Marist students choose most-attractive professors

A poll was conducted by a Marist College student for other Marist students where professors were nominated and voted on based on their physical attractiveness.

The first place professor is Edward D. Messerschmidt, an adjunct lecturer for the music department at Marist. Messerschmidt won first place with 29 percent of the votes on the poll. “I’m honored and flattered to have been selected as one of the best looking professors on campus,” said Messerschmidt when contacted informing him of his victory. “I just hope that the students who voted for me also think that I’m a good teacher.” Messerschmidt’s victory came as a surprise, being both nominated and surpassing the now runner-ups on the last day of voting and almost in a flash mob manner.

Professor Kevin Lerner ponders the rule of thirds
Professor Kevin Lerner got 13 percent of votes

The second place professor is Kevin Lerner, a visiting assistant journalism professor at Marist, who got 13 percent of the votes on the poll. “Partly, it’s flattering,” said Lerner regarding the notion of students voting for professors they considered to be good-looking. “But it’s distracting. It makes you self-conscious.”

The third place professor is Kevin Gaugler, an associate professor of Spanish at Marist, who got 12 percent of the votes on the poll. “I would say that your results prove just how unscientific the poll must have been,” said Gaugler upon being told of his victory. “We’ve got a good-looking faculty you know!”

The poll results were gathered from Thursday April 26 until Tuesday May 2, 2012. A total of 56 votes were gathered from about 50 different students. Students were allowed to vote once on as many professors as they wished and nominate all the professors they desired.

Most of the professors nominated in the poll had a chili pepper signifying “hotness” on their profiles in the Rate My Professors website, where students go and evaluate their professors based on helpfulness, clarity, easiness and overall quality. Both professors and students generally consider the website to be based on real interest from the students to help other prospective students decide on professors, as well as hint at professors who may be reading their profiles.

A total of 14 nominees were found, 13 of them who were professors, one being the poll student who conducted the actual interview.

Five of the 14 nominees were female, the majority of the votes being for male professors. Roughly two thirds of the voters were male.

Students were allowed to see the other nominees and votes, as well as which students voted for which professors. Both current students and alumni were allowed and desired to vote.

Reactions to the poll were varied. Some professors did not agree with the results of the poll, finding the methodology ludicrous. Overall, most professors found the idea of the poll slightly awkward.

Another criticism was the concept of the poll itself. “There’s something about the fact that a person is a student that immediately makes them unattractive to me,” said Lerner regarding the idea of the poll. “In the way that when I was a student the fact that they were professors made them unattractive whether or not they were attractive.” Some students considered the concept to be slightly disturbing, since student-professor relations are taboo and frowned down upon and against the New York Education Code of Conduct.

Some students found themselves shy when voting, since the public poll was made through Facebook, which allows others to see which student voted for which professors. “I haven’t used that poll thing before. People from Marist will still see it,” said Caslene Bulan, a student at Marist. “I would vote but it shows that I voted it and that scares me.”

Some of the runner-ups in the poll included film professor Sue Lawrence, communications professor Michael Koch and Assistant Professor in the computer science and math departments Helen Hayes.

One Marist student, Finn Corran, commented on the poll saying “This seems slanted, I only see one girl’s name. Koch is a real cool prof, though I’m less enthusiastic about his hotness.”

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The Graduate and Adult Enrollment office moves on despite a slow season

Late in the semester at Marist College, students are getting ready to move out and go home for the summer. At 2:05p.m., with roughly a month left until graduation, many graduate offices at Marist seem abandoned or dead.

“We get a few calls in the morning, but it has slowed down since,” said Helen Chang, a student assistant working at Marist’s Graduate and Adult Enrollment office. The GAE office is in charge of helping prospective students with their applications and paperwork over the phone; but now that it’s late April and all prospective students have enrolled, there’s not much of that going on, and the GAE office helps with other issues for incoming students.

Countdown until graduation
Marist College counts down graduation time

“If students want a tour of the campus, we’re in charge of setting that up,” said Chang, sitting alone at the mostly empty office’s front counter. “We also set up appointments with one of our four advisers.”

