Raw fish on campus compromised

(PHOTO CREDIT: MCTCAMPUS

Several locations on campus did not store their raw fish properly, putting students at risk for contracting herring worm. (PHOTO CREDIT: MCTCAMPUS

By Alex Kramer, Thomas Lotito and Alyssa Melillo

Campus Dining’s failure to freeze its raw fish properly may have put diners at risk for a parasite that causes diarrhea and vomiting, according to recent Suffolk County Department of Health Services inspection reports.

Raw fish must be kept frozen at -4 degrees Fahrenheit for seven days, or at -31 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 hours, to kill a parasite known as anisakis, or herring worm. Inspections were conducted at Jasmine and the Union Commons in October, West Side Dining in September and Roth Café last April.

The SCDOH found that salmon at Jasmine was stored in a freezer that could not maintain temperatures at -4 degrees Fahrenheit and the fish served there was not date-marked. Salmon was not adequately stored at Union Commons as well, nor was tilapia. The reports could not identify whether raw fish at Roth Café was frozen to destroy parasites before it was served.

When humans are infected with anisakis, the intestinal worms can grow up to two centimeters, which can cause diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. They stick to the walls of the esophagus, stomach or intestines, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

“The standard is meant to kill off parasite eggs that some fish carry,” Keith Schneider, a food safety expert at the University of Florida, said. “It makes it safe to eat the fish raw.”

Fewer than 10 people are diagnosed with herring worm in the United States each year, but many more cases may go undetected, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website. It is most common in Japan, the Netherlands and Scandinavia. Surgery is needed to remove the worm in extreme cases.

Each restaurant on campus that serves sushi has a blast chiller—a high-powered refrigerator that can freeze raw fish to the recommended level—according to Todd Johnson, assistant executive director of the Faculty Student Association.

Joseph Rudolph, regional operations vice president for Lackmann Culinary Services, the contract holder for Campus Dining Services, suggested in an email through an FSA spokeswoman that Stony Brook had violated the safety requirements because “during the busy lunch periods, cooks are going in and out of those freezers which can cause the temperatures at certain times to fluctuate.”

Rudolph added that Campus Dining implemented the use of temperature logs for all salmon “so that each piece is individually tagged and logged as to when it was received and when it was kept frozen.” He did not say whether that requirement was in place before the violation.

A Campus Dining sanitarian is responsible for keeping the temperature logs and conducting monthly unit inspections, a spokeswoman said. An executive chef at West Side Dining is responsible for making sure the fish is frozen properly.

Five years ago, a Stony Brook student reported nausea after eating sushi at Jasmine that she described as “having an unusual taste,” according to a report by The Statesman.

Roger Tollefsen, president of the New York Seafood Council, said the FDA published standards for maintaining seafood safety 15 years ago. Suffolk County adopted the freezing requirements in 2003, according to spokeswoman for SCDOH Grace Kelly-McGovern.

“It takes a perfect storm of events for someone to be infected with these parasites,” Schneider noted. “The regulations are written for the worst-case scenario.”

Johnson said the violations were resolved in the months since these health inspections were conducted.

“Campus Dining reacted quickly to this issue by immediately discarding any food product that might be in question and revising their food handling procedures,” Johnson said in an email through an FSA spokeswoman.

He added the new food handling policies were approved by the county health department.

“The new food handling procedures, staff training and additional management support that were put in place this year provide Campus Dining with excellent tools that should help them implement and maintain the necessary food safety procedures needed at our dining facilities,” Johnson said.

Students interviewed on campus did not have much good to say about campus dining when showed the health inspection reports, although nobody complained of illness.

“Some of the food at Kelly is really dry and stale, it seems like it has been there since the morning,” freshman Daffeny Barochin said. “It’s insulting—you really want me to eat this?”

“For meal points, it’s not bad,” junior Sarah McNulty said after she finished eating her roll from Eastern Cuisine at West Side Dining. “I like this better than the SAC,” she said. “It just sits there in the containers at the SAC. It doesn’t look good.”

