Category Archives: Writing


Behind- the- Scenes work at the Debate Arena.
photo by: Jeanine Russaw

Hofstra University staff and students have settled down from the excitement of the debate that took place the evening of Tuesday, October 16. Organizations that have been working since last semester leading up to the debate can now settle down and go back to their ‘regular agendas’. Excited student volunteers can now post their photos of their credentials on social networking sites and tell all their friends what they were doing on the day of the debate. They were having a once in a life time experience and becoming a part of history.

Numerous Hofstra students volunteered for the 2012 Presidential Debate.  Among them were the Hofstra Association of Black Journalists’ President Claudia Balthazar, Vice President Tatiana Brown, Managing Editor Jeanine Russaw and Podcast Personnel Arielle Burton.

Other students who weren’t volunteering for the debate were eligible to enter a lottery for a ticket into the Debate Hall.  Molly Tette, a junior, Business Management major at Hofstra University was among them. “I was so excited that I was running and screaming down the hall,” she said, referring to when she received the confirmation email about being able to attend the Debate. She continued, “The whole experience seeing it is so much fun. It’s like the difference between watching a baseball game from home versus actually going to the stadium.”

Although student volunteers weren’t eligible for a ticket into the debate, minutes before the event began, 30 student volunteers were asked to draw a number in order to be seat fillers in the Debate. Burton, was asked to pull a number and she pulled “a lucky number three” she said. “I was so excited. I knew that something great was going to happen,” Burton exclaimed.

Tuesday night’s moderator was CNN’s political reporter Candy Crowley. It was the first time seeing a women moderator for the Presidential Debate in 20 years. New Jersey Montclair High School students, Emma Axelrod, Elena Tsemberis and Sammi Siegel pushed to see a woman moderator for this Presidential Debate.

Back in August, they had a petition of over 100, 000 signatures that they wanted to hand to the Commission on Presidential Debates. Post Debate, Axelrod said on the Washington that she believes Crowley did a fantastic job. “It’s unclear how much, if any, of the CPD’s [Commission on Presidential Debates] decision can be attributed to the work Sammi, Elena and I put into raising awareness of the need for more gender equality on the debate floor (they refused to  meet with us and refused our petitions when we tried to deliver them), but the change we wanted had still been made,” she said.

Debate at Hofstra University was very heated, and questions were asked by voters in a Town Hall style. The final debate for 2012 will be on Monday October 22 at Lynn University and its topic will be foreign policy. Elections are on November 6, another day to make history and leave your mark—especially at Hofstra.

-Claudia Balthazar

Published in Black Ink, the official newsletter for the Hofstra Association of Black Journalists


Photo taken at the Apollo on Sept. 17 2012 by Claudia Balthazar

It’s inevitable that voters will start lining up at the polls in no time and young voters are just as important to the 2012 elections as they were in 2008. “Young voters really made a difference in 2008,” said Cynthia Bogard, Former Director of the Center for Civic Engagement and the Chair of the Sociology Department at Hofstra University.

“[If] young voters [don’t] show up in the numbers they did in 2008 or simply sit this one out the only candidate it will hurt is President Obama,” said Salvator J. La Mastra V, Author of 2012 for Twentysomething’s: A Young Voter’s Guide to the 2012 Elections, a Baylor University Graduate. “Without the youth vote he will lose many of the states he won by less than 15,000 votes, 15,000 youth votes. Young voters will play a huge role in 2012, but it remains to be seen in what capacity?” Meaning that young voters were a major factor in Obama’s victory in 2008 and he will need them again this time around.

Bryanna Fabre, psychology major at New York University, observed, “There’s a lot more work to be done, and the job market is still not up… [But] the decisions we’re making as voters today, we’ll see the results as adults because politics doesn’t happen overnight.”

Not only is the youth vote important for a candidate’s victory, Bogard feels that it’s important for society, “If you start voting when you’re young, it becomes a habit.  If you don’t, you become a non-voter and as a result other people make decisions that impact your life and future.” Bogard continued noting, “We need people to vote or democracy becomes meaningless.”

A pressing issue in the 2012 elections is the voter I.D. legislation introduced in 32 states, which may affect the number of youth voters. Bogard mentioned that young voters, specifically college students, may not have the time or knowledge to get proper I.D.

In many states, the proposed I.D. legislation requires voters to show identification at the polls. A number of states have and are mounting challenges to voter I.D. According to a 2012 report in The New York Times, “The voter I.D. decision underscores a widespread push, largely by Republican controlled legislatures and governor’s offices, to impose strict identification requirements on voters. But Democrats say fraud at the polls is largely nonexistent and that Republicans are trying to disenfranchise minorities, poor people and college students – all groups that tend to vote Democrat.”

Reverend Al Sharpton spoke at an “Uptown Hall” at the Apollo in Harlem for BET’s Vote 2012 Campaign, “Vote like Your Life Depends on it” during a September 17th event and expressed his thoughts on the voter’s I.D. law. He explained that it’s odd that voter I.D. regulation wasn’t pushed back in 2004 when there were rumors that said that not everyone’s votes were counted when President George W. Bush was elected into office for a second term. Rev. Sharpton exclaimed, “let us vote with the same I.D. we’ve voted with before. The same I.D. we used when we voted for Reagan or Bush.” Harlem Resident, Roger Jones said, “I’m against it [Voter’s I.D.  Regulation] because a lot of people don’t have I.D. There are people who are old and have other forms of I.D,” He added, “I feel if I don’t vote, I have no say so in what happens to me.”

