Yik Yak and the problem of accountability



Today’s youth—people from the ages of ten to about twenty five—are supposed to be part of the most gifted generation the planet has ever seen. We have so much at our disposal; we have everything from news, TV shows, professional sports and especially other people all at our fingertips. With the advent and incredible widespread use of social media, Generation Z might be the most socially gifted group of youngsters in history as well. We can reach someone across the world with an internet connection and a web device, and at the same time, we can anonymously insult our friends with the click of a button without facing any repercussions. While you may think this is all fine and dandy, social media has made us into our worst nightmares: antisocial beings who are fooled into thinking that what they are doing is actually an adequate substitute for human interaction.

You all probably know what Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are by this point in your college careers. If you do not, then, stop reading this and go find out. The aforementioned applications aim to simulate a room filled with all the people you were ever friendly with in your life and promote a virtual environment of interaction. Some people can spend hours on these sites without any contact with a real human being. Quite frankly I find that disturbing.

If there is one thing I like about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, it is that you can be held accountable to what you say (as long as your account is legitimate) and you, more often than not, know who you are interacting with. Thus, this brings me to Yik Yak.

Yik Yak is an application that is available on most smartphone platforms that basically is like an anonymous Twitter. The posts are filtered by the location at which they were published in and the users of the app can either “vote up” their favorite comments, or “vote down” the ones they do not like. What irks me about this whole process is that although it helps people vent their frustrations, it is entirely anonymous. This means that you can literally write anything about anyone. I find that when something like expressing yourself becomes so easy, the effort that you put into actually putting those sentiments into verbiage becomes minimal.

When someone had a problem in the past, they would just talk about it with the people they know and trust. The internet or any third party application that allows anonymous posts might be a way to let off some steam, but does it really solve anything? No, absolutely not. If anything, it just delays the inevitable collapse. When you are stuck in a hole, you need to take the hands of those close to you and rely on their help to get you out.

If you find yourself romantically interested in a certain someone, do not just post about them on Yik Yak or even Stony Brook Admirers, go tell them how you feel! Honestly, you only have one life to live. You have to go live it through the actual human interactions that you have the opportunity to experience in your time existing on this planet. As a generation, we need to stop hiding behind screens and go say and do things that will actually matter in our lives.

Tinder can lead to something beautiful


One can swipe right on a person’s photo on Tinder if they are interested. Swiping left, on the other hand, is reserved for those one is not interested in. (MANJU SHIVACHARAN / THE STATESMAN)

Finding a date on Friday night used to mean having to shower, dress up nicely and put on the ‘ol charm at college party or bar. Now, students standing in the SAC line for Doritos or relaxing in bed with flannel pants and a dirty T-shirt are swiping through countless hook-up options.

How exactly is the aforementioned phenomena accomplished? Tinder, which is not magic but very close to it, is an app created for meeting and matching up locals. For college students, Tinder creates a seemingly endless list of gorgeous boys and girls to look through. But even though Tinder is mainly classified as a hook-up app, it is capable of being a place not just for booty calls, but a way to meet someone serious or even fulfill the simple need of giving you someone to interact with.

According to their webpage, Tinder is described a place for people to meet, and that is exactly what it is. When you open Tinder, you will automatically be presented with a profile, male or female, depending on what you are looking for. If you think the person is cute, you swipe right. If you are not feeling it, swipe the picture to the left. The only way you get “matched” with another person is if you both swiped right on each other’s profiles. A chat room then opens up, and the rest is just making conversation.

“It’s such an ego boost,” Sarah Eller, a sophomore political science major, said. “It’s such a nice feeling to know that you got swiped right on.”

Because the app is connected with Facebook, shared interests or mutual friends that you may have with other Tinder profiles will show up, trying to create common ground for you to talk about if you get matched with someone. But if you begin chatting with the person and do not want to pursue meeting the match in person, you can simply leave them alone. It is not a dating site, so there are no obligations.

“If somebody asks me to go get coffee I just politely say no,” Eller said. “I use it for the fun of it, but I don’t take it seriously.”

A large number of Tinder users, however, do use it with the intention of meeting up with somebody. Some people go on Tinder trying to get a serious relationship out of it. For others, if a meet up happens to go exceptionally well, a second meet up might come from it, even if it was not planned.

Other users though have no intention of continuing past a first date or meet up. Some users exchange no more than a few messages to each other, just to agree on a time and place to meet up and do the dirty deed.

“I just like getting laid,” Lucas Balzer, a freshman photography major at City College of New York, said. “It’s basically a bottomless well of women that I can hook-up with. It’s kind of hard to see a downside.”

What makes Tinder so unique is that it does not meet one specific criterion. Some students use it for the confidence boost. Others use it to find someone nearby to have fun with one a Friday night. But that’s the real beauty of Tinder: it is what you want it to be. You could spend hours talking to someone about politics, or you could spend two seconds just saying hi. It does not matter what you do with the app, you just have to enjoy it. Every human has a need for other humans, and Tinder is a great way to fulfill that need.


Pumpkin spice madness needs to end

(Art by JeriAnne Vestuto)

(Art by JeriAnne Vestuto)

Starbucks’ top-selling beverage has made an early return this year. Yes, indeed, the Pumpkin Spice Latte has come yet again, ushering in a wave of pumpkin-flavored products that have taken American consumers by storm. Ever since the Pumpkin Spice Latte debuted in 2003, coffee lovers have fallen in love with the beverage, drinking it by the liter for years to come. Needless to say, the success Starbucks has experienced selling pumpkin spice lattes has earned the attention of other companies and food manufacturers.

Many food giants, including Nabisco, Pringles and Kraft, are guilty of jumping on the bandwagon of Starbucks’ pumpkin spice-laced prosperity. A recent grocery-shopping trip has exposed me to this nationwide pumpkin pandemonium that has ravaged the shelves of every store. Countless orange-colored packages labeled with the words “Pumpkin” and “limited time only” lined the aisles. During that one trip, I felt as if I had seen it all; everything from pumpkin spice flavored Oreos to Trader Joe’s pumpkin-flavored dog treats.

Even retail stores have shamelessly joined in on the fun. The reason as to why people wish to smell like food has always remained a mystery to me. But, if you ever feel like smelling like a Thanksgiving dinner, you should definitely stop by Bath & Body Works and give the Cinnamon Pumpkin fragrance line a try.

