Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hofstra's 2012 Holiday Toy Drive: JUST 1 can make a difference

In case you missed my post on Facebook, I'd like to let you know about our annual Toy Drive. Until December 7, Hofstra is hosting a Toy Drive to support the Interfaith Nutrition Network (INN), which provides aid to needy families on Long Island. We're reaching out to all members of our Hofstra community, including parents to support this year's toy drive. We realize that lately things have been difficult and challenging for so many, particularly now following the hurricane.  

We're asking that everyone consider giving Just 1 new, unwrapped toy to make a difference in one child's life. There are no restrictions on the toy selection, except that it must be new. Something as simple as a coloring book can be a meaningful gift to a child who perhaps has never had one before. No gift is too small and each will go to a child in need this holiday season. 

For those who would like to donate, you may give your toy to your student to drop off at either the Fitness Center or the Student Center (near the bookstore). If you prefer, you may also mail toys to the Office of Parent and Family Programs, Attention: Mary Coleman, 200 Phillips Hall, 128 Hofstra University Hempstead, New York 11549-1280.

It only takes Just 1 gift to make a difference in the life of a child… TOGETHER let's make it happen!

For any questions, please contact me, Mary Coleman, at 516-463-4698 or mary.coleman@hofstra.edu.

Wishing you all an early happy and healthy holiday season,

Mary Coleman, assistant director, Office of Parent and Family Programs

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving at Hofstra

With one of our nation's most celebrated holidays on the horizon, we would just like to wish all of you a very happy and satisfying Thanksgiving. For those of you who have students staying on campus, Hofstra has a great list of ideas and information to keep them occupied during their break here; but for those whose students will be joining them at the table, we wish them safe travels and a joyous time back home.

Now is a time when we give thanks for our families, and we are certainly thankful for everyone in our extended Hofstra family, which has given us so much not only in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, but everyday we reach out. So, thank you all and have a happy, healthy but most of all safe Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Interview with Delta Alpha Pi President, Brian Singer

Brian Singer is the President of Delta Alpha Pi, an honor society associated with Services for Students with Disabilities, and he was generous enough to sit down with me and discuss what his honor society does and how it works to reach out to students with disabilities and get them involved in their community.


Thank you for coming, Brian.  So first off, could you please give us some basic information about Delta Alpha Pi?
Certainly.  Delta Alpha Pi is an honor society here on campus that inducts students who are registered with the Services for Students with Disabilities office and have grade point averages higher than 3.1.  We're relatively new, started in 2010, and I am actually one of the only original members remaining.  A lot of our inductees graduated throughout these past couple of years, but we're about to add 22 new members to our ranks this semester; and because we've had so many students graduate, we've actually been inducting on a semesterly basis.

That's fantastic.  It's great to know this is really a thriving piece of campus life.  Tell me, what does your society do for its members? What kind of events do you hold?
Well, again, since we're still pretty new on campus we're still trying to get involved in more events, but we did co-sponsor "Jail-and-Bail," which was a fundraiser event that we worked with Hofstra Goes for Gold and OSLA, where the proceeds went to Special Olympics.  Students were able to purchase "warrants" out for another students arrest.  Public Safety would find the individual based on the details provided in the warrant and bring them to a wooden jail which was set up in the middle of the student center.  The jailed student would then have to raise "bail" money by any available means to be released.  Everything was completely voluntary, we were able to raise $6,600 for special Olympics, and we plan on making this an annual event!

That sounds like a lot of fun for a great cause.  Do you do any other kinds of outreach?
We also get connected with employers in the area to make sure our members have opportunities to find jobs after leaving campus.  It's great because a lot of the employers actually reach out to us because they know we provide that resource for students with disabilities and these employers are eager equal-opportunity employers.  When we meet, we want to make sure we provide all of the services our members need and keep them informed about what is available for them.  If they're looking for it, it's out there.

How often do you meet?
We try to meet about once every month.  Obviously, we want wheelchair accessible rooms and we understand some of our members have trouble getting around so while we want to meet as often as possible, we don't want to make things difficult. And as I said before, we use our meeting times to inform our members and make sure they know what's available to them. In the early days our meetings were based a lot on our e-board (the Treasurer, Secretary, Vice-President and President), but now that we've been around for a while and we're organized, we want to focus as much as we can on our members.

What advice would you give to the parents and families of students with disabilities?
My advice would be that parents should tell their students not to be afraid to step out of their comfort zone.  They shouldn't be afraid of the stigma of having a disability, they should be confident and overcome it.  They should learn to be their own number one advocates.