McNulty said she eats the sushi because she considers it healthier—it is not fried.

On a particular Friday, spicy tuna and tuna avocado rolls were nestled between sandwiches and wraps near the entrance to the SAC dining room. The shelves they were sitting on were labeled ‘Nutritionist Picks.’

Psychology major Melanie Rodriguez, also a junior, said she never eats the sushi on campus, but agrees that the variety of food is lacking.

“We’re on a college campus and they expect us to do well, but all of the fried food makes you feel sluggish,” Rodriguez said. “I personally do not eat the sushi on campus because, judging by all the other food here, I expect for it not to be fresh.”

Raúl M. Sánchez: Stony Brook’s new Title IX Director

Sanchez has 13 years of administrative experience and is a lawyer. He was hired to his current position July 2013. (JESSICA DESAMERO / THE STATESMAN)

Sánchez has 13 years of administrative experience and is a lawyer. He was hired to his current position in July 2013. (JESSICA DESAMERO / THE STATESMAN)

by Elsie Boskamp and Sarah Kirkup

In 2012, there were 17 cases of rape on the Stony Brook University campus.

The following year, in July of 2013, the university hired Raúl M. Sánchez to serve as the senior director for Title IX and Risk Management.

Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity, according to The United States Department of Justice website.

Sánchez is responsible for “developing and implementing a risk management program,” while overseeing the Office of Diversity and Affirmative Action. He is also working full time on Title IX issues, according to a job description issued by the university.

According to Sánchez, the SUNY consent agreement says that all colleges are required to have a Title IX division on campus to deal with all acts of discrimination on the base of sex.  “[There is] more emphasis [on the program] because of the federal government,” he said.

Sánchez, a lawyer, has 13 years of administrative experience, including his former position as director of the Office for Equal Opportunity at Washington State University.

Since Stony Brook hired him, he has revised procedures in the Office of Diversity and Affirmative Action and is in the process of fulfilling a training program through online courses.

Sánchez has been considering various courses about sexual assault from Workplace Answers, a company that provides colleges with online classes, and has conducted multiple student sessions with resident assistants to get student feedback.

“Students want more information regarding sexual assault,” Sánchez concluded from discussions with the resident assistants.

The online classes, which the university plans to offer in the fall, will be available to all students, faculty and staff members. They will satisfy the university’s legal and moral obligations to its campus community.

Training programs will also involve educating people about the dangers of alcohol.

A majority of Title IX violations involve alcohol abuse, according to Sánchez.

“Many young people have active social lives, and people take advantage of that,” he said.

In many cases, issues regarding student misconduct occur “behind closed doors,” Sánchez said.

In these instances, investigations involve gathering as much information as possible from the people involved and any social media networks they used.

Some investigations are conducted by various campus offices and organizations. This includes the campus police and medical and psychological services.

Providing a proper infrastructure to “file complaints,” implementing consistent policies and communicating them accordingly are some of Sánchez’s main goals.

“This is a university that wants to protect its students,” Sánchez said.

In the future, Sánchez said he is interested in “possibly working with student government on some of these issues,” and continuing his work with Title IX employees.

“There were, and still are very capable people working on Title IX before I got here,” Sánchez said. “But, as far as I know, I’m the only person on campus who works full time, all the time on Title IX issues.”

Uncontested USG election results unsurprising

USG contestants ran largely unopposed this year. Whether the process is fair and democratic is up for debate. (MANJU SHIVACHARAN / THE STATESMAN)

USG contestants ran largely unopposed this year. Whether the process is fair and democratic is up for debate. (MANJU SHIVACHARAN / THE STATESMAN)

by Ryan Wolf and Will Welch

Undergraduate Student Government elections closed on Friday, officially establishing junior biology major Garry Lachhar as the next president of USG and making the $99.50 student activity fee mandatory for undergraduate students for the next two years.