It is obvious that companies need a gimmick to promote their businesses if they ever hope to be considered fierce competitors to Starbucks during the fall. Or maybe they just want to incorporate Starbucks’ success into their own products.

Unfortunately, it does not seem like any imitators, rivals and charlatans will have the upper hand when going toe to toe with Starbucks’ pumpkin spice lattes. Despite being a seasonal beverage, the Pumpkin Spice Latte has acquired the status of a celebrity icon. It has its own hashtag (#PSL), Twitter account and Facebook page. There was even  clamor about Durex, a condom manufacturing company, unveiling its new pumpkin spice condom. Yet, this was dispelled as a false rumor in due time.

The pendulum has swung too far this time. Pumpkin spice has infiltrated everything. Our taste buds and nostrils are not safe from tinges of cinnamon, nutmeg and all-spice wafting through the crisp, autumn breeze. This obsession with pumpkin flavorings and aromas has come too early. And tragically, there is no glimmer of hope that this trend will die soon.

American businesses have always had a penchant for excessively advertising their latest and greatest products. However, since the fall season lacks an abundance of holidays and seasonal events, the promotion of pumpkin spice goods is saturated throughout the months of September, October and November.

If companies really wanted to see profits, they should rely on innovation rather than imitation. Instead of directing all the focus on pumpkins and spices, perhaps companies can diversify their outlook and introduce new scents and flavors to please our palettes. After all, no one can handle too much of a good thing. American consumers are no exception. Unless manufacturers realize this truth, people will eventually be tired with this pumpkin spice madness and move onto something else.

USG will kick off the fall semester with some laughs


The Undergraduate Student Government brought The Cataracts and Mac Miller to Stony Brook last fall. This year, USG booked comedian Bob Saget. Tickets will go on sale Aug. 28. (PHOTO CREDIT: MCT CAMPUS)

There may be no better way to ease into another academic year than with laughter—and that is exactly what Stony Brook’s Undergraduate Student Government decided to do this semester.

Instead of kicking off the fall semester with a concert like last fall, USG invited former “Full House” star and stand-up comic Bob Saget to perform in the Staller Center on Thursday, Sept. 4 at 7 p.m..

Saget, who is known for playing the family-friendly role of Danny Tanner on Full House, is described by some people as “filthy” when it comes to his comedy. Students have the chance to discover exactly how filthy his stand-up comedy is, for free. Saget’s performance is covered by the Student Activity fee. However, students still need to pick up a ticket at the Ticket Office in the Student Activities Center in order to reserve a seat for the show.

But this show will not be the only performance taking place this fall. USG postponed this year’s fall concert because of its location. According to Danny Chung , USG’s Vice President of Communications and Public Relations, USG believed that having the concert in the university’s new arena was “the best option in all areas,” from security to acoustics and cost, to name a few.

“Without knowing when the arena would reach its completion we felt it would be wise to postpone the date of the concert,” Chung said via email.

But, Chung said that USG is always on the lookout for performers, lecturers and comedians who will be available on certain dates, without breaking USG’s budget—and Saget fit the bill.

After weighing the pros and cons of inviting a lecturer or comedian, Chung said that USG “determined that a comedian would be best for the beginning of the semester since it is more light-hearted and focused on entertainment.”

Chung believes that choosing a performer to come to the university depends on the performers cost, availability, relevance and past performances. He added to this saying that USG tries to balance these factors and choose a performer that Seawolves can enjoy.

Judging from the event’s Facebook page, Saget’s performance seems like a hit among students. As of Sunday afternoon, around 480 students have already indicated that they will attend Saget’s performance. This does not include the 76 individuals who indicated that they may attend the event.

On average, students who did comment on the event’s page appear ecstatic for Saget’s show at the university. A few alumni also commented on the page saying that they wanted to attend but were told that the event was for students who pay the student activities fee. There are some who  even posted their surprise that Saget is performing at a college, knowing full well that his performances are nowhere close to PG.

As for the fall concert, Chung stated that October would be USG’s ideal month to schedule the concert. Their goal is to have it as soon as possible. Chung gave away very little when discussing plans for the concert. He did say that USG is looking into various artists as well as genres.

“We have heard what the students have to say, and we are doing our best to bring a variety (in genre) to the fall [and] spring concerts,” Chung said. When it comes to booking performers—whether they are people in the music industry, lecturers or comedians like Saget—Chung restated that USG  does not only work to stay within their budget, but also strives select an individual who will appeal to the majority of Stony Brook students.

Smartphones: an integral part of society


It is virtually impossible to live without a smartphone and social media in college communities. (PHOTO CREDIT : MCTCAMPUS)

I have been without a phone this past week. Apparently, I dropped it and left it underneath a seat in my dad’s car, where it had fallen. As a result, I have been without the ability to text people, call people or check Instagram. I can only access Facebook and emails while in front of a computer. This makes certain things, like trying to set up interviews for a story or coordinating with academic advisers, very difficult. I have been resigned to using the computers in the library on almost a daily basis to check emails. I am unaware of changes to classes or appointments because I do not have my online life in my pocket. People talk about the times changing when they mention how social media has become a part of our lives, but it goes deeper than that.

I chose this path. Literally. I did not mention anything to my parents about my phone being with them until Wednesday. I wanted to live like this for a week to see what it was like. And it was less than stellar. It is difficult to be a college student nowadays and not have that constant connection to the internet through your smartphone. Being out of the loop and only being able to communicate with people either face-to-face or from a computer seriously hampers the communication we have now accepted as the norm. I did not want to think I was dependent on my smartphone. I made it until the later part of high school without one, so why would I all of a sudden desperately need one now? Turns out I did, but I maintain that it is not me that needs the smartphone; it is the environment.

For example, say that you forget your clicker in your dorm room, but you do not have time to go back to your dorm to get it in between classes. Perhaps you would have your roommate bring it to you, but without a phone, how can you tell him? What if your professor sends out an email that you need to bring a laptop to class that day? If you had your phone, you would have gotten that email, but without it, you are unprepared. Let’s say your enrollment date is coming up and you cannot get into a class that you need and you want to see your adviser about it. You email them to set up and interview, but you have no way of knowing what they said and when they respond.

