A collection of photos taken at the 2019 San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy.
As the fall school semester comes to an end once again, frantic high school seniors are submitting college applications, crossing their fingers, and dreaming of getting in to their dream schools. What they don’t know is that come next year, they might be going through the same stressful process all over again as transfer students.
In a 2015 study of the 3.6 million first-time students who entered college in the fall of 2008, over a third transferred to a different institution at least once in the next six years, most (50.7 percent) within the first two years. In a New York Times article from earlier this year, executive director Janet Marling of the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students at the University of North Georgia, said that transfer students are receiving the most positive attention from higher education than ever before.
Gianna Robertson, an Interior Architecture major at The New School, was one of those students.
Working on her final project on one of the various paint-stained work tables at the studio on East 13th Street, Robertson recalled the disillusionment she felt while pursuing acting and singing after graduating from high school and moving to California.
“In that moment in LA, I was just like, I really don’t think I should do this with my life and I have to change something,” said Robertson. “I have to do something that means something.”
She decided to move back to her home state of Pennsylvania to attend community college, where she would take art classes, get her GPA up, and then transfer to a four-year institution.
According to a recent article from NPR, transfer students are an established pool for universities to recruit more diverse students, especially students from community colleges.
Going to community college, I was happy about it because I was happy to get something started,” said Robertson. “I know that I’m doing this so I can be where I want to be.”
Like Robertson, almost a quarter of all students who started at a community college transferred to a four-year institution within six years.
“I wish somebody had told me [in high school], ‘don’t feel judged about going to community college first and then figuring it out.’”
Robertson said she wouldn’t change anything about her past, and is glad for the experiences she gained in order to get her to where she is now.
“It doesn’t matter how old you are. It matters what you’re doing right now,” said Robertson.
Transferring can be a second chance in the competitive world of college admissions. While some schools transfer acceptance rates are much lower than regular admission, others are favorable to transfer students. Vanderbilt’s freshman admission rate in the 2016 – 2017 school year was 10.9 percent, but the rate for transfers was almost 30 percent.
Currie Larrimer is a sophomore at Vanderbilt University, but she attended Southwestern University in Texas for her freshman year
“I wanted to go to Vanderbilt originally, but I didn’t get in out of high school,” said Larrimer. “But, I really wanted to go straight to college even if it wasn’t the place I wanted to go.”
Larrimer attended the Liberal Arts and Science Academy (LASA), a magnet high school in Austin, Texas. Ranked at #16 in the nation for Best High Schools and #5 in Texas by US News, she said the competitive environment contributed to the pressure she felt her senior year.
“I didn’t really ever think about transferring,” said Larrimer. “When I was first getting into colleges and I wasn’t really getting into anywhere that I wanted to go…I was very reluctant to [transfer] because I was like, people will think I’m stupid.”
Students who don’t receive that coveted acceptance letter from their first or even second choices can feel like there are no other options for them.
“When I didn’t get into Vanderbilt the first time I literally skipped class for three days because I was so upset,” said Larrimer. “I was like, ‘oh, I literally don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t have anywhere to go.’ But then it all worked out fine.”
This fall, Princeton University reinstated it’s transfer program, admitting the first class of transfer students since 1990. This move, and other colleges increasing openness to transfer students, was reportedly motivated by the desire for students with more diverse backgrounds. This means lower-income families, students from community colleges, and students with military backgrounds.
Larrimer’s college decision process was also limited financially.
“One of the reasons I had to go to Southwestern the first year was because that was the only school that my family could afford out of the three schools I got into,” said Larrimer.
Vanderbilt meets 100 percent of need-based financial aid for transfers, so now Larrimer is able to go to her dream school and afford it.
Transferring can bring hope and opportunities for students who otherwise wouldn’t have them.
“It was comforting because I knew that I had a way out,” said Larrimer. “I really just had to make it through that year and then I’d be going somewhere else that was hopefully better for me.”
Larrimer said while both times the college application process was stressful, confusing, and seemingly nonsensical in decision making, she’s glad she took advantage of applying as a transfer.
“This whole system is kind of messed up,” said Larrimer. “So you can’t let it convince you that you’re not worth going there, or that you’re not worth their education. If you know what you want to do and you work hard for it you’ll get where you want to be eventually.”
Amidst the sea of regularly clothed students, bloody-axed teens and unicorns rush to class or stop for a bite to eat. Halloween at NYU has arrived, and students have delivered.
Lev Bernstein, a freshman, hung out casually in the 8th floor hallway of Bobst Library in a full body Shrek costume.
“I always wanted to dress up as Shrek, and this is the only socially acceptable day to do so,” Bernstein said, slightly muffled through the rubber mask. “Lots of people have been fans, lots of people have also been horrified.”
Several other students have similar fearless reasonings for dressing up in costumes ranging from cat ear headbands to an entire Spider-Man suit.
“I feel like most people our age don’t dress up anymore, and I just want to normalize that it’s okay,” Capri Christianson, the aforementioned Spider-Man, said.