Very few students voted in this year’s elections compared to last year. The activity fee ballot initiative received the most votes—808 students were in favor of keeping the fee mandatory and 369 were against it. Lachhar received 839 votes compared to the 1,260 votes current USG President Adil Hussain received last year. A total of 2,162 students voted in last year’s presidential race.

But Lachhar, who ran unopposed, would have won the position with only one vote, as would the six other candidates running for executive council positions and the three candidates running for class representative positions.

The number of uncontested elections this year was a result of the petitioning process, which requires candidates to submit as certain number of signatures from students to appear on the official ballot. Though many students filed to run in the elections, few actually turned in the petition form.

“I had originally received 60 intent forms,” USG Elections Board Chair Jacqueline Wall said. “When it came time for the petitioning forms to be handed in, I was surprised when only 36 students had completed the process and turned them in to us.”

To her knowledge, USG has never seen such a large number of uncontested elections before.

The petition process requires 600 signatures from students to run for President, Executive Vice President or Treasurer. It requires 400 signatures to run for Vice President of Academic Affairs, Vice President of Student Life, Vice President of Communications or Vice President of Clubs and Organizations.

Despite the number uncontested positions, the USG Elections Board does not have provisions for write-in candidates or votes against candidates on the ballot.

“There was never any concern raised to us about having the ability to write in for elections,” Wall said. “Since there is no precedent on such a procedure, we didn’t investigate the possibility.

“The ability to do write-ins can be investigated further,” she continued. “But we will need to look into the feasibility of doing this from a technological standpoint.”

For the coming years, the Elections Board will try to make changes to avoid the situation from repeating itself.

“Going forward, we would like to start the elections process earlier and see if getting the word out sooner has any effect on preventing this from happening,” Wall said.

The USG election process allows for candidates to form parties. Thirty-four of the 36 candidates who ran were part of “The Actual Party.” The two candidates who did not run with the party, Michael Lavina and Stephanie Kaczynski, did not win their positions.

Current senators Vincent Justiniano and James Mutino, who did run with “The Actual Party,” were not re-elected.

Editorial: lack of midsemester course evaluations is detrimental to students

With fewer than six weeks left in the semester, students were sent final evaluations for courses. However, many waited for midsemester evaluations, which never came.
In an email sent by the university, students were reminded to fill out the evaluations, which will be released to professors after grades have been submitted. But without midsemester evaluations, students have no way express the problems they may be facing while their classes are still in session—there is no way to give professors the appropriate time to address what could be changed when it still counts.

Stony Brook should bring back midsemester evaluations to help both students and professors. Granted, sometimes it is difficult to make changes midway through a course. But even if professors are aware of general concerns, certain issues can be adjusted while classes are in session.

In addition, students need to take evaluation seriously when they are sent out. Most students have opinions, good and bad, about courses, professors and grades. Students, however, hardly ever use the one tool that is given to them to convey these problems. If students really have a problem with something, they should fill out their evaluations and write to department heads if necessary.

The results of these surveys, even if filtered, should also be available to students. Professors often promote course evaluations as a better pathway for expressing dissatisfaction with courses than sites like Rate My Professor, but tools like these are essential to students for making informed class selections. Making course evaluation data public gives students more incentive to complete the evaluations and simultaneously makes them more valuable to the Stony Brook community.

Yale University releases numerical ratings of professors from its own student evaluations as well as specific comments as to why students ranked professors the way they did. This kind of system would be immensely valuable to the student body while still maintaining important feedback for professors. Students benefit from being able to choose the best professors, and professors benefit from getting an accurate view of the effectiveness of their instruction.

Improving classes is a two-way street. If students want things to change, they need to utilize the semester evaluations. But the university needs also to give students the opportunity to voice their opinions, preferably while there is still time for adjustments.

Sincerely-
The Editorial Board

Holi 2014

Statesman editors went to cover Holi 2014 – the annual celebration of spring. Hosted by the Hindu Students Council, this event has been around Stony Brook University since 2008.