Stepping into the GAE office, time feels like it’s slowing down with the loud ticking clock behind the counter. However, once summer comes along, the office will be bursting with life and noise from the ringing phones and frantic clicking of keyboards.

Dance Your Story: Marist students team up for a great dance show

The Marist College Dance Ensemble is celebrating its 15th anniversary with their largest event in their history. The show will take place on Saturday, April 21, 2012 and Sunday, April 22, 2012.

“Our 15 Years of Dance: Dance Your Story” will feature the largest collaboration of students and dances yet. The students of Marist College themselves are the dancers and choreographers of the Dance Ensemble.

“There will be 27 different dances, each choreographed by different students from Marist,” said Luis Castillo, a junior at Marist College and a dancer for Dance Ensemble, “I’m only in one dance, but many of the girls in the club are in five, six or seven dances.”

“Dance Your Story” will take place in the newly remodeled Marist gymnasium, the McCann Recreational Center. The section of the McCann Recreational Center being used can sit up to 600 attendees, and the Marist College Dance Ensemble is hoping to get about 1,000 seats between both nights, which they were just short of during the fall semester of 2011, according to Arianna Cesa, president of the Marist College Dance Ensemble, which she attributes to having the event off-campus.

“To promote this event, we have several different fliers posted all around campus, created by our PR/Advertising Manager Taylor Crichton,” Cesa said, “We also have a Facebook event and have reached out to a lot of our alumni dancers hoping they’ll come to celebrate our anniversary. We rely a lot on our dancers to get the word out. They invite friends and family to the show and we really hope to sell over 1,000 tickets this semester.”

“Dance Your Story” will feature various different styles of dance, including ballet, tap dance, jazz, hip hop, African, contemporary/lyrical, pointe and hula, all of which are performed and choreographed by students.

“We are starting off the show with an “opening number” dance which is meant to showcase a few different styles in one dance,” said Dana Karas, the current vice president of Dance Ensemble, “The dancers really put a whole lot of time and energy into our club in order to make our shows a success. It is very ironic, but although rehearsal week is dreaded and referred to as ‘hell week’, for a lot of the dancers it is their favorite part of the semester.”

The incoming vice president of Dance Ensemble, Dana Murano, praised the dancers and choreographers for their stamina and time. “A lot of our dancers have a love/hate relationship with what we call ‘hell week’,” Murano said, “It’s obviously a huge time commitment and can get really stressful, but it’s also really rewarding to see all of the dances come together and all of our club members getting to do what they love to do every single night, not to mention it’s a lot of fun and you get to spend a lot of time with your friends in the dance ensemble.”

With over 250 members, Dance Ensemble is one of the largest groups on campus. Given the large number of members and dancers, the whole purpose of “Dance Your Story” was born, says Marist student and dancer Trina Cardamone. “The theme ‘Dance Your Story’ came from the idea that dance is very special and personalized, and each dancer brings their own emotions and experiences to what they do. In this respect, each dancer is bringing their own story to life when they dance.”

Besides promotional handouts and posters hung around the Marist campus, some students have found more creative ways to promote “Dance Your Story.” When approached at Accepted Students Day, the Dance Ensemble representatives made sure to promote the event to incoming students and their parents, said Rachel Sweeney, a dancer and fashion student at Marist. “It not only made for a more exciting experience for the accepted students and parents, but also promoted the club to those soon-to-be incoming freshmen. It also served as a reminder of the upcoming show to students working that day, which was great.”

Students dressed as marionette and puppeteer
Students dressed as marionette and puppeteer

Some students in Dance Ensemble are both choreographers and dancers, but no matter what their roles are in Dance Ensemble, one important factor seems to be getting along with your fellow students in the club. “Over half of my friends are from dance ensemble, and I am always so excited to go to dance class,” said Patricia Tow, the website manager for Dance Ensemble. “At first, I thought of it as just something to do, but you quickly realize that people truly have a love for our club.” Tow has been website manager of Dance Ensemble for two years, and a choreographer for three semesters.

