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Students Activists Demand Brooklyn College #FireProfessorLangbert Over Kavanaugh Remarks

By Quiara Vasquez, Editor-In-Chief

“In the future, having committed sexual assault in high school ought to be a prerequisite for all appointments, judicial and political.”

This claim, made by Brooklyn College economics professor Mitchell Langbert in a Sept. 27 blog post, was met with outrage when it was posted to the Brooklyn College: In the Know 2 Facebook student group Tuesday afternoon. Hundreds of comments and reactions later, students began circulating a hashtag: #FireProfessorLangbert.

The offending blog post, simply titled “Kavanaugh,” claims that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her as a high schooler amount to nothing more than “a series of supposed spin-the-bottle crimes [committed] during Kavanaugh’s minority.”

“The Democrats have become a party of tutu-wearing pansies, totalitarian sissies who lack  virility, a sense of decency, or the masculine judgment that has characterized the greatest civilizations,” blogged Langbert.

Langbert has taught business courses at Brooklyn College since 1998. His student feedback reports have been decidedly positive: since 2008, 87% of students have said that they would be “very” or “somewhat likely” to recommend Langbert and his class to a friend.

However, Langbert is better known not as an educator but as a staunch libertarian. Langbert is a vocal supporter of the Libertarian Party and their presidential candidate Gary Johnson, and has been frequently critical of both Republicans and Democrats. In a 2015 blog post titled “Trump versus Sanders,” Langbert compared both Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler.

The Kingsman could not contact Langbert as of press time; however, Langbert provided a statement to the Excelsior doubling down on his post, which Excelsior editor-in-chief Zainab Iqbal posted on Facebook.

“I don’t take 40-year-old allegations about 15-year-olds seriously, especially when there is underlying partisan motivation about which the Democrats are lying,” Langbert told The Excelsior. “I also believe that allegations of sexual harrassment [sic] have been repeatedly used here at Brooklyn College and at colleges around the country to defame, lie about, and attempt to harm the careers of faculty with whom the dominant Democratic Party power structure disagrees. A a result, I have twice had to bring an attorney to campus to defend against defamatory allegations.”

“And yes,” Langbert concluded, “the Democrats are a party of totalitarian sissies.”

As of press time, no public claims of sexual harassment have been made against Langbert. The Kingsman has not found any information regarding the two “defamatory allegations” Langbert claims have been made against him.

This article was originally published on 10/3/18, in Fall 2018 Issue 3.


College Water Woes Continue with Broken Boylan Main

By Ryan Schwach, Managing News Editor

Brooklyn College’s construction and infrastructure woes continue with a water main break in Boylan Hall last Monday which resulted in the shutting down of the building’s water services for several hours.

“Age is the primary cause of the leak,” according to Brooklyn College’s Assistant Vice President of Facilities Francis X. Fitzgerald, who says the pipes in Boylan date back to its original construction in the mid-1930s.

The leak was discovered early Monday morning in a tunnel that runs runs under the basement of Boylan after a custodial employee noticed low water pressure problems on the upper floors of the building.

“The decision was made by college administration to make the repairs immediately to prevent escalation of the problem,” said Fitzgerald. The total shutdown of water services occured at noon as the repairs began using materials already in stock on campus.

The entirety of the construction was completed at 5:30PM, and after tests were done to ensure the repairs were fruitful the water was fully restored in Boylan a few hours later.

The Water main break at Boylan adds to the list of construction and infrastructure issues Brooklyn College has faced of late, but Fitzgerald assures that the campus is taking measures to stop any further plumbing problems from arising.

Although, Ingersoll and some of the other more dated buildings have similar plumbing to Boylan so there is a chance this could happen again.

“The College and the University are taking steps to minimize the potential for recurrence,” said Fitzgerald.

In the long term capital funds have been allocated to update the plumbing on campus.

This article was originally published on 10/3/18, in Fall 2018 Issue 3.


CUNY’s Faculty Union Occupies Wall Street, Demands More Funding

By Quiara Vasquez, Editor-In-Chief

On Sept. 27, CUNY’s employee union took to the financial district to make Wall Street pay its fair share.

