All posts by Mike Gaisser

Journalism student at Stony Brook University | Born and raised on Long Island, NY

Ammerman campus hosts a blood drive

On May 2, the Ammerman campus hosted a blood drive for students and faculty in the Montauk Point Room in the Babylon Student Center. Here’s a photo tour of the event.

F835D7E4-FEF3-49BF-A604-403994F8D727Anthony Tarascio, 19, gets his blood pressure measured by a nurse before he donates blood. “I used to do it when I was in high school all the time,” he says. “It’s a quick and easy thing to do.”

48E8A1C9-5A5A-4C92-BEAC-39EFB81803D5A nurse talks to Tarascio as she measures his blood pressure.

4954E79B-88DC-4450-9093-093816ED995CAmos McArthur, 20, thinks donating blood could help save a life. “I feel like it helps out the people that actually need it.”

F52B6DCA-32A1-4896-9B60-6556545DB377McArthur’s blood pressure was measured as he sat in a lawn chair.

E7808523-4278-4193-A49E-4E332AD1BE5BJaclyn Erickson, 19, has been donating since her senior year of high school. “It just gives me good feeling,” she says. “I hope it goes to someone who actually needs it.”

29ABAD0F-3DD4-473C-8578-6C5C05D353D1A pint of blood is drawn from Erickson’s arm.

4CD2970E-B447-404C-82B2-D1816094FC90Erickson attempts to relax while the needle is in her left arm drawing blood. It takes about eight to 10  minutes.

70560490-7829-4D57-AC74-6FEA0656621EErickson has donated a pint of blood and it’s ready to be stored.

6A7EFD8B-8341-47F7-8B51-60FEB06743CAThe nurse instructed Erickson to hold her arm applying pressure to the needle site to stop the bleeding.

BBCA7322-1135-4513-B717-F04DB1F6CB4AAfter donating blood, people are instructed to hydrate and eat sugary snacks for 10 to 15 minutes to recover a loss of glucose.

98A8AC39-89F1-4498-A8C6-78AF33C9641BThe selection of snacks included Oreos and chips. The entire blood donation process took about 75 minutes.

Holocaust survivor Ruth Minsky-Sender recalls close calls with death. But is still searching for her brothers.

Holocaust survivor Ruth Minsky-Sender speaks to a packed room in the Southampton Building. Photo by Mike Gaisser (April 25, 2018)

Holocaust survivor Ruth Minsky-Sender came to the Ammerman campus on April 25 — her 92nd birthday — to share her experiences during the Nazi occupation of Poland.

She was brought to Auschwitz as a teenager and avoided the lethal gas chambers by being a “fortunate one.” She was sent into a shower instead.

But she didn’t realize she was fortunate at that moment. “When we came into the barracks, there was a woman running around screaming, ‘Your families are being murdered’,” she told a packed room in the Southampton Building.

Minsky-Sender said she regrets not believing the woman at the time.

She said her group could “smell and see the stench and the smoke and everything” happening around it.

Minsky-Sender also had two other close calls with death at the labor camps in Mittelsteine and Grafenort, as she explains in the audio above.

Her mother, Nacha, and younger brother, Laibele, weren’t so lucky. Minsky-Sender would later find out her mother died after being taken away during a Nazi raid in the Lodz ghetto.

Laibele died of tuberculosis in the ghetto. Minsky-Sender doesn’t know what happened to two of her other brothers, Motele and Moishele, after arriving at Auschwitz because men and women were separated.

“I still search for them,” she says. “I get different organizations all over the world trying to reunite families, no matter how they were separated … they tell me to hold on to hope. Maybe we’ll still find them.”

She was reunited with her older siblings, Chanele, Yankele and Mala in Germany after the liberation. They had fled to Russia before the Nazi invasion of Poland.

Minsky-Sender has written three memoirs about her experience: The Cage, To Life and Holocaust Lady.

Minsky-Sender stressed that historians and teachers must teach the Holocaust accurately and not sugar-coat anything.

“No matter how much it hurts, you can’t twist history. You have to tell what it was and how it was,” she said.

As an example, she says that people didn’t know they were going to Auschwitz, as they were told they were simply being “resettled.” But a tour guide at the Museum of Jewish Heritage implied that they knew where they were going.

