27 things to be thankful for this holiday season

(PHOTO CREDIT: MCT CAMPUS)

Chipotle alone is enough to be thankful for this holiday season. (PHOTO CREDIT: MCT CAMPUS)

Every year around Thanksgiving, we find ourselves wondering what we really are thankful for. I mean, that is the point of the whole holiday. The task ends up being so overwhelming that we usually settle with the norm: friends, family and good health (okay, decent health, considering all the nasty food we consume at school). But here are some things you may not have thought of that you really should be thankful for:

  1. That this seemingly god-awful semester is almost over, because on a scale of one to  “I can’t even,” I really cannot deal with this semester any longer.
  2. Getting assigned a group project and having someone immediately lock eyes with you. That’s just a whole other level of love. #dreamteam
  3. The invention of snapchat, AKA the best social media app there is.
  4. Chipotle (…and burritos in general).
  5. While we’re on the topic of food: tacos, Se-port sandwiches and curly fries.
  6. Also, bananas, the king of all fruits.
  7. Friends with cars.
  8. Friends that take your clicker to class for you.
  9. The kids in class that tell you the clicker question answers because you really have no idea what’s going on.
  10. The fact that all the TV shows in the world can be illegally downloaded straight to your computer within minutes, thereby cutting the need for and expense of a television.
  11. Kelly’s late night (have we talked about being thankful for curly fries?)
  12. Those rare moments of not studying and still passing your quizzes and tests.
  13. Making up homework answers and getting it right.
  14. NAPTIME.
  15. Understanding what you are being taught in class.
  16. Being able to teach someone else a concept you understand in class and having them understand.
  17. Those momentary “AHA!” moments during an exam where you finally understand something.
  18. Finding textbooks online (for free!) and avoiding the money-eating death trap that is the bookstore.
  19. Beating the rush hour lines at the SAC (or the Union Starbucks) by a few (very crucial) moments.
  20. Seeing dogs on campus.
  21. Watching freshmen make silly freshmen mistakes that so obviously label them as freshmen.
  22. The Rec Center: the most beautiful building on campus, designed to build a better, more beautiful you.
  23. When the server at Picantes gives you so much extra food.
  24. Friends that like everything you post on social media, especially when you post the same photo on Facebook and Instagram. They are the real MVPs.
  25. Your fellow peers who do not study for the test and boost the curve.
  26. Coffee in the a.m., tea all day, red Solo cups in the p.m.

 

 

What you missed this week on campus

(BASIL JOHN / THE STATESMAN)

An anonymous Yakker spread a rumor that the Wendy’s in Roth Dining was closing. The rumor was later proven to be unfounded. (BASIL JOHN / THE STATESMAN)

by Jonathon Kline, Niveditha Obla and Tejen Shah

YikYak strikes again. This week, an anonymous Yakker spurted the rumor that the Wendy’s in Roth Dining was closing. The panic that it induced goes to show the extent of the popular app on campus today and how obsessed the student population is with the greasy, fat filled meals trademarked by the fast-food chain. It also goes to show how students will initially believe anything they hear and take the word of unverified, unaccountable sources, i.e. the incredibly well informed people of the Internet.

And it would not be a week at Stony Brook (or on Yik Yak) without some complaint about Wolfie-net. The Wi-Fi on campus has never been secure or connected, and it certainly is the furthest thing from reliable. Even with the new and improved routers, students across campus constantly complain about the lack of access. We are on a college campus, living in the 21st century, and all of our education is online. If there is no Wi-Fi, there is no studying, there is no interacting, there is nothing. Stony Brook needs to up its Wi-Fi game.

Women’s basketball celebrated their first win…by themselves. The Stony Brook women’s basketball team won 56 to 40, blowing the Saint Peter’s Peacocks out of the water with almost no audience to cheer them on. Is it basketball, our team, or is it the general Stony Brook student attitude toward everything school-related that accounts for the lack of support? Maybe it was the students showing their discontent with the flop that was the free pizza sale.

The holiday season started Nov. 1, and we are already in the middle of all the depression stories. Stony Brook’s Dr. Turhan Canli published a paper on how depression could be an infectious disease, starting with a bacterial or viral infection. But look at it another way—if you surround yourself with depressed people, aren’t you bound to be depressed as well? At the very least, you have to become exhausted at some point trying to keep yourself and everyone around you cheerful. Or is it like social media, where the happier we see other people and the more successful we see our friends become, the more upset we are with our own lives?

