Pumpkin spice madness needs to end

(PHOTO CREDIT: MCT CAMPUS)

Starbucks’ top-selling Pumpkin Spice Latte is just one of many fall-inspired items to hit the consumer market. PHOTO CREDIT: MCT CAMPUS

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.

Celebrities are not innocent in nude photo scandals

(PHOTO CREDIT: MCT CAMPUS)

(PHOTO CREDIT: MCT CAMPUS)

It is like Hollywood saw the consequences all along. Cameron Diaz and Jason Segal recently starred in the movie “Sex Tape,” which told the story of a husband and wife who accidentally uploaded their homemade sex movie to the “cloud” and shared it with all of their family and friends.

If Hollywood is already so hyper-aware of the consequences of uploading content to a remote server, shouldn’t those in Hollywood know better?

I would like to preface this argument with a note: I do not in any way shame the female celebrities who recently had photos hacked presumably from their iCloud accounts and shared on the underworld of the internet, 4Chan.

There is nothing wrong with taking nude photos of yourself, and in a consenting world between consenting adults, there is nothing wrong with sharing your body through the transmission of said nude photos or in any other manner.

Celebrities, in all senses of the term, are not average people. They are targets. As Taylor Swift lamented in her most recent Rolling Stone cover story, she cannot walk around nude in her own house with the shades open for fear of a photographer snapping away. She is cognizant of the value attached to a “scandalized” photo of her. I never thought I would say it, but Taylor, you are a smart girl.

In a way, it is unfair the way celebrities have to guard their day-to-day life. Utter a wrong phrase and you are fodder on late afternoon cable news. Trip upon entering a vehicle, and your derriere is on the front page of tomorrow’s Post. Most celebrities, like it or not, have a permanent body-painted arrow streaked across their entire being.

I can already hear the choruses of, “Well that’s no different than telling a rape victim they had it coming because of the way they were dressed, you just can’t control your male gaze.”

Indeed, it is different. Not in the sense the focus should be shifted away from the perpetrator, and that this was, in fact, a terrible crime. But most if not all celebrities have chosen the life they lead. No one handed them a record contract or a movie deal on the street one day. They actively participated in their own fame. Like Swift well knows, compromising photos of them are of value. Given the reputation of the cloud and the internet in general as the Fort Knox of privacy and security (sarcasm), is there not a sliver of blame to be placed on these celebrities for placing these photographs on a server where they could undoubtedly be stolen?

Lena Dunham is staring at me from the cover of Interview Magazine as I write this, and as the most outspoken Twitter celebrity proponent of Third Wave feminism, I feel her female gaze just leering at me. It is true though; you would not or should not leave a bag full of valuables in the front seat of an unlocked car in a crime-ridden neighborhood and be astounded if something went missing.

It is painful to acknowledge, but there are people out there who will at some point or another in our lives try to hurt us. That does not mean it is okay that people become victims of crime. But this overwhelming new ideology being propagated that people, especially women, cannot set themselves up for a crime completely takes away any aspect personal responsibility, and that is dangerous.

Do not get me wrong: I feel for these women. Their privacy has been violated in the worst way and like many others, I urge people to not seek out and view these photographs, as you become implicit in all of this, also violating these women.

However, if you take a nude photo of yourself, share it with others, or upload it to an unsecured place, you share a small portion of responsibility for where it turns up.

 

Successful Brookfest has students pumped up

(PHOTO CREDIT: ADAM SUE)

Childish Gambino, who followed Enclave’s performance, performed songs from both of his albums as well as ones from his mixtapes. (PHOTO CREDIT: ADAM SUE)

“Gambino! Gambino! Gambino!” It was 6:56 in the evening, the show had not even started and yet the crowd was chanting Childish Gambino’s name over and over. As the night went on, the crowd’s energy level only intensified.

Stony Brook University’s Brookfest show took place this Wednesday at 7 p.m. However, people were waiting in line as early as 3 p.m.. By the time the doors opened at 6, the line stretched all the way from Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium to beyond the Campus Recreation Center. Although this was the second time the concert took place at the stadium, this time, students had the option to stand on the field.

