Sunday, September 28, 2014

Read a Banned Book Today

Though National Banned Books Week officially ended yesterday, there's still time to thumb your nose at the censors and read a "taboo" text.  

Something like Mark Twain's "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird," or Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughter-House Five" will do just fine.

So will John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men," J.D. Salinger's "Catcher in the Rye," Alice Walker's "The Color Purple," and Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings."

And don't forget Robert Cormier's "The Chocolate War," Stephen Chbosky's "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," Marjane Satrapi's graphic gem, "Persepolis," or even Dav Pilkey's "Captain Underpants" comic series.  

All are among the most frequently banned literary works in America.  All are routinely removed from school reading lists and library shelves because their ideas, words, images, and actions are thought to be inappropriate for young readers--and sometimes older ones as well.  

Crazy, isn't it?  In a country founded on freedom and on the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, some people see nothing wrong with depriving others of the right to read what they want. Censors sometimes justify their actions by insisting they're "protecting" people from disturbing ideas and images. But it's hard to imagine a more disturbing image than an adult (or group of adults) yanking a book out of a kid's hands.  Talk about scary.   

Literary censorship isn't new, sad to say, but even sadder, it shows no signs of abating.  In fact, the American Library Association (ALA), which monitors censorship activities across the country, reports that book banning in schools and elsewhere continues to be a thriving industry.  Though the censors' explanations for their actions are often preposterous, that doesn't seem to stop them.  

But you can.  If every college student picked up (and read) banned books regularly, they would make a powerful statement about the right to read.  And if every student spoke out against literary censorship, they'd quickly get the attention of the media and the adult world.  They might even make the censors think twice before locking a work away.

So find a banned book and read it today!  The ALA maintains a long list of literary works under attack --there's plenty to choose from. Chances are you'll like what you read.  

But even if you don't, it will be YOU deciding to close the cover--not somebody else. And that makes all the difference.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Get Ready for the Activities Fair!

Run--don't walk!--to the front of the College Center Building this Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 11:30 a.m.

Bring your appetite--there'll be goodies galore--and come ready to meet some of the coolest students on campus (all eager to convince you that their club is the best at NCC).

It's the Activities Fair, one of the highlights of campus life at Nassau.  And it's a great opportunity for you to get a feel for the 100+ clubs that are active at NCC.  Most clubs will be staffing tables and putting on their best face through photos, banners, artwork, short videos, and--let's not forget--giveaways (snacks, pens, key chains, hats, buttons, and other neat club stuff).  Most will also have sign-up sheets handy for students wanting to get a text or a call about a club's upcoming meeting.

You can browse to your heart's content on Tuesday, chat with club members, and sign up for as many clubs as you want--or none at all. There's no pressure to join something or even to attend a meeting if you do sign up.  You can simply look things over and decide afterward what's for you.

Given everything else you have going on in your life, you may be wondering why you should join a club.  

Some reasons: to pursue a specific personal interest (jazz, anime, science fiction, knitting, gaming, computer graphics, etc.); to learn more about a specific career (Marketing, Nursing, Finance, Education, Fashion Buying, Accounting, Hospitality, Journalism, Criminal Justice, Interior Design, Paralegal, Surgical Technology); to get involved in political and social issues (NYPIRG, PeaceWork, InterAct, Amnesty International, Make a Difference); to cultivate your creative side (singing, performing, creative writing, photography, dancing, etc.); to stay active (Ski Club, Concrete Canoe Club, Outing Club, Fit for Life Club), to learn more about a particular academic subject (astronomy, philosophy, psychology, biology, earth science); or to celebrate your culture or religion (Newman Club, Jewish Student Organization, Gaelic Society, Student Organization of Latinos, Haraya, Turkish-American Club, Muslim Student Association, etc.).

Whatever your reason for joining something, you get one other benefit as well: a sense of community, a chance to get to know a group of people (including a faculty member) you might never have met if you hadn't gone to that club meeting.  Community is important.  It helps you to connect with people.  It helps you develop as a person.  It makes college seem like more than just classes.  It adds that extra "flourish" to your college experience.  And it makes Nassau more intimate and--yeah-- less anonymous. 

So come Tuesday, come on over to the Activities Fair and check out another side of NCC.  Don't be shy.  Remember that all of these people at club tables were not so long ago just like you: looking for a way to make their college experience more interesting and more fun.  They've found their sense of community.  Now it's your turn.  Join a club.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Enjoy September, but . . .

