Why are we not surprised about people dying on Black Friday?

(JASMINE BLENNAU / THE STATESMAN)

The line at the Best Buy in Levittown N.Y. when it opened on Black Friday almost reached the neighboring store. The technology retail chain opened at 8 a.m. (JASMINE BLENNAU / THE STATESMAN)

“One worker trampled to death during Black Friday sales at Wal-Mart.”

“Two dead after a shooting in crowded Toy ‘R’ Us in Black Friday shopping pandemonium.”

“A Black Friday shopper who collapsed while shopping at a Target store in West Virginia went almost unnoticed as customers continued to hunt for bargain deals.”

These headlines, depicting the death and injury of multiple people all across America, seem to be featured at the top of every single newspaper on the Saturday after Black Friday, once the reported death and injury count have been tallied.

Sometimes, the counts are run in the evening news on Black Friday. We might even see some poor retail worker getting trampled live via Twitter, with new hashtags popping up faster than crushed pre-med hopes after a BIO 203 midterm.

The idea of expecting people to die on Black Friday is not only upsetting, but also quite alarming. As of now, there are seven reported deaths and 98 injuries due to Black Friday-related incidents, according to the website blackfridaydeathcount.com. This website is a stark reminder of the fact that people actually die on Black Friday.

What is even more shocking is that we expect to hear horror stories coming out of Black Friday. We expect to wake up on Saturday morning and see that one or two people were killed over the last Tickle Me Elmo or that a man was trampled to death because that big flat screen T.V. was close to 50 percent off.

It is absurd to hold the value of the price of some materialistic item over a person’s life, which truly puts the whole Black Friday craze into a very critical lens. The thought of people dying over deals is horrible; the fact that a person is literally willing to shoot, with the intent to kill, in a crowded shopping center over a toy is ridiculous. On top of this, the thought that some retail workers have given their life in the name of corporate greed and commercialization is just downright upsetting.

What has come of our society that we willingly will go out and trample another human being, a person who has their own life and story, just to save some money? What can be said of people as a whole if they are willing to fight, shoot and kill each other just for some deals?

Personally, I do not go Black Friday shopping because I value my life and would rather go out in a more fashionable way, like getting food poisoning from the SAC cafeteria or dying at the age of 75 when I finally get to see Kelly Dining’s renovation completed.

However the majority of people will still contribute to the problem of “Black Friday” because people cannot resist the lure of buying more than they need, which in part will lead to the unfortunate harm and the death of more people.

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.

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.”

 

 

Former Seawolves turn their focus towards coaching

(STATESMAN STOCK PHOTO)

Brian Dougher, above, who played as point guard the Seawolves from 2008-2012, was recently hired as Stony Brook’s coordinator of basketball operations. During his tenure as a player, he became the Seawolves all-time leading scorer and three-point shooter. (STATESMAN STOCK PHOTO)

For years, the NCAA has boasted in its commercials that most collegiate athletes become professional players outside of sports. But for former Seawolves point guards Ben Resner and Brian Dougher, the game they love has become a profession.

Although their playing days have ended, Resner and Dougher have both found coaching jobs that they are starting this season.

Resner graduated last spring after serving as the Seawolves’ captain. While he played only sparingly during his time at Stony Brook, Resner always felt that his leadership skills made him coaching material.

“My role [on Stony Brook] was to be a leader and to teach the younger guys how to act since I had been around the program for a few years,” Resner said. “Once I realized I couldn’t play in the NBA, the next best thing was to coach there.”

Finding a professional coaching job right out of college is obviously no easy task. In today’s economy, finding job openings is difficult enough. However, an advertisement on Twitter for an NBA pro scouting event in Las Vegas was about to change Resner’s career path and bring him closer to his dream.

“I saw a video on about [the scouting event] on Twitter,” Resner said. “I knew if I wanted to get into the world of the NBA, these were the people I needed to be around. So I just packed my bags and left for Vegas.”

At the Vegas event, Resner would cross paths with the likes of Orlando Magic General Manager Rob Hennigan and Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. While he was unable to find work in the NBA this season, Resner eventually found an opening with the Canton Charge, the Developmental League (D-League) affiliate of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers.

“I reached out to every NBA team, every D-League team, trying to just get my foot in the door. I had a couple opportunities and the Charge was one of them after I couldn’t get into the NBA,” Resner said. “I was very lucky that they thought I was qualified enough to coach, and I can’t wait to get started.”