“If you do research, make sure that you have complete research,” Minsky-Sender said. “I hope that people who teach [the] Holocaust prepare themselves for the pain and tell the pain, and not just twist around which makes it smoother.”

As teachers use other tools, students find they are not using their textbooks

Photo: Mike Gaisser (April 11, 2018)

SCCC students are finding themselves not using textbooks they purchased at the beginning of a semester as more professors move to using presentations or other resources as replacements, according to numerous interviews.

Samantha Manco, 18, and Kelli Alfredson, 18, both in their second semesters, get their textbooks from the SCCC campus bookstore, where students can go to buy and return textbooks.

Alfredson has four textbooks. But she finds herself only using her laboratory book.

“I looked on the syllabus and then I bought them and then I found out that I didn’t need them,” she said. “Everything’s PowerPoint and online.” She has kept her books but said she is going to rent more next semester.

Manco also owns four textbooks. In the past, she found that she did not need some of them and returned them to the bookstore within the “first two weeks” because professors put the information on a PowerPoint.

“I don’t think they’re needed,” Manco said of the books. Now, she said, “I wait to buy them [and if the teacher] doesn’t say anything, I’m not gonna buy them.”

Kelly Lynch, one of the textbook managers at the SCCC campus bookstore at Ammerman said students  “typically” return textbooks at the end of the semester.

“We have a standard return policy that’s on their receipts. They have a week or two in the beginning of this term and then after that, they only have a couple of days. And then they should check in their books at the end of term if they rented them,” Lynch said.

They are other places students could go to get their textbooks, such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Danny Mazariegos, 18, who is currently in his second semester, opted to get his from Amazon. But he feels he “wasted money for no reason” for his classes last fall.

“Last semester, I bought four books and I didn’t use any of them,” he said. “All the assignments were online.” This semester, the only book Mazariegos uses is an English book.

Rosa Gambier, a biology professor at the Ammerman campus, said she doesn’t think students read the books that much in introductory-level biology courses. And while she does assign books, she admits students can get away with not using them if they pay attention to the lectures, which includes PowerPoint and YouTube videos, along with study questions.

“If you grab the materials in the lecture without reading the book, it works for you and you can pass the test,” Gambier said.

But Gambier said students will not pass the more advanced biology courses if they don’t read the books. Even with good lectures. But the textbooks are “really readable and interesting,” she said.

“You’re a college student. You’re supposed to read the book,” Gambier said. “In most bio classes, you have to memorize a lot of terminology.”

Currently in his second semester as well, Alex Mecklosky, 19, is using two textbooks he got from the bookstore.

“They’ve served a purpose,” he said. The professor is saying “go to the book.” However, last semester wasn’t the same situation, as Mecklosky has more books and didn’t use them as much. “We read one of the books in my class and other book, we didn’t get to.”

When students register for classes, the SCCC website will tell you what books are needed for a particular course. “If [we] don’t need it, then don’t put it on their site,” Manco said.

I attend SCCC’s Ammerman and Grant campuses. Here’s why I like Ammerman better.

I have been at SCCC for three full semesters and this is my last. I live in Commack, about a 35-40 minute drive from the Ammerman campus in Selden.

I’m one of the 15,420 full-time students going to Ammerman, because I’m majoring in journalism. If I desired, I could schedule more of my non-journalism classes at Grant in Brentwood. But there are several reasons why I chose not to after having three classes there during my first semester.

There is no plaza at Grant

At Grant, there is no plaza, quad, or central meeting place outside for students to go. It looks like the college may have tried with this:


At Grant, areas to sit are scattered across campus. I barely feel a sense of community at Grant even though I live in Commack 15 minutes away.

At Ammerman, Veteran’s Plaza seems to serve as a common place for SCCC students to congregate and hang out in the spring. Whether it’s talking with friends on one of the “pony walls”, playing frisbee on the grass, or a band playing, I feel an overwhelming sense of community and college life there.

Grant needs some sort of quad or plaza to serve as a common area for students to hang out outside and host activities. As I was walking from the new Learning Center to the Health, Sports, Education Center, I stumbled upon this space, which would be perfect if there’s nothing underneath, like a cesspool:


Grant doesn’t need to have a replica of Veteran’s Plaza at Ammerman, but this space is perfect for their own, unique version. Many students have classes in the HSEC and the new Learning Center serves as a common place to do work. Plus, it’s in the middle of campus.