Raúl M. Sánchez strives to educate campus regarding sexual assault

(JESSICA DESAMERO / THE STATESMAN)

Raúl M. Sánchez was appointed in July 2013 to serve as the senior director for Title IX and Risk Management at Stony Brook. (JESSICA DESAMERO / THE STATESMAN)

By Elsie Boskamp and Sarah Kirkup

In 2012, there were 17 cases of rape on the Stony Brook University campus.

The following year, in July of 2013, the university hired Raúl M. Sánchez to serve as the senior director for the Title IX and Risk Management.

Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity, according to The United States Department of Justice website.

Sánchez is responsible for “developing and implementing a risk management program,” while overseeing the Office of Diversity and Affirmative Action. He is also working full time on Title IX issues, according to a job description issued by the university.

According to Sánchez, the SUNY consent agreement says that all colleges are required to have a Title IX division on campus to deal with all acts of discrimination on the base of sex.  “[There is] “more emphasis [on the program] because of the federal government,” he said.

Sánchez, a lawyer, has 13 years of administrative experience, including his former position as director of the Office for Equal Opportunity at Washington State University.

Since Stony Brook hired him, he has revised procedures in the Office of Diversity and Affirmative Action and is in the process of fulfilling a training program through online courses.

Sánchez has been considering various courses about sexual assault from Workplace Answers, a company that provides colleges with online classes, and has conducted multiple student sessions with resident assistants to get student feedback.

“Students want more information regarding sexual assault,” Sánchez concluded from discussions with the resident assistants.

The online classes, which the university plans to offer in the fall, will be available to all students, faculty and staff members. It will satisfy the universities legal and moral obligations to its campus community.

Training programs will also involve educating people about the dangers of alcohol.

A majority of Title IX violations involve alcohol abuse, according to Sánchez.  “Many young people have active social lives, and people take advantage of that,” he said.

In many cases, issues regarding student misconduct occur “behind closed doors,” Sánchez said.  In these instances, investigations involve gathering as much information as possible from the people involved and any social media networks they used.

Depending on the specific incident, investigations are conducted by various campus offices and organizations. This includes the campus police and medical and psychological services.

Providing a proper infrastructure to “file complaints,” implementing consistent policies and communicating them accordingly are some of Sánchez’s main goals.

“This is a university that wants to protect its students,” Sánchez said.

In the future, Sánchez said he is interested in “possibly working with student government on some of these issues,” and continuing his work with Title IX employees.

“There were, and still are very capable people working on Title IX before I got here,” Sánchez said. “But, as far as I know, I’m the only person on campus who works full time, all the time on Title IX issues.”

USG candidates discuss campus issues in Statesman forum

by Kelly Zegers and Arielle Martinez

2014 USG Candidate Forum from The Statesman on Vimeo.

Undergraduate Student Government candidates answered questions in a forum hosted by The Statesman on Tuesday, and many responses centered around the topics of communication with students and campus involvement.

The candidate panel comprised Steven Adelson, who is running for re-election as vice president of academic affairs; Kathryn Michaud, the candidate for treasurer; and senatorial candidates Vincent Justiniano, Valliappan Lakshmanan, Michael Lavina and Maximillian Shaps.

Not all candidates attended, including Garry Lachhar, the presidential candidate and the current vice president of student life; Kenneth Myers, the candidate for vice president of student life; and Kimberly Pacia, a College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) senator who is running for vice president of clubs and organizations.

All candidates for executive positions are running unopposed, and all candidates except two senatorial candidates are members of the Actual Party, which advocates that there will be “no gimmicks” as a part of its campaign.

Candidates were asked if they thought the uncontested races were a sign of campus unity or lack of interest. Michaud said either USG was more efficient this year or people did not know about the upcoming elections.

Justiniano, who is currently a CAS senator, said this year’s USG officers received less complaints from students than last year’s officers did, resulting in “a lack of internal competition and external confrontation.”

Colleges of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS) Senator candidate Lavina, the Tea Packets party’s sole member, said elections are difficult to understand for those who are not involved already involved in USG, and he believes the party system is “very flawed.”

