Stony Brook Halloween Festival entertains children in Village Center

Nearly 50 families gathered in the Stony Brook Village Center to participate in the 35th annual Halloween Festival on a cloudy Friday, Oct. 31, 2014 in Stony Brook, N.Y.

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO) hosted the event, where the Suffolk Center for Speech and Myofunctional Therapy was the main sponsor. Several shop and restaurant employees in the Village Center stood outside their respective businesses in costumes starting at 2 p.m. and offered candy and treats to both children and parents. Others manned tables with beanbag games or took charge of potato sack races.

“This is a perfect Halloween Festival for little ones,” WMHO President Gloria Rocchio said. “Most of the little ones don’t go out at night. The ages are very young, from babies up to maybe six or seven.”

Rocchio said that the event first started out small but over the years, it has become easier for the WMHO Communications office to book different acts and entertainment.  This year, WALK 97.5 FM provided music as well as a “Walkie Bear” blow-up bear for children to take photos with.

While the festival ended before sunset, preparations took place well ahead of time. Local boys and girls scout troops created different scarecrows for the scarecrow competition, which were put on display throughout the Village Center weeks before the event.

Amanda Trava, who works for The Suffolk Center, was dressed up as the Disney character Maleficent, while her coworkers came as different princesses. The Suffolk Center employees also took photos with children in addition to announcing the winners of the scarecrow competition.

“[My favorite part is] just seeing all the kids dressed up, giving out candy, seeing all the different scarecrows,” Trava said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

 At about 4:00 p.m., families took a break from trick-or-treating and gathered on the lawn in front of the Crazy Beans Cafe to watch three different Halloween-themed dances performed by the Spotlight Dance Academy. While some dancers wore their own individual costumes, another group donned zombie face paint for its dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.

Many parents liked the activities for their children but also appreciated the safe environment on Halloween.

 “I come with my son almost every year,” Lorena Gonzalez from Shirley, N.Y. said.  “It’s very friendly and a safe Halloween.”

 But for the children, the social factor played a big part in the enjoyment of the day’s festivities.

 “It’s actually a nice day for all the kids who don’t have school to come around,” eight-year-old Stephen Mazelis, dressed as New York Rangers hockey player Rick Nash, from Smithtown, N.Y. said.  “While everybody’s at work and the public schools are all out of school and the kids from catholic schools from all around the world, probably, they always come here and have fun.”

 After the dances and the scarecrow competition awards, Monster Merlin, a wispy 12-foot bone-faced character, wrapped the celebrations by leading the Halloween parade throughout the Village Center.

 “What we try to do is bring a sense of community into the village,” Rocchio said. “This is the heart of Stony Brook Village and we think it’s great for families and their children.”

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SBU Taandava’s Jana Seva: Classical Indian Dance for a Cause

Founded in 2013, Taandava is Stony Brook University’s first Indian classical dance team. On Thursday, Oct. 23, the group hosted its first event, Jana Seva: Indian Classical Dance for a Cause, to raise money to help children affected by the civil war in Sri Lanka.

This was originally published on sbstatesman.com on Oct. 26, 2014.

Sports Highlights: Men’s Soccer vs UMass Lowell

The Stony Brook Seawolves suffered a 2-1 home loss to UMass Lowell on Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014 in the America East Conference. This video was originally published on sbstatesman.com

 

SUNY approves sexual assault prevention resolution

Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged SUNY to pass a resolution outlining sexual assault prevention and response practices. (STATESMAN STOCK PHOTO)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged SUNY to pass a resolution outlining sexual assault prevention and response practices. (STATESMAN STOCK PHOTO)

By Rebecca Anzel, Giselle Barkley and Hanaa’ Tameez

The State University of New York is taking steps to better combat sexual assault and violence across its 64 campuses. At Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s urging, the SUNY Board of Trustees passed a resolution on Friday, Oct. 2 to create a uniform set of prevention and response practices.