As most of the current executive board is transitioning out of Dance Ensemble at the end of the spring 2012 semester, their purpose is to make this 15th anniversary event a unique and memorable one. Jaclyn Navarro, the incoming show committee manager succeeding Erin Graetzer, is already shadowing her predecessor to make sure there’s no bumpy transition between board members. Navarro has been dancing with Dance Ensemble all four of her semesters and has been dancing since she was three years old. She will have a hip hop routine she also choreographed, which will be performed by about 30 other girls.

The event currently has over 400 people marked as going on their Facebook event page, with another 60 marked as maybe. However, with the large number of newly accepted students and parents who do not have access to the event as well as faculty members who may not utilize Facebook, attendance is expected to be much higher than the current Facebook numbers.

“As my last semester as President for the club I couldn’t be happier with the dances in our show,” said Cesa, the current president of Dance Ensemble, “Being a graduating senior and on the board since my freshmen year, I really feel like the club is being left in great hands. The new board is going to be amazing next year.”

Size matters: Small businesses thrive to survive in Poughkeepsie

Businesses in America tend to be divided in to the big businesses, owned in franchises, and small businesses, owned and run individually. The City of Poughkeepsie in New York has seen its share of both a small-business-ruled city as well a big-business-ruled city.

America loves capitalism as much as it likes underdogs, showing that a good business dynamic tends to tickle the country’s fancy. The City of Poughkeepsie used to be a hub where small business owners could establish their trades and prosper from the people of the city. However, in the late 1950s the city saw some changes regarding big and small businesses with the opening of the Poughkeepsie Plaza shopping center.

The Poughkeepsie Plaza was the first shopping center built in Dutchess County. The Poughkeepsie Plaza was first opened in 1958 and is located on US Route 9, which runs through Delaware, New Jersey and New York. It was first a super market strip center, but was later developed into an enclosed mall.

Interior of Soul Dog
Interior of Soul Dog

“I have fond memories of Main Street before the mall existed,” Jenny Teague, co-founder of Soul Dog, a hot dog joint in Poughkeepsie, said. “Poughkeepsie used to be known as the queen of the Hudson.”

Teague opened Soul Dog in 2004. Located in downtown Poughkeepsie, the hot dog joint is surrounded by other privately-owned businesses ranging from pizza places to hair salons. However, Teague says things have been better for small businesses in the past.

“The 1980s were not really a good time around here.” Teague said. “Crime was up, the creation of the mall which blocked off Main Street in two chunks killed businesses and the shopping malls that cropped up around that time, the first being the Poughkeepsie Plaza mall drew businesses out of downtown and so it changed everything.”

The effects of the Poughkeepsie Plaza opening in the late 1950s were not felt as strongly as in the 1980s when most downtown stores started moving or going out of business because of the rising number of stores along Route 9 and other more convenient and heavily trafficked places.

In 2012, Forbes named Poughkeepsie the third best city for jobs, stating “home to Vassar College and the Culinary Institute of America, [it] is also attracting a growing number of healthcare jobs including at the expanding Vassar Brothers Medical Center. Unemployment topped at 8.1% in 2010, still below the national average, and Moody’s expects the area to add 16,750 jobs by 2016.” Poughkeepsie seems to be showing some sort of recovery from the 1980s.

“I think Poughkeepsie is barely recovering at this point from that, but that had a really negative impact and took a really, really big toll on the city and its residents,” Teague said. “Poughkeepsie has lots of potential and it always has.”

Today, most of Poughkeepsie is run by big businesses, with more and more malls opening around the city including the Poughkeepsie Galleria in 1987, the biggest mall in New York’s Hudson Valley region. The construction of the Galleria mall and its 250 stores caused not only some smaller businesses to close but also some other big businesses. South Hills Mall, which was located across from the Galleria and was known to be the dominant retail center of Dutchess County until the opening of Galleria, closed in 2007.

Small businesses have a hard time staying open in Poughkeepsie. Across the Hudson River in New Paltz, many small businesses rule the streets with very little franchises in sight. This is commonly thought to be due to New Paltz being considered a “college city” or a city mostly run and inhabited by young college students.

In Poughkeepsie, one of the largest collections of small businesses can be found around Vassar College, where it almost seems as though one is in a miniature New Paltz by the larger number of small businesses and small number of franchises.