The candidates all mentioned ways that gathering feedback from students could improve, whether by conducting surveys, sending more emails, using SB Voice, but especially connecting with students in person.

CEAS Senator candidate Lakshmanan suggested that talking to students in class and at lunch would be “more impactful” as it is “more comfortable and it’s more face-to-face and it’s one-on-one.”

Justiniano said he would like to see more use of SB Voice after it declined this year.

“That was a real disappointment on our end because that was a way students didn’t need to attend town hall meetings, didn’t need to fill out surveys,” he said. “It was online, in their own time, to fill this out, let us know the issue and we could try our hardest to fix it.”

Executive Vice President candidate and CAS Senator James Alrassi, who left the forum early to take an exam, said the biggest changes should come from the senators.

“I want to get as many people to come to the senate meetings as possible when they see something that affects them,” he said.

Another topic that was addressed was accusations of unprofessional online conduct by the current USG administration. Several panelists agreed that the humor used in USG’s online presence helps reduce intimidation among students.

“Many people accused last year’s administration of being too serious, of not being approachable,” Justiniano said.

Vice President of Communications and Public Relations candidate Daniel Chung, who sat in the audience, told The Statesman he would work as a medium to contact the USG president because the president has to overlook the entire student government, and he would look to improve the relationship with campus media.

Issues concerning USG’s nearly $3 million budget were also discussed. Michaud said she wants to change the grant system so that funding lasts longer and to add alternative revenue sources for club funding such as sponsors and fundraising.

When asked whether USG officers should be paid, Adelson and Lakshmanan both said “being paid keeps you accountable,” whereas Lavina questioned compensation, saying “you are kept accountable by the constitution.”

Current Vice President of Communications and Public Relations Mario Ferone spoke briefly about the student activity fee that USG controls. In addition to the candidate ballots, students can also vote on whether the student activity fee will be mandatory or voluntary.

He said major aspects of student life such as campus organizations and concerts are covered by the fee and that “student life will suffer” if the vote fails.

Voting on SOLAR began Monday, April 7 and will close at noon on Friday, April 11.

USG Executive Council: promises made and promises kept

by Peter Chen and Kelly Zegers

Last year,  the Undergraduate Student Government executive council candidates pledged to make several changes to improve campus life. The Statesman reexamined those platforms to see if those candidates upheld their promises.

USG President Adil Hussain

In his election platform, Hussain called for increasing attendance at student concerts, bringing artists popular with students, scheduling concerts on days without exams and providing students with information about events early so as to accommodate busy schedules.

So far this year, USG held concerts featuring Mac Miller and Taking Back Sunday. The events were promoted on social media sites, weeks in advance.

Hussain’s platform also advocated for students to volunteer and help coordinate concerts and for the club budgeting process to be streamlined.

He decided not to run for reelection because he is satisfied with what he has done as president and is willing to give up the position for someone else to promote change.

He did not comment on his previous platform.

Executive Vice President Mallory Rothstein 

Rothstein wanted to create an internship with USG that would allow students to see what the roles of senators and executive council members entail. Vice President of Academic Affairs Steven Adelson and Vice President of Communication and Public Relations Mario Ferone have had interns as a requirement for the PASS tutoring program.

Rothstein called for less paper consumption to save on administrative costs and use that money for clubs. She said the agendas are emailed and put on Facebook but are still printed in a smaller amount for those who prefer it and for club members that attend senate meetings.

As for the USG website, Rothstein’s platform called for redesigning it entirely. The site changed since last year and includes a newsfeed on the front page, links to USG’s social media, Campus Vine, documents, event information and SB Voice.

Rothstein did not comment on advocation to administer an open forum where clubs could learn about Campus Vine and USG policies and a club advisors conference that would help advisors become more knowledgeable about and helpful to their organizations.

Treasurer Brian McIlvain

McIlvain’s platform included organizing clubs into separate councils for better communication between clubs and with USG, creating a Bureau of Club Budgeting to increase the role of clubs in the budgeting process and revising the grants system and financial bylaws.