It is undeniable. The times have changed. Smartphones and social media—these are things that are necessary to be an effective college student. Not only for pleasure and socializing but also for getting work done. Whether you are organizing study groups or making dinner plans, smartphones are a necessity. They are essentially highly portable mini-computers capable of providing us information from the Internet quickly and without having to find an actual computer to use. Some people today feel that our generation is sacrificing actual experiences, face-to-face communication and paying attention in class in favor of being on our cell phones. But has anyone stopped to think that maybe we are not playing “2048” or texting our friends, but rather, we are doing something productive?

There are two sides to everything. Yes, smartphones can be a distraction, not only academically but in life as well. Because I am not scrolling through various social media feeds late at night, I am actually falling asleep when I climb into bed, and that is certainly for the better. However, communicating with faculty, professors and peers has been made near impossible this past week due to the absence of my smartphone. It cannot be that hard to find a happy medium between the two. The communication part is necessary, but sometimes it is best to put the phones down and do what you have to do. Like many things, self-control is what is really necessary here.

Brookfest 2014: stadium flooring to cost 28K

Outraged students took to social media on Thursday, April 10 when the Undergraduate Student Government posted on Facebook and Twitter that the Athletics Department wanted a $40,000 semi-truck flooring to protect the Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium turf during the Brookfest concert. USG asked students to tweet at the Athletics Twitter account to express their disapproval.

According to Assistant Athletics Director for Communications Thomas Chen, Athletics sent USG a quote of $28,000 for the flooring on Thursday, but USG had already enlisted the help of the students.

“At no point did Athletics tell USG that the cost would be $40,000,” Chen said in an email. “In fact, a quote for the flooring was not delivered to USG until 12:20 p.m., Thursday, which was already after USG posted this Facebook message encouraging people to voice disapproval over a price tag that did not exist.”


Chen linked The Statesman to this Facebook status that USG posted before they received a quote from Athletics. (PHOTO CREDIT: Facebook)


USG enlisted the help of Twitter to call for cheaper flooring. This tweet has since been deleted from the USG Twitter account. (PHOTO CREDIT: Twitter)

Chen explained the $28,000 goes more towards compensating the concert setup and clean up rather than the actual cost of the floor.

“The quote that was delivered to USG has the cost at approximately $28,000,” Chen said. “In good faith, Athletics attempted to get cheaper floor covering, but the expense involved is directly tied to the overtime labor of setting up and breaking down the floor, due to the fact that we must get the field ready for practices and games in less than 12 hours rather than the floor itself.”

Some students were concerned that the funds required for the flooring would go back to Athletics and cause students to pay more money.









But Chen clarified that holding the event in the stadium does not provide Athletics any financial gain.

“For this concert, Athletics is providing the stadium free of the usual rental charges that outside groups must pay to use the facility,” he said. “No money is going to Athletics for this concert. The only costs that USG is incurring are ones that they are already aware of because they have been a part of the planning process from day one.”

“Athletics assists with getting estimates together for USG for such items as Security, Custodial, LandTek, student workers and equipment; however, all associated costs are approved for and paid for directly by USG,” he continued.

In years past, the spring concert has been held in the Sports Complex. Although it is in the stadium this year, Chen said the general protocol has not changed.

“Each year, Athletics works with USG and UPD to put on the spring concert for the students in our facility,” he said. “This year has been no different, as our facilities office has been working for the last few months on a plan for this year’s concert. While Athletics normally has activity (games & practices) in LaValle Stadium almost every day of the spring semester, the department worked with USG to find a date for the concert by moving around already-scheduled practices.”

In order to get standing room on the floor of the venue this year, Chen said that USG and Athletics met with the fire marshal to ensure student safety and protect the turf.

Although USG initially agreed to an interview with The Statesman and later declined, the organization released a statement via social media on Friday, April 11, apologizing to the Athletics department.





Vice President of Communications Mario Ferone emailed a statement later Friday evening, saying USG has “been in talks with our advisor, Athletics, and others. We apologize to the Athletic Department. We realized we jumped the gun as negotiations were still early, and costs will be less than originally estimated.”

USG also announced on Friday that tickets for the April 23 concert will go on sale on Friday, April 18 at 8:30 a.m. in the Union Ticket Office.

Unwelcome snow leaves students storming mad

It was a surprise to everyone to wake up to an unwarranted winter wonderland. Mother Nature pulled the ultimate April Fool’s joke a day early, smothering the dreams of warm weather with slushy, slippery snow. I slipped once, from my way back from the gym at 8:30 a.m., which was just enough time to dissuade me from the thought of attending classes.

But what surprised me more than the onslaught of disgusting snow was the university’s unwillingness to take action and do anything. There was no email sent out at the start of the hailstorm this morning, warning students of the impending snow and unexpected conditions. Classes were not cancelled or delayed, much to the dismay of the commuter students. The Long Island Expressway was backed up, with the traffic extending into Nicolls Road, forcing students to miss morning classes.

Joe DiVirgilio, a senior commuter student studying mechanical engineering, struggled to get to campus. “[It took] one and half hours to get to campus, a trip that usually takes me at most, twenty minutes” DiVirgilio said. Commuters and residents were put in an even tighter situation when buses were unexpectedly suspended because of “dangerous weather conditions,” according to the SBU Emergency Management Twitter account. Commuters who somehow made it to campus before their classes were dumbfounded at the lack of the bus service at South P. Most ended up getting back in their cars and leaving campus.

So here is the question of the hour: why were classes not cancelled or at the very least, delayed? When the school can quote “dangerous weather conditions” as reasons to explain the suspension of buses, they better be prepared to extend that same courtesy to commuter students driving in the same environment, or residents walking across campus to get to class. Trying to walk to the SAC from Roth Quad was difficult enough–the cleaning efforts did not begin until about 10:30 a.m. in the academic area from my observations, and if precedence rules, will not extend to any of the quads until much later today or even tomorrow morning. What is intolerable about this situation is that the school did not even extend the basic courtesy of informing the students of the bus suspension, the slush covered roads or even the car accidents that occurred this morning.