An employee for the City of Poughkeepsie’s Economic Development Division who preferred to stay anonymous said that the reason for the small number of small businesses in Poughkeepsie is rent. “It’s hard making a profit as a small business when you’re located a few minutes from a large shopping center,” the anonymous employee said. “And if you don’t make more than what you pay in rent, you don’t have much choice but to shut down.”

In 2011, Forbes gave Poughkeepsie the 15th place in its Cities Where Economies Are Getting Worse for having “a substantial population exodus compared with city size, a housing market that has yet to hit bottom and a significant number of mortgage loans delinquent by 90 days or more.”

While big businesses currently run most of Poughkeepsie, there is always an attempt by small business owners to thrive in the city. While some stores and restaurants may not last long in Poughkeepsie, such as Wraps Around the World which closed in 2011 after a very short run, some places like Soul Dog are hard to replace with big business franchises and will run for a longer time.

Doctor Who? Americans start to appreciate British sci-fi program

Arguably one of the most iconic television programs in the United Kingdom’s history, “Doctor Who” has had a large following among the general viewing audience around the world; however, in the show’s 49-year-long span, only now is the show being recognized and gaining fandom in the United States.

American audiences seem to be very selective in regard to British media. Compared to the United States’ influence upon British media, the average American would probably not be able to recall 10 different British entertainment or media franchises when prompted. That is not to say that British media isn’t appreciated, as shown by the large fandom such franchises such as “The Office,” “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” and “Queer as Folk” which were American television series based on British television series, among others.

From fear of straying from the familiar, American spectators would rather watch an American television show made by Americans in the United States aimed at American audiences, hence the scene-by-scene remakes of highly praised British television shows such as “The Office” and “Skins”, essentially only changing the actors and localizing the humor and references. However, some British franchises and their fanatics would probably never allow for such remakes to occur, such as “Monty Python” and “Doctor Who.”

“Doctor Who” is a science fiction television program about a time-traveling, humanoid alien, Time Lord, called the Doctor. The Doctor travels through time and space in a sentient time machine called the TARDIS, which stands for Time and Relative Dimension in Space, which is disguised as a 1960s blue police box, with a companion. The Doctor faces a plethora of foes in his attempts to “cure” the universe, right wrongs and save civilization.

“Doctor Who” is the longest-running science fiction television show in the world as well as the most successful in terms of ratings, DVD sales, book sales and iTunes traffic. The series’ 26th season, aired from 2010 to 2011, showed an increasing worldwide fan-following as it topped iTunes’ list of most downloaded television series on Apple’s 2011 year-end list.

Nestled in the British consciousness are images which are now synonymous with the series. The image of the TARDIS, the Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver, his only weapon, and the some of the Doctor’s foes such as the Dalek’s are instantly recognizable and linked to “Doctor Who” by British people. In fact, the color of the TARDIS is known by many as TARDIS Blue and can be seen in many collectibles stores around the country as a sign that they sell “Doctor Who” merchandise. Well-known celebrities such as director Steven Spielberg have been known to comment on the series, Spielberg saying that “the world would be a poorer place without ‘Doctor Who.'” Caitlin Moran, television reviewer for British daily national newspaper The Times, wrote that “Doctor Who” is “quintessential to being British.”

“Doctor Who” was originally aimed toward general audiences, not any specific audiences. The show came under criticism for its gore and violence, which was commonly found in television programs aimed at adults. By being aimed at any and all audiences, the gore and violence was criticized as being adult-only content not needed in shows aimed at children as well as adults. Due to this, the show’s staff decided to try to aim some content towards younger audiences, creating equally scary and fun enemies which have been around since the 1960s until the latest episodes.

The show was attempted to be sold to the United States in the early 1970s through Time-Life’s syndication of select episodes, not knowing that the show would not make much sense out of order, as the show ran in serials which, unlike seasons, are whole stories developed and finished in two to five episodes, and many serials compose one season while in the United States a season would be many episodes making up one major story. This cultural barrier made the American syndication impossible to follow and did not fare too well.