The USG senate meeting minutes from September show six grant applications were approved, totaling about $31,000. The total allocated amount for grants is $70,000. Grant requests for the fall semester were done in November and additional requests were said to be considered in this semester, according to the minutes for a November 2013 meeting.

The minutes for Fall 2013 do not suggest changes were made to the financial bylaws or creation of separate councils for clubs or a Bureau of Club Budgeting.  The latest Spring 2014 minutes are not available on the USG website.

McIlvain could not be reached for comment on the platform.

Vice President for Student Life Garry Lachhar

Lachhar’s main goal as VP of Student Life was to improve overall student life. He planned to achieve this by increasing communication between the student body and USG so the students can have a voice in what events they would like to attend.

Lachhar explained the USG uses social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to not only promote events, but also as platform for students to voice their concerns and opinions.

Using Roth Regatta as an example, Lachhar said USG conducts surveys via social media outlets and in person to gather information on what themes students would like to do for the Regatta boats.

Vice President of Clubs and Organizations Kerri Mahoney

Mahoney called for extended open office hours and Campus Vine training seminar for those who need help and new club workshops to allow Special Services Council clubs to learn about USG and the processes to go through.

Mahoney could not be reached for comment. The available meeting minutes do not suggest training seminars or workshops for SSC.

Vice President of Academic Affairs Steven Adelson

Adelson had plans to provide additional resources and review sessions for major lecture courses. The result is PASS (Providing Academic Support for Students), a free tutoring program ran by the Office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs. According to PASS’s website, the program currently offers tutoring assistance in the following subjects: applied mathematics and statistics, biology, chemistry, economics, mathematics and physics.

While the program is free for students, the Student Activity Fee pays the tutoring staff.

Another goal for Adelson as VP of Academic Affairs is to recognize professors, faculty and students for their hard work and contribution to Stony Brook’s academic community. The Recognition page on the USG website is one of the pages left blank with the “Coming Soon” message.

Adelson could not be reached for comment.

Vice President  of Communications & Public Relations Mario Ferone

Mario Ferone’s platform focused on increasing communication between the student body and USG and organizing “SickNasty” events.

To help achieve these goals, Ferone promised to establish a communications committee to assist himself in informing the campus community.

SBVoice, an online comment board aimed for students to voice their concerns and communicate with USG officials, was created and is run by Ferone. Gaining attraction during the early periods of its release, SBVoice has been seldom used, but during the height of its popularity, it proved useful for students, most notably an issue posted by SBU student Tyler Morrison regarding Equal Blood Donor Rights. USG took notice of the issue and organized a panel for Blood Donor Equality.

Ferone said reviving SBVoice is one of the top priorities before his term ends because it is a direct line of communication between the student body and USG.

Correction: April 8, 2014

An earlier version of this article misspelled the first name of the current USG President. He is Garry Lachhar, not Gary Lacchar.

SBU relives the 1920s through Great Gatsby

Reporting by Hunter Frederick and Francesca Campione

(JESUS PICHARDO / THE STATESMAN)

Stony Brook students dressed in 1920s themed attire in spirit of the F. Scott Fitzgerald book “The Great Gatsby” and the popular Hollywood adaptation of the novel. (JESUS PICHARDO / THE STATESMAN)

“The Great Gatsby” might have hit the big screen last year, but that did not stop Stony Brook students from filling the Student Activities Center Ballroom B Saturday night with the sound of decadence and Roaring Twenties fun.

RA Lisette Nuñez of Hand College and Weekend Life Council co-hosted a 1920s themed party, dubbed “What Would Gatbsy Do?”

The event featured a photo booth, a DJ, a fashion show and live performances. Ballroom B was transformed in 1920s fashion, featuring gold, black and silver balloons, DJ Enclave, sparkling cider (in lieu of champagne) and electronic swing/jazz music.

Nuñez came up with the idea for a Gatsby-like party and reached out to the Weekend Life Council.