Hundreds of faculty, staff, and supportive students from the Professional Student Congress (PSC/CUNY) stood between the massive bronze visage of George Washington and a row of booths selling dollar keychains. They stood in the autumn air on the front steps of Federal Hall with pickets and fliers, explaining their aims to tourists and passersby.

One such picketer was Christopher Mejia, a Political Science Major at Brooklyn College. Mejia was standing on the steps of Federal Hall with a massive sign. He used his vantage point to gaze out at the throng of assembled protesters, which stretched out as far as the eye could see.

“I’m happy about the turnout,” Mejia told The Kingsman. “This is what democracy looks like.”

Mejia was one of several students from Brooklyn College’s chapter of the International Socialist Organization (ISO) in attendance at the PSC rally. He got involved in student activism after hearing firsthand accounts of how adjunct professors had to make ends meet.

“I had a teacher tell me he catsits on the side,” Mejia said. Another teacher told Mejia that even with a doctorate and at the age of 50, he needed to ask his father to subsidize his rent.

One of PSC’s largest complaints is that adjunct teachers, who teach a majority of the classes on campus, are paid a mere $25,000 a year; not only is this half of what tenured professors make, they assert, it’s also below the poverty line. Their primary objective at the rally was securing pay raises for adjunct faculty. Nearly everyone in attendance was wearing a sticker reading “$7K or STRIKE!,” referring to their campaign to raise adjunct salaries to $7,000 per course. But they also had loftier goals in mind, most prominently, making CUNY tuition-free.

To that end, they congregated on Wall Street to march through the financial district. They started at Federal Hall, then started walking down towards the offices of the financial firm Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co., LLC at 100 Wall Street. Among the leaders at Siebert Cisneros Shank is William Thompson, Jr., the former Comptroller of New York City and the current head of CUNY’s Board of Trustees. PSC has been extremely displeased with Thompson’s performance as chairman of the Board of Trustees, and claimed during the rally that Thompson was out of touch with the needs of his constituents.

“When was the last time you saw a black man walking down Wall Street?” one protester asked the crowd in reference to Thompson, who is African-American.

At 4:40, they began their march down to 100 Wall Street. Two drummers and a brass section led the way, livening up proceedings with their intricate percussion and brass burps. Their loud music was matched in volume and intensity by the rallying cry of the assembled protesters.

“Education is a right,” they chanted, “Fight! Fight! Fight!”

A navy blue sliver of uniformed beat cops walking in single file to the right of the protesters made sure that their fight remained rhetorical.

As the rally snaked its way towards the finish line, those in attendance began to congregate and chat amongst themselves. While the primary purpose of the rally was to campaign for funding public education, it doubled as a rendezvous point for various leftist organizations across CUNY. Copies of socialist newspapers like The Challenge and The Revolution were disseminated throughout the crowd, and several protestors brought homemade signs proudly declaring their membership in groups like the Hunter Internationalist Club.

At the end of the march, PSC’s vice president, Andrea Ades Vasquez, addressed those in attendance.

“You look fabulous, your signs look fabulous, and I think we were heard!” Vasquez shouted to a pumped-up crowd. She led a sound-off, encouraging faculty and staff from each college to cheer for their campus. Brooklyn College, Hunter College, Queens College, BMCC, Medgar Evers, John Jay, City Tech… as Vasquez listed the colleges, more and more cheers broke out. She concluded that there were representatives from every school in the CUNY system.

According to Vasquez, membership in PSC has been higher now than in any previous year, either in spite of or because of recent anti-union legislation. In June of this year, the Supreme Court deliberated on Janus v. AFSCME, ruling 5-4 in favor of petitioner Mark Janus. Under this ruling, nonunion employees are exempt from paying union fees, even if they receive benefits from the union’s collective bargaining. The verdict was widely condemned by organized labor groups as an attempt to reduce union funding and membership.

