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Behind the Scenes with Student Trustee and USS President Haris Khan

By Quiara Vasquez, Editor-In-Chief

CUNY’s Board of Trustees is the most powerful decision making body in the City University system. On this board of sixteen, most of whom have corporate or political backgrounds, stands a lone 21-year-old: CCNY senior Haris Khan, the President of the University Student Senate (USS) and the sole student on the most powerful board at CUNY.

The Board of Trustees originally consisted of 15 members – five appointed by the city and ten appointed by the state. But around 1970, students started fighting to have a seat at the table

“This was created after advocacy work by student governments across CUNY,” Khan told The Kingsman. “We argued that when university policies are being formulated, it’s paramount that student voices are heard. Without them, we’ll have half-baked policies that don’t serve the people.”

Because of this student lobbying, since the 1970s, the Chairperson of the University Student Senate (USS) now has that seat. This means that as the chair of USS, Haris Khan now gets to sit in on every board meeting and speak up before the most powerful people at CUNY.

It’s a big responsibility – one that Khan had no idea he would take on when he first got involved in student activism back in 2016.

“I had no idea what student government was,” said Khan. “I entered college thinking I’d pursue a career in international relations. That kind of evolved by virtue of my childhood, growing up all over Asia.”

Khan’s father was an administrative assistant at the Pakistani embassy, who brought his son with him as he traveled from country to country. Khan’s unique childhood was a whirlwind tour of repressive governments in the Eastern hemisphere, many of which he characterized  as dictatorships. It was these childhood experiences that pushed him to fight for change after his family moved to America in 2015.

“Now that I live in a democratic country where we can hold our elected officials accountable, I am going to use that voice,” Khan said.

That desire is what brought him to a NYPIRG event as a freshman.

“I heard that NYPIRG and some other student organizations were going to Albany, and I said ‘wow, we can just go to the state capital and it’s all free?’ This is a great deal!” Khan said. “So I signed up, I went there, and during that trip, interacting with other students and faculty members, hearing those stories reminded me of how we’re struggling and suffering. It made me realize that some of these opportunities are under attack.”

When Khan first ventured up to Albany in 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo had just proposed shifting $485 million in CUNY’s operation costs from the state to the city — effectively cutting CUNY’s budget by nearly a third. Cuomo argued that it was only fair, given that five of CUNY’s fifteen trustees were city appointees. (Tellingly, Cuomo didn’t include the student and faculty representatives in this count.) Khan was outraged to learn about this, and he fought alongside the student activists to challenge Cuomo’s decision. The impact was profound.

“That year, we restored the $485 million and we got a tuition freeze,” Khan said. “That made me realize the power students have when we work together.”

As chair of USS, Khan has been pushing for what he calls a “New Deal for CUNY.” Key to this New Deal agenda is closing the so-called “TAP Gap.” State financial aid through the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) caps out at $5,165 a year per student, but tuition at CUNY has increased to over $6,000 a year. The university must pay the difference when this happens, which costs CUNY $74 million a year, most of it at universities with low-income and minority students.

Khan has also pushed for a tuition freeze across the CUNY system.

“You can look at the videotapes of the board on our website. Whenever students are impacted, you’ll find one trustee giving a long-winded speech about why our mission is so precious,” said Khan, the trustee in question being himself. “The reason we have 13 Nobel laureates isn’t because we were competing with NYU and Columbia, but because we opened our doors when other universities were closing their doors.”

“That’s the mission I speak to on the board.”

Haris Khan is proud of the work he’s doing, but it’s time-consuming work. Last month, he resigned from his position of President of CCNY’s student government, citing the campus’s need for a student president who could be on-campus to address student needs.

“I was basically doing the job of being a councilmember and a mayor at the same time,” Khan said. “If anything I think [resigning] will allow me to be even more effective, giving me even more time to advocate for student-centric policies and fight against policies that’ll hurt our students.”

During his time as President of CCNY’s student government, Khan, who is Muslim, was accused of giving positions to other Muslim students on the basis of his faith. While such attacks on his faith at CCNY were dispiriting, Khan says he’s never faced that kind of prejudice while on the Board of Trustees.

“If anything it’s given me clarity to a different set of perspectives than everyone else in the room,” Khan said. “My actions speak not only for myself but for an entire community: if you do something wrong, it means ‘oh, all Muslims are like that.’ If I make any little mistake, I know the consequences. I know the obstacles in being a minority, and I’m using it to my advantage.”