As Resner is moving into professional coaching this year, Bryan Dougher is doing the same in the collegiate ranks. Dougher was recently hired to be Stony Brook’s coordinator of basketball operations.

This marks a homecoming of sorts for Dougher, as he was a four-year starter at point guard with the Seawolves from 2008-2012. During this time, he became the program’s all-time leading scorer and three-point shooter.

“I’m definitely looking to get into coaching and this job is a great way to get my foot in the door,” Dougher said.

So far, Dougher says he is enjoying the new job. He credits his on-court experience as a player in coach Steve Pikiell’s system for a smooth transition from the court to the sidelines.

“It definitely helps that I played at a high level and that I played at Stony Brook so it’s been an easier transition,” Dougher said. “When you’re playing for four years, you spend so much time with the coaches that they begin to rub off on you.”

As both Resner and Dougher begin a new phase in their basketball careers, the former teammates remain friends. Dougher says that the two players-turned-coaches still talk on a daily basis and aid each other in reaching their goals.

“I liked being in college a little more than the pros, so we have different goals but we’re doing the same type of things so it’s great bouncing ideas off of each other,” Dougher said.

The two Stony Brook alumni will start their seasons in November, just a day apart from each other. The Seawolves will begin their season at home against Columbia on Nov. 14. One day later, the Canton Charge will tip off against the Delaware 87ers.

 

Ebola: only a problem because it has reached us

How the United States handles Ebola.

(HYEMIN BAE / THE STATESMAN)

“Highly contagious.” “Reported death and confirmed cases in the United States.” “President Obama takes preventative actions.” With its news making headlines all around us, Ebola is definitely one of today’s hottest, most talked about topics.

Ebola is a highly contagious viral disease that has been in Africa since 1976. Yes, that is right, Ebola has been a problem in the world for almost forty years now.

So after all this time, why is it only garnering this kind of attention now?

For one thing, this is the largest and most widespread outbreak of the virus thus far.

In fact, now that it has made its way West to the United States and Europe after haunting Sudan and Liberia for decades, it has become our problem as well.

The first case of Ebola occurred in Sudan in 1976.

Out of the 284 Sudanese people infected, 151 died.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Democratic Republic of Congo assisted in containing the infection.

The second outbreak was in the Democratic Republic of Congo, infecting 315 people and killing 224 in 1995.

From 1995 to 2013, the disease had popped up in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo and Uganda.

Again, the World Health Organization and the respective governments of these infected countries took action to prevent and contain the disease.

Within the past year, the first reported case was in December, 2013 in Guinea.

In March 2014, the WHO reported the outbreak. Doctors Without Borders got to work, placing nearly 300 international employees and 2900 local employees in West Africa.

Despite the efforts, Ebola quickly spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal, infecting thousands. Concerning, but not yet reaching our news outlets, so why care, right?

Ebola has now dawned upon us.

On Sept. 30, 2014, the first diagnosed case of Ebola in the United States was confirmed. Eight days later, Thomas Eric Duncan was dead and Twitter was blowing up.

The New York Times, NBC, CNN, CBS and countless newspapers and networks made Ebola their top story. Obama announced that 3000 troops would be sent to West Africa to build hospitals and clinics, as well as medical supplies and healthcare workers.

Later that same week, Ebola made its debut in Spain.

Suddenly, the disease has become a first world problem.

Although Ebola has been around for almost four decades, infecting and killing over thousands in Africa during that time, it was not until it hit America and Europe that we really started to care.

Up until this point, Ebola had been Africa’s problem. The victims of this disease were detached from our everyday lives, an issue literally an ocean away.

Only now that Ebola is a threat to our wellbeing, and our society, is it worth investing millions of dollars into, worth creating a vaccine for, and worth deploying military troops and healthcare workers for.

Sadly, all this just goes to show that in our society, the life of one American outweighs the lives of 3865 West Africans.

Regardless of the reason, major world powers have finally decided to join the fight against Ebola. Yet what started as a way to stop Ebola quickly escalated into a competition to see which country is the most humanitarian.

Shortly after Obama’s announcement, the president of France jumped on the bandwagon and declared that he would also send troops to West Africa, mainly to southern Guinea. Britain, not one to miss out, is now also ordering its troops to be sent to Sierra Leone.

The Chinese Center of Disease Control is going to Sierra Leone as well to help with the testing.