Here’s to a warm welcome to the second “Humans of Stony Brook” page—unless, of course, you are the original creator of the first page. The original man behind the camera is rumoured to be furious with his unwanted predecessor. I may be playing devil’s advocate here, but shouldn’t he be flattered that someone is continuing the project that he started? “Humans of Stony Brook” is one of the most popular Facebook pages on this campus, and it brings together the student community on campus. If the original creator graduates, someone needs to keep the page going.

Club sports teams are still trying to get a storage center and bathroom facility made at the South P fields, as they still have to lug all of their gear from the Rec Center to the commuter parking lot. So why will Stony Brook not pay a minimal fee to have these basic facilities installed on campus? Does the administration fear that someone will break into these facilities? Who knows, maybe they just truly get off on the frustration of students and decided what better way to get more anger out of the students than by making them take a bus ride to a field a mile off the main campus. Clearly the whole ‘South P fields’ idea was not a very good one.

A week without social media: a survivor’s tale through the impossible

(HEATHER KHALIFA / THE STATESMAN)

Social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, has a constant presence in our lives. When we cut ourselves off from it, the people that matter the most tend to find other ways to contact us. (HEATHER KHALIFA / THE STATESMAN)

Social media is as much a part of our lives as eating, sleeping and walking. There are, of course, the few who choose to not partake in it, but we can categorize them as the vegans of the internet world.

As part of a partially self-imposed challenge, I chose to go a week without it. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Snapchat, Messenger and YikYak were all inactivated, the apps deleted from my phone. I was confident that I could make it through the week. A few members of my staff were more skeptical.

Sitting in my room after having deleted everything was like turning the light off in my life. Suddenly, I knew nothing of what was going on. It was literally me, sitting in my room, alone. Unless I got a text message or a phone call, my cell phone was pretty much useless, which was a new feeling.

My social network went from hundreds of people that I was loosely connected to, to only the people that I physically saw. I did not know about events. I did not know about birthdays. The loss of Snapchat kept me out of the loop of the day-to-day activities of even my closest friends.

And then this shallow, creeping sense of fear set in. If I was not online, how was I going to validate my existence?

Here is a better question—who was going to? I  mean, if I went to a party or, god-forbid, ate an extravagant meal without posting a picture of it somewhere online, did it even happen? This is the 21st century—I am a millennial. Without a life online, what was this week actually going to be like?

Yes, all of those questions sound a little dramatic, but like I said, I am a 21st century millennial. I do not know how to question anything without taking it to an extreme.

Social media caters to our egos. It shows us that we can be artistic through pre-programmed filters, funny through our 140 character tweets and attractive in the perfect lighting in selfies. Those likes, those little hearts, those retweets—it is like putting a gold star on your everyday activities.

All of your Facebook friends suddenly become Oprah, giving you a “like” for waking up on a Monday morning, giving you a “like” for drinking absurd amounts of coffee, giving you a “like” for capturing that perfect fall setting.

This week was a change in focus. I was the one validating my experience. I had to give myself gold stars. I spent the entire week in a “me, myself, and I” phase. I felt free.

Everything I did had a direct correlation to me and what I wanted. Sure, this could be done with social media still in my life, but the pull of doing something or taking a picture of an event you are apart of to impress everyone else in your life is too much. The rush of getting “liked” is the perfect dose of serotonin that you need to get through the long weeks of school (which is an idea that is scientifically supported).

I did not need to find the perfect lighting for my selfie or carefully construct the perfect status to ensure at least twenty likes.

Instead, I woke up, ate food, got ready, went to the gym and daydreamed in class without anyone knowing. Which was fine—none of these events deserved a gold star.

This was just me existing. Watching the sunrise as I scrambled to finish my lab was a scene that only I appreciated. Drinking my fourth cup of coffee that morning was a body-trembling experience that only I knew about. I was not trying to one-up anyone by showing them how difficult my day was or how busy I am or how tired I was. I catered only to myself. I did things only if it benefited me or affected me in some way.

I did not go out of my way to make a funny scene to capture on social media. I did not exaggerate something like falling down the stairs to get attention. I was not comparing my life to someone else’s in a non-existent, passive-aggressive competition.

And I did not feel disconnected. My large network of “friends” really shrunk, and sure, that was bound to happen. 500 friends became 20, if that. But I met with the people who mattered most to me on a regular basis this week. People who would I want to keep in touch with after graduation—people who I would make an active effort to keep a relationship with—I saw them, I hung out with them. They texted me, sent me pictures instead of Snapchats and even called me on the phone. That is love and appreciation. That is friendship.