The theory that seems to be racking the minds of most students is how the arrival of the Middle States Re-Accreditation committee could be the driving factor behind the school keeping classes running on schedule. Despite keeping mum about weather conditions, the administration was able to send out a prompt reminder email at 10:07 a.m. to students, explaining their “delight” at welcoming the team to our campus. At 10:07 a.m., the only email I was expecting was one about future plans for cancellations and efforts to clean the snow, and perhaps even a warm-hearted “Stay safe, students!” Instead, Facebook and Twitter were on fire with bitter comments from students about still having classes and not getting any notice about emergency situations when there were students slipping on roads and car accidents being reported on campus. SB Alert was left without a single update and the only communication from the university came from the SBU Emergency Management Twitter account, which was the only official source to inform the students about the state of the transit system.

When Assistant Police Chief Eric Olsen was pressed about why students were left stranded at South P and the Railroad bus stops, he could only respond that this incident was a fluke and that Emergency Management did the best that it could. “The roads weren’t safe—this was frustrating and we understand that, but [students] were safer at Wolfie’s Hut than on the roads,” Olsen said.

This is absurd. Although Olsen stated that the Emergency Management webpage was updated as to the status of the buses, this is not enough. These alterations to the scheduled busing should have been pushed to students via email and text messages, especially as it is the most direct line of communication to students. Not only that, but it is extremely unreasonable to expect students, especially commuters, to get to class without the operation of the campus transit system.

At the end of the day, the lack of communication between the administration and students is completely unacceptable. When the university can send out a reminder for the Middle States re-accreditation, they should also be sending out several emails about updates on the weather and plans of delays or cancellations. It makes me wonder where the focus of the administration was this morning when students were facing a personal hazard with the snow and nothing was being done to alleviate that stress. In my opinion, student safety is a topic that should be addressed as a top priority. If that is not an issue of key importance, I cannot seem to understand how any of the other issues that the university is being evaluated on by the re-accreditation committee really sum up to a stellar reputation.

New online trend kills five

Kelly Frevele, a sophomore political science major, is a staff writer currently studying abroad in Brighton, England this spring.

Participants in the Neknomination challenge consume unusual alcohol concoctions 24 hours being tagged. (JESUS PICHARDO / THE STATESMAN)

Participants in the Neknomination challenge consume unusual alcohol concoctions within 24 hours of being tagged. (JESUS PICHARDO / THE STATESMAN)

A new trend with deadly consequences is sweeping social media. Recently in the United Kingdom, a drinking challenge claimed the lives of at least five young adults.

Called Neknomination, it involves young adults challenging one another to drink mixed alcoholic beverages in a time span under three minutes.

The participant is filmed by their friends taking part in the challenge. The video shows the participant concocting an alcoholic drink mixed with other substances such as coffee, energy drinks or vinegar among other things. Some Facebook groups are dedicated to posting such videos.

After the participant consumes the entire drink, they nominate one or more people to accept the challenge and continue the competition.

Those challenged are notified through a tagged post and have 24 hours to complete the task.

The act of consuming the alcohol can be as extreme as the concoction itself. One Facebook video showed a young male drinking out of a toilet while being held upside down.

According to multiple United Kingdom news outlets, like BBC and The Daily Mirror, people are urging the social media sites to take action to prevent the spread of the game, which many believe originated in Australia.

This may be too little too late, though. The videos have gone viral and now expand outside of the United Kingdom.

“I was nominated by my roommate, but I didn’t accept,” Hunter Holland, a freshman economics major at University of Southern California and a Long Island native, said. “I actually just didn’t do it because I simply didn’t have the time yesterday and the challenge is to do something in 24 hours.”

The most recent death from this trend, as reported by “The Independent,” was of 20-year-old Bradley Eames, an English citizen, who died after downing two pints of gin.

The psychology behind completing this challenge appears to be the classic one of peer pressure, but with a new twist.

“We know that humans have a powerful need to be socially accepted which is what drives peer pressure but not it is not limited to be accepted to an isolated group,” Lara Hunter, Stony Brook University’s alcohol and substance abuse counselor, said. “It’s the need to be accepted by potentially the world via the Internet.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. government guidelines for alcohol consumption say that the average male should only consume what is equivalent to about two drinks per day per week.

What the participants of the videos are doing is equivalent to a week’s worth of drinks in only a few minutes time.

“Too much alcohol too soon is deadly,” Hunter said “What’s also deadly is performing high risk tasks under the influence of alcohol, as once someone is intoxicated they can’t perform those same tasks with accuracy and put themselves at risk for severe injuries and death from things like falling, drowning, etc.”

So far there is no evidence to show that the social media sites have taken action or responded to this issue.

Stefan Hyman: 13 years at Stony Brook


Stefan Hyman is the new Assistant Provost for Enrollment Strategies, Communications and Analytics. Part of his duties will be to improve student enrollment. (NATHALY SIERRA / THE STATESMAN)

After 13 years of working within the Stony Brook University community, Stefan Hyman was appointed to the position of Assistant Provost for Enrollment Strategies, Communications and Analytics at the beginning of the year.

In this new position, Hyman said he is striving to implement new plans to improve enrollment and student success. Right now, he oversees undergraduate admissions and the university’s social media accounts. He also looks into special projects, which are determined through analyzing principles and patterns of data.

And his partnerships with faculty, academic advising, administration and the new Academic Assessment Task Force, of which Hyman is a member, all allow him to tailor his department’s approaches toward student desires and necessities.

Most prominently over the past few weeks, Hyman was measuring student feedback regarding course formats and offerings for the upcoming summer session.

“I was immediately struck by how many students said ‘we really want online classes,’ and it makes a lot of sense,” he said.

In an effort to comply with this request, the Summer Online Teaching Initiative is in motion.

“This is a way to try and build more online courses that will help students satisfy more degree requirements and hopefully graduate on time,” Hyman explained.

Adding online summer classes to Stony Brook’s repertoire is not the only new initiative Hyman is involved in—he also is working to develop Inside Stony Brook, a private Facebook application for accepted students that was piloted last year.

“The idea was to allow newly admitted students to be able to have a private sector where they could make a great support network of friends who can really help them build a bond within each other and within the university,” he said, “which will encourage more to stay and graduate.”

As part of the NYSUNY 2020 bill, enrollment at SBU is set to increase by approximately 1.2 percent each year for about five years. In preparing for this continued growth, Hyman said he intends to maximize success by establishing projects that facilitate the expected influx of students in areas of high demand.

