Friday, November 3, 2017

It’s Not Just a Knee

Reflections on the Kaepernick Effect
by Genesis Rivera '19

On September 28th, Hofstra’s NAACP held a talk called “the Kaepernick Effect” discussing the #TakeaKnee movement that has been in the spotlight for some time, especially when Trump called protesters “sons of bitches”. Several issues such as the whitewashing of the movement, the treatment of women by Munroe Bergdorf and Jemele Hill, and the third stanza of the national anthem were discussed, but for minority clubs on campus, one small highlight was the attendance of athletes who had not been part of the social justice environment on campus.

While few may acknowledge or even realize it, student members of minority organizations at Hofstra have long shaken their heads at some of our NCAA team members, who seem disconnected from the rest of the campus community. When the NAACP, Black Student Union, or any other club holds an event, we can expect a certain amount of Black students, Latino students, White students, students in Greek life, and even academics to attend. No one, however, holds their breath for attendance by members of the sports teams, including the athletes of color.  Nevertheless, when asked whether they would take a knee at games this semester, two basketball players and two soccer players, who attended to learn more about the issues, gave their perspectives on how this will impact their own games.

If you’re wondering what will happen, don’t expect anyone to take a stand at any renditions of the national anthem this season. Largely because of the restrictions that the NCAA and Hofstra University places on our athletes, they are worried about the status of their scholarships and their standing on the teams that they are using as a stepping stone to launch their careers and feed their families. These student athletes, however, expressed how they wholeheartedly supported the cause and gave unique and intelligent perspectives on national issues.

There are constant complaints from coaches and players that the Hofstra community does not support the basketball team specifically at their games. From the perspective of the minority students who are a part of our social justice oriented community, this was due to the lack of interest and support we received from the basketball team at events and discussions on campus. If you don’t know the players and they seem not to care about the things that are vitally important to you then why would you go to a game?

I believe that when more athletes across the board interact with other students and build bridges through common interest, school spirit can begin to return to Hofstra.

Friday, October 20, 2017

We are the Oasis in the Middle of the Desert

By Genesis Rivera '19

Hempstead, NY is what is called a food desert. A food desert is an urban area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food. Hofstra University exists in a bubble. We are an oasis in the middle of the desert. Once a week an organization named Community Solidarity arranges stands across the street from the Hempstead Train Station to hand out food to people who will wait in line all day to receive apples, peppers, and a gallon of milk. On Sunday, September 24, 2017 I had the opportunity to volunteer by handing out food to dozens of people who struggle to feed their families with the meager selection of food they can find locally. They lined up to receive rotting fruits and vegetables, day old bread, and dairy products on the verge of expiration. They desperately grabbed for the nutrients they needed, no matter the condition of the food, they needed to grab as much as they could so they could eat for one more week. The unfortunate arguments and mobs that resulted were kept under control so that people could efficiently and safely collect subpar items with enormous smiles on their faces. And all of this took place down the street at the Hempstead Train Station. Has your mother ever told you, “Finish your food - there are children starving in Africa?” Well, as much as we attempt to ignore it, they’re suffering here too.

Many of us never have to confront the reality that the people around us are malnourished because of the privileges Hofstra allows us. You may not like the dining options on campus, but you will always find fruits, vegetables, and other necessary nutrients to eat your meals. The shopping shuttle may always arrive 5 minutes late, but it's a convenient ride to Stop & Shop, Target, Trader Joe’s, and Fairway should you choose to cook for yourself. And yet, there are still several students on campus that still cannot provide for themselves and must use the food pantry on campus.

The dozens of people that wait in these lines are grateful for whatever they can grab and more than willing to speak to the “angels” who bless them every Sunday. While we may not be able to aid them financially, lower prices at the supermarkets, or even provide them with transportation to a local grocery store with nutritious food, we can donate our remaining meal points to the campus food pantry at the end of the semester, hand out hot meals at the Mary Brennan INN, or take a quick shuttle ride on a Sunday afternoon and hand them their groceries with a smile on our faces knowing that we are not just attending school on Long Island, but bettering the community while we are here.