Khan says he’s excited to finish out his term, and he’s especially excited to see where CUNY goes under the leadership of Chancellor-elect Felix Matos Rodriguez, the university’s first Latino chancellor.

“He’s been inspirational to so many students of color and he has a deep understanding of CUNY from his time at Hostos and Queens College,” Khan said of Matos Rodriguez. “We’re excited to work with him where we agree, and where we disagree, we will make it very clear. But I think with his ascendance to the chancellorship, we are finally seeing an understanding that our administration needs to resemble our student body, and reflect our diversity.”

To students at Brooklyn College hoping to make a difference at CUNY, Khan says: go for it.

“I encourage all of them to come to our meetings – we have food – and I encourage all of them to run in elections,” Khan said. “Bring some of that Bulldog spirit to the USS.”

This article was originally published on 3/13/19 in Spring 2019 Issue 6.


MSNBC Broadcasters Discuss Journalism Careers

By Ryan Schwach, Managing News Editor

On Tuesday, Mar. 4 in the Woody Tanger Auditorium, MSNBC journalists Chris Hayes and Trymaine Lee spoke to BC students about the journalism industry and their careers as journalists during the Trump era.

The event was sponsored and organized by the Magner Career Center and hosted by TV/Radio professor, George Rodman.

“Major events like this help students understand and become passionate about the industry they’re trying to break into.  This was also a great collaborative effort between the [Magner]career center and the Television and Radio department,” said Michael Sarrao, a Career Education and Training Specialist at the Magner Center.

Hayes and Lee have both been in the industry for quite awhile and have had a fair amount of expertise to bestow upon the audience. Hayes, the host of All In With Chris Hayes, was born in New York City and has a CUNY connection, having attended Hunter College High School.

New Jersey-born Trymaine Lee worked for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Huffington Post, and then The New York Times. His coverage of Hurricane Katrina gained him a Pulitzer Prize. He landed at MSNBC in 2012 as a senior reporter.

The event was a very positive one for the students who took part. As a journalist myself, I found it to be refreshing and inspiring to hear things from two people who are successful in the field.
For one thing, college students are inherently self-questioning beings, wondering if we are doing enough in our prospective fields. Both Lee and Hayes seemed to calm that, at least for me. For instance, Hayes explained he didn’t enter college as a journalism student or writer, but as a theater major. It wasn’t until he began working for his college paper at Brown University that he decided to pursue journalism. Either way, it is nice to gain a little confidence when you hear it from two guys who were just about where you are in life and made something of it.

“If I wasn’t doing this what would I be doing?” said Lee.

They each gave tips stemming from their own experience.

“Stick to your guns, be yourself. No one can be you like you. Find your mission and drive,” said Lee. He described his mission as showing how politics and world events affect the people on the ground, your average man on the street, rather than gauging the reactions of elected officials.

Hayes discussed some of the issues faced by journalists today.;  particularly with the 24-hour news cycle and the antics of President Trump. Hayes called Trump “down-the-block tough,” which earned a laugh from the crowd, explaining that Trump’s “bark is worse than his bite.”

Hayes, a TV reporter who gained his start in various print publications, said that the need to keep things going with the 24-hour news cycle can be a detriment to reporting.

“The most dangerous thing in news is more demand than supply,” he said. When there is a big story with a heavy public demand for answers but not nearly enough answers available, it forces news agencies to pedal things along. As an example, he cited the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, where stations like CNN were forced to have wall-to-wall coverage of the missing plane because people wanted answers, but there wasn’t enough information available to answer them.

For me, the event was a positive experience that allowed me and the rest of the audience to learn a little about the journalism industry from two people who have had success in it. It was well-run, and although it didn’t last long, we were able to gain a lot in the time we had.

This article was originally published on 3/13/19 in Spring 2019 Issue 6.


Jeanne Theoharis Debunks Civil Rights Myths at Event

By Natalina Zieman, Staff Writer

Dr. Jeanne Theoharis, a political science professor here at BC, took the time to share her scholarly work with students this past Thursday, Mar. 7.

Theoharis has written numerous books and articles on the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Power Movement. She has earned herself an NAACP Image Award in 2014 for her book The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, also a Letitia Woods Brown Award for the Association of Black Women Historians, and was named one of twenty five of the best academic titles in 2013 by choice. Dr. Theoharis expressed her passion for the topic that she has put so much time and effort into.

