50,000 Asian people, which represents a 3.7 percent of the county’s population, according to Suburban Stats.

A Tray of Togetherness, an eight-compartment plate composed of preserved vegetables for prosperity, coconut for togetherness, and seeds of plants for good wishes, was placed on the entrance. Next to it, there was a basket with red envelopes, which people give on New Year to their family members for good luck and abundance.

Sponsored by the Office of Campus Activities and the Asian Culture Club, the event was held in the Montauk Point Room of the Babylon Student Center and included members of the college community, as well as representatives and families from the Long Island Little Dragon Chinese School and Authentic Shaolin Kung Fu School.

“This is a space for families and all of us to enjoy. We are here to celebrate together,” said professor Vera Hu-Hyneman, faculty advisor of the Asian Culture Club.

The tables had tangerines, as the lucky fruit, arranged in groups of eight by table, since eight is also a symbol of luck. In addition, traditional food was served, such as rice, noodles, sweet and sour beef, spring rolls and dumplings.

Artistic acts, such as the Lion Dance, performed by the Authentic Shaolin Kung Fu School, and some storytelling performed by students of Long Island Little Dragons Chinese School, immersed the attendants into significant representations of the culture.

This culture has a big influence locally, and they wanted to create a space on campus to cherish their traditions away from their homelands.

Adriana Gonzalez, who attended the event, said, “It is important to encourage more people to participate, so we can open our minds to different ways to see the world around us.”

The Authentic Shaolin Kung Fu school performing the Lion Dance, a tradition in Asia, while people from different ethnicities enjoy this cultural exchange.