September is a great month for new NCC students.  Nice weather, new friends, a cool campus, almost nonstop social activities (parties, tournaments, club fairs, rallies, games, etc. etc.)--who could ask for a better start to college?

And classes?  Not a problem.  Required readings, tests, quizzes, papers, projects, and research assignments (all probably listed on course outlines) seem light years away.  Nothing to sweat about--plenty of time to get serious later on. . . .

Fast forward to December.  Those new college students, many now pretty stressed out (and maybe pretty behind), are scrambling to finish papers, catch up on readings, pass exams, and salvage their semester.  Asked the most important lesson they've learned about college, most say they need to start working earlier.  Many admit they spent too much of September--and even October--having fun and putting off studying.

This isn't a sermon on the evils of enjoying college life.   Socializing should definitely be an important part of your college experience.  And what better time to sample that experience than the first weeks of the fall semester, a time of promise and possibilities?  That new club, that interesting new girl or guy, that upcoming party or pep rally--all are intriguing.  And all "happen," more or less, this month.

But so do your classes.  For many new students, the biggest challenge of starting college is finding ways to be involved in not just the life of their campus but that of their classes as well. Striking this balance is tough--just ask students who've lived it up too much in September and paid later on--but essential.  And it involves more just going to class.  It means keeping up, paying attention, being mentally engaged, and--when you've work to do--telling friends you can't hang out and will see them later.

Formidable tasks for sure, especially given all of the sweet temptations of September.  But consider the alternative: waking up in the middle of the semester and realizing you're heading over the cliff academically.

Enjoy September, a month with lots to recommend it.  But also remember why you're in college--and where you want to be come December.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Campus Driving 101

So it's your first week of college and you're eager to get to your classes at NCC on time. You don't really know your way around campus just yet, but you know you have an 8:30 a.m. class and are in a hurry to get there. 

Trouble is, so are a lot of other people, including some drivers who, unfortunately, will do some not-so-smart things: park in nonexistent spots, drive the wrong way on one-way streets, blow off stop signs, roar past pedestrians, and go way too fast.

Don't be one of these folks. 

On a big campus with cars constantly coming and going, drivers need to exercise good judgment and common sense.  Even if you manage to avoid colliding with another car (which occasionally does happen), driving carelessly can add unnecessary stress to those around you.

What's more, by ignoring parking and traffic signs on campus, you increase your chances of getting a ticket, if not right away, then before long.  And tickets are serious money, often $90 and up.

Here are a few tips to keep the commute from ruining your day.

  • Register your car before school starts.  No matter what you're driving to campus (car, SUV, motorcycle, etc.), you'll need to register your vehicle with Public Safety (  Otherwise you risk getting a ticket, which can wind up costing plenty.

  • Leave enough time to park.  Don't arrive five minutes before the start of your first class and expect to find a space next to your classroom building.  Instead, leave at least 45 minutes to park, get your bearings, and walk to class.  NCC may be big, but it's not an impossible place to navigate on foot. 

  • Scout out parking in advance.  Finding a space will be easier if you know where to look.  If you're entering campus from Endo Boulevard via Stewart Avenue, there's the East lot (the largest on campus).  If you're coming from Earle Ovington Blvd. via Hempstead Turnpike or Charles Lindbergh Blvd., there's the West lot, which also has plenty of spaces.  There's also parking behind Clusters A-D as well as near Building H, on the western part of the campus.  P.S.  If these directions seem confusing, you can download a campus map that shows the parking fields ( and click "Map and Directions") and how to reach them.

  • Read signs carefully.  Most parking on campus is available to students, but some spaces are reserved for employees and people with disabilities.  Park in one of these spots and you're likely to get a ticket--again a costly mistake.

  • Pay attention to campus speed limits (and traffic signs).  The Nassau campus is a busy place--no shortage of traffic and pedestrians at times.  Speed limits and traffic signs try to ensure safety, yours and others'.  Be smart here.

  • Be careful coming in and out of campus.  Nassau County's red light cameras dot the roads around NCC.  They pick up drivers who run lights or fail to stop on a red before turning.  You may not get pulled over on the spot if you're careless, but you could find a County ticket in your mailbox a few weeks later.

  • Whatever you do, don't text and drive.  Is there anything more that needs to be said about this issue? Texting and driving can be a lethal combination not only on college campuses but everywhere else your car is in motion.  In a word, don't.

Is commuting to Nassau always stress free?  No.  At certain times of the day, the campus is busy, with a good number of people either looking for a parking space or trying to leave one.  But if you plan ahead--and use your head!--driving (and parking) on campus doesn't have to be a hassle.