Throughout her presentation, Jeanne Theoharis tied together today’s Black Lives Matter Movement to the Civil Rights Movement, comparing quotes from political figures about Dr. Martin Luther King.

“Three summers ago, protests mounted across the country following the police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile,” Theoharis said. “Then Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed celebrated Atlanta as the home of Dr. Martin Luther King, and the home of protesting.”

“Then, to explain the massive police presence at the downtown Black Lives Matter protest, he said, ‘Well, Dr. King would never take a freeway.’” Her view is that today’s discrimination issues are similar to those of the Civil Rights era, due to the lack of care coming from many government officials and political figures in our nation.

Jeanne Theoharis mentioned why she wrote this book and it is “to look at, what I am calling a national Civil Rights Movement, and how it’s created. Because on the one hand; people like Mike Huckabee and people like Kasim Reed are distorting what Black Lives Matter protesters are doing, and they’re distorting kind of what the history of the Civil Rights Movement actually is. And so I wanted to think about where and how this table comes about, and what its uses are in the present, and then what a more fuller history of the Civil Rights Movement shows.” She went on to explain how public schools in New York City are both segregated and teaching the Civil Rights Movement too simply.

New York City public schools are becoming overcrowded and segregated, which is becoming a problem because students are losing their science labs, their days are being cut into sessions, there is an imbalance of race and culture within the classroom, and other necessary aspects for a proper education. Theoharis mentions that school officials are saying that we do not have segregation in our schools, but we have racial imbalance in our schools, changing the words to cover up what is happening racially.

“They say we don’t have problem schools, we have problem students. Many schools in NYC will blame Black and Latino families and students for the conditions in their schools. They don’t value education,” Theoharis explains on the topic of segregated NYC schools. She mentioned how the city refuses to change the borders of the school districts to even out the population, and segregation. Students chimed in their experience with discrimination in NYC public schools. Some experienced it first-hand as a student. One elementary education major visited a school in Clinton Hill where there was a “white” school in the upstairs part, while all the minorities were sent to the downstairs part of the building, where they had no science lab.

So today, we still have so much segregation and racial discrimination, and it is all around us. In schools, businesses, regular conversations, and so much more. Jeanne Theoharis focuses on the Civil Rights topic because it is an actual problem: not just because of the lack of education on the topic, but because we refuse to acknowledge the problem is even there.

This article was originally published on 3/13/19 in Spring 2019 Issue 6.


“Transmission”: A Story of Overcoming

By Moises Tavern, Staff Writer

Barbra Herr isn’t here for you. When she takes center stage and the show lights are squarely on her, she’s there for one person, and that’s herself. She’s a commanding presence, a heartfelt storyteller and a woman with no tolerance for nonsense. “Transmission,” her one woman show, is the journey to becoming the person that stood in front of us and in her closing monologue said, “This is my face. This is my body.”
The riots at the Stonewall Inn were 50 years ago in 1969. Stonewall was a momentous touchstone for the LGBTQ community, widely acknowledged as the first step towards a formal gay rights movement after decades of discrimination and persecution. To commemorate, Brooklyn College is holding a series of events called Stonewall 50. The events take place across various institutions, dedicated to teaching the event’s legacy and celebrating lives touched by or involved in it. The series of events kicked off at BC last Tuesday with Herr’s reading of “Transmission,” a show solely written and performed by (with the exception of disembodied voice tracks) her.

Barbra Herr herself was still a young man on the fringe of it all back in 1969, but she acknowledges that it was a movement built on the backs of transgressions against the most marginalized of the already marginalized community: transgender people, people who dared to crossdress, and the people of color.
The fight they fought in the 1960s is as important now as it was then, according to Herr. The strides we’ve taken, she says, have ensured a safer and more welcoming environment for queer individuals to explore their identity. For this, she seems grateful. After an evening of sharing heartbreaking tales of her own, she seems relieved to know not as many people need to suffer like she did, wait like her, or die like so many of her peers and friends did.
Herr has been an actress and entertainer on late night stages for a long time now. She’s very good at what she does. Whether they be the stages she adorned as a drag queen in Puerto Rico, or those where she put on a cabaret show here in New York City, she’s always worked and excelled at it. While there hasn’t always been profit in doing these shows, she acknowledges that without them, she wouldn’t have felt like she was really herself. She also jokingly cites this lack of money as the reason “Transmission” came together when it did and how it did. Answering a question from the crowd after her reading, she told us that in trying to pitch a show at a more official locale, she ran into a tiny problem: she couldn’t pay royalties for all the songs she wanted to incorporate. So out went the show tunes and in came the personal history. Almost out of necessity, “Transmission” was born.
Transmission intimately lays out the details of her journey figuring out her sexuality and gender, the awkward hurdles she had to leap through to feel comfortable in her skin, and the almost insurmountable walls she had to scale for a quarter of a decade to stand proudly as a woman who has had to fight tooth and nail for it. Framed by conversations with doctors and therapists seeking to understand her motivations for her transition, we dive in and out of past romances and formative experiences like passing out in a dress. It’s an experience fraught with palpable tension, one that kept the room deathly quiet while she told her story. Luckily, Herr’s also a woman with a sharp wit, which helped punctuate the occasional dour notes of her story. By the end of the evening, she completely mesmerized the crowd.
Once she ended her reading and was met by the applause of a packed auditorium, she settled into a more comfortable cadence while responding to audience questions. She answered questions about her relationship with her father, what advice she’d pass on to queer youth, and even found time to sling some healthy criticism Caitlyn Jenner’s way in response to a question about trans representation in the media.