This cultural barrier is the reason it’s hard to see some shows and other media that the United Kingdom considers essential parts of British culture to be easily integrated into American culture. Doctor Who has a particular style of writing, comedy and acting that is not found in American science fiction too often. The term “British humor” is a common phrase in the United States, referring to television shows such as “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” or films that could be hit-or-miss with American audiences regarding their comedic style. As opposed to American comedy, sarcasm and self-deprecation are the norm in British humor and emotion is often hidden in such a way that American audiences may think they’re just insensitive. While America prides itself on being the land of the free and love their freedom of speech, real freedom of speech is found in British humor where any subject may be joked about and nothing is taboo, while in America subjects such as September 11, 2001’s attacks or racism are considered too much.

British comedy is typically found in most British media, not only comedies; “Doctor Who” is full of comic mischief and the Doctor himself is considered to be the comic relief of the show, always showing a positive attitude and pride in himself when staring at a deadly foe. “Doctor Who” and other programs such as “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” are known for their surreal and absurdist style, another staple of British humor, where there would be a big build-up, such as a whole array of things that could destroy the universe in “Doctor Who” or a long skit with many intricate details in “Monty Python”; the episodes usually culminate with a deus ex machina(a machine from the gods, a plot device made to solve a seemingly unsolvable scenario) or the skit is abandoned altogether without a conclusion, in “Doctor Who” and “Monty Python” respectively.

These cultural barriers between the United States and the United Kingdom make it difficult for the very “British” hit shows and movies to make a smooth transition to the American screens. Some studios attempt to make programs in America based off the original British program, such as “Skins” and “Pop Idol” which were remade as “Skins” and “American Idol” respectively, most of these do not see success; “Skins” was cancelled before its first season was finished while the original British “Skins” is now moving to its sixth season.

Student with prop Sonic Screwdriver. Taken with an HTC Evo by Luis Alicea.
Student with prop Sonic Screwdriver and “Doctor Who” themed shirt and hat. Taken with an HTC Evo by Luis Alicea.

Ever since the reboot of “Doctor Who” in 2005 after a nine-year-long hiatus, the only North American broadcaster for the show was the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, but after DVD sales were becoming increasingly high in Canada and demand was as high in the United States, the first season of the rebooted series began to air on Sci Fi Channel. The ratings for Sci Fi channel increased upon beginning to air “Doctor Who” and eventually BBC America decided to be the main broadcasters of the program and began airing the newest episodes, while Canadian channel BBC Kids aired “Doctor Who” children’s spin-off series “The Sarah Jane Adventures.”

“Doctor Who” fandom has been steadily increasing since the reboot in 2005, from being the main attraction at San Diego Comic-Con, an annual fan convention in San Diego held since 1970 for everything from comics and television shows to art and board games, to being the best-selling television show on iTunes in 2011. Whovians, as “Doctor Who” fans call themselves, are becoming a more common sight among the young adult community, with most new fans learning of the show through word of mouth. If kept at this steady rate, “Doctor Who” may reach the status of the Star Wars franchise which it has outsold and probably will outlive, as long as the Whovians demand it as opposed to Star Wars fans begging George Lucas to stop.

Marist College Wi-Fi drowned out by Xbox 360s

Marist’s Wi-Fi network is being drowned out in some chokepoints around the campus while continuing to work perfectly in other spots, and the culprit seems to be Microsoft’s Xbox 360.

The campus-wide Wi-Fi connection at Marist College, known as AirFox, has had a history of being complicated for students to get online on and, at times, buggy. The latest issue with AirFox comes in the form of weak signal caused by too many Xbox 360s. The popular console can utilize wireless controllers that run in the 2.4GHz band, the same wave frequency in which Wi-Fi signals and cordless phones function.

In some dormitories such as Champagnat, which is for freshmen only, the amount of Xbox 360s seems to be so large that the wireless signal given out by the controllers is starting to block the incoming signal from AirFox and students are beginning to notice. “When I bring my laptop to class, or if I’m in the library, I never get kicked off; here it’s like an hourly thing,” said Laura Kaplan, a student and Resident Assistant at Champagnat.

Champagnat Hall
Champagnat Hall during Golden Hour. Taken with a Canon 550D by Luis Alicea.