“We kind of used the movie as inspiration for the theme,” Marielle Rodriguez, a member of the Weekend Life Council who helped plan the event, said. “Then it was a matter of planning, purchasing supplies and setting this whole thing up.”

First up was SB Live, the campus’ live performance band, who played a medley of songs. Next, RA Hiba Hashim of Dreiser College and Steve Morel performed an acoustic selection from the soundtrack of The Great Gatsby followed by Justin Sterling joining Hashim on stage for a re-imagining of Jay-Z’s hit singles “No Church In the Wild” and “Empire State of Mind.”

“I thought it was really good,” Samson Woo, a political science and business student who also was a part of the show, said. “The décor and the music and especially the atmosphere were all done so well.”

After that Nuñez announced the fashion show, the evening’s final performance, complete with models and a small vocal performance from Nuñez herself.

Jay Mourabet, a senior engineering major, modeled in the fashion show.

“I think it was great,” he said. “Everything was good and it had a lot of different, well-run aspects to it.”

Two other Weekend Life Council members, Samantha Shetty, a psychology and biology major, and Daniella Gordello, a Spanish major, agreed that the event was a success.

“You know, it’s a good night out,” Mourabet said. “It’s been a stressful week with exams and this is a good way to relieve stress on campus.”

Police arrest student on assault charges

by Giselle Barkley and Rebecca Anzel

On Friday, March 14 at 1:30 a.m., university police responded to a report of a fight between two male students.

A verbal and then physical altercation transpired between the two students, who are residents of Irving College, according to Assistant Chief of Police Lawrence Zacarese.

Police arrested the assailant, who was charged with assault in the third degree, added Zacarese in a statement.

Stony Brook Volunteer Ambulance Corps President Roxana Mehran said SBVAC transported the two male students from Irving College to the Stony Brook University Hospital.

It is still unknown who the two male students are and their current condition.

6:21 p.m., March 15: According to a statement made by Roxana Mehran, president of the Stony Brook Volunteer Ambulance Corps, SBVAC transported the two male students from Irving College to the Stony Brook University Hospital.

6:29 p.m.: On Friday, March 14 at 1:30 a.m., university police responded to a report of a fight between two male students.

A verbal and then physical altercation transpired between the two students, who are residents of Irving College, according to Assistant Chief of Police Lawrence Zacarese.

Police arrested the assailant, who was charged with assault in the third degree, added Zacarese in a statement.


 

Under the microscope: the science behind a hangover, the spins and untested cures

The specific scientific cause of a hangover is unknown, but certain people are more prone to having one than others. (BRIDGET DOWNES / THE STATESMAN)

The specific scientific cause of a hangover is unknown, but certain people are more prone to having one than others. (BRIDGET DOWNES / THE STATESMAN)

 

by Mallory Locklear and Ruchi Shah

Ruchi Shah, a sophomore biology major, and Mallory Locklear, a graduate student at Stony Brook’s department of neurobiology and behavior, take a look at science-related issues.

Hangovers, called veisalgia by those in the medical field, are a dreaded after effect of alcohol consumption and a familiar experience for many college students. Characterized by symptoms including headaches, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, stomach problems, drowsiness, sweating and cognitive impairment, a hangover is certainly not a fun ordeal. Despite its prevalence, the cause of a hangover is still an enigma to scientists.

While it is widely believed that alcohol consumption results in a hangover due to dehydration, researchers at Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences found there is “no correlation between high levels of hormones associated with dehydration and the severity of a hangover.”

Although not the main cause, dehydration is still a side effect because alcohol acts as a diuretic in the body.

Imagine a balance with one side representing what stays in the body and the other representing what leaves. Normally, both sides have a fixed ration of compounds with respect to each other. But when you eat too many salty foods, the ratio changes and more water is retained to maintain the initial ratio. The messenger that tells your body to hold onto water is called anti-diuretic hormone or ADH.

Alcohol does not let this messenger work, increasing the amount of urine production and the amount of water the body loses. While it is not a cure, many scientists believe drinking extra water while consuming alcohol will help mitigate hangover symptoms.