For their part, PSC have been vocally opposed to the ruling, and have waged a cross-campus poster campaign encouraging CUNY staff and faculty to remain PSC members. “The union has my back,” the poster reads. “I won’t be a freeloader.”

During Thursday’s rally, they expressed their position on Janus with even less ambiguity with another rousing chant: “Unionbusting was disgusting!”

But despite a hostile political climate and the occasional heckler, the PSC didn’t waver in their show of unity. On that Thursday, they put on their PSC T-shirts and picketed and protested and screamed and shouted for three hours in the heart of the financial district, fighting for a fully-funded CUNY.

“Each one of those PSC T-shirts represents a struggle,” Vasquez told the crowd. “Each one of those PSC T-shirts represents a victory.”

This article was originally published on 10/3/18, in Fall 2018 Issue 3.


For Hispanic Heritage Month, a Celebration

By Omar Alatorre, Staff Writer

The last attempt for a Hispanic heritage celebration did not take place but fortunately this time around it did and was a success.

“Although it was last minute, a lot of hard work led to its success, whereas in the past there may have been a lack of commitment and communication with former members.” said Cinthya Baez, president of Dominican Student Movement.

On Thursday, Sept. 27, Student Activities, Involvement and Leadership (S.A.I.L.) hosted the Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration with the support of others such as the Dominican Student Movement and Mexican Heritage Student Association (MeHSA). The event was held in the penthouse located in the student center building.

Upon entering the penthouse there were large foil pans full of chicken and pork empanadas, rice, and taco ingredients being served by staff. On the side there was water, soda, tamarind, and agua de jamaica (Hibiscus tea) while traditional Hispanic music played, the genres ranged from Bachata, Cumbia, and many more.

Frida Kahlo was displayed on a projector screen with information on who she was. She would tell others she was born in 1910 in order to affiliate herself with the Mexican Revolution. Kahlo’s works were also declared by Mexico as “National Cultural Heritage, prohibiting their export from the country.”

“My goal for participating in this event is to bring the entire Latin community together,” said Litzi Martinez. “Even though it’s for a month I wish it to be a year-round thing where everyone has an opportunity to celebrate the culture.”

It goes to show their objective for this event, even those who are not of Hispanic origin should be given the chance to see and celebrate another culture on a regular basis. For the event to be a year-round occurrence should be something to be considered, seeing that many students will find themselves celebrating cultures they had not known about.

Cinthya, Litzi, and the help of others were able to pull off an event which was not only a success in celebrating Hispanic heritage, but also helped create new relationships. Students felt a good vibe simply by talking with friends or people they’d never met before; sadly, the only disappointment of the event was when it came to an end.

This article was originally published on 10/3/18, in Fall 2018 Issue 3.


“ReconFIGUREd” Tackles Body Issues

By Allison Rapp, Managing Digital Editor

On Thursday evening, the Brooklyn College Health Clinic and Brooklyn College LGBTQ Center  came together with Honest Accomplice Theatre, a New York City based divisive theatre company, to present a performance of “ReconFIGUREd”, a play focusing on the issues that cis women and members of the transgender community face every day. Ninety minutes in length, the piece covered topics including fat shaming, menopause, mental health, sexualization of children, trans youth, and many more. Led by Rachel Sullivan and Maggie Keenan-Bolger, the artistic directors of the play and co-founders of Honest Accomplice Theatre, “ReconFIGURED” proved to be a spark for communities of cis and trans people alike to begin a conversation on what our bodies mean to us.

“ReconFIGUREd” was born out of a 2015 survey taken by 1,200 Honest Accomplice Theatre spectators. Out of a list of topics, audience members voted that “the body” was the concept they most wanted to see developed further on stage. Thus, the company set to work creating a show that would ask people to think about the way modern society treats the bodies of cis women and trans individuals. Their mission statement encourages creators from all backgrounds to devise and connect with other creators.

“We offer and embrace opportunities for diversity on stage by asking ourselves not just who is on stage, but whose stories are told and by whom, and who has the opportunity to be part of the creative process.”