If you have a student with a disability and would like to learn more about what services Hofstra University can offer him or her, please visit the Services for Students with Disabilities website here: http://www.hofstra.edu/StudentAffairs/stddis/index.html

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Hofstra University Celebrates Diversity

Quotes such as this one from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. adorned
the Plaza Room screens as Hofstra celebrated diversity on campus.
November is Diversity Awareness Month at Hofstra and on November 14 during Common Hour, we held our annual reception celebrating all of the different facets and faces that make up our wonderful University's community. Throughout the event, students, staff and faculty in attendance received a wonderful opportunity to reflect upon their differences as well as their similarities while listening to speakers and taking part in activities.

Students and staff tune in to keynote speaker Julie Yindra during
the Diversity Awareness Month reception, Wednesday afternoon.

Speakers at the reception were each able to provide their own salient perspectives to the role and importance of diversity. "The first encounter one has with diversity as a child is recognizing difference," purported keynote speaker Julie Yindra, Director for Services for Students with Disabilities at Hofstra. "When I was six, I realized not everyone spends their time in a hospital. When I was eight, I realized not everyone was white. When I was twelve, I realized not everyone had a two car garage...but diversity isn't really about difference, it's about sameness. By appreciating our differences we can begin to learn that we are the same."

In her address, Ms. Yindra was able to touch upon a crucial element that diversity provides not only to this campus, but to life in general: by embracing others who may not look the same, or speak the same native language, or dress the same, people are able to build greater connections and create stronger bonds within a community. "You can't just live inside yourself," said one student in attendance. "You have to expand your horizons. And events like this, they help you do that."

Hofstra aims to create a welcoming and diverse atmosphere for each of its students and employees. For more information on what Hofstra has planned for your students throughout this month, visit the Office of Multicultural and International Student Programs website: http://www.hofstra.edu/StudentAffairs/omisp/index.html or check out our events calendar: http://events.hofstra.edu/

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Preparing Your Student for Winter on Campus

As the nor’easter that we faced last week and the dropping temperatures prove, winter is almost upon us! For some, this means making snowmen and snow angels, and building snow forts for snowball fights; but for others it means long commutes, shoveling snow and being cold all the time. On campus, snow storms make campus extremely beautiful: there are a lot of fields where students can build their snow forts and snow men and all of the snow covering the trees makes campus look awesome! That said, there are a lot of supplies that students who live on campus can really use to help get through the winter months. You can help out your student by making sure that they have what they need to get through winter when they come home during the winter.

Probably the most important item that your student needs is a good pair of winter boots. During winter, campus can get very slushy and wet, and walking to class in sneakers becomes one of the most uncomfortable things your student can do. A lot of students bring a pair of sneakers in their bag and put them on once they get to their classes. Some other things that your student is going to want are a warm jacket, hat and gloves. During winter, Hofstra becomes very windy, and the tall buildings only serve to tunnel the wind, making a cold day even colder.

For those of you whose students have cars on campus, make sure they have a brush to get snow off their car during the winter. Also, make sure that your student knows to clean off their car after a snow storm, because if they don’t that snow will freeze to the car and getting it off will be next to impossible. A lot of students also keep shovels in their car as well, just in case they get stuck and they need to dig their car out.

Also, make sure that your students know about all of the fun activities that go on around the community during winter. Some of the best opportunities available are ski trips run by local businesses. For around $100 (about $150 if you need to rent gear) many businesses, like Sundown Ski and Snowboard(http://www.sundownski.com/ski_conditions.htm), run day ski trips to Vermont and New Hampshire. Included in the price is transportation, a lift ticket and breakfast. They are a great experience and a great way for your student to get off of campus to explore a little bit.

Winter at Hofstra is a great experience and one that a lot of students look forward to every year. Just make sure that your student is prepared for the winter months, and always make sure that they stay safe!

-Craig Camara, Class of 2014

Monday, November 12, 2012

Just Sing: A Life Well-Lived

Last May, during one of many Hofstra’s events, I stopped breathing along with all of the attendees. Hofstra Vocal Jazz Ensemble started performing. The precision, flawless harmonies, sheer joy in performing – the four singers sounded and looked as if they had descended from a silver screen’s heyday musical. One of the singers, Pete Teleha, towered above his peers in height as his bass voice complemented other voices perfectly. I knew Pete: he was also a founding member of The Dutchmen, Hofstra’s all-male a-cappella group as well as a member of the coed Sigma’cappella. He arranged many of the a-cappella song they sang. I had heard him sing with his Dutchmen in February during the Siblings Day. And, I knew that he was a Class of 2014 Honors College student, a Phi Beta Kappa Honors Society member, and a math major. “What an accomplished young man,” I thought.