It’s important to note that Barbra Herr is indeed Puerto-Rican. This is pertinent because for a good portion of the aforementioned Q&A, she responded to the audience, comprised of English and Spanish speakers alike, in Spanish. Being Dominican myself, I was able to keep up with her, but it made for an interesting dynamic. As she noted in one of her responses, there wasn’t a proper dialogue to speak about a lot of these issues. When she said that, a lot clicked into place. Balancing being a trans and Spanish woman, a lot of her activism seems focused on accessibility. It’s important to her that people understand what she means when she says it, because in some communities, there just isn’t the language for that education.

It’s why her show is so earnest. It’s why her delivery is so frank. It’s why her voice feels so fresh and accommodating. It’s why I think Barbra Herr is doing some of the best work. It’s why I think when she says, “This is my face and it show the reflection of how I have lived. And this is my body, the manifestation of a history that deserves to be heard and seen without judgment or malice,” I believe she’s breathing power into those words. Power that can aid and guide the future of a movement to the brightest future it deserves.

This article was originally published on 3/13/19 in Spring 2019 Issue 6.


The pARTners Collective: The Last of Its Kind

By Noah Daly, Business Manager

Art is a reflection of the times we live in. Whether there is relative peace or great conflict, explosive waves of creativity with form and color have given way to whole new styles. Ultimately, though, the preservation of an art-friendly environment is needed for art and artists to grow successfully.

The coastal city of Amsterdam, having been an international art destination for hundreds of years, was the home to Dutch masters like Escher and Van Gogh, but has also come to know the likes of Picasso and Monet, and more recently, contemporary installation and mural artists such as Banksy and Ai Weiwei. But more than ever, less notable artists are struggling to find lucrative business all over the world. The result is a host of transient artists roaming to make a living for themselves. This romantic way of finding inspiration and then trying to sell the precious works you’ve created is quickly disappearing. As the world slowly coalesces with new technology, individual artists rely more and more on their ability to network and find suitable venues in order to survive. In the age of Etsy, Amazon, and other digital marketplaces, individual artists are finding the world less open to physically going somewhere to buy the art they hope to have in their home.

As the last non-commercial collective in the center of Amsterdam, the pARTners Beyond Art (or simply, the “pARTners collective”) have created an extraordinary marriage between gallery, event space, and workshop for all types of artists. It’s the last place of its kind in the center of a city once dedicated to rebel artists. Two such artists, Jaíme Adán and Anna Lambert, are part of the last collective in Amsterdam Centraal keeping an independent gallery.

While I was traveling through Europe in January, I spent several days in their massive sanctuary at 107 Paleistraat, a vacated building just down the street from the Royal Palace of the Netherlands. The studio is awash in a base coat of white. Small pieces of metal and copper wiring stick out like wrinkles. Its history as the house of a great Dutch newspaper seems unlikely given the interior; a massive open-air room complete with vaulted ceilings, bridges, spiral staircases, and internal balconies. But in place of a newspaper, 107 Paleistraat has become the last great sanctuary of independent art in the center of Amsterdam. Adán, career painter, works tirely with his business partner, the sculptor Anna Lambert, to keep their artistic entrepreneurship competitive in the rapidly changing global marketplace.
“The key to our success [in Amsterdam] is being able to present our art in a magnificent space like this,” Adán said.