As people poured into the stadium, Stony Brook student and performer Kameron Myers, also known as Enclave, had a DJ station set up on stage. He pumped out original work as well as mixes to popular songs. The students seemed to respond well to their fellow Seawolf as most nodded their heads to the music and rocked back and forth with the rhythm.

As soon as Enclave left the stage, the chanting began. Chanting quickly turned to cheering as the screen behind the stage came to life with static images and Childish Gambino came out. He started the night off with the song  “l. Crawl,” a great song to pump people up. The beat was steady but powerful and allowed Gambino to rap to a faster pace.

For the first half of Gambino’s time on stage, he stuck mainly to songs from his most recent album, “Because the Internet.” But eventually, he transitioned to songs from his first studio album, “Camp” and then did a few tracks from his mixtapes. Something fans seemed to really enjoy was how Gambino would start rapping one of his older songs and flow into another song. He mashed up his own tracks and managed to make them sound great together.

Gambino was also very responsive to the crowd. In between songs, he would tell the crowd to get pumped and at one point, he even pointed out how some students were being mediated by security. Gambino was very animated as he rapped. It looked like he wanted the crowd to get into his music as much as he was. He was so into his performance that he even dropped the mic after a song.

When Gambino finished his set, there were a few brief chants from the audience. They were shouting for an encore. The chanting  was short lived as the crowd realized Diplo would soon be on next.

The crowd had been well-behaved for most of Childish’s set. Only one person tried to crowd surf and they were immediately stopped by security. But, during the transition between Gambino and Diplo, things got hectic in the standing areas on the field. People in the back continuously pushed forward, causing the people in the front much discomfort and security was constantly stepping in to yell at students.

Things calmed down for a bit, but as soon as Diplo stepped out on stage, the audience pushed forward once again. However, students were not complaining when the music started. In fact, students immediately got into the pulsating bass and mash-ups of music.

Diplo’s performance felt like being in a club or at a bumping rave. By this time, the sun had set and the flashing lights from the stage really helped set the mood. Students swayed to the music. Hands pulsated in the air and students in both the stands and on the field were dancing to the music.

While Diplo was not quite as animated as Gambino, he still managed to get the crowd just as excited, if not more. He started off asking the audience what a Seawolf was.

He then broke open a bottle of water and doused the crowd below.  In the duration of his performance, he did not just stay behind his DJ station either. He would occasionally get up on the table his equipment was on and command the audience to jump or clap or twerk.

Diplo had declared a few days prior to the concert via his Twitter, that he was determined to break the world record for the most people twerking for two minutes, and break the record he did. At one point in his set, he motioned to the girls closest to the front to join him up on stage to twerk. Soon after, Diplo had assembled an army of twerking college girls onstage.

Near the end of the set, security escorted the lucky ladies off stage and Diplo regretfully told the crowd that he had to leave—but not before leaving them with one more song. The crowd went crazy for him and his last mix really had people jumping, bumping and grinding. By this point, Brookfest felt less like a concert and more like a giant party.

All-in-all, the Undergraduate Student Government and the Student Activity Board seemed to pull off the event fairly well.

This Brookfest is going to be a hard one to beat next year.

Heartbleed highlights society without privacy

(PHOTO CREDIT : CODENOMICON)

The Heartbleed Bug puts user’s most personal information at risk.  (PHOTO CREDIT : CODENOMICON)

When we surf the internet, the last things we think about are how safe we are and whether or not we are putting ourselves at risk. Behind a computer screen, we are overcome with a sense of invincibility. A feeling that behind the computer screen we can anything. Unfortunately, the internet is far from safe.

Technology is advancing at an unrelenting rate pace and now, more than ever, there is a plethora of private information in the archives of the World Wide Web. This sort of information is like liquid gold for hackers, criminals and even other nations. Information from the internet can present valuable intelligence and if it falls into the wrong hands, it can lead to disaster. The most recent internet security scare that has companies frantic for a fix is the vulnerability dubbed the Heartbleed Bug, a threat to both individuals and businesses alike.