On the other hand, everyone who I did not want to see, I did not. It was fantastic. Absolutely superb. We all go through Facebook “purges” where we delete a hundred people at a time, but there is nothing like really not knowing  what is going on with that person you kind of hated back in high school, but you are still friends all over the internet because it might be weird if you deleted them now.

We all have those people, ex-best friends and ex-boyfriends that we are still friends with. Why? WHY? If we do not like them, why are we still caring? There were some downsides, of course. I could not readily get into contact with people from class if I did not know about a due date or homework assignment. If something was announced on Facebook, like a school event, I did not know about it until someone told me.

Even without social media, I could not pay attention in class, but that is more of a personal issue. If anything, this past week was peaceful.

I did my own thing all day, for seven days. I might be back on social media now, but I am now much more aware that it is something that adds to my life, not something that dictates my every move.

I am not obsessed with checking anything frivolously anymore. In fact, I have still gotten food and made my Starbucks trips without my phone. The friendships and people I truly care about are not defined by how much I interact with them on Facebook, or how many photos I tag of them on my Instagram.

And the best part? My phone actually survived the entire day, without dying.

Under the microscope: professor wins Breakthrough Prize

Sir Simon Donaldson, and SBU professor of mathematics, opened up a new area in the geometry of four dimensions. (PHOTO CREDIT : GERT-MARTIN GREUEL)

Sir Simon Donaldson, and SBU professor of mathematics, opened up a new area in the geometry of four dimensions. (PHOTO CREDIT : GERT-MARTIN GREUEL)

Sir Simon Donaldson, a renowned theoretical mathematician and a professor of mathematics in the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics and the Department of Mathematics at Stony Brook University, was awarded the $3 million Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics on Nov. 9 at a star-studded event in a former NASA airship station in Moffett Field, Calif.

“It’s a great honor, and it’s hard to really feel that it’s real,” Donaldson said. “I have a lot of respect for the [other math prize recipients], and it’s great to be a part of that group.”

Donaldson, who was selected for his broad contributions to the fields of topology and geometry, was among 21 laureates recognized at the second annual Breakthrough Prize ceremony for their work in the fields of mathematics, physics and life sciences.

The Breakthrough Prize, a set of international prizes in Life Sciences, Fundamental Physics and Mathematics, was founded by Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, and Yuri Milner and Julia Milner.

Their goal in creating a $3 million prize is to celebrate scientists as celebrities, as evidenced by the lavish televised award ceremony that was reminiscent of celebrity award shows.

“Most of our time is spent on mundane matters,” Yuri Milner, a Russian Entrepreneur and one of the prize founders, said. “Tonight we thought about the molecules of life, the structure of prime numbers, the fate of the universe. It was an uplifting
occasion for everyone.”

Celebrities, including actors Benedict Cumberbatch, Cameron Diaz and Jon Hamm, joined scientists to recognize pioneers in scientific fields and to demonstrate the extraordinary
power of science.

Although this was the second year that life sciences prizes were awarded, this is the first year for prizes in the field of mathematics.

“Most people think of math as a purely analytical discipline, but it’s also something that’s very profound and creative,” Facebook founder Zuckerberg said. “And just as we celebrate the work of writers, artists and musicians, we also need to celebrate the brilliant and original contributions of mathematicians that are changing our lives and will change our lives in the future.”

In the field of mathematics, Donaldson’s work has bridged different flavors of geometry and his influence can be seen in his proof of the diagonalizability theorem, known as Donaldson’s Theorem, and his algebraic invariants of four manifolds, known as
Donaldson polynomial invariants.

He was the first to show that exotic 4-spaces exist that cannot be contained inside any differentiably embedded 3-sphere.

Donaldson’s work, at the interface of mathematics and physics, opened up a new area in the geometry of four dimensions.

Donaldson, who is also a professor of pure mathematics at Imperial College London, first became interested in mathematics after designing boats as a child.

“Traditionally, support for mathematics in the developing world has consisted mainly of scholarships for highly talented students to study in Europe or North America,” Richard Taylor, a Math Laureate, said in a press release. “The hope of the International Mathematical Union and our fellowship is that if these students study in centers of excellence in the developing world, then they are more likely to return to their home countries and help educate the next generation of mathematicians.”

Slang terms more complex than they seem

(EFAL SAYED / THE STATESMAN)

Slang terms that are used increasingly by college students on social media, such as “bae,” “basic” and “turnt,” reflect the tendency for groups to create languages in an attempt to be “exclusive.” (EFAL SAYED / THE STATESMAN)

Bae. Basic. Turnt. These are only a few of the slang words that college students are increasingly using across social media.

