Category Archives: Politics

Ammerman SGA’s incoming president Sophia Antonelle brings a ‘spark-plug personality’ to a role supporters say she was meant for

Sophia Antonelle has been destined to make a difference from an early age. 

“I was raised in a relatively conservative household where children should only speak when spoken to; women are meant to maintain the home, respecting elders come before all else, and toxic masculinity was king,” she said. “It was a tough upbringing considering I was constantly rebelling against these ideals and trying to find a balance between keeping the peace and educating my family at the same time. 

“However, it was this environment that encouraged me to define my morals and piqued my interest in becoming an activist.” 

The 18-year-old history major will be bringing that mindset to the table when she takes over as the Student Government Association president on June 1. The current senator was elected to a one-year term on April 18.

“I realize for my short stature I am a bit of a strong-willed character, but my main focus as SGA president will be working with the executive board to find the same kind of balance as within my household.”

Fulfilling any role on the SGA board, which serves to advocate for all student rights, responsibilities and freedoms, as well as the general welfare of Suffolk County Community College students, can be a tall task. However, Antonelle said she views the challenge as an opportunity to make a positive impact on her peers and the college.

“I’ve always been a firm believer that everything can always be better,” she said. “Conditions on campus can always be better, and students’ time at Suffolk can always be better. It was in the middle of my first semester when I realized that I wanted to have a direct hand in that improvement.”

Having a role that serves as a direct hand in improving the college is a role that current student trustee of the Suffolk County Community College Board of Trustees, Kaitlyn Gambina, believes Antonelle was meant for.

“Sophia Antonelle is one of our most active members of Student Government,” Gambina said. “She loves helping and meeting new students and is perfect for her new role. I can’t wait to see all of the things she’s going to accomplish and to watch her grow as a leader.”

Antonelle, who currently lives in Holtsville and will be starting her sophomore year in the fall, has several priorities in mind.

“My main responsibility as SGA president, in my eyes anyway, is being the front runner for representing the students at Ammerman campus,” Antonelle said. “ While I also must complete a certain amount of office hours, host the weekly meetings, break ties during voting, as well as a few other tasks, my focal obligation is ensuring that all feel properly respected and represented on campus.”

Antonelle’s former history professor David Hannigan also believes she is perfectly suited for the role. 

“She is the type of spark-plug personality that is perfect for the role of leading the student body,” Hannigan said. “She brings an energy and enthusiasm to every task she is set, and in her approach to life at Suffolk, inside and outside the classroom, has always seemed to me to be an exemplar of what can be achieved in this institution.”

Current SGA President Erin Winn, expressed confidence in Anotelle’s ability.

“Sophia Antonelle is the perfect candidate for President and I am thrilled to pass this role off to her. When Sophia joined SGA as a senator in the fall I knew we would be able to rely on her commitment for many events and initiatives we were planning,” Winn said. “She is always so helpful and willing to support our organization in any way she can. She is an amazing student activist and is constantly standing up for what is right and wants to make positive changes. Sophia is an intelligent, passionate, and hardworking individual who will do whatever she can in her power to best represent the student body. I know having her as the next SGA President will greatly impact our campus and I am so excited to see what she does during her time in office.”

If there’s anything she would like students she will be representing to know about her, it’s that, “I love learning,” Antonelle said. “I am always asking one too many questions and challenging myself. These past semesters I have been looking up to the current president, Erin Winn. While we do have different styles of leadership, I hope to simultaneously cultivate the initiatives started under her presidency as well as work with my elected board to build on our own.”

After forums, SCCC board extends search for next president

By Gerard Placido, Cameron Pupilla, Emmanuel Jaquez, Anna DeAssis, and Lauryn Valdez

After forums with two finalists for Suffolk County Community College’s next president, the college’s board of trustees decided to extend its search, board Chair E. Christopher Murray announced on March 26 in an email to college employees.

“The Board of Trustees would like to extend its appreciation to the members of the college community for the effort made and the welcome extended during this month’s presidential candidate forums,” Murray said. “As part of the presidential search, the Board interviewed the candidates and spent a considerable amount of time reviewing application materials and candidate feedback forms.”