Some of you may be questioning the severity of such a leak. You might be thinking that that the NSA can already find out anything they want about everything or you may be wondering why you should care considering you have nothing to hide. The Heartbleed Bug is an error in the very common OpenSSL encryption software. This type of software is what protects web users’ usernames, passwords, documents and other important information. So, when you were signing into your email, Twitter, Instagram, etc., chances are that some of your information has been compromised. To some of you reading, this is meaningless. You can care less about your privacy so long as no harm comes to you. To me, however, this is a testament to how in today’s day and age, we can no longer live lives of privacy.

People like to say the world is getting smaller with the advancement of technology and they are right. I cannot remember a time in which my cousins who live in India were just a Skype call or instant message away. Communication across the globe has become as simple and almost as intimate as face to face conversation. It is great how we now have anyone at our fingertips, but, when can we draw the line as to how small the world can get. This Heartbleed incident is just the latest example of how the boundaries of privacy are being crossed. No matter how you try to hide yourself, disguise yourself, or even abstain yourself, you can be traced. The photos you post on social media websites are forever ingrained in the seemingly infinite fabrics of the internet. The OpenSSL software was supposed to protect users from spyware and hackers, and for while it did do so effectively. The error proves its futility. In essence, it proves the futility of today’s privacy deprived world.

Should we be scared of this software bug? Well, I wouldn’t panic as it is being dealt with by OpenSSL and the companies that use the codes. Nonetheless, we should take some time to look at this sort of incident and wonder why we spend so much of our time, money and information on the Internet. Whatever happened to actually talking to a business partner, or sending real letters? What happened to people actually asking what you did this weekend without actually knowing beforehand by means of social media? The saddest part of this all is that even though I am writing this, I cannot remember I time when we weren’t connected by technology 24/7. We need to start acting like humans again. We need to interact, be social without the aid of media, and with that I leave you.

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.

Stony Brook students take the party and pics to Twitter

(BRIDGET DOWNES / THE STATESMAN)

Parties are a growing trend to be shared on social media. (PHOTO CREDIT: TWITTER.COM)

“Live for the nights I’ll never remember with the people I won’t forget,” Drake, popular R&B and hip-hop artist, said. But what he did not convey was that the next time you are partying, on or off campus, your drunken moments could make you Twitter famous, even if it’s only for a week.

A year ago, the Twitter page SUNYPartyStories (@SUNYPartyStory) was created and now boasts over 65,000 followers who vote every week on 20 photos. A photo wins by having the most cumulative likes and retweets, giving their school bragging rights for hosting the week’s most outrageous party until the next Sunday evening when polls open again.

The creators behind SUNYPartyStories, who would like to remain anonymous because of the page’s content, wanted to create a platform where “college adventures” could compete against each other, like the other mediums that are provided for sports, music, academics and politics.

“How many student’s actually participate in those?” said a representative of SUNYPartyStories. “A much larger percentages of students party.”

Scan a few of @SUNYPartyStory’s photos from previous weeks and you will find everything from keg stands, “up-chuckers,” promiscuous students, artwork, drawn in Sharpie on students faces and even “birthday suits.” But as the Twitter page gains more viewers each week, there has been an increase to see who can capture the wildest party moment on their phones.

Armin Radoncic, a sophomore majoring in health sciences, said that the page is pretty funny, but depending on what’s going on in the photo, it could be seen as really embarrassing, especially if you did not consent.

“I would either feel awesome for having a good night,” Radoncic said, “or completely regret whatever it was I was doing.”

This raises a potential problem to the page; it helps bring to light the college lifestyle and gives viewers a laugh, however, students can be shown in their most intoxicated states acting animalistic and while everything seems acceptable in the moment, once the photo is posted, there could be backlashes unbeknownst to those involved.

But SUNYPartyStories state that people have been “passing out” and “doing stupid things since the romans,” and most of the time, these pictures would have been “posted on personally pages anyway.” If there was a problem and someone wanted a photo removed, they would respect the request, just like the infamous scenario of “#TheLegendOfEntry5.”

In the beginning of this past February, a photo was submitted by an anonymous source at SUNY Cobleskill and caused uproar against the account. The photo was finally removed at the request of the submitter, but you can still find the hashtag and a few reactions on twitter.