Looking around the studio, the various internal balconies connect with a spiral staircase and a stairway that runs through the middle of the atrium in the center of the massive room. The various individual studio spaces and specialized work areas give the feeling of a much larger web of indoor tree houses. Art in every medium finds a home here. Virtual designers, woodworkers, metalworkers, jewelers, sculptors, architects, and even web designers work individually here. Some have their own permanent studios, and others come and stay for a time before moving on to their next destination. Woulter, an artist in the collective, gave me a walking tour of the various workshops. The basement was separated into a massive woodshed and a metalworking studio, each fully stocked and equipped.

“We call spaces like this ‘Broedplaadsen’ – a collective space for creativity and free expression, literally meaning ‘breeding place,’” Lambert told me. “There are many around Amsterdam, but this building is the last of its kind in the center of the city.”

“Things have become so commercialized,” Lambert opined. “The empty spaces that were once filled with artists have become businesses and expensive homes. Not to mention, squatters have gotten such a bad name that there are less and less places like this in the world.”

“We respect the space we occupy because it is our home. Jaíme and I have each seen many places like this that have since disappeared because the people that occupied them left like animals. They’d live and party and do drugs and never once clean. So as time went on the laws were changed to make it more illegal to squat. Thankfully things are still good here.”

The entry hallway, once used a reception and typist area, is spotted with many paintings on canvas and board. The plethora of paintings depict ships from Argentina, Amsterdam and beyond. It’s reminiscent of other impressionist galleries, but the space itself makes viewing these works a very engaging, bohemian experience. Colorful portraits depicting women and scenes of streets and beggars in far flung places make viewers feel as if the cavernous room has become a grander portrait of an intimate life.

“Each of these pieces are deeply personal, in ways I cannot describe,” Adán said.

A painting of a young woman with fiery red hair, reclining on a blue sofa, is hung with a place of significance in the center of the entryway into the larger room. The subject’s piercing blue eyes watch guests pass by, making it nearly impossible to pause and gawk in admiration.

Sitting beside the painted redhead is a real striped cat, guarding the door. Pets come and go here. The artists even keep a bag of dog biscuits and a water bowl for their canine guests.

Walking further in, guests find a small troop of shining gorilla statuettes, made by Lambert, appearing to chatter about the very people observing them. Each ape is imbued with so much character that they give a little girl walking in with her mother an uncontrollable smile after even a moment’s notice. She sits down, and greets the plaster primates like schoolyard friends.

As her instagram handle – “@onlyanimals_art” – promises, Anna Lambert only sculpts animals. Lambert is from Vathapsmeer, a town not far from Amsterdam. When she was eight years old, she went to the zoo in Amsterdam to take a course on how to draw and paint animals. She enjoyed the class, but her passion for arts and ceramics only emerged after she made a sculpture of her family dog pooping on the street.

“At first, my parents kept the dog in their house, but a friend asked if it was for sale. Before long, I was making many pooping dogs and asking shop owners if I could place them in their display windows. Things began slowly, but as I kept making them, the price went from $75, to several hundred.”

“Now I send my pooping dogs all over the world!” she giggled.

Each of her installations has been positioned to create the feeling that you are viewing a community, just like the real community that lives in this massive building. Jaíme Adán, who acts as the business manager for the gallery, can be found taking calls or entertaining clients behind a beaten TOMOS motorbike in a display case.

The two began a friendship which has carried them to this extraordinary space in the center of Amsterdam. They collaborated over several exhibitions and each were able to sell some of their work. But the battle to stay afloat in modern times is difficult, and they rely on their community to help them spread the word of their work.

“There are pros and cons to connectivity,” said Lambert. “I’m not a computer girl and it’s a lot of work.”

Another member of the collective, a visual artist named Woulter, created a VR program which shows the space filled with people from a recent party. “We like showing visitors and potential partners how full of life old places like this can be,” he said. “We want them to see its potential.”

Jaíme Adán has spent the last 25 years traveling the far corners of the world in search of new ways to express himself through painting. His deep belief that the world can be simple, whimsical, and deeply beautiful in these uncertain times is visible in the way he greets every visitor. The sign out front, written in colorful chalk, invites passersby to a “free art show.”

“Why would we charge them to see our work?” Adán asks with a smile. “They’ll probably never come in if they have to pay at the door.”

Growing up in a small town outside of Madrid in the 80s, Jaíme Adán witnessed the turmoil of the world and felt a deep association between the lack of awareness in the present moment, and the reverence we tend to feel towards events of the past once they’ve passed.