In a statement to Suffolk Sentinel on April 2, Murray said the board’s decision was based on several factors, “including the difficulties and delays caused by the Coronavirus.” He said the additional time is necessary “because the Board is committed to finding the best individual to be the College’s next President. We have interviewed a number of qualified candidates but to be fair to all involved, proceeding at this time given the current circumstances our nation is facing and the uncertainty that has created did not seem prudent.”

Prior to Murray’s March 26 announcement, two candidates spoke to students, faculty and staff either in person or through simulcast earlier in the month. 

Towuanna Porter Brannon, the current vice president for student services at Mitchell Community College in Statesville, North Carolina, was the first candidate to take the Ammerman Campus’ Shea Theater stage on March 9 to share her vision about how she would lead Suffolk County Community College.

Brannon placed an emphasis on her personal story.

“I grew up in Brooklyn, New York,” she said. “It wasn’t the best place for a young child to grow up. But when I went to school, my teachers gave me hope. For me, I realize how different my life could have been if it wasn’t for educators who took an interest in me and who said you could do this and that the place where you live is not necessarily your final destination.”

Porter recalled her progression in academia, and her desire to help more people get access to and stay in college. She believes she’s been able to make a big difference and wanted to broaden that impact. “So the reason I want to be a president is because the president is the top role, and so if you’re gonna impact thousands of lives as VP, what could I do for the entire community,” she said. “So that’s really why I wanted to pursue this role. ”

Towuanna Porter Brannon addressing students and staff during her presidential forum at the Shea theater. Suffolk Sentinel/Anna DeAssis

The next presidential hopeful to speak was Kevin Law, president and CEO of the Long Island Association. Law spoke from the Eastern Campus’ Montaukett Learning Resource Center on March 12 and via simulcast.

While focusing on the subject of employment at Suffolk County Community College, Law said, “I think it’s important to invest in full-time faculty.”

When someone in the faculty forum pointed out concerns about his lack of direct experience in academia, Law said that if the school was looking for a person strictly with that type of experience, “then I’m not your guy.” But he quickly pointed to his accomplishments as chair of the Stony Brook University Council since 2009 as someone who understands the issues facing education. He also emphasized his experience in government — he is the former president and CEO of the Long Island Power Authority and former chief deputy county executive for Suffolk county — in law and business, which he said would help him serve as a change agent.   

Kevin Law speaking to the Ammerman, Eastern, and Grant campuses of Suffolk County Community College via simulcast. Suffolk Sentinel/Carl Corry

A third finalist slated to visit on March 11 cancelled after accepting an offer for another presidency.

the great american debate of the presidential forum at suffolk community college

On March 12, 2020, a presidential forum took place at all three campus at Suffolk Community College for Kevin Law on his presidential nomination. The debate was simulcasted from all three campus via cameras and the internet. Law spoke behind the podium at the Riverhead campus in front of an audience of faculty and students at the same time, staff members and students were watching on a video screen in the She Theatre at the Ammerman Campus in Seldon and staff members and students from the Grant Campus in Brentwood. It went on for almost two hours. He spoke of many issues on subjects such as education, changing of staff, hiring adjutant professors instead of full fledge professors and the outbreak of COVID-19 also known as the coronavirus.

Faculty members from each campus took turns asking questions regarding issues of educations, the hiring of professors and the declining enrollment of students. He gives long answers and how he will address it as college president. He admits to being a non traditional since he wasn’t a dean or professor as oppose to a traditional who has served as a professor, dean and with a PHD. After a long debate, they went on a recess and went on another debate in an hour later.

There was a lot of mixed reactions among the audience. Katherine Aguirre, 38 who works on campus as an assistant dean of students services. “Not a very true candidate with credentials.”

Anthony Wilson, 48 who works as one of the professional assistants. “well delivered” he said “good to hear a lot people involved, will qualify.”

Tiana Velazquez, 42 a college director for the college association. “I think he’s good for a presidential candidate.”

The outcome of it was well received but his nomination is still yet to be determined. Because of major circumstances with the outbreak with the coronavirus, it will be awhile to find out if Kevin Law will be the president of Suffolk County Community College.

SCCC monitoring coronavirus outbreak, offers prevention tips

With the number of people infected by the coronavirus rising to more than 90,000 cases across the globe and 115 in the United States, Suffolk County Community College officials say they are keeping a close eye on the situation.