Insecure teenagers often forego the costume tradition of halloween, especially in the harsh light of day. But these NYU students braved classrooms to spread the joy of Halloween. Christianson said her Abnormal Psychology professor called her out in front of a lecture hall of 200 students to comment on her costume, but she’s okay with that.
“I think it makes it a lot more fun when you get to be one of the people out there, making people smile,” she said. She also feels solidarity with other fellow costumed students. “It takes a lot of confidence to wear costumes because people our age don’t really do it.”
Sophomore Emily Brown, dressed as one-half of a Dolly the Sheep costume, the first animal to ever be cloned. She said she was initially insecure about dressing up, but is glad she did it.
“Halloween is the day where I can go out and be like, yeah, I’m wearing a sheep hoodie, fight me about it,” she said. “It’s Halloween, I’m gonna do what I want.”
Sebastian Abreu chose to rep the gory aspect of Halloween with an axe headband, but said he hadn’t seen many costumes on campus.
“But, I don’t care, I love Halloween,” he said. He plans to transition to a scarier version later in the night, with fake blood and a hockey mask. “It’s gonna get real spooky.”
Emery Whiteman didn’t dress up, but said that when she sees students on campus in costume it puts her in the Halloween spirit.
“I think it’s bold to dress up for halloween, in class, and I appreciate it because I don’t have the guts to do it.” she said.
Brown loves Halloween because it makes no pretenses to be about anything other than candy, a good time, and costumes. She also referenced the inclusivity of halloween, because for the most part it isn’t associated with any religion, history, or culture.
“Anyone can celebrate Halloween, there’s no barrier to entry.” she said. “It also kind of brings back that nostalgic experience.”
Hannah Whitaker, a sophomore and unicorn for the day, said Halloween is an opportunity for stressed out students to have fun, plain and simple.
“It’s removed from the world, almost, that we live in,” she said. “It’s a fun night to just feel like a kid.”
Marseja Cardwell went as a Martian due to her nickname, “Mars”. She said that wearing and seeing costumes was almost like comic relief from the sometimes overwhelming academic environment of NYU.
The rest of her plans for Halloween?
“More classes,” she said.
At New York University, students cope with tragedy and ongoing stress through a unique source – memes.
Following the harrowing news of a student suicide on Tuesday, Oct. 2, the student administrators of NYU’s meme page decided to spread messages of hope and awareness to the 11,500 and counting, members of the Facebook group.
What if we let people know that there’s networks of support that they can access here?” said Sebastian Paine, a sophomore NYU student. “Whether it’s the wellness center, or their friends, or the admins on the f—ing meme page.”
Paine, a double major in GLS and Public Policy, is one of a handful of administrators of NYU Memes for Slightly Bankrupt Teens, a Facebook page dedicated to memes. Memes are defined as images, text, and videos that are generally humorous and spread throughout the internet with various modifications
While internet memes are usually a fairly inane topic, the motivation behind Wholesome Wednesday was solemn and sincere. Paine referenced the painful news of a NYU student’s suicide as the primary reason. The lack of immediate response from NYU authorities concerned him, so they decided to preemptively spread awareness and positivity in the wake of the tragic news.
“It actually started because someone made an insensitive meme about the suicide,” Paine said. “We were like, this is unacceptable.”
The admins discussed the issue and decided to turn a thoughtless action into an opportunity for connection within the NYU community. A complete rebranding was done. The title of the page was changed to NYU Memes for Wholesome Teens, “Wholesome Wednesday” news was spread, and only “wholesome” posts were approved.
But going further than just feel-good images, they decided to spread awareness and provide important contact information for the mental health services offered at NYU.
“I expressed that I wanted to address this issue along the lines of reaching out for help,” wrote admin and NYU student, Arystan Tatishev, via email.
Several posts and memes included phone numbers and emails for NYU’s wellness center and hotline, as well as encouraging words to others to check in on loved ones and reach out for help if needed.
“I think that things that are based in student efforts are, a lot of the time, better and more accessible and more immediate than admin stuff,” Paine said. “We got an email about [the suicide] from the wellness center when we’d already finished the day of wholesome stuff. So it was like, well, we kind of beat y’all to the punch.”
Students have expressed frustration with the lack of response from NYU, however an email from Wellness Services was sent out on Thursday, with no mention of the suicide.
Paine referenced suicide clusters, a belief that one suicide can trigger others. There is research that suggests that young people are most affected by suicide clusters, according to the New York Times. Paine’s concern was for the student population not having information to aid them, if necessary, after hearing of the news.
The creator of the page, Tatishev, also stressed how important it was to the admins not to trivialize what happened.
“We talked about making a week long commitment of only posting wholesome content and calling it Wholesome Week,” Tatishev wrote. “However as some of my team members pointed out, that could be misinterpreted as us ‘milking’ the situation and it would send the wrong message.”
They decided on a single day theme, and an outpouring of wholesome content followed.
“The overwhelming positive response to Wholesome Wednesday was comforting because I’ve dealt with mental health issues in the past and the news of the suicide hit me pretty hard,” Jinny Hwang, a sophomore NYU student at Shanghai and meme page admin, wrote via Facebook message. “It taught me that the NYU community may not have a physical or enclosed campus, but when s–t hits the fan, we’re all here for each other to spread love and positivity.”