Even Cuba sent 100 doctors to help. Obama did say that this epidemic would require a global effort to fight, but it appears as though what other countries heard was a challenge, not an invitation to change.

Obama’s announcement put America front and center in the fight against Ebola.

Being overshadowed made the other countries quickly step up their game in order not to lose in the humanitarian race.

Joining efforts to against a common enemy is easier said than done when each country wants to outshine the other and doubts the other at the same time.

While all these world powers are stroking their egos at just how charitable and great they are to help these little nations in Africa, they fail to see that there is not only one way to help.

From only serving ourselves, to extending help to others, to competitively trying to outdo each other in altruism, we have to wonder if it is even possible to do a good deed with pure motives anymore.

In seeing every move made by different countries as “challenge accepted,” valuable time and effort is being wasted on futile rivalry instead of going towards actual, positive change. What started off as a pure, genuine desire to help people around the world has become tainted by politics and competition.

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.

Yik Yak app gains momentum through anonymity and proximity

Users of the popular app Yik Yak post jokes and complaints anonymously and are separated mostly by university. (BASIL JOHN / THE STATESMAN)

Users of the popular app Yik Yak post jokes and complaints anonymously. The posts are separated mostly by university. (BASIL JOHN / THE STATESMAN)

Yik Yak, a Twitter-esque mobile application that displays a feed of short messages sent from users only limited by proximity that are also completely anonymous, has gained popularity across the country, including at Stony Brook University.

Posters are nameless and without avatars, completely unable to prove their identity over the app, even if they wanted to. The app separates groups of posters by location, mostly by college. Although a user can use the “Peek” feature to check out posts being sent out at other universities, he or she can only post in his or her proximity.

Posts, or “Yaks,” can be upvoted, downvoted, or replied to, similar to Reddit. A user can view the highest upvoted Yaks at the time and collect “Yakarma” points, a score which measures how often the user Yaks and the popularity of said Yaks.

“I actually saw it as a top app on the App Store, and I did not know whether people were using it around here, and I found very quickly that a few people were in it,” Will Bermingham, a sophomore journalism major, said. “It’s blown up in the last week or so.”

Alex Zahlout, a sophomore psychology major, has also succumbed to the Yik Yak explosion. 

“The last two weeks [I’ve been on] like daily,” Zahlout said. “It’s anonymous so it’s really awesome when you’re funny and people think you’re funny but they don’t know it’s you.”

“I think it’s hilarious,” Bermingham said. “I think certain people can be really funny about it, and if you just go to some of the top stuff it can be very funny.”

The app’s users definitely have their moments. One can find Yaks such as one that read, “The football team is doing just as well as my GPA. Fancy that.”

Yik Yak is not all jokes, however. The app’s users said its use of limiting communication to one school has allowed them to get creative.

“Somebody said to do jumping jacks in the Union if you’re on Yik Yak,” Zahlout said. “I thought it probably would have been a funny sight.”

“There’s a lot of call-outs, not necessarily in a bad way,” Bermingham said. Oftentimes, you will see posters anonymously complimenting somebody in their class, or somebody they saw walking by the SAC.

There is also plenty of whining on the app, according to another user, sophomore undeclared major Dan Perillo.

“I’ve seen people complain about other people in classes,” Perillo said. “People complaining about their sex lives.”

This may paint a picture of a harmless, fun app, but as with most things, there are awful people there to ruin it, users said. Zahlout points to “racist comments” as one of the app’s “common themes.”

“Whenever people are anonymous, there’s going to be people who say things whether or not they believe them,” Bermingham said. “Usually I’d say they probably don’t, people usually just say things because they can, usually to get a rise out of someone.”

Bermingham brings up what is called the “Online Disinhibition Effect,” which skews an individual’s moral and social guidelines when  they are anonymous on the internet, as described in an article published by the International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic studies. Yik Yak has a feature in which you can flag any Yaks that may be offensive, but controversy has not been avoided.

The app has drawn a large amount of concern from schools and parents because of how easily people could anonymously bully others using Yik Yak. According to a Fox News story, a 17-year-old high school student in California was charged with three felony counts of making a terrorist threat on the app in April.

Whether the app continues to grow as a comical way to kill time or the easiest way to intimately spew hate is based around the individuals who log on every day.                              “[There is] some funny stuff on it,” Perillo said. “But sometimes it’s just dumb.”

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.

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.