Some of the most popular schools to appear are University of Albany, Cortland and Oneonta. Stony Brook University (SBU) is not known to get as rowdy as its sister schools and had not even been featured until two weeks ago when there were two entries in one week. We lost to Buffalo State’s photo of the “Winter Olympics” but it’s a start to compete against some of the more established SUNY party schools.

Eric Shalyutin, 19, a sophomore majoring in political science, said that the Twitter page could help SBU positively by creating more of an “authentic college experience” where the whole student community can “party together.”

At the moment, SUNYPartyStories only provides a few “chuckle-worthy” tweets to Shalyutin but because SBU is not an established school on this account, it makes him feel like there is no point to visit the account.

“The social life on campus is honestly pretty bad,” Shalyutin said. “Homecoming was probably the only day I truly felt proud to call myself a Seawolf.”

He said that because most of the students are commuters and those who dorm do not want to join Greek life, they miss out on a lot and are not able to take part in the campus community, leaving SBU with “small groups of people” who do things “their own way.”

@SUNYPartyStory adds a little different “buzz” to your Sunday night Twitter feed.

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.

“That Awkward Moment” lives up to its namesake

“That Awkward Moment” is named after a Twitter meme that has absolutely nothing to do with the film. It is a film that, on the most basic level, is a mess to the point where even the movie’s few good aspects are brushed aside in favor of trying to be a romantic comedy for guys without the comedy.

The biggest issue with the film is an identity crisis, in which it tries to capture a confused audience. I say a confused audience because I am not sure the audience this film wants exists. The movie believes it combines romance and comedy with a deep look into the “true” male psyche, but by the end falls into terrible clichés and gender stereotypes.

The story follows three 20-something friends: Jason (Zac Efron), Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) and Daniel (Miles Teller). Both Jason and Daniel are womanizing serial daters who prefer to have a selection of women to hook up with unlike Mikey, who is married. Early in the film his wife leaves him, prompting the three buddies to make a bro-pact to remain girlfriend-free for the future.

To no one’s surprise, all three of them quickly break this pact, as Jason meets a quirky author Ellie (Imogen Poots), and Daniel realizes he has feeling for his long-time friend Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis). Unfortunately, Mikey breaks the pact in the worst way possible—by going back to his wife, who cheated on him.

Unfortunately, this is basically all there is to the film, as all of the characters fall flat, no thanks to the horrible screenplay. I will not say that people like Efron and Teller are wrong for the roles, as they have both proven they can be competent actors, but their characters are so unlikable. For example, Efron and Poots’s characters’ entire relationship starts after a night of casual sex, during which Efron confuses her for a prostitute. This is just one of many examples of how unlikable most of these characters are. Poots and Davis are the only likable characters in the film as they are actually charming and feel like real people. It is just a shame that they get so little screen time. Michael B. Jordan’s character is okay, but it is a shame that he really does nothing within the film, besides apparently being one of two black men in all of New York City.

The jokes come thick and fast, but it is early on that you realize that the film has about four jokes that are repeated in different situations. The best joke comes about five minutes into the film, and then it is a fast descent into mediocrity.

It has been a long time since we have seen a great romantic comedy told through a male perspective (1997’s “Chasing Amy” is probably the best example of this sub-genre). But for a film that tries so hard to appeal to a male audience, it leaves a lot to be desired. Unless you are interested in seeing Efron and Teller naked, then enjoy!

I have certainly seen worse movies labeling themselves as romantic comedies, but the only awkward moment I had when watching this film was the realization of just how delusional Hollywood must be to think that anyone wanted this film.

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.

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.

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.

Diwali burns bright and fast at Jasmine

(NINA LIN / THE STATESMAN)

Students celebrate India’s “Festival of Lights” at the Charles B. Wang Center. (NINA LIN / THE STATESMAN)

With roughly two weeks’ notice, Stony Brook University celebrated Diwali, India’s “Festival of Lights,” Monday night at the Charles B. Wang Center.

The cultural event, sponsored by the Center for India Studies, the Faculty Student Association and Campus Dining Services, was celebrated in three parts.

The first two parts of the celebration–the Pooja Ceremony and the Light Procession–took place in the Wang Center Chapel and circled the building, while the Jasmine food court’s Curry Kitchen organized a three-course vegetarian dinner and dancing festivities.