NYU sophomore Emery Whiteman is a member of the meme page and felt like the mission of Wholesome Wednesday had a positive impact.
“It reminds you of the friends and family you have, and that you can reach out for support,” she said.
That sentiment is emphasized by the flood of comments and likes on the multitude of posts created on Wednesday. Other admins praised member’s contributions and responses in a time of sadness for the NYU community.
“I saw the community come together and express their kindness and understanding to each other,” Tatishev wrote. “I saw people being informed of what happened and I saw what people had to say about the state of university’s mental wellness program. This is a heavy topic and people pointed out all the flaws with how university is dealing with it.”
The mental health services at NYU have been a point of contention and disagreement among students, who say that the services aren’t widespread enough. Comments on Wholesome Wednesday posts detailed flaws in NYU’s system and student’s frustration with their experiences.
“There’s not enough counselors at all,” Paine said, speaking of his own experiences with the NYU Wellness Center. “With the amount that students are paying, we could have more counselors.”
Paine also cited disappointing interactions with counselors, outsourcing, and unexpected costs.
John Stanley, NYU Junior and meme page admin, emphasized student advocacy in order to encourage changes.
“As a society, we have a long way to go before we fully legitimize mental health issues, and in a competitive school such as NYU, it’s doubtful that these changes will come without a more specific, vocal demand from students,” Stanley wrote via email.
As NYU and students grapple with the realities of mental health at the largest private university in America, online communities like the NYU Meme page hope to be a source of support and positivity.
“It was heartwarming to see the page be a safe place, a place to grieve for the fellow student,” Tatishev wrote. “I have received several messages thanking me for doing it, but in all honesty, it’s the community that really made it happen.”
Please contact these services if you or someone you know is having mental health troubles or experiencing thoughts of suicide: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Suicide Crisis Hotline at 1-800-783-2433. For NYU Students or faculty, you can also contact the 24-hour Wellness Exchange hotline at 212-443-9999 or 24-hour chat via the Wellness Exchange app.
The allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have incited a wave of activism and conversation in New York.
Hundreds gathered at Madison Square Park, marched to Yale Club, and then rallied at Grand Central on yesterday.
Among the chanting of “Hey-Hey, Ho-Ho, Kavanaugh has got to go,” Sarah Whitman, 34, said she was frustrated by the process that might lead to the confirmation of Kavanaugh, despite the sexual assault allegations against him.
“They don’t care about humans,” Whitman said, speaking about politicians who support Kavanaugh. “They specifically don’t care about women.”
She believes he will be confirmed.
“I don’t know why anyone would think otherwise,” she said “Looking at history, looking at what happened in the judiciary committee hearings, and looking at the motivations behind the Republican majority, it feels very clear that he’s going to get confirmed. If they were not going to confirm him, they would have already pulled his name.”
On a much smaller scale, a quiet group gathered in Washington Square Park to show solidarity to victims of sexual assault. Many spoke of their own experiences and reasons for not reporting at the event organized by women’s activism group, “I Will Not Be Quiet.”
One woman, who wished to remain anonymous, spoke about her reactions to the allegations against Kavanaugh.
“I am absolutely disgusted by it, but I’m not surprised by it.” she said. “Like a lot of the women here, I’ve tried to report rape. It’s a commonplace thing for authorities to either think we’re lying or say, ‘well, you know you wanted it, you provoked it’.”
Many of Kavanaugh’s supporters cite the lack of physical evidence and the time gap between the date of the alleged assault and when Dr. Christine Blasey Ford decided to come forward. But supporters of Dr. Ford argue that negative and often accusatory reactions are exactly why victims of sexual assault are hesitant to report.
The pending decision was also heavily discussed on New York University’s campus.
Alison Biedron, an NYU sophomore gender studies major at NYU, recognizes the problems that people have with the 36-year-old time gap, while still echoing her support for victims.
“There is such a doubt, for men all around, even liberal people, to believe survivors,” Biedron said. “There is, in the US, ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ But, you shouldn’t be shamed for coming forward and immediately be called a liar. I think that students, especially male students, have a hard time with that.”
Biedron is sympathetic to victims, especially in Dr. Ford’s case, where many feel that her motivations are pure.
“[Victims] know that there’s nothing in it for them, except for closure,” Biedron said. “There isn’t a reason for [Ford] to come forward other than to tell the truth.”
While women staunchly defended Dr. Ford and other victims of sexual abuse, many were resigned about the outcome.
“It’s not really a matter of whether they believe her at this point, it’s whether they care,” Lena Friedman, a sophomore at NYU, said. “And I don’t think they do.”
Hannah Whitaker, a sophomore at NYU, believes that the discourse revolving around Kavanaugh and Ford is having an impact.
“I think it’s really redefining how we see consent, especially with the #MeToo movement,” Whitaker said. “Some people still see it as a bad thing. But times are changing.”
Whitaker said that it is unfortunate that men grow up in an environment where inappropriate behavior with women isn’t discouraged.
“That’s why the rest of us have to scream in protest, and really put an effort in to change people’s views, minds, and just change the people that are in charge,” she said.