The information technology department, networking department and residential networking (ResNet) department are all aware of the issue and have begun to work on it. “Removing devices that use the 2.4GHz frequency or avoiding it are best. People can use the Ethernet ports in their rooms with their computers when they are staying in their rooms; that way they will avoid the issue altogether,” said Ryan Flaherty, a graduate student and staff member at ResNet, “The Ethernet ports are faster anyway.”

The issue is not something unique to the Marist College campus. Online technology magazine PCWorld reported in 2007 that the same issue had occurred at Morrisville State College in Morrisville, New York. The college did not seem to have any immediate fix for the problem, especially with the Xbox 360 having had a large increase of sales in 2007.

Flaherty assured that the issue wasn’t specific to Marist College in any way. “There isn’t anything wrong with AirFox,” said Flaherty, who has been working at ResNet since 2008, “the dorms are kind of like that Apple conference when so many people are using wireless that Steve Jobs couldn’t connect with his demo iPad.”

None of the Marist College support departments have made any official announcement regarding these Wi-Fi bottlenecks and it seemed that none of the employees had much that could be said in regard to what can be done about the issue on campus. When asked about any statements regarding an official announcement to the students at Champagnat, Kaplan stated she hadn’t heard anything, but had definitely felt the difference in Wi-Fi strength at Champagnat.

Champagnat Hall is the tallest building on the Marist College campus, with nine floors, and houses over 400 students. The issue may be happening as well in other parts of the campus, but there is no way to know if it it’s the Xbox 360s issue until we have official word from Marist College.

Sunny winter on a tropical island

It’s winter; while most people are normally out in heavy coats, wearing gloves and scarves to protect them from the low temperatures, others are starting to feel a slight chill and decide to wear shirts indoors. An example of one of these places is Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico, normally known to be a magical island whose weather is “perpetual summer”, is feeling the effects of winter now. While it may not be anywhere as cold as in the continental United States, it is a noticeable decline in temperature to the island’s inhabitants.

“It’s been cold lately; we’ve felt wind chills at night reaching the high 60°s F,” said Jesús Montañez  of Carolina, who lives up in the mountains of Puerto Rico, “but it’s nowhere as cold as in the peaks in other parts of the island.” The average weather around this time of year for Carolina is around the mid- to low- 70°sF, making the temperature slightly lower than usual. This is noticeable for people in a country whose ‘wear-a-jacket’ days are around the mid-70°sF, and those rarely happen.

Carolina is in the north of the island, where temperatures generally don’t reach too low, but if we head toward the center of the island we’ll find varying temperatures not found elsewhere in Puerto Rico. In the city of Ponce, Puerto Rico’s most populated city besides the capital, one of the highest peaks in the island is located. Cerro Maravilla (Wonder Hill) is known for two things: murder and cold weather. The latter has some of the records for lowest temperatures recorded on the island outside of freak incidents. At night, the temperature will fluctuate between 40°s and 60°sF, but recently it’s seemed as though it’s nearing a new low. “The temperatures recorded up in Cerro Maravilla have reached about 45°F, only 2 degrees higher than the record low. We’re expecting the record to be broken any day now,” said Lydia Martínez “not that it makes much difference to the rest of the island, but that’s where we get excitement from recently.”

If we move to the east of the island, we find El Yunque (The Anvil) National Forest, the only tropical rain forest in the United States National Forest System. Spanning an area of 28,002 acres, its tallest peak El Toro (The Bull) can easily reach the mid-50°F during winter but has been recently dipping lower than usual. “It worries people that the climate changes could harm our fauna in El Yunque but they’ll adapt,” said Luis Berrios of San Juan “although many of our species are endangered, […] there’s a lot of concern about the temperature going too low.”

Puerto Rican and United States flags
Puerto Rican and United States flags with clear skies behind in December. San Juan, Puerto Rico.

While many states in North America have been worrying about winter not coming yet, the residents of Puerto Rico want winter to go away, since it feels out of place on the tropical island. No matter what the temperature is or which season they’re in, you can bet you’ll see the beaches in San Juan filled of both residents and tourists enjoying the winter, showing that no matter what, Puerto Rico will always have perpetual summer.