The main point of slang is that it is a social language, Connie C. Eble, English department linguist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said. Eble explored the social function of vocabulary shared by a group and is the author of “Slang and Sociability: In-Group Language among College Students.” She continues to collect college slang today.

“You don’t use slang all the time,” she said. “You use it usually with your group and you use it for the purpose of being part of your group. So that’s why you use it and why it’s found on social media. It’s not called ‘social media’ for no reason.”

Groups create a language when they want to be exclusive, which is part of human nature, Stony Brook University linguistics Professor Mark Aronoff said.

College students, when asked where they often see or hear words such as “bae,” “basic” and “turnt,” listed multiple online platforms platforms and smartphone applications.

“I see it everyday on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, everywhere,” Armelis Morales, a sophomore health science major, said. “I think that social media enhances the use.”

Other students added YouTube, YikYak, Vine and Snapchat to the list.

“It’s just a common language that’s unique to the younger generation,” Alexandra Perez, a freshman biology major, said. “Some people start using it and it kind of rubs off and you start using the words as well.”

The popularity of particular slang is not only expressed by students who simply say it is common. For example, a search for “bae” on Instagram reveals 4,093,281 posts. Google trends shows that searches for “bae” have increased from early 2013 to present day and is it is a common hashtag on both Twitter and Facebook.

“So much of your slang it not manufactured on a campus,” Eble, who continues to collect college slang, said. “It’s produced online. It’s produced very often by people who have deliberately produced it to be the lyrics of rap songs or the routines of stand-up comics, or you get it off of YouTube. It goes viral one night and the next day, millions of people are using ‘YOLO.’”

With social media, words are not confined to a particular campus. Slang terms that students use at Stony Brook University are also current among Eble’s students at UNC Chapel Hill.

“That’s another interesting feature of slang, college slang, is that there are fewer distinctions from one campus to another because you are all connected by the web and you maintain your friendships with people miles and miles away, maybe oceans away,” Eble said.

Some slang remains local and can avoid social media, said Aronoff. “Brick” is a Long Island term that did not come out of hiphop and is “flying under the radar,” he said, turning to his computer to search for the phrase “It’s brick out,” which means that it is freezing outside, on Urban Dictionary.

“In the old days, people used to use jargon,” Aronoff said, walking over to a bookcase in his office. “You could get something like a dictionary of thieve’s jargon.”

Slang that is common among college students today is used for fun. It is often as if words are being used in quotation marks, Eble said. “In other words, part of your communication is, “This is slang. I know it and you know it. Aren’t we cute, as we both know it.”

Students said they use words such as “bae” jokingly.

“I find them funny and my friends and I use them kind of ironically,”  Isabella Perez, a freshman psychology major said. “I think there’s a fine line between using them ironically and actually using them because I don’t hear people using it in regular conversations.”

Other students found that slang is creeping out of social media and into everyday conversations, but still for fun.

“I feel like last year, a year ago, you used to see it on social media more but now it seems more prevalent just in everyday conversation, usually as a joke, you’re trying to be funny,” senior coastal environmental studies major Shannon Grogan said.

Over time, these words either stick or fade out. Word such as “cool” or “chill,” which have been around for 40 years, may not be considered slang at all by college students today, Eble said.

“It may not have a flavor of being trendy or informal or flippant, or have any of the other characteristics we usually associate with slang vocabulary,” she said. Words pass into the general vocabulary, with no “slangliness” attached, instead becoming informal vocabulary.

“Some of the slang is going to just go away so quickly that you’ll forget you even knew it at all,” Eble said. The only slang that she could remember from her college days during the Vietnam war was “gung ho.”

In terms of what might not stick around for this generation’s college students, Eble said that “turnt” will just run into the general vocabulary, while a word such as “ratchet” is probably not going to stay for years and years.

“Pregame might last,” she said. “The might last as long as that practice lasts, and so as long as you all start drinking before you start drinking, pregame will hang around.”

Community Developer of Yik Yak shares the ins and outs of the app

(BASIL JOHN / THE STATESMAN)

The developers of Yik Yak, Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, created the app in 2013 after graduating from Furman University. (BASIL JOHN / THE STATESMAN)

Stony Brook’s deepest, darkest secrets were revealed on Facebook about a year and a half ago with the birth of Stony Brook Secrets. Students have since transitioned to a new social media application called YikYak, quickly putting Stony Brook University on the company’s radar as one of the most active regions in New York, as Seawolves are posting about every 60 seconds.