Distinguished Service Professor S.N. Sridhar, the director of the Center for India Studies, was impressed with the event’s turnout. “At short notice, people came from all walks of life,” he said.

“There was a great deal of goodwill and they had a great time. It was a very uplifting experience,” he continued. “Diwali is extremely important, the most important festival in Indian culture and a very happy festival.”

The celebration began with the Pooja Ceremony at the Wang Center Chapel, where Sridhar highlighted the symbolic, spiritual and historic significance of the event. He spoke of Diwali’s key celebrations, namely “the victory of light over dark, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance,” the multiple incarnations of Hinduism’s god, Rama, Krishna and Vama and the popular goddess of wealth, Lakshmi.

Sridhar also spoke about the five days of Diwali: Dhanteras, a celebration of wealth; Naraka Chaturdashi, when the Hindu god Krishna defeated the demon Naraka and freed more than 16,000 women; Lakshmi Puja, the goddess of wealth worshipped; Bali Padyami, when Emperor Bali visits the earth; and Bhai Duj, a day for sisters, who then invite their brothers to their homes.

After a recital of the prayer “Om Jai Jagadish,” the attendees celebrated light firsthand as they received electronic candles and circled the Wang Center in rows for the event’s second stage—the Light Procession. Sridhar emphasized that this action was important for its relation to the spiritual and symbolic representation of light in Hinduism. He later noted additional examples of this significance, like candles being lit instead of blown out to celebrate birthdays and gods being worshipped with lights.

The third and longest event began at Jasmine’s Curry Kitchen, where traditional Indian vegetarian dishes and the specialty rose extract drink “rose sharbat” were served to a full house. After dinner, the university’s cultural folk dance crew—Stony Brook Bhangra—performed.

Curry Kitchen owner and operator Chanda Vaz was pleased with the dinner stage, especially considering that the event was only decided upon roughly two weeks ago.

“I think we did a very good job in a very short space of time,” Vaz said. “We had two weeks of operation and we maxed the house, so what else could you ask for?”

Vaz, the founder of the New York City-based restaurant, organized the event’s meals, which were vegetarian as per Hindu tradition. The menu included two appetizers, six entrees, salad, two desserts and the aforementioned rose sharbat.

“Because it’s a celebration,” Vaz hoped to showcase a variety of rich Indian dishes “like panir [makahani], which is like a chicken dish but vegetarian,” Vaz said. “As an operator I missed out on all that when I was at university.”

“When we had a Diwali, we didn’t have anyplace to go besides campus because my house was [so far] away, so we couldn’t go back home for Diwali,” she continued. “So I wanted to give the students a home away from home.”

Students such as FSA Student Manager Nikolay Bogomolov helped set the dinner and promote Diwali around campus. The FSA sent out a press release for the Diwali celebration just last Tuesday, Oct. 29,  so organizers had roughly a week to promote the event.

“We had to put up signs over campus, we sold the tickets at various dining locations,” Bogomolov said. “I know that Curry Kitchen is sponsoring the food part of it, so they promoted it on their Twitter account and other things.”

Bogomolov said there were also plans to celebrate Chinese New Year, although they are currently “still in the works.”

Sridhar saw the Diwali celebration as a continuation of the Center for Indian Studies’ emphasis on mutual understanding between the university and the Indian-American community. The event follows the center’s record $5 million dollar donation ($2.5 million from donors, matched with a Simons Foundation Challenge Grant), the largest ever to an American public university’s Indian studies program.

“People are realizing that, in this globalized world, you have to know a lot about other cultures and work with them as equals,” Sridhar said. “The courses that we teach and the programs that we do are one way in which we contribute to that general awareness, so our students can be competitive with others.

“Because other universities are doing other things, there’s a mad scramble,” he continued.

A student of Sridhar, sophomore anthropology major Iain Mawhinney, attended the event as an extra-credit assignment, and found it interesting “to get in touch with [aspects of] Indian culture that you don’t get in class,” although he admitted he could not keep up with Stony Brook Bhangra’s performance.

“I didn’t know there’d be so many people from so many walks of life here,” Mawhinney said.

Sridhar likewise appreciated the event’s broad appeal and traced it to Hinduism’s culture of inclusivity and non-discrimination.