“I’m going to continue to really put in place strategies and, based on those strategies, tactics, to help recruit and enroll top students, excellent students, students from a broad set of backgrounds and students who are going to be successful at this university.”

To provide students with the best programs and opportunities, Hyman and his staff members often use social media outlets to assess student responses.

With some help from students, they manage all of the university’s accounts on a daily basis, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the recently added Tumblr and Pinterest pages.

Hyman, who himself has a great interest in the Internet and its modern technologies, found his passion for administrative duties while working at Stony Brook as a graduate assistant after achieving a bachelor’s degree in musical studies and a master’s degree in music history.

“I found a real passion for helping users, helping people at all different levels, finding information on websites and overall just helping users to have better experiences,” he said. “ I would say that gradually this led me to take on a larger role at the university eight years ago in undergraduate admissions and then that gradually increased and led me to where I am now.”

Currently, Hyman continues to pursue his interests in music and education, typically teaching one course each semester through the Honors College or the music department.

As for his new role within the university, Hyman expressed excitement.

“I’m really thankful to be in this position and I think I have a lot to contribute.  I’m most encouraged by the support system that we already have in place and the dedication of a lot of faculty and staff to help foster the most beneficial student experiences as we can at this university,” Hyman said.

New Stony Brook Admirers page allows students to anonymously compliment one another


Stony Brook Admirers and Stony Brook Secrets are both pages that allow students to reach out to one another anonymously. (NINA LIN / THE STATESMAN)

“To the guy in BIO203 at 11:30 with long blonde hair that is tied back with a headband, I’d just like to say that you seem like you’d be a great guy to get to know,” poster No. 433 said.

“To the Asian girl that always wears a blue hoodie at the gym, I think you’re really pretty,” confessed poster No. 370.

“Anyone know this Asian girl with short hair on the 4:18 train today? She had a gray Nike backpack and a pink iPad case. She looked mad cute while she was reading. She’d smile one minute and then looked like she was gonna cry the next. I wished I went up to her to ask what she was reading. Also, she’s got nice curves. Someone please tell me who this cute and sexy chick is?” despaired poster No. 258.

These are just a few of the 433 posts found on the Stony Brook Admirers Facebook page.

With the emergence of social media, Facebook has not only given Stony Brook students a means of connecting with classmates, it has allowed them to express their admiration and attraction to fellow students anonymously.

This is a new sort of “note in the locker” confession—a middle school and high school practice wherein someone who admires a classmate places a note in their locker with hopes of them reading it and returning their feelings. Except this time, the locker is the Facebook page and the notes are the posts.

The page—Stony Brook Admirers 2—was created last October after the original Stony Brook Admirers page was deleted. Stony Brook Admirers first caught the eye of students after the founding of other Facebook pages dedicated to anonymous compliments. Stony Brook Secrets and Stony Brook Compliments were both started along with Stony Brook Admirers.

Although Admirers is a well-used platform, some students are not aware of the page.

Senior geology major Greg Swirson had never heard of the page prior to being asked about it. “I’ve never been to SB Admirers,” he wrote on an unofficial survey about Stony Brook Admirers.

Other students who have “liked” the page, like junior health science major Stephen Sham find enjoyment in reading the entries.

“I think Stony Brook Admirers is a good way for people to express themselves, especially for those who are shy,” he said. “I think it would be cool if someone actually met  their crush because of Stony Brook Admirers.”

The posts range from simple compliments, like poster No. 62 who wanted to tell a boy in his or her HIS 353 class that he was cute.

Popular resident assistants and teaching assistants receive compliments and declarations of love. Several posters admit to going to Starbucks at certain times during the week in order to see various employees on their shifts.

Sometimes, a poster would name the person they admire. Other times, they would attempt to discover the name of a boy from the Recreation Center or a girl at the library. But what they all have in common is that they are all anonymous and an enjoyable read.

The new SB Admirers page has been inactive since last December. The Statesman attempted to contact the administrator of the SB Admirers page, but they have not responded. However, Stony Brook Compliments, now under new jurisdiction, will continue to provide services to the students.

Stony Brook Athletics debuts mobile application

The Stony Brook Athletics Department launched a new, free mobile application on Jan. 15 called “Stony Brook Seawolves,” aiming to make the SB Athletics website more accessible to students via their smartphones.

The app, available for iPhones and Android, combines information from GoSeawolves.org

Derek D'Ambra believes that if the application draws more fans to games and events, it will be a success. (JESUS PICHARDO / THE STATESMAN)

The new Athletics app may draw more fans to games and events, according to Derek D’Ambra. (JESUS PICHARDO / THE STATESMAN)

—game schedules, statistics, rosters and player bios—with social media feeds to create an interface where fans can follow their favorite Stony Brook Division I teams.

Other features include a “News” tab with information on game results and updates and a “Shop SB” tab that connects users to Stony Brook merchandise. Users can also select a team by season and connect to each one’s latest news and team information.

The app uses an aggregator called Tagboard to compile posts from various social media platforms—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Vine—that use the hashtag #seawolves. Photos, text and videos on the Tagboard can range in subject from Stony Brook sports games, club events or even selfies. Anything Stony Brook related that is #seawolves makes the cut.

“We love that stuff. We’re all about school pride. It’s not just about athletics, it’s about our campus community,” Tom Chen, the assistant athletics director for communications at SBU, said.

Chen said that the Athletics Department has been talking about developing an app since he was hired in 2010. In February 2013, a partnership began to grow with the YinzCam Company, which creates apps for a number of professional sports teams, including the Broncos, the Steelers, the Jets and the Patriots.

“They are a phenomenal company,” Chen explained, “We provided our input, they provided their design, and the feedback so far is good!”

The Athletics Department is focusing on promoting the mobile app and getting feedback from its users to improve it. He says they have promoted the app on GoSeawolves.org, radio and at basketball games this semester.

Richie Moylan, captain of the Stony Brook Athletic Bands’ Drumline, said he thinks the app is “clean, well organized and definitely [has] a lot of information.” He added that having the schedule on hand will be extremely helpful, especially with his role in the band.