“In many ways, I see the same lack of attention in young people today,” Adán said, plumes of cigarette smoke passing through his lips. He playfully flipped his phone in his hand to illustrate his point. “So many are possessed with these dreadful things that they forget the beautiful world around them.”

To Jaíme Adán, freedom is predicated by one’s ability to live well in the moment. In our freedom, we push our own viewpoints on the world.

“[Freedom] is only really a performance inside us with all of the choices we make. My art is always filled with a longing for the beauty of simple moments. I want people to feel the beauty in each simple moment.”

In the 20th century, there was enough liminal space in communications and security that people with a sense of adventure could effectively evade the responsibilities of being a “functioning adult” with relatively little difficulty. Many, including Adán, traveled far with no mailing address, no credit cards, no social security, and shockingly little money. In fact, bohemian artists like him could travel with nothing to tie them down. Now, the onset of digital security apparatuses borne out of the Internet has made it extremely difficult to be this kind of vagabond in the 21st century.

As with so many culturally liberal ideas, freedom of movement for artists has been stifled by the heightened need for security in this age of digitalization. Where there was once an expansive community of traveling artists, squatting in vacant or shared spaces only to move on after a time, now only a few holdout communities remain. Art collectives have largely transformed into branded groups who take large cuts from their personal profits to be featured in the popular galleries of major cities.

Not so with the pARTners Collective – one of the last places where art triumphs over money.

“I need to connect with life through my art, not in a way that is necessarily reflected on my bank account,” said Adán. “Who’s more successful, the wealthy person with many things and many problems, or the poorer artist who roams free?”

This article was originally published on 3/13/19 in Spring 2019 Issue 6.


BC Library Honors Photographer Maximo Colon

By Allison Rapp, Managing Digital Editor

On Thursday evening, Mar. 7, a crowd gathered in the lobby of the college library to celebrate the opening of a new exhibit, “Montage Quotidien,” featuring the work of photographer Maximo Rafael Colon.

Colon was born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico in 1950, and then immigrated to the Brownsville area of Brooklyn when he was still a child. Colon’s photographs depict the significant social marginalization that affected not only his own Puerto Rican community, but also African Americans who were fleeing discrimination in the segregated South. The photos in the exhibit span over five decades.

“What we learn from this exhibit,” said Dr. Wilson Valentin Escobar, the curator of the exhibit and a professor of sociology and American studies at Hampshire College, “is that Maximo is able to document what he was observing, he as an activist, as a Puerto Rican migrant, whos first neighborhood was not too far from Brooklyn College when he first came to the United States. And so this is a return for him, it’s a coda.”

“This isn’t the West Side Story depiction,” he continued. “This is a community where there’s a lot of love, there’s a lot of resistance.”

The event was hosted by Reynaldo Ortíz-Minaya, an assistant professor in the Brooklyn College Puerto Rican and Latino Studies Department.

“For our students, this is for you. For our elders, this is for you as well,” said Minaya.

In attendance was the current chairperson of the Puerto Rican and Latino Studies Department, Dr. María Pérez y González.

“I think that what Maximo has done is he’s captured the essence of Puerto Ricans,” she said. “I’m really happy that this focuses on Puerto Rican migration.”

The event drew a number of former professors and activists such as Virginia Sánchez Korrol, a former chairperson of the department and graduate of the college herself, who spoke about the issues she and fellow students and staff faced in gaining representation and recognition on campus.

“It was that absence, that feeling that when you read American literature you were never mentioned. But when you read books in the sociology department, you were frequently mentioned and you were mentioned as a problem,” she said. “I was determined that I was going to do something about it.”

Indeed, something was done. In 1969, the Institute of Puerto Rican Studies was founded at Brooklyn College, and a year later officially gained departmental status.

For Maximo Colon, the exhibition of his photography is a unifying occasion.

“I’ve gotten here not by myself, but through a community, and it’s a community that struggles together, and if anything the photographs talk about that unity,” he said. “It’s a commitment on my part to bring a humanity to the forefront.”

The next event hosted by the Puerto Rican and Latino Studies Department will be held Thursday, Mar. 14 from 10:30 to 12:30 p.m. There will be a special screening of the film “Antonia Pantoja ¡Presente!” (2008), by film producer, activist, and scholar Dr. Lillian Jiménez.

This article was originally published on 3/13/19 in Spring 2019 Issue 6.


OP-ED: Bernie Sanders Has Principles. But Are Those Principles Good?