“I don’t need to suggest, and it would not be accurate for anyone to suggest, that this is a SUNY problem,” he said. “It is not. This is a societal problem. This is Harvard and Yale and Princeton, Albany and Buffalo and Oswego. It is not SUNY’s problem by origination. I would suggest it should be SUNY’s problem to solve and SUNY’s place to lead.”

The resolution requires all SUNY campuses to adopt an identical definition of consent; a policy to protect victims of a sexual abuse crime from being punished for a student code of conduct violation like underage alcohol consumption or drug use; and the Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights, which would provide victims with his or her rights, a list of resources and steps for reporting the incident, according to the memorandum. The document also specifies SUNY will work to organize a training course for each campus’ police force and administrators to address handling sexual assault incidents as well as “a public campaign to increase awareness among students and parents.”

The resolution comes during the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights’ (OCR) investigation into the way one of SUNY’s campuses, Stony Brook University, handles Title IX complaints. As part of the 1972 Education Act, Title IX is a federal clause prohibiting discrimination based on gender at any federally-funded educational institution. The investigation into SBU began on Wednesday, July 23, 2014.

This is not the first time OCR opened a case into SUNY’s Title IX compliance. An investigation in December 2010 into the 29 state-operated SUNY institutions—including Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Purchase and Stony Brook—was closed in September 2013 after OCR and SUNY reached an agreement that detailed 13 improvements the SUNY system was required to implement, according to a Department of Education (DOE) press release.

One of those improvements is a mandate that each SUNY institution designate a Title IX coordinator. At Stony Brook University, Marjolie Leonard holds that position.  According to Leonard, her role is not only to get involved with sexual assault cases, but also to oversee the university’s risk management program.

“[My role is] also to have a pulse on the campus community and see if there are any trends or any things we need to address,” Leonard said, “whether it’s more training, whether it’s looking at our policy and does our policy reflect our practice, and does our practice reflect the need of the campus population.”

It is unknown what Leonard and the Stony Brook administration’s role will be in implementing the different aspects of the newly passed resolution, what the impact of these changes will be on the university or the how long it will take these improvements to be enforced across its campuses.

According to Stony Brook’s Media Relations Officer Lauren Sheprow, the new resolution lines up with similar programs that already exist on campus.

“The statewide policy introduced by Governor Cuomo and the new SUNY [Board of Trustees] resolution are aligned with many initiatives that are already underway at Stony Brook,” she said in an email.  “[This includes] awareness, prevention and education programs (i.e., Red Watch Band, CPO lesson during the 101 courses, Rape Aggression Defense [RAD] Programs, crime prevention awareness sessions about sexual assault, etc.); providing several types of training for students and employees; administering a campus-wide climate survey to all students that is systematically linked to our prevention work; and having a comprehensive definition of consent in our Student Code of Conduct.”

Sheprow added Stony Brook is anticipating further guidance from SUNY on the action items listed in the resolution but will also “monitor mandates and guidance from federal and state agencies.”

This story was originally published in the Oct.14, 2014 issue of The Statesman.

MEN’S SOCCER: Stony Brook vs. Villanova

The Stony Brook Seawolves suffered a 1-0 loss at home to the Villanova Wildcats on Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014. Stony Brook hosted Villanova on International Night, which honored the men’s team’s 10 international student-athletes.

Harlem Globetrotters inaugurate Stony Brook Arena

On Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014, the Stony Brook University Arena opened its doors to spectators for the first time to host two exhibition basketball games between the world renowned Harlem Globetrotters and the Washington Generals. The Globetrotters combined comedy, theatrics and basketball to put on a show and entertain an audience of several hundred people in the brand-new NCAA Division I arena, which officially opened on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014.

MEN’S SOCCER: Stony Brook vs. University of New Hampshire

An 85th minute goal from sophomore midfielder Favio Sbarra gave the Stony Brook Seawolves a 1-0 win in their first game of the America East Conference against the University of New Hampshire Wildcats on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2o14.