Derek D’Ambra and Ben Koert, members of the Stony Brook Swimming and Diving team, said they felt that the app was clear, attractive and well-made, although they also acknowledged the reality of its market: Stony Brook students.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” D’Ambra, a junior economics major, said. “To try to get people involved, they’re going to have to market the hell out of it.”

Because developing mobile applications is expensive, D’Ambra believes that it needs to bring more people to games to be considered a success.

The new Athletics app is one of a few Stony Brook mobile apps like SB Campus Card,  SBU Smart Transit and Blackboard Mobile.

“As of today, the Stony Brook Campus Card app has been installed on 2,783 iPads/iPhones and on 1,499 Android phones,” Angela Agnello, director of Marketing & Communications for the Faculty Student Association, said.

The Campus Card app allows students to track their meal plan and Wolfie’s Wallet balance/transaction, add money to it and report their Stony Brook ID as lost or stolen. According to Agnello, a SB vegetarian app is in the works to help students locate vegetarian meals and dining menus right on their smartphones.

On the Stony Brook campus, the first listing in the “Popular Near Me” section of the Apple app store is SBU Smart Transit. Smart Transit allows students to track Stony Brook buses in real time and view the different stops on each bus route.

Blackboard Mobile, maintained by Blackboard Inc., allows students to view their classes, homework assignments and announcements on the Stony Brook Blackboard website.

Campus briefing: Port Jefferson bus no longer a USG priority

USG President Hussain announced that a new late night bus would require a $4-$5 transportation fee increase. (MARVIN FUENTES / THE STATESMAN)

USG President Adil Hussain announced that a new late night bus would require a $4-$5 transportation fee increase. (MARVIN FUENTES / THE STATESMAN)

The focus of the Undergraduate Student Government’s first meeting of the semester was on old issues, including an update on the student transportation options the Senate has been working on for the past seven months.

During the meeting, President Adil Hussain and Vice President of Communications Mario Ferone spoke to the senate about the USG’s decision to scrap current plans for a 21-passenger bus that would bring students to and from Port Jefferson on Friday nights.

The current plans were scrapped due to the expected $4-$5 increase in the transportation fee.

“We had said that we would have an estimate of about $2 which would be the highest price for us and this came back more than double,” Ferone said. The Department of Transportation “didn’t want to pursue it and we didn’t want to pursue it.”

Though current plans have failed, USG is now looking into alternative plans, including one to work with Suffolk County to provide a Monday through Friday bus route to Port Jefferson and another to hire a shuttle company to bring students back to campus from Port Jefferson.

Transportation has been of particular interest for Stony Brook officials this past year, with both the new Sunday bus route to Port Jefferson on Suffolk Transit’s 3D route and the 7Bus coach service into New York City introduced.

According to Hussain, one main concern for USG is to not add additional costs to the transportation fee, which is scheduled to increase this coming year by the DoT.

Another lengthy conversation at this week’s USG meeting was spurred when a concerned student asked the senate to try and accelerate the process of gaining additional state funds to complete repairs to the university’s pool.

The fight over the pool began in 2012 when repairs were estimated to cost $10 million, a sum which could not be paid after Stony Brook’s maintenance funds were transferred to other repair projects on campus that were deemed “critical.” This loss of funding left the swimming teams on “competitive hiatus,” and led to the creation of several petitions, including ones on MoveOn.org and Facebook.

The previous administration took part in the debate last year with passage of a resolution urging “Stony Brook University and New York State [to] find an acceptable solution and provide adequate funds within a reasonable time frame for the on-campus pool renovation.”

The renovation is estimated to take about three years once the university receives additional funding.

Hussain assured the student that he would try to contact those that may be able to take action and ask the SUNY Assembly or New York state for additional funding.

7Bus to offer round-trip service to New York City daily

Two weeks from now, in December 2013, the new luxury commuter bus service, 7Bus, will begin offering round-trip service directly between Stony Brook University and New York City everyday. The 7Bus system, named after its starting fare of $7, is famous for sending its large, green carriers around Long Island after replacing BoltBus on July 1, 2013. Employees of 7Bus have been advertising their services in the Student Activities Center, handing out pamphlets and making announcements to inform students about this imminent transportation change in Stony Brook. According to a 7Bus employee I talked to, 7Bus took years to implement at Stony Brook University. Luckily, through the efforts of the 7Bus company and cooperation of Stony Brook administration officials, 7Bus is extending its reaches onto the Stony Brook campus. Now, emphasized in a David Letterman-style countdown, here are seven main reasons to be excited about 7Bus coming to Stony Brook:

7. Free Wi-Fi: Whether you are businessman frequently making travels or a fervent user of Facebook and Twitter, excellent Internet connection is a basic necessity. However, when using public transportation, like New York City subway trains and the Long Island Rail Road, commuters are condemned to a few minutes, or even hours, of boredom and inactivity. In the age of technological communication, free Wi-Fi is a major perk for those who intend to use the 7Bus on their way to New York City or back to Stony Brook.

6.  Personal Power Outlets: Of course, making use of the free Wi-Fi on the 7Bus along with other apps and gizmos in our laptops and cell phones drains the batteries of our technological devices. Seeing our devices black out due to insufficient batter power remains a haunting problem during long travels. Fortunately, personal power outlets allow commuters to spend at least one hour on the 7Bus limitlessly texting, typing, calling or playing with the opportunity to see their batteries be 100 percent charged by the time they arrive at their destination.

5. Plush Leather Seats: Cushioning your posterior with the smooth texture of leather upholstery may not seem like a persuading argument unless you are someone who has back problems or just plans on lounging throughout the entire commute. Nevertheless, the presence of leather seats makes a statement about how each 7Bus plans on creating an elegant, yet comfortable atmosphere for its riders.

4. Individual Cup Holders: OK, initially, listing individual cup holders as a primary reason to use the 7Bus seems absurd. You may even contest: “Why not just keep your drink in a tightly secured bottle or thermos?” Admittedly, I felt the same way, which led me to sarcastically ask an employee on why the 7Bus company even bothered mentioning cup holders in its pamphlets. Surprisingly, from what the employee told me, 30 percent of 7Bus commuters use the 7Bus only because it has cup holders. Apparently, the Long Island Rail Road Company receives lawsuits every year by commuters who spill their beverages due to an absence of cup holders on board. Thus, using the 7Bus is a preferable option for those who wish to have a safe resting place for their hot coffees or cold sodas during their travel.