By Aleksandra Skica, Opinions Contributor

Last week, Bernie Sanders launched his presidential campaign in a rally at Brooklyn College. The speakers who introduced him sang his praises as an activist, noting his commendable fight against injustice during the 60’s Civil Rights movement. Similarly, I frequently hear students praise his honesty and how much he cares about the issues relevant to them, like education, healthcare, the environment, and job security.

Sanders possesses something that our current president conspicuously lacks – his actions follow from his moral principles. As humans, we want someone heroic to look up to. With his activist history, Bernie Sanders fits that role well. However, we need to question what those principles are and whether they are actually good.

We sometimes hear people say that they have the answers to the big questions that we are grappling with. College is expensive, working while going to college is difficult, and we all want to live in a world that is unpolluted, safe, and prosperous. These are real issues that are particularly relevant to a lot of Brooklyn College students, including me.

Bernie Sanders claims to have a vision that will change our country for the better. With free college, we wouldn’t need to worry about exorbitant student loan debt. With free healthcare, we wouldn’t need to worry about paying some of the highest healthcare costs in the world – or so we think.

The money still has to come from somewhere. We all still have to pay. When people are promised services as a right, it means there are other people who have a corresponding duty to serve them.

Bernie Sanders’s family came from Poland, at a time when the country was invaded by the Nazis, who murdered millions of people. When Bernie was fighting for socialist ideals in the United States, my own family in Poland was suffering under the rule of a state which had put these socialist ideals into practice. People waited on bread lines for hours in the snow to get their rationed food, which had been promised to them as a right. As a result of the impact of decades of socialist rule which left my country impoverished, my family immigrated here when I was a child. Like many other immigrants, we came to this country to seek a better life – one where we could work for our keep and keep what we earn. Such a life is only possible under a political and economic system which protects individual rights to life, liberty, and property. By guaranteeing the fruit of someone’s labor as a right to someone else, democratic socialism would give us not prosperity, but bread lines.

Bernie Sanders calls himself a democratic socialist. We associate this term with wealthy Scandinavian countries. However, despite having high tax rates and expansive welfare programs, these countries are able to achieve this standard of living because they leave people largely free to do business and to create wealth. These countries don’t practice democratic socialism, which says that people should be restricted. Democratic socialists declare it immoral for people to become billionaires. They say that it’s wrong to profit from creating new products and services which dramatically improve standards of living for people all around the world. Bernie doesn’t endorse the aspects of these countries that make them prosperous. His claims that his policies to restrict business and redistribute looted wealth will achieve the same standard of living as Sweden render him a hypocrite.

What does it really mean for something to be free? A hospital doesn’t operate free of cost; neither does a school. A school needs teachers. A hospital needs nurses, doctors, manufacturers of equipment, and people in pharmaceutical and biotech companies. When something is free, it means the government pays with it with a common pot of money collected from people who don’t decide where their money is going, whose money was taken without their choice. Under such policies, we would still pay for the services of healthcare and education which are promised to us as a right – we would just have even less of a choice over how our money is spent. The people working in these fields have less control over how they do their work. Socialism is a system of forced, oppressive obligations rather than voluntary cooperation.

Good intentions are do not make a good leader. We need to question whether these principles and intentions are actually good, and what these ideals look like when put into practice.

It’s also important to consider what exactly the proper role of government is and recognize the limits of what politicians can and should do. When politicians condemn and confiscate wealth, it has a profoundly detrimental effect on everyone. The wealthy suffer and so do the poor. Prosperity cannot be created by redistribution of wealth. Prosperity is created by thinking people who create quality products and services and trade with one another on increasingly larger scales. This, not exorbitant student loan debt, is the essence of capitalism. This is what the kinds of policies Sanders supports would destroy.

When a politician says they have the answers to our problems, it’s important to consider think more deeply about the nature of the problems and where the problems come from. We need to learn and think for ourselves before accepting anybody’s answers. Only thinking for ourselves can create the kind of world we want to live in.

This article was originally published on 3/13/19 in Spring 2019 Issue 6.


Bulldogs Lose Non-Conference Match to Fontbonne

By Hernan Pacas, Staff Writer

The Brooklyn College Men’s Volleyball team faced off against Fontbonne University from Missouri in a non-conference match on Thursday evening at the West Quad Center. The Bulldogs lost all three sets as Fontbonne University won the match 3-0 and improved to 16-1. The Bulldogs would move to 5-7 with the loss.