“Just saw two construction workers sitting and laughing. I know what they’re building: Friendship,” Sunday’s top Yak read. Also a popular one, “I have 3 Cs and a D but Facebook thinks I can cure Ebola so I have that going for me,” was posted by another Yakker.

The Statesman recently chatted over the phone with YikYak’s Lead Community Developer Cameron Mullen. The interview was edited for space.

The Statesman: Tell me a bit about why YikYak was developed. What were the initial goals?

Mullen: To tell you a little about the app, how it started, the first version hit the app store November 6, 2013. So about a year ago. And at first, it started out real small and by the end of 2013, it was at two schools. Furman University is where our two co-founders went, Brooks Buffington and Tyler Droll. And the idea, the way it kind of started, was when Tyler and Brooks noticed these anonymous Twitter accounts with huge followings on campus. I don’t know if you have these similar accounts, like Stony Brook Confessions or Stony Brook Problems or Overheard at Stony Brook University.

The Statesman: We do, we have all of those.

Mullen: Oh you do. Cool. So pretty much, they’re run by an anonymous source, they have tons of followers on campus and Brooks and Tyler kind of thought, “There are more than five funny people on campus. What if we created that platform that acted as a virtual bulletin board for your area?” They thought user names and profiles weren’t important and connecting through your location, YikYak creates kind of a bulletin board for your area. So you can view the most [recent] hundred posts within a two miles radius.

And since then, it’s grown significantly. At the end of 2013, we were at two colleges. We started to spread like crazy in the spring and by the end of that semester we were at about 300 colleges. And people went home for summer, told all their friends about it and when school started up this year, it exploded with popularity at a bunch of new communities too and now we’re at over 1,000 colleges.

The Statesman: Where in the country is Yik Yak used the most?

Mullen: It kind of depends on how you want to measure it. It’s pretty much based on communities. Right now, a couple of these big schools in Florida are using it like crazy. New York is actually our most popular state, has the most users in it currently. But we’re really starting to see a lot of growth on the west coast right now.

The Statesman: What other countries are you in besides the United States and China?

Mullen: Our biggest country by far is the U.S., and we’re just starting to grow internationally. So the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia are some of our big countries.

The Statesman: It seems that a lot of Stony Brook Yakkers want  to post pictures soon. Is that something YikYak is working on?

Mullen: Interesting. Unfortunately, I can’t talk about our future plans, but I
appreciate your interest.

The Statesman: Are there any plans to monetize?

Mullen: That’s so far away right now…If we ever did want to monetize, there are definitely opportunities to, and kind of an obvious one would be to put in local ads. So, you know, a sandwich shop around Stony Brook could post “Half-off sandwiches from 12 to 1 today,” which is way more relevant to you than, “Hey, come buy a new computer.”

The Statesman: 38 percent of students use YikYak, but less than one percent of students vote in our Undergraduate Student Government elections. That’s a huge difference. Do you have any ideas as to why students use YikYak more than they vote for their student representatives?

Mullen: In general, more and more people use Facebook than vote in the presidential elections. I think one big reason is it’s probably easier to download YikYak than it is to get out of your bed and go down to the poll to go vote or log in to the poll, or however you do it at your school. It’s hard to say. I’m sorry that that’s such a low number!

The Statesman: Someone at Suffolk County Community College, which is more or less just down the road from Stony Brook, thought it would be funny to post a bomb threat on YikYak. Obviously, law enforcement took it seriously—it turned out to be nothing. What would you say to people who would point out the setbacks to using this app, because
it is anonymous?

Mullen: In general, anonymity can kind of breed not the best behavior, but in terms of threats like this, it’s really not a problem specific to YikYak—it’s more of a function of YikYak getting bigger and bigger and bigger. And, you know, there are bad apples in the world. And they are not just posting threats on YikYak. Like, Facebook and Twitter and YouTube are full of threats like this and that are dealt with all the time…I think one thing you’re highlighting, and not just through threats, but on YikYak, anonymity is a big part of it. And it gives power to the individual to speak about things that they might not otherwise speak about in person or on other social networks, which is really valuable to talk about. Really meaningful discussions and give a voice to people who might otherwise not have one, but we realize it can sometimes breed not
the best behavior.

The Statesman: So what is the Yakarma used for exactly? Or what is its role within the app?