The current theory behind hangovers involves the outcome of the body processing alcohol. Just as food molecules are broken down into smaller and smaller pieces that the body can use, alcohol is broken down so it can be excreted. As alcohol is being converted, the first product produced is acetaldehyde, which is 10 to 30 times more toxic than alcohol. Recent studies suggest that it is the buildup of this byproduct that results in symptoms like sweating, skin flushing, nausea and vomiting.

One of the more unfortunate side effects of drinking too much is known as “the spins” and it has a very reasonable scientific explanation.

When you turn your head, a series of events happen to let your brain know that your head has moved.

Within your inner ear are three small tubes called the semicircular canals, which are filled with a liquid called endolymph. The three canals correspond to the three directions in space in which the head can move.

When you turn your head, all of the solid bits inside of your head, such as the canals, move together, but the liquid in the canals does not move in the same way. To observe this effect, place a cup of your beverage of choice on a table. Now with the cup on the table, slowly push it away from you. What you will see is that while the cup is being pushed, your drink does not seem to be doing much, but when you stop pushing, your drink stops at a slight delay and sloshes up against the side of the cup.

The endolymph behaves the same way. When the head is stationary, so is the liquid.  When the head turns, however, the canals move along with it, but the endolymph is a little slower to pick up on the movement and lags behind. Since the canals and all of the more solid items within it are moving but the endolymph is slightly behind, it causes some friction between the two, and the endolymph pushes against the more solid items in the ear canals.

These items include the cupula, a gelatinous structure attached to tiny hair cells. When the endolymph pushes against it, the cupula causes the hair cells to bend. Every time they bend, they send a signal to the brain letting it know that the head is moving.

Under normal circumstances, the endolymph, cupula and hair cells are in perfect balance, such that when the head is not moving, there is no friction between them.

However, when you have consumed so much alcohol that it starts to seep into the endolymph, this balance is disrupted. This is because when alcohol finds its way into the endolymph, it changes the endolymph’s density, making it a thinner liquid than usual.

This thinner liquid is now not dense enough to support the cupula and hair cells in the ear canals when the head is not moving. So whereas usually the endolymph is able to keep the cupula and hair cells positioned upright, the thin endolymph cannot and the hair cells fall over a little bit.

If you have ever tried to make fruit-filled Jell-O, you know something about the importance of density. If you mix up a package of Jell-O, it is a very watery liquid at first. You have to wait until the Jell-O thickens a little bit before you put the fruit in, otherwise the fruit just falls to the bottom.

As the hair cells fall over, they send false signals to the brain that the head is moving. This is why it seems like the room is spinning when enough alcohol has been imbibed. The hair cells are constantly telling the brain that the head is moving, when it is not.

Most agree that there is not a cure for the spins and the best way to prevent them is by not drinking too much. However, in his blog “Accidental Scientist,” Simon Cooke, a software engineer who gained a small following around his posts on “hangover cures,” writes that there may be a way to trick the system.

Cooke claims that if you send a large enough signal, the brain cannot be confused as to whether the head is moving or not. He proposes that if you position your head at a large enough angle to the neck, the “spinning” signal will be overridden.

As stated in his blog, Cooke advises to, “position yourself over the arm of the couch, with your head hanging downwards.”

So, hopefully, you will avoid the spins altogether, but if you do find the room spinning, give this a try.

While the scientific cause behind hangovers may not be completely understood, it is easily observable that certain populations are more prone to hangovers. Genetic differences may be the culprit.

Individuals prone to hangovers tend to have an excess of enzymes that convert alcohol to the first byproduct—the toxic acetaldehyde. However, the enzymes converting the toxic compound to a less toxic byproduct works slower than in a normal person. Therefore, certain people are more prone to hangovers because they have different enzyme amounts. This enzyme imbalance, a result of genetic differences, leads to an even greater buildup of acetaldehyde, and ultimately to more severe hangover symptoms.