“We are in daily contact with SUNY Central on this subject and have several staff members who check the CDC broadcasts and media to keep an eye on it,” said Philip Sandusky, assistant director of Public Safety.

In the event that a student or faculty member becomes infected with the coronavirus, the school would be “guided by specific orders from the Suffolk County Department of Health,” Sandusky said in an email. “Were it to become widespread in the area, the County or State would declare a medical emergency and we would curtail or cancel classes and activities.”

Sandusky added that if students feel ill, they should seek medical help. “With most medical issues, the sooner you get help the easier it will be to get over the problem,” he said.

Although the number of cases in the United States is low compared to other countries,  with six in New York, some Suffolk students are still worried, especially since the CDC has warned that it expects the coronavirus to spread significantly and that they are preparing for a possible pandemic.

“I’m pretty worried but less for myself than the impact of the virus on the economy,” said Abbey Heinz, a communications major.  

There really is no telling how widespread the coronavirus may become, but the virus is already having an impact on worldwide markets. Coronavirus fears left the Dow Jones Industrial Average down nearly 800 points on Tuesday, despite the Federal Reserve announcing a half-a-percentage-point rate cut. The Fed said that while the economy’s fundamentals remain strong, the “coronavirus-poses evolving risks to economic activity.”

In an effort to prevent exposure, interim president Louis J. Petrizzo sent out a collegewide email urging students and faculty to do the following based on information from the Centers for Disease Control:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick, except to seek medical care.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If a tissue is not available, cough into your sleeve.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

As an institution of higher education, Petrizzo said the school:

  • Encourages everyone to self-monitor their health.
  • Emphasizes voluntary home isolation if you begin to exhibit symptoms and we urge you to contact your healthcare provider if your condition changes.
  • Encourages students who are ill or who exhibit symptoms to be sent home and seek medical care.

More information is available on the CDC’s coronavirus webpage.


At ‘Trump’ hot dog stand, political views of all flavors

Hot dogs and politics may not be an obvious pairing for many — and for some, a turn-off — but it’s a passion for Mr. Tony, who has run a hot dog truck decked out in Donald Trump-related photography, stickers and even a cardboard cut-out of the president near on the Long Island Expressway N. Service Road near Exit 63 in Farmingville since 2008.

Mr. Tony, 61, who would not provide his last name out of concern for a potentially negative response from people who do not support Trump, and doesn’t have an internet presence, nonetheless said his Trump paraphernalia “has definitely helped my business.”

While packing up at 5:30 p.m. on Presidents Day, earlier than usual in honor of the holiday, Mr. Tony said, “Every day I have people who come to the truck to discuss politics while enjoying a hot dog during the day. Regulars and newcomers are pulling over on a daily basis.”

Mr. Tony has run a hot dog truck near on the Long Island Expressway N. Service Road near Exit 63 in Farmingville since 2008. The truck has lots of paraphernalia promoting President Donald Trump. Suffolk Sentinel/Gerard Placido (Feb. 17, 2020)

But not all of Mr. Tony’s guests agree with his political views.

“Not a day goes by where I do not get the middle finger stuck up at me or profanity getting shouted my way from passing cars,” Mr. Tony said. “There has even been an incident where I have had my truck shot up by a paintball gun.” 

Nasir Stoval, a 20-year-old customer from Stony Brook, believes that there is a time and place for politics to be discussed; a workplace is not one of them — even if it’s at a hot dog stand.

“Letting one political view be what is represented by a business could inhibit a diverse workforce and limit ideas as well as creativity from people with differing views,” he said. 

Justin Muller, 21-year-old customer from Yaphank, viewed Mr. Tony’s decision to promote Trump so visibly with more of a business-related mentality.

“I think business should not allow their political views to be displayed. Businesses need to attract the most amount of people as possible. If a business is advertising for one political party, I think they run the risk of not attracting the other.”

No matter what political belief one has, with the race for the next president in full swing. Trump is leading the Republican ticket once again, and politics as a whole is almost unavoidable. 

Mr. Tony said he makes sure his presidential passion does not affect his treatment towards customers. 

“I respect and attempt to understand both sides of the political spectrum,” he said. “My business has been home to customers of any political belief before President Trump and will continue to be one after him.”

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.”