Yesterday, as I was driving to campus, listening to Lucinda Williams’ “Blessed” on autoplay, I had a pit in my stomach. I dreaded attending Pete Teleha Memorial Concert, and facing Suzanne and Chris, Pete’s parents. What could I possibly say or do to even attempt to ease their pain? Perhaps I should just stand in the back and not bother them at all …. “I’ll just listen to all his music brethren and honor his memory,” I said to myself. I still cannot accept that Pete died on July 28 of this year, struck by a car on Hempstead Turnpike. I keep telling myself “that’s life” and that “death happens every day” but I still cannot accept such tremendous loss to our Hofstra family. 

Pete Teleha Memorial Concert "Just Sing," November 11, 2012
The standing-room-only concert turned out to have been the most joyous and heart-felt event I’ve participated in recent years. Yes, life-affirming joyous! Pete’s friends, our Hofstra students, exhibited such an amazing display of talent, true friendship, and gratitude for Pete’s life that I was stunned beyond words. Sigma’cappella, Hofstra Vocal Jazz Ensemble, Pete’s brothers from Phi Delta Theta, and The Dutchmen displayed their awesome talents but, in addition, sang straight from their hearts. Talented film students created a deeply-felt and, at the same time, funny video tribute. All of them sang for Pete and about Pete.

Suzanne and Chris were another inspiration. With enormous gratitude, Chris in his tribute said he hoped that the concert would be a joyous occasion, a celebration of his son’s life. Suzanne asked me what she could do for Hofstra and our community.

Dean Warren Frisina said, his voice cracking from grief, that he'd always thought that the voice and not the eyes were a window to a person’s soul. The concert proved him right.

Suzanne had emailed me two months ago, a month after Pete died, to contribute an important advice to all parents. She was thinking of our Hofstra family while her family was in the midst of grieving. Here is her advice: “This is an important safety tip for all parents of college students (or older children): have your kids write down all of their passwords to their computers, debit cards and anything else they might have passwords for. Place the page in an envelope, seal it and put the envelope away in a safe place, promising that you not open it as a curiosity or use it to "snoop". I hope and pray you never have to open it, but this way you will have it in the event of something unexpected happening.” Suzanne had needed to hire a hacker to retrieve Pete’s compositions and writing. Hers is an excellent advice for us parents who don’t want to think about these things, ever.

I will sing an additional line with Lucinda Williams:
We were blessed by Pete Teleha, who took our breath away with his song.

-Branka Kristic

Friday, November 9, 2012

Commuting Through a Winter Wonderland?

Wow, winter came early this year! With much of the area still reeling from the impact of Hurricane Sandy, mother nature decided to deal us yet another blow by sending in a mid-autumn snowstorm. I can say from experience how weather like this wrecks havoc on a morning commute, and I can also tell you how important it is to make sure your commuting student is prepared for changing, erratic seasons. So, I've prepared below a few helpful tips and reminders to make sure your student can make it to and from campus safely.

1. Pack an ice scraper, snow broom, shovel, extra pair of gloves, de-icer. Now, these are particularly important if your student has a car. Jostling for parking and scraping clean one's windshield are not daily occurrences for anyone planning to take a bus or the train.  That said, many students who commute have their own car on campus and when the snow falls or rain turns icy they need to make sure they can clean off their windows without losing feeling in their fingers (again, I speak from experience here). You would be surprised how many times I got out of class to find my car looking like something the abominable snowman would drive and I had nothing but a tennis racquet to dig my tires out. De-icer spray may seem like a suburban comfort, but it totally saves the day. Scrape and spray some if on the windshield, and bam, your student is ready for safe driving with clear windows and mirrors.

2. Have them download a flashlight app or give them the real thing. Even if your student doesn't drive a car into campus, this is a handy item to keep around. The interior of a car after a snowstorm is dark so again if your student has to clear his or her windows after a storm such as we had this week, a flashlight would allow them to find their handy ice scraper without much fuss. The best thing is, there are flashlight apps for smart phones so if you don't have a pocket flashlight that your student can use, suggest that they download a free flashlight app (there are tons). The LED lights which accompany phones are quite powerful so these can be even more helpful than a garden-variety flashlight.