Mullen: On YikYak, it’s kind of like your reputation among other Yakkers. It’s an interesting thing because YikYak is totally private, right? There are no names. So when you have this score, it doesn’t show up on your Facebook page or anything like that. It’s something that you’re internally proud about. I feel like people definitely share it with their friends, like bragging rights almost.

The Statesman: What would you say that most users of YikYak use the app for?

Mullen: They use it to post news about what’s going on campus. They post about a crazy deer running through their campus. They’ll post about a big party going on. They’ll post about a new school rule. At Franklin and Marshall, what happened earlier this year is the school made a rule where freshmen couldn’t go out for the first month of school or something like that to fraternities. And the rule backfired. A number of students ended up being hospitalized, a number of freshmen, and long story short some student posted on YikYak like, “Guys, this rule is ridiculous. Everyone come to this building from 1 to 5 p.m. and sign a petition so we can get this rule revoked.” And long story short, they got so many signatures within a week, the rule was revoked. We also see situations of people just looking for support. Someone posts, you know, “My parents are getting divorced and it’s really hurting but I need to stay strong for me and my brother,” and they’ll get a ton of upvotes and people responding, “Look, the same thing happened to me, just stay strong it’ll all be great.” We also see people using it for news. A lot of time, people go on YikYak for light humor, whether they’re checking it before bed or they’re posting something to see how many upvotes it gets, to see how funny it is. It’s a new medium where your content is judged on content alone and not who you are. So if you post a Yak that you think is a really funny joke and it gets four downvotes, the downvotes don’t mean you yourself isn’t funny, it means the content isn’t funny. This is way different then on Facebook when you judge something not by the content but by who’s saying it. It lets people talk about more sensitive issues and get a more honest, objective opinion of the content.

The Statesman: So would you say that that’s what’s more exciting about the app to you? Or is there something else?

Mullen: I feel like everyone identifies with the campus around them, so the content often reflects what’s going on. And we see that it is often full of jokes and funny thoughts, but once something dramatic does happen on campus, or an event happens, you can turn to YikYak and it turns into this real news source. One story: there was an armed robbery at a campus in the south and people were posting, “There was a post about a white Buick that just did armed robbery at the grocery store. Watch out for it.” Kind of like a PSA announcement. Apparently, people saw that on YikYak way before the police department even sent out a mass email to the school. When you think about Twitter, Twitter came out and everyone looked at it like, posting what I’m having for lunch. And that turned into the best news source at times. And we think we can challenge that. We just released this new feature, I’m not sure if you’ve heard of it, called Peek Anywhere. It lets you actually drop a pin pretty much at any location around the world and see the Yaks from that area. So, you can imagine if you want to peek into your friends’ universities to see what’s going on, or if there are the Oscars going on, or you want to see the riots in Hong Kong or, you know, if you want to see what’s going on in New York City during Fashion Week, you can drop a pin anywhere in the world and you can see news coming and posts and Yaks from that location.

The Statesman: How do you see YikYak measuring up against the big social media giants like Facebook and Twitter?

Mullen: Right now, we’re really focused on making the core experience as best as possible, you know, making sure all communities that we have are really enjoying the app, the feed is healthy, the posts are positive and all the Yakkers are happy. One day, we hope to grow just as big as those giants, if not bigger. We’re kind of taking it one step at a time right now.

Correction: November 10, 2014

A previous version of this article referred to Franklin and Marshall as “Franklin and Marshal.”

 

 

Yik Yak and the problem of accountability

(BASIL JOHN / THE STATESMAN)

(BASIL JOHN / THE STATESMAN)

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

(MANJU SHIVACHARAN / THE STATESMAN)

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

(PHOTO CREDIT: MCT CAMPUS)

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

(PHOTO CREDIT : MCTCAMPUS)

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.”

PHOTO CREDIT: Facebook

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

PHOTO CREDIT: Twitter

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.

PHOTO CREDIT: Twitter

(PHOTO CREDIT: Twitter)

PHOTO CREDIT: Twitter

(PHOTO CREDIT: Twitter)

PHOTO CREDIT: Twitter

(PHOTO CREDIT: Twitter)

PHOTO CREDIT: Twitter

(PHOTO CREDIT: Twitter)

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.

PHOTO CREDIT: Twitter

(PHOTO CREDIT: Twitter)

PHOTO CREDIT: Twitter

(PHOTO CREDIT: Twitter)

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 Hymen (NATHALY SIERRA / THE STATESMAN)

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

(NINA LIN / THE STATESMAN)

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.