Ammerman is more enjoyable to walk through.

Ammerman is prettier visually while walking in between classes, mainly because it is “situated on 156 wooded acres,” according to the SCCC website. In the springtime, the cherry blossom trees bloom with pink flowers. The birds start chirping. It’s more enjoyable to take a stroll just for fun or walking to your next class in a different building, especially in the plaza.


In Grant, it’s dreadful to walk from class to class. There’s so much empty space that should be filled up with trees, plants, and flowers to make it more visually appealing and enjoyable to walk because it’s boring to look at.

I like the style and setup of Ammerman over Grant.

Personally, I like the style of Ammerman over Grant. When I walk into the HSEC, I feel like I’m walking into a correctional facility, with public safety having to unlock and lock the classrooms every morning, and not the teachers. With that gross smell of chlorine from the pool. I wouldn’t like having a physical education class in the HSEC gym because it’s too big and I hate big, empty spaces.

The smaller, older style gym in the Brookhaven Gymnasium at Ammerman reminds me of high school, with the hardwood floors and banners on the wall. I love the old, classic college look of Ammerman over the cold modern, new generic look of Grant.

In regards to the setup, I like how at Ammerman, the main buildings where students have classes are generally close to each other in one big circle, unlike Grant. The buildings where students have classes are more scattered in Grant, so there’s more of a chance one will have a walk quite a long way to get to their next class.

For some students, who prefer the Ammerman style and set up over Grant, scheduling more classes at Ammerman is a possible solution if they are willing to drive to Selden. But for many students who go to Grant regularly, going there isn’t possible. So, therefore, while Grant can’t change its modern style or set up, it can become a little bit more like Ammerman while still maintaining it’s unique features for its 11,111 full-time students.


Are SCCC students informed about politics?

Photo: Newspapers that were once only available in print are now available online, such as the New York Times. Photo by Mike Gaisser 

College students get their news through many different sources. However, when it comes to the hot topic of politics, some are more informed than others.

“Students are remarkably open-minded and eager to learn more,” said Jason Rose, a political science professor at SCCC’s Ammerman campus. However, he also points out that “young people are blissfully ignorant,” as are professors.

To learn more, there is an abundance of the news sources that college students can go to. Rose recommends that students read and listen to NPR and watch “PBS Newshour.”

Sam Ashkenazy, 19, a broadcasting major, said he often goes to late night comedy shows like “Late Night with Seth Meyers” and “The Daily Show” with Trevor Noah for news. He said they give him a sense of stories he needs to research, “and then I branch out from there. But if I’m really watching the news one day, I’m usually on CNN.”

However Denise Centeno, 31, a physical education major, admits that she doesn’t watch or read much news. She watches the “news every now and then,” usually in the morning. “I don’t know sh–” about what’s going on in Washington, she said.

In 2016, Pew Research Center conducted a study and found television news use is dramatically lower among younger adults. Just 27 percent of people age 18 to 29 got their news from television. However, it’s higher for adults 30 to 49, which is 45 percent.

Centeno, who lives in Bay Shore, argued that the “news is phony” because she believes media outlets are not covering important stories enough, such gang-violence killings. She noted that the media is just coming around to covering years-long gang violence in Brentwood.

For students, their phones are a primary way to get their news for the day. In fact, according to Pew Research Center, 94 percent of people aged 18 to 29 got their news from a mobile device in 2017. Same for people aged 30 to 49. These numbers have continued to rise. Mobile devices serve as a quick way of getting news when students are on the go, with college and jobs.

“The first thing I do in the morning is check my phone to see if [Trump] blew up the world or not,” Ashkenazy jokes. “We constantly have breaking news updates going on.” Ashkenazy reads a variety of online news sources.

Centeno said she prefers email notifications and doesn’t go on social media regularly. “I have a Twitter, but I don’t go on it.” Twitter features trending topics throughout the day based on your location.

With jobs, college work and family life, it can be rather difficult for college students to keep up with politics and know what is happening on a daily basis. However, it’s important to keep up to know what issues could affect them. Ashkenazy finds himself dedicating “more and more” time for it. Currently, he spends “at least..two hours a day.”