Tag Archives: students

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.

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SCCC Starbucks barista Liv Sands brews up your java fix

Starbucks barista and Suffolk County Community College student Liv Sands. Photo by Rob Guerrero (April 25, 2018) 

Meet Liv Sands, a 21-year-old liberal arts student in her 4th semester who works part time as a barista at SCCC’s hottest spot, Starbucks, in the Babylon Student Center.

Sands said she likes working with good people and enjoys the reactions from customers when they try samples. She added that her favorite drink to make is the Caramel Macchiato.

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.

If I ask you to stop vaping, it’s because I don’t want you to relive my nightmare

Photo courtesy of Vaping360/Flickr

The first reported death in the U.S. from an e-cigarette explosion was of my older brother, Thomas, in 2015. So it’s no wonder why the proliferation of vaping on campus makes me uncomfortable—so uncomfortable that I have walked up to people and asked them to stop. And now I’m writing about it here in hopes that a tragedy can lead people to understand the dangers involved and avoid similar incidents.

Thre first wrongful death lawsuit in the CourtHouse News database over an alleged e-cig explosion was filed last month. The complaint alleges that a vaporizer device launched shrapnel into 30-year-old Thomas Gangi’s head while he was in his Bohmemia, N.Y. home, in Nov. 2015.

Gangi died in the fire, his estate says — CourtHouse News

I am sure most people that attend the Ammerman campus have walked through a big cloud of vape smoke, sometimes where there’s a sign that says no smoking is allowed on campus. But it’s not the smoke that concerns me the most. Vaporizers exploding are on the rise, along with their popularity among younger people and those looking for a way to quit smoking cigarettes.

I will not deny that when vaporizers first became readily available to the public, they piqued my interest because it was thought to be a healthier alternative to cigarette smoking and had many wonderful alluring flavors. I think that if more people knew how common the hazards of vaporizers exploding are they would maybe rethink their usage.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, between January 2009 and Dec. 31, 2016, there were 195 incidents reported from e-cigs exploding causing fire and injury; 121 of them exploded while in use or on one’s person. The explosions are due to the lithium-ion battery that is used to power the e-cig, according to the USFA.

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Screenshot taken from usfa.fema.gov

The USFA also reported that in this time frame there had been no deaths linked to the explosion of e-cigs, but there is new information attesting to my brother’s death. The USFA report does not list his death because at the time when the reports were published, the final determination for his cause of death had not been finalized.

Lithium-ion batteries were also the cause of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phone explosions.

I had never in a million years thought that something so insignificant could kill someone, but my reality is a lesson for everyone. The sight of vaporizers makes me relive a nightmare that I hope no one else ever has to. I am hoping that, in light of my story, people will be more inclined to adhere to rules and be more courteous to others.

5 things to do on campus during the warm weather

As we near the final month of the semester, the weather is beginning to get nicer and more welcoming to the outdoor activities that have been put on hold during the winter. If you happen to have free time between classes and are met with the warm spring weather, try out these five things to do!

1. Take your lunch outside.

Lunch is a very important meal of the day, and it’s important that students take time to fuel their bodies to make it through a day of classes. The cafeteria, located in the Babylon Student Center, is a very noisy and crowded place to eat. There’s limited room and people laughing and conversing loudly constantly. With the weather getting nicer, it’s a good idea to utilize the tables scattered outside the cafeteria. Not only will you be enjoying your meal without the buzz of the crowded cafeteria, you’ll also be getting in some fresh air and vitamin D from the sun.

2. Switch up your studying situation.

Many students find themselves studying or catching up on some homework in between their classes. Some students will do their work in their cars, others quick in the hallways, but majority of them spend their time in the Huntington Library. The library is a great place to study and get work done, as it’s always quiet, but it can be stuffy or stale in there. Switch things up and take your work to some of the tables or benches outside in the Veterans Plaza. The fresh air and change of scenery may help some students focus better, and being outside might not make the task of doing work so daunting.

3. Get some fresh air.

As college students, sometimes the stress from all the work due and upcoming tests is too much to handle. Everyone needs to take a mental break every now and then, otherwise they’ll start to feel anxious and overwhelmed. During your breaks, take a little “you” time. Sit on the benches provided in the center of the plaza, or anywhere around campus for some relaxation.

Sidney Forgione, 22,  a liberal arts major, has a few breaks in between her classes and is looking forward to the upcoming warmer weather.

“If I have an hour between classes, I’m planning on sitting outside and listening to some music to help relax a bit,” she said. There are benches and sitting areas scattered throughout campus, just waiting to be noticed and utilized. “It’s a nice way to wind down before the stress of the next class, sometimes I’ll even just watch what other students are doing, just observe and relax.”

4. Play games.

One great part of the Ammerman campus is the amount of space available in the plaza for activities. Grab a group of friends and head out the the grass for some fun. Get creative! Many games can be played among a group, such as Ultimate Frisbee, football, dodgeball, even a simple game of catch. The only downside is that balls, Frisbee and other types of equipment aren’t provided by the school; you’d have to come prepared with the equipment yourself.