Unlike many plays, the script for “ReconFIGURED” was not necessarily “written” by any one particular playwright, but rather compiled through the input of the various cast members. The cast, which consisted of several cis women and trans individuals, were able to draw from their own experiences dealing with uncomfortable conversations about their evolving bodies. In one scene, an older woman named Barbara, (played by Meggan Dodd), had been diagnosed with breast cancer and offered surgery treatments. The doctors insist that Barbara opt for full reconstructive surgery, and even suggested enlarging her original cup size to “make her feel normal.” In another scene, Vic, (played by Maybe Burke), a transgender college student, wrestles with an eating disorder that they have kept a secret from their friends. With eight total actors in the play, each portrayed a character facing their own internal battles, but whose lives became interwoven, proving that although everyone is unique in their own ways, we share many of the same feelings and experiences.

During a post-performance talk back, the audience got the chance to ask the actor’s opinions on how best to deal with some of the tough situations discussed in the play. When asked about the most effective way to stand up against transphobic or misogynistic behavior, Sheyenne Javonne Brown, who played a young woman suffering a miscarriage, offered advice that works well for today’s youth.

“It sounds like a joke,” she said, “but practice on all those social media trolls. It’s easier to start off somewhere where you don’t have to do anything face to face.”

In the wake of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, Rachel Sullivan agreed that a play about the violation of women and trans bodies would be particularly poignant. She stated that the company is working on a new piece about women in engineering, mentioning that 15% of women in the STEM fields experience sexual harassment.

Until then, Honest Accomplice Theatre will be hosting a variety of other shows in a series at Brooklyn College, including some workshops open to all students. All performances are free. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/LGBTQCenter.BC.

This article was originally published on 10/3/18, in Fall 2018 Issue 3.


Two Local Comedians Make the Women’s Center Laugh and Learn

By Samantha Castro, Layout Editor

This year the Women’s Center Open House this past Tuesday hosted a comedy show and invited two comedians: Chewy May, a Brooklyn College alumni, and Chanel Ali, cast member of MTV’s Girl Code. It was two hours filled with laughs and lessons.

Wendy Romero, the program assistant at the Women’s Center, hoped that this event would be a good start for the Women’s Center and would allow students to “forget that midterms are coming up.”

Most of the students were excited to attend the event in hopes of a good laugh. For some, it was their first time at the Women’s Center. For others, it was like they were back home.

“I didn’t expect Brooklyn College to host some kind of comedy show,” said Tony, a Brooklyn College student. “I thought I’ll come to see it and have a little fun.”

Taylor Laurie Harrell, a fellow Brooklyn College student who frequently comes to the Women’s Center, expected discussions about multiple kinds of issues from LGBTQ+ issues to women’s issues.

The room slowly became smaller as more students filed in. Students made casual conversation as they fill their plates will the large amounts of food served. After everyone settled in and took their seats, the director of the Women’s Center, Sau-Fong Au, opens the event with the explanation of what the Women’s Center is and what programs they offer for Brooklyn College students.

Then Chewy May takes the mic. She talks about multiple relatable topics like getting older and dating. She was talking about looking at different houses with her sister. While her sister is concerned about the plumbing and the electricity, May was more concerned about the potential ghosts that are in the house. But also talked about her previous drinking problem and how she realized it.

“When my friends were like ‘Yeah, Chewy. Let’s do shots! Let’s get wasted and party,’” said May, “What I hear is ‘Yeah, Chewy. Let’s do shots! Let’s get wasted and show up at your ex-girlfriend’s house with a sonnet.’”

After, May introduced Chanel Ali. Ali didn’t cover super relatable topics nor serious topics during her bit. She mainly told stories of random times of her life like time when she was the only person of color at her job and the time when she found out her friend had another funny friend.

“Stand up comedy is hard but you know what I should try? Poverty.” said Ali when explaining why she moved to New York, “Let me try playing twice the rent. See if that motivates me! It has.”

After Ali’s bit, May came back in the front of the room and the two answered questions from the audience. Most of the questions asked were related to how they became a comedian and what it takes to be one. When May was asked how comedy started her, she explained that she always found everyone in her friend group as stupid. She wrote about it and thought there was something there.