3.  Subway Connections in All of Queens/Brooklyn/Bronx/Downtown NYC: The 7Bus will pick up and drop off commuters at conveniently located stops in New York City near subway stations and terminals that have train lines going to various regions of Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn. Personally, a stop at Rego Park on Junction Boulevard at the Long Island Expressway service road will make visiting other neighborhoods in Queens a simple task because the Rego Park/63rd Drive Station is located nearby. In Manhattan, stop are located on 40th, 50th and 59th Street. Evidently, you can see 7Bus’ tourism angle since it has stops near Grand Central Terminal and Times Square/Theater District in Midtown. Even though the four boroughs of Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn are interconnected, one borough remains beyond the grasp of the network of the 7Bus: Staten Island. Sadly, some commuters will have to anticipate a longer travel via public transportation or car to get to the isolated borough of Staten Island.

2. Convenient Campus Pick Up: The 7Bus has established a pick up location at the Student Activity Center (SAC) Transit Bus Circle. As a result, students from all quads and areas of the university will experience great ease when walking to the Academic Mall, located in the heart of the campus, whenever they want to ride the 7Bus.

1. Low Fares Starting at $7: The key word here is starting. If you take a look at the Frequently Asked Questions section of www.7bus.com, 7Bus states that its fare prices fluctuate similar to how prices of airline tickets and hotel reservations change. As people buy tickets for a specific bus, the price rises on that bus because there are less seats available. Therefore, the price for one seat on a 7Bus can range from $7 to $17.  If someone happens to miss his/her designated bus, he/she must pay the difference before boarding a later bus. For example, if a commuter misses a 7Bus that cost $7 to reserve a seat on, and must board a later bus that costs $12, he/she must pay $5 for the new reservation. Despite the 7Bus’s unpredictable pricing system, many riders still say it is a more cost-efficient transportation option than using the Long Island Rail Road.

Honestly, the 7Bus is a godsend for those of us without cars (or friends with cars) to take us into New York City at our whim. With Christmas break slowly approaching, 7Bus has chosen the perfect time to bring students home or allow them to tour New York City. The first 7Bus is expected to arrive at Stony Brook in December with pick ups occurring every 30 to 45 minutes. Seats on a 7Bus can only be acquired by reservation 15 minutes prior to the departure of the specified bus. Reservations can quickly be placed online at www.7bus.com or by calling (631)-725-7777. The direct route between Stony Brook and New York City will make the hassle of taking the Long Island Railroad a thing of past. Students will no longer have make a transfer at Huntington and then make several stops on their way to Jamaica or Penn Station. The installation of the 7Bus service at Stony Brook University is an auspicious transportation development that will allow students to indulge in the lap of luxury at an affordable price.

The role of social media in admissions


Facebook is just one of many social media sites that college admissions officers might peruse when reviewing applicants. (FACEBOOK.COM)

“Why Stony Brook University?”  I’m sure most students remember facing this imperative question at one time or another.  After reading this conspicuously written query on the main page of the SBU Undergraduate Admissions website (in dauntless, ominous red), it is difficult to not feel disgust for the college application process.  Much like a visceral reaction, the memories of filling out every scrap of information through CommonApp.com induces a sudden wave of nausea.

There are, of course, a myriad of appropriate, individual claims and justifications in answering such an inquiry.  But thankfully, our ever-eager advising faculty took it upon themselves to respond for us, having stated, “Students choose Stony Brook University because of its ‘red hot value.’”

If only I had put this on my application; this could also be reason enough to stay away, as it sounds mildly inflammatory.

High school senior solicitude is ripe and fully in season as university early enrollment is being drawn to a close. The phrase “college admissions” provokes a sense of worriment, not only in parents, but for anyone who went through the hell of undergraduate application procedure.  The supplementary horror stories of enrollment follies seem to only augment this anxiety.  All of them are words of warning or cautionary tales that are just a little too piercingly close to reality. The suspended requests, the rejection letters and technological mishaps are all stories that are grounded in failure.  They all practically resemble a Brother’s Grimm tale.

Presented in these parables of woe, we are quick to identify the college admissions officer as the story’s malefactor, but is this entirely accurate?  Surely, the university is not to be blamed for simply doing its job.  Under the remit of the College Admissions Officer, the more common responsibilities include visiting high schools, talking to students and parents, reviewing applications, interviewing applicants and ultimately extending enrollment offers.  However, a new technique for ferreting out competition has been adopted into this cumbersome job description.  An article in the New York Times was recently published concerning a new feature of college admissions: “They Loved Your G.P.A. Then They Saw Your Tweets.”

It is prevailing hearsay that college admissions now use social media to scour student competition for admission.  From a certain standpoint, this phenomenon comes across as pitiable rather than merciless; I am sure their job is no easy feat, at least in an emotional sense.  Having to decide from a plethora of uniform applications, personal statements and letters of recommendation, their remorse must build as they distinguish between those who are essentially the victors from the hapless.  I would not doubt this social media admissions tactic actually serves as an expedient to salve the tortured, guilt-ridden conscience of the admissions officer.  This job clearly is not for the weak-hearted, as it seems to only best suit those belonging to an oppressive, imperial nature.

And yet, the New York Times article revealed not all universities take to social networks in making such a final decision, yet there have been an unfortunate handful of circumstances where a student’s online behavior resulted in the occasional rejection letter.  The article had coaxed a series of other writing on the issue. One in particular, from the Huffington Post, caught my attention: Megan Shuffleton’s “How To Clean Up Your Social Media For College Applications.” Cindy Boyles Crawford, Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at the University of Georgia, was quoted in the column, stating, “Many scholarships, organizations and companies see social media as the ‘true view’ of a student’s character. One could easily be outstanding in an interview, then tarnish the image by an irresponsible post on their profile.”

Unsurprisingly, I would have to disagree.  One’s activity online should not reflect a legitimate portrayal of who they are as a person, and it would be peculiar to think otherwise.  An online persona represents only one side of you (and an astonishingly superficial one, at that).  People foster many different attitudes and behaviors for all occasions.  It is very possible to be boisterous through instant messaging while also adopting a rather shy disposition in a social media network, such as twitter.  As another example, there are many who tend to be more brazen with their peers, but if ever in the presence of strangers, they may come off as reserved.  If colleges are searching for an easy way to eliminate competition, they might as well have university admissions stationed in local movie theaters, because I guarantee you, conduct of the average high school student retrogresses tenfold in a cinema (signs of texting during the film would result in immediate wait-listing).  Fundamentally, social network analysis seems to me an unreliable method in gaining an accurate comprehension of a student.