Regardless of the race or age, “It’s important to have informed voters and educated voters,” said Ariel Flajnik, President of Women of Action at Hofstra University.

-Claudia Balthazar

Published in Black Ink, the official newsletter for the Hofstra Association of Black Journalists

Trio of Black Women Honored by State Supreme Court

Three black female legal professionals given awards at annual Black History Month Celebration in Mineola

February 20, 2012

A trio of African-American women was honored by the Nassau State Supreme Court in Mineola this past Friday as part of the Seventh Annual Black History Month Celebration.

Justice Cheryl E. Chambers, Gladys Taylor and Valerie Singleton were the three women specifically chosen by the Nassau County Courts’ Black History Month Committee and the Amistad Long Island Black Bar Association for this year’s ceremonies, entitled “Black Women in American History,” which specifically focused on women in the African-American community.

Situated among the numerous portraits of former Supreme Court justices in the ceremonial chambers, a lone portrait of man with a slightly darker complexion was hung on the southern wall: that of Alfred S. Robbins, the first black justice elected to the court and whose name is placed on the award bestowed on Judge Chambers.

Born in North Carolina in 1925, “he endured through all of those indignities and brought himself to a point where he went to law school… and always had a perspective that whatever he accomplished, he accomplished in the name of his people and his community,” said County Court Judge Jerald S. Carter, who as an assistant district attorney was mentored by Robbins.

“He was an outstanding judge and devoted to his community so it felt great that the bar association and Black History Month Committee felt I have similar qualities,” Chambers, an associate justice of the Appellate Division, said of Robbins.

“The history of this award is because this man, a family man, a man of God, a man who came into the courtroom, wore black robes and dispensed justice equally is an individual who recognized the full worth of being first,” Carter said.

Taylor, a records supervisor for the past 33 years, was honored with the Longevity and Endurance Award. She began working for the New York State Unified Court-System in 1979 as an office typist, working her way up to her current position as Microfilm and Record’s Supervisor of the Nassau County Surrogate’s Court.

The Amistad Presidential Award was presented to Singleton, the assistant attorney general in charge of the Nassau regional office in the office of New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.

In her address, Singleton expressed her belief that Montgomery boycott leader Rosa Parks and Constance Baker Motley, the first black woman to be appointed to a federal judgeship, should be honored every month – not just during Black History month.

“Their achievements made it possible for me to be in the position that I am today,” she said.

The significance of the ceremony’s court-chamber setting – of being a place of equal rights for all – was not lost on audience members.

“I know that I’m breaking barriers,” said Judge Michele M. Woodard, the first black woman elected to the tenth judicial district of Nassau and Suffolk County and Chair of the Black History Month Committee. “(I) hope to have more than just a Black History Month program for the courts [in the future].”

-Claudia Balthazar

Published in the New Hyde Park/Mineola Patch

Age Doesn’t Keep Mineola Seniors Off the Court

Published in the Mineola Patch Jan. 24 2012/To view article: Click Here

The love of the game never stops.

Russ Sutherland has been playing basketball his whole life and is always ready to play against anyone.

Six years ago, he and his friend Richard Arroyo set up a basketball program for Mineola residents at the Mineola Community Center to cater to an underserved demographic: seniors.

Although the program is set up for seniors ages 50 and older, they invite anyone to come. There are currently men from age 42 to 78 in the program. Arroyo’s daughter, Bella, used to play with them and is now trying out for the Mineola Middle School team.

“It’s a good opportunity for retired people. Instead of watching soap operas at home all day, you could come down, shoot some hoops and talk trash,” Arroyo said. The program meets on Monday and Friday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Arroyo and Sutherland met each other 17 years ago when Sutherland first moved to Mineola; they used to play ball one-on-one amid games of ‘horse.’

In the near future, Sutherland would like to set up a horse hoops tournament and have the proceeds donated to the starving children in Africa.

In the years of playing for the program, they won the championship for Long Island Senior games for 5 straight years (2005-2009). Unfortunately, there were no senior games for the last 2 years due to the lack of participation. In their last game, the Mineola group had to play against a woman’s team from Harlem.

“It was hard to get people involved because it was a lose lose situation. If we lost it would be humiliating to lose against girls. If we won then it looks bad,” Sutherland said. However he finally was able to get four players, including himself, to play. The women had them by one basket during half time but the seniors ended up winning.

Sutherland has no problem playing against anyone, in fact desiring to play a game against the Mineola High School girls team.

“With their youth and speed and our experience, it would be a good game,” he said.

A few of the members in the program have played at the college level as well: Sutherland played for Farmingdale State while fellow member John Gatley played for Iona College. “I played so long ago the ball wasn’t round it was square,” Gatley joked.

The members mostly play half-court games, using the full-court on occasion. Roughly a dozen people come to play but numbers vary week by week.

While there are different concerns for veteran players as opposed to younger members, there have been no serious injuries.

“It’s a good aerobic exercise,” Arroyo said. “You feel good that you’re at an age where you can still be active at a competitive game.”

Added Sutherland: “30 minutes goes by so fast you don’t even notice you were exercising.”