Trevor Archambault, 20, is a liberal arts major who is also looking forward to the nicer weather. “Me and my friends will usually sit around in the plaza when the weather is nice, play some music and throw a Frisbee around to pass time. It’s a great way to get everyone together and have a great time.”

5. Go for a walk around the track.

Exercise is a pretty important part of staying healthy. However, not many people have the means to work out every day. Another great part about this campus is the outdoor track over by the Brookhaven Gymnasium. The track is open to whoever wants to walk it, unless it’s reserved for team practices. A great way to get in some simple exercise would be to briskly walk a few laps around the track during your free time. Doing so gets your heart rate up and helps burn those calories instead of sitting around waiting for your next class.

Take advantage of this beautiful campus by doing any of these five things during your break. There’s still some time before the end of the semester, and taking in fresh air will having your body and mind thanking you.

Dean Lundburg: Drills, communication top priorities for campus safety

Recent events such as the threat of an active shooter on campus last fall and the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, have inspired changes to handle emergencies at the SCCC Ammerman campus.

I sat down with Executive Dean Wesley Lundburg to find out more.

Lundburg, a former Coast Guardsman, said he is taking what he learned during his service to help this campus. He said a big focus would be drilling.

“When you have drilling, you have muscle memory. You can’t have people rely on a placard on the side of the doorway, that they go to and say, ‘Oh, what am I supposed to do?’” Lundburg said. “You need to get them to a place where they just automatically know what to do.”

Talks of change have been happening since an Oct. 30 incident in which an active shooter was thought to be on campus. It was quickly found that the student was carrying two toys guns as part of a Halloween costume. But the recent Parkland shooting has lit the fire.

The administration has brought Associative Dean Dave Bergan from the Eastern campus on board to help with the plans for change.

On March 13, a Professional Development Day was scheduled, during which faculty staff would receive emergency preparedness training. That was canceled due to inclement weather and has been rescheduled for April 6.

Lundburg said the Oct. 30 incident was a huge learning experience for the campus. The college was able to pinpoint exactly what needs to be improved. The biggest component is communication, he said.

As for current campus-wide communication, a PA system is in place throughout the hallways of the buildings on campus. NY Alert, a statewide emergency alert and notification system that the college uses to alert students in the event of an emergency, is a big part of that. There is an effort to switch over to Shark Alerts, a similar program that’s focused on SCCC.

The current PA system used on Oct. 30 sends out alerts in two parts. A lack of communication caused only half of the system to send out an alert to the campus of the threat. The system operator who was told to send out the alert sent it to the first half of the system and then was told not to send the alert because police were already on the way.

Because of the lack of proper communication, only half the campus was alerted that there was an emergency.

Currently, public safety is pricing out options for a PA system that will be outdoors. Speakers outside will be able to reach more people in the event of an emergency.  Lundburg is not sure how much that would cost.

The change will not be happening overnight, but the ball is rolling for an improvement of safety at the Ammerman campus.

“There hasn’t been resistance… it’s just there are a lot of priorities and things get kind of shoved aside,” Lundburg said.

Despite success, SCCC’s baseball team lacks coverage

After winning the district championship in 2016 and coming in second last year, the Suffolk County Community College baseball program is moving into the new season with nothing but confidence.

The Sharks had an overall record of 26-11-1 in 2017, finishing the season with a conference-best 20 wins and only two losses. However, most people on campus, let alone the region, aren’t aware of the team’s success.

It’s about time for that to change, according to the current and past coach, as well as observers.

“Our boys deserve more recognition from both the college and the local news networks,” said former head coach Eric Brown, the longest-tenured coach in the college’s history who retired last year. “These boys have talent and have proven it. There is not a good reason why they do not get more coverage.”

New head coach Brian Klammer, who started at the conclusion of last season, says he has confidence in the program and players, and that news outlets should give the team the attention it deserves. Without the press, players can get overlooked for future possibilities, he said.

“I know in the past watching these guys perform, they’ve had guys that have wanted to transfer to higher-level programs and even go pro, and they haven’t been given a fair shot,” Klammer said. “It isn’t even just this school or even Long Island. Truthfully, it’s the entire Northeast. None of these players get the same respect as some down South who get to play year-round.”

The team’s season opened on March 1. It has a 3-2 record.

Vinny Messana , who started aXcess Baseball, an online publication specifically dialed in on covering local high school and college baseball on Long Island, is one who believes there’s a real demand for coverage of Suffolk and other schools.

“People don’t realize that Long Island wants baseball,” Messana said, whose publication has grown to the point where he now holds an awards banquet at the end of every season.  “I created this outlet because of the lack of coverage these players were getting and I never expected the results to look like this.”

The next time the Sharks will see the field is March 11 in a double-header against Orange County.