“What’s interesting about Diwali is that it is celebrated by people from all classes: educated, non-educated, rural, city, children, grown-ups, businessmen, religious people, non-religious,” Sridhar said. “Hinduism is a very inclusive religion. It doesn’t believe in conversion and exclusivity.”

Social media: a blessing or a curse?

(PHOTO CREDIT : MCT CAMPUS)

Many students form their relationships with others through social media platforms. PHOTO CREDIT : MCT CAMPUS)

As students take their first steps into a new semester of college, they realize that socializing is a gradual yet significant process that can direct the course of their lives at Stony Brook University for the next four years or so. In the age of technological communication, we have never before seen a greater emphasis placed on knowing what’s what and who’s who through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other forms of social media. Ask a typical student how he or she makes friends, and the immediate response will be “through Facebook.” In a mere decade, technology has allowed us to share every moment of our lives as we experience them. Although Facebook offers networking opportunities, long-term problems remain hidden under a thick layer of status updates, likes, comments and tweets.

Nowadays, it is nearly impossible to sit through a class without seeing people not-so-sneakily take out their cell phones to check their newsfeeds. Usually, I find the piercing colors from my peers’ games of Candy Crush Saga burned into my corneas while I ignore the sounds of cell phones beeping from notifications that resonate within the walls of a large lecture hall. This frequent intermingling between our online lives and real lives leads me to ask: Why has technological communication become so advanced, only for us to abuse it?

Perhaps the answer stems from the fact that our social lives have become harder to manage while we are forced to comply with the increasing demands of our education. The value of a student’s education relies on his or her daily performance in the academic arena. In a society that constantly demands perfection, we find our social lives neglected in our pursuit for scholastic excellence.

This is where social media provides us with an appealing platform. With little to no effort, we can see everything our friends are up to on Facebook with one scroll of our newsfeed. Similarly, we can follow tweets of friends and celebrities over Twitter with a click or touch of a button. Unfortunately, the accessibility of this information entices us to spend more of our time posting, tweeting and uploading rather than learning. Arguably, large groups created over Facebook intend to provide members with assistance through exchange of information. Before long, the line between studious discussions and socializing becomes so blurred that we unintentionally lose sight of our academic focus.

In a school as large as Stony Brook University, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram conveniently allow students to integrate into their enormous collegiate setting one click at a time. Social media has simplified the process of creating friendships into a matter of exchanging messages and tagging other people in photos.

At first glance, it may seem as if we are successfully forming bonds that will last a lifetime. But a more realistic view will assert that using Facebook, Twitter and other types of social media can never compare to reaching out and making friends face to face. Social media serve as windows through which we can observe others without the need to converse. Thus, we end up choosing quantity over quality, collecting friends to add to our list or to follow instead of directly interacting with them. In our mission to add the most friends, we forget the value in getting to know someone on a personal basis.

The truth is that exchanging emoticons and typing “lol” and “omg” are not the same as seeing someone smile or seeing a person’s reaction. This type of beauty that we can only see when interacting with someone in person constantly escapes us. Since our friends are figuratively tucked away in our pockets, within the recesses of our smartphones, they are available to us 24/7, eliminating the need to see them. Paradoxically, as we connect more and more people, we become increasingly distant from those around us.

To be fair, social media does have its benefits. If Facebook were to become a country, it would have the third-largest population in the world with over 500 million citizens. Therefore, it is undeniable that the scope of influence social media has reached is enough to define our generation and pave the way for the 21st century. Nevertheless, we must come to the realization that the forefront of the most advanced technology in history is in the midst of our fingertips and should not be abused.

The solution lies in finding a balance between spending time in the real world and online. As tempting as it is, students should not log into Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. during class. It will most likely evoke unwanted attention from peers and serve as a distraction from class work. Moreover, social media should be used to create experiences, not fake them. Instead of merely joining study groups on Facebook, we can organize events to have study sessions.

On a friendlier note, creating get-togethers is an easy task with the assistance of social media. SBU is a university with over 16,000 interesting students and a host to hundreds of events that take place on campus every year. It would be wise to try to network with people through conversation and interaction instead of reserving these actions to the online world.