3. Urge your student to give themselves extra time. This is the single most important thing for a commuter to do in times of inclement weather. Whether your student needs to check an updated MTA/LIRR schedule or just needs to leave the house before that second cup of coffee, it is imperative that they give themselves enough leeway to deal with the possibility of heavy traffic, poor road conditions and less public transportation.

4. Encourage them to make friends with resident students. Sometimes classes end late. Sometimes the roads are dangerous. And sometimes a residential friend can be a student's savor when Father Winter huffs and puffs a nor'easter their way. Stay worry free when your student is warm on campus watching the snow fall with a cup of hot cocoa from C-Square.

Thankfully, the weather in the coming days is slated to be much more pleasant than it has these past couple weeks. Still, these are always things you should keep in mind for your student to make sure their trip to and from campus is as safe and enjoyable as possible.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Greetings From The Increasingly Coastal Connecticut

Photo courtesy of Fairfield Police Department

Greetings From The Increasingly Coastal Connecticut
By Lauren Bove, P'16

We now have power, cable, Internet and a cold fridge full of rotten food but still so many are in the dark and struggling to get by. My neighborhood in Fairfield lost power on Monday late afternoon. It was expected—which was why we were all rushing to pack away potential projectiles around the yard; and hungrily sucking up that last bit of electricity for cooking, work, charging devices and whatever else. Thanks to the ubiquitous and increasingly alarming news reports, we prepared for days prior. But what can prepare you for the unpredictable stress, mixed emotions, devastation and sadness—along with acts of kindness and camaraderie that occur after a storm like this?

Sunday, the night before the storm, the local high school opened up for evacuees and those in need. To my surprise, the parking lot was full of cars by 8 p.m. The waiting was the hardest part. Glued to the TV set masochistically, we watched the increasingly dire warnings issued. Officials in the know bandied about scary descriptions. Things overheard: “Worst ever”, “Like nothing in our lifetime”, “Largest”, “Fiercest”, “Devastating”, “Life threatening” and much more.

We got the message. The storm was a recipe for disaster and it wasn’t to be like any other. A Frankenstorm was coming—a mélange of weather with a soft, gooey tropical hurricane center, surrounded by rich, dark Nor’ easterly winds. If life was truly like a box of chocolates, we would have taken a dubious nibble of Sandy, shove her back in the box to shrivel up and toss out with the trash. (Along with the gelées we never liked and that dreadfully sour lime truffle. Why do they still make those?)

The storm hit Monday as expected, then dog-legged left. Sandy didn’t even have the courtesy of interjecting “Fore!” before she hit us. At that time it wasn’t clear what was happening in the rest of the east coast. We experienced winds that bent trees in suspiciously precarious positions. Flashes of light lit up the sky, from what we can only guess. The sound of a passing freight train lulled the family into a fitful sleep. My bedroom is located in the shadows of a 100-year-old maple. I kept envisioning the thing being blown over on top of me. To my surprise, I did not wake up with a mouthful of branches.

The morning brought all those in our neighborhood out to survey the damage. We must have looked like a staggering hoard of zombies, squinting at the ostensibly inappropriate sunlight. Without coffee or much sleep, it was determined by consensus that, “It could have been worse”, which was heartbreakingly the case for so many. The afternoon and following days since have been spent: searching for Wi-Fi, huddling around working electric outlets in Starbucks and the home of friends with generators, eating unusual combinations of foods—dried cranberries and peanut butter on a graham cracker got two thumbs up in our house.

Naturally, in our house, finding out how the Hofstra campus was fairing and preparing was of upmost importance. Thankfully the Hofstra Facebook page and email blasts kept us in the loop. I was able to speak with my son, a freshman living in the Netherlands, and he assured us that Hofstra was taking care of the students and planning for their safety. Food was never scarce, power was restored quickly and I’m quite sure there will be many stories to tell and lots to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

After the storm more than thirty homes on the coast in Fairfield have been deemed uninhabitable. Neighborhoods and homes in New York and New Jersey as well as the surrounding areas have been totaled. My girlfriend’s home on Long Beach Island is a memory. Flooding on the beach in town floated a family member’s car and home away. My parents are still without electricity… but like they say, we’re at our best when things are at their worst. We will persevere. To everyone in the area and especially to our Hofstra family: May you always have walls for the winds, a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire, laughter to cheer you, those you love near you, and all your heart might desire.