In spite of all this, college admissions officers may have other valid reasons for such regulation.  In the case that a student holds a less than appropriate reputation online, it is wise, and even natural, to question if this infamy should thrive at their particular institution, as the student would be representing that university.

The best thing you could say about this level of investigation is that it sets a standard of propriety for online interaction.  I actually find it refreshing not to see defamatory statements strewn across a Facebook comment section, or scrolling through tweets and re-tweets replete with invective.  As social life progressively incorporates social networking forums, there should be an acknowledged etiquette with virtual communication.  This is simply an issue of being conscientious.  Similar to adhering to manners online, like opening a doorway, or putting your elbows on the table, some people should be mindful not to post the status of their genitals online.

And still, it is highly doubtful that an internet profile is capable of representing one’s true identity.  Someone’s true character is no less comprehensible through an online medium than it is by weighing someone’s grade point average.  College admissions are not looking for a student’s “true character,” they’re sifting through what reads well on paper.  Only now this will also include what a student tweeted three weeks ago. 

Social media not a factor in admissions at Stony Brook

A recent Kaplan Test Prep report claims that more college admissions officers have Googled or visited applicants’ social media sites than previously. According to the report, a recent survey conducted by Kaplan showed that the percentage of college admissions officers who agreed to do so is higher than ever before at 31 percent.

The Statesman was not able to verify whether Stony Brook University was included in the survey.

Plamen Kamenov is a freshman physics major. He is a regular user of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Kamenov said that he would think twice before applying to a university if he knew was going through applicants’ social media. According to him, if an institution is going through an applicants’ social media, they are not trusting the applicant.

“It is not that I have anything to hide, but it is just a principle,” Kamenov said.

For Fall 2013, Stony Brook University received approximately 30,300 applications, out of which only 39 percent were accepted and only about 9 percent enrolled.

Senior Associate Dean of Admissions Robert Pertusati explains that with this number of applicants it is virtually impossible for the Admissions Department to be going through an applicants’ social media sites.

Kimberlyn Rowe is a junior transfer student in Stony Brook University currently majoring in health science. Even though she stopped using all forms of social media once she started college, she believes that admission officers going through applicants’ social media sites is an invasion of privacy.

Each of these applications goes through a holistic review in the Admissions Department where they look into two basic categories: academic and personal.

While academic fit is paramount, the admissions officers also look into the personal achievements of the applicant to understand how they would deal with multitasking when in college.

Some students may have excelled in the personal while not so much in the academic. When asked whether the admissions officers will then consider looking into social media for a better understanding of the applicant, Pertusati said, “Our decision is independent; while we are waiting on admission applications we are not accessing social media vehicles.”

Rowe says that Stony Brook University’s policy to not look at applicants’ social media sites is respectable.

 “I think it is a good policy that Stony Brook follows to not look at applicants’ social media,” Rowe said. “It establishes trust and makes students feel secure.”

Stefan Hyman is the Director of Enrollment Communications in the Admissions Department. He helps run and start different social media sites for the university to attract and communicate with prospective and admitted students. A wide variety of social media is used to help expose people from different backgrounds and different geographical locations.

According to Hyman, the university does not engage in any kind of activity regarding visiting applicants. He believes that there are challenges involved in doing so, most importantly authenticity. It is difficult to determine whether the person on the social media site is the same person you may be looking for, thus it is not a good practice.

Hyman said, “There is also just simply freedom of speech, which we respect.”

However, there are two situations when the university may look into and address an applicant based on their social media sites: first being that the applicant specifically asked the admissions department to do so since he or she has important materials to share, like his or her music, and the second being if an applicant’s application indicates that they can be dangerous to themselves or the community.

Talking about the second situation, Hyman said, “I would say that it wouldn’t be grounds to retract a student’s admission decisions because it simply came under our radar. I do think it would be worthwhile to provide some degree of outreach to the student instead.”

According to both Pertusati and Hyman, social media is used by the admissions office to reach out to prospective and admitted students and help them understand the university community better to make a well-educated decision when choosing universities.

Editorial: Transparency and journalistic integrity at The Statesman


The Statesman strives to uphold the journalistic values of transparency and honesty. (HANAA TAMEEZ / THE STATESMAN)

As a news organization, The Statesman often faces difficult journalistic judgments about what to include and what to exclude in our reporting. Sometimes, it is worthwhile to reflect on our decisions and share our decision making process with our readers.

This week, The Statesman received a Letter to the Editor about its coverage of the drunk driving incident in H Quad on Oct. 25, 2013. In the letter, the student compared our reporting of the incident to our coverage of an accident last semester when a campus police officer ran over Stony Brook student Brianna Bifone. The writer asked why we would include the name of the drunk driver in the H Quad incident, but not disclose the name of the police officer.

The answer is that at the time of the accident last semester, the police officer’s name was not made available to The Statesman or any other media outlet by campus media relations, or the University Police Department.

Reporters and editors made every effort to fully report the accident, but this was one of the questions that remained unanswered. It was not our choice not to report the police officer’s name. The information was simply not released.

However, in the case of the drunk driving accident, reporters were able to get the driver’s name and reported it accordingly.

The author of the Letter to the Editor wrote that she found our “willingness to tarnish the name of a fellow student offensive and appalling.” When we posted the article to our Facebook page, a Stony Brook University student commented on the post saying, “No issue throwing one of your own under the bus there huh,” referring to the fact that the driver is a photographer for The Statesman.

There are many expectations of a news organization when reporting the news. The first is to report the truth. Another is to be transparent—not only about our news gathering process, but as an organization.

We reported the driver’s name and included his affiliation with The Statesman because it is a fact and because we are a transparent organization. If another outlet had reported that Christopher Pimentel works for The Statesman, we would have to explain why we left out that fact.

As a news organization, we will always report the news regardless of whether one of our staff writers, photographers or editors is involved. Unless it puts someone in danger, we will also always report the information we have. The public has the right to know.