In the first set, the Bulldogs were destroyed by Fontbonne by a commanding 25-6 score. Fontbonne would start the first set by taking a 7-3 lead and would then go off for nine straight scores taking a 16-3 lead. After that they would only allow three more Bulldog scores as Fontbonne would easily win the first set. The second set, however, was much more competitive; but Fontbonne still continued to dominate the Bulldogs as they jumped out to a 19-10 lead. This time, the Bulldogs would fight back and put on a nice comeback with back-to-back kills before Fontbonne responded with three straight scores, ending the Bulldogs comeback as Fontbonne won the second set 25-15. In the third set, the Bulldogs showed more fight and were able to go back and forth with Fontbonne in a nail-biting close set. The Bulldogs would even have an 18-17 lead after capitalizing on three straight Fontbonne errors. The game would go back and forth before both teams were deadlocked at 22 a piece. This time with the game tied at 22, Fontbonne would gain back to back scores putting them one point away from the win. The Bulldogs would respond by scoring and cutting the lead to one. In the next play, Fontbonne would score on a Bulldogs attack error, winning the third set 25-23 and the match.

Junior setter Michael Valentin led the way for the Bulldogs with a team-high eight kills, and also finished with a team high eight digs on the defensive side. He also had the only ace of the match for the Bulldogs. Freshman middle hitter Omar Rezika would have a pair of blocks and also contributed two kills. Junior middle blocker Gabriel Pjatak contributed three kills and also had one block. Sophomore outside hitter Jasper Diangco recorded two kills and one block. Senior setter Sayuj Zachariah led the Bulldogs in assists with 14 assists. The Bulldogs were destroyed in kills as Fontbonne University recorded a total 39 kills for the game compared to the Bulldogs’ 15. In addition, it was not a great game defensively for the Bulldogs, who commited a total of 27 errors compared to Fontbonne’s 13. Fontbonne would also dominate the assists category by recording 36 assists compared to 14 by the Bulldogs.

This article was originally published on 3/13/19 in Spring 2019 Issue 6.


Men’s Volleyball Drops The Ball at CUNYAC

By Maruful Hossain, Sports Editor

In a Saturday CUNYAC Tri Match, the Brooklyn College Men’s Volleyball team dropped their first game to John Jay in three sets (25-22, 25-19, 25-22). The Brooklyn College Men’s Volleyball team then dropped their second game to Hunter College in three sets (25-17,25-15,25-19).

The Bulldogs had a strong start in their first set as they started off 4-0. The John Jay Bloodhounds would soon respond and make three scores. It was a head-to-head battle in the first set, but John Jay would take a 17-14 lead and then finish the first set with the score 25-22.

The second set was also very close, with both the Bulldogs and Bloodhounds tied up 8-8. John Jay would then make a 7-0 run and take control of the game’s pace. While the Bulldogs tried to keep it close, John Jay controlled the pace in the second set. The third set told the same story, except this time, John Jay took the lead early with a 5-1 lead. Brooklyn would then make a 4-0 run, only trailing 15-14.

The Bulldogs’ junior middle blocker, Gabriel Pjatak, led the team with 8.5 points on 6 kills and three blocks. Freshman middle hitter Omar Rezika followed up with 7.5 points on four kills and three blocks. Junior Libero Snigdho Hasan had 11 digs.

Throughout the game, John Jay lead in almost every category as they had 32 kills as opposed to the Bulldogs 23. The Bloodhounds also had a .102 hitting percentage while the Bulldogs had a -.019 hitting percentage.

The Bulldogs then faced the Hunter College Hawks. The Bulldogs had a 9-5 lead, but the Hawks would then rally and take a 21-15 lead and ended the set with 2 kills. The second set, the Bulldogs were outmatched by the Hawks. The third set was a competitive set as opposed to the other sets. The Bulldogs actually led 14-12, until the Hawks went on a run and the game ended on an error for the Bulldogs.

Leading this game was Gabriel Pjatak again, who scored 10 points on 7 kills, two service aces and block assists. Omar Rezika followed up with five points on three kills, a block, and a service ace.

Hunter College also led the statistics as they had 36 kills, as opposed to Brooklyn College’s 16 kills. Hunter College also had 35 assists, while Brooklyn College had 16 assists. Hunter College’s hitting percentage was impressive as it was a .288 percent compared to Brooklyn’s -.044 percent.

This article was originally published on 3/13/19 in Spring 2019 Issue 6.