Ali emphasizes that it takes a lot of work being a comedian and working the business.  It’s important to be able to defend yourself and not compromise your art, which is what she did when MTV wanted her for Girl Code. She wanted to make sure that she was known to do a show on MTV rather than being part of MTV.

Chewy May has done other comedy related events at the Women’s Center. She enjoys doing these shows because she believes students have open minds.

“Every time I visit, there’s a culture shift,” said May. “This year it’s definitely more empowering and socially conscious.”

However, it was Ali’s first time being at Brooklyn College. May explained to Ali that is was a comedy show for a women organization at a college, Ali immediately said yes. She did her research before the show, so she knew that the campus was diverse. She was pleased to see the diversity not just in terms of ethnicity and race but in terms of gender. Through the event, she hopes that the students will be inspired to write and will broaden their horizons.

The event was well received. Many people stayed after the event to discuss with each other or to personally speak to the comedians, who stayed as well.

“In the times that we’re living in,” said Carlos Jesus Calzadilla-Palacio, another Brooklyn College student, “it’s nice for people to come to the Women’s Center and enjoy a show.”

This article was originally published on 10/3/18, in Fall 2018 Issue 3.


BC Women’s Tennis Team Wins in Georgia

By Jasmine Peralta, Sports Editor

The Brooklyn College women’s tennis team continues to celebrate their 8-1 winning streak after defeating both Albany State University and LaGrange College, 2-0. The Bulldogs flew 900 miles South to face both the ASU Golden Rams and the LaGrange Panthers this past Saturday in LaGrange, Georgia.

First up during the singles competition were Ievgeniia Kostenko (Brooklyn) and Lotoya Boyd (ASU) ending with a final score of 6-2. The Brooklyn Bulldogs didn’t stop there! Throughout four of the singles matches, Tamilia Latif-Zade, Rosa Aksanov, and Georgeen Belrose would continue to lead Brooklyn up, 6-0, 6-1, 6-2 against the Golden Rams.

Although things did begin to look a bit shaky for the Bulldogs when the Rams ended the fifth and sixth singles match, 7-6 and 6-3 the Bulldogs still managed to redeem themselves during the final doubles match.

For the first doubles match Brooklyn, Kostenko and Zade faced, ASU, Boyd and Khadra Council, where the Bulldogs played an impeccable match and won, 8-1. For the round of second doubles, Rosa Asksanov and Georgeen Belrose from Brooklyn went up against, Lindsay Ashford and Jordan Foston, the Bulldogs then again took the lead, winning 8-3. But fell short during the round of last doubles, when they lost 3-8 against the Rams. Although Brooklyn fell short, it wasn’t enough for the Rams to claim their W. Ending their first game, Brooklyn took the W home, 6-3.

Up next would be the LaGrange Panthers who would come close to the Bulldogs but not close enough. During the first round of the singles competition, the Bulldogs would not lose not one match. Brooklyn’s, Kostenko vs. LGC, Jenne Eppes 6-4, 6-3. Zade vs. LGC, Nicole Phillips, 6-1, 6-2. Rosa Akasanov vs. LGC, Ansley Moody, 6-3, 6-1. Georgeen Belrose vs. LGC: Callaway Cook 6-3, 6-4. Shannel Johnson vs. LGC, Jia Lee 6-1, 6-1. Lastly, Elizaveta Meshkalova would kill the winning streak of the singles match with a final score of 6-4, 6-3.

The Bulldogs would also dominate over the doubles competition ending all three matches 8-0, 8-4, and 8-0 with an overall final score of, 7-2.

On Tuesday Brooklyn College named Ievgeniia Kostenko student-athlete of the month for her remarkable performance throughout September. Kostenko, who was named the CUNYAC Women’s Tennis player of the year in 2017, finished off September with a seamless 7-0 record in both single and double matches.

This article was originally published on 10/3/18, in Fall 2018 Issue 3.

 

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