Students gather at on-campus election party, shocked by result

By: Mina Corpuz and Abigail Freeman

Published Nov. 9 Print edition of The Daily Free Press

Boston University students hunkered down at the George Sherman Union Tuesday night to watch Donald Trump clinch the presidency of the United States.

Approximately 150 students gathered at BU Central and the Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground for the watch party, which was organized by the Dean of Students office, the Student Activities Office and the HTC. Projectors and screens in the areas featured CNN, MSNBC and live election maps from The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Nicholas Fuentes, a Trump supporter who came to the watch party later in the night, said he is excited about what Republicans will do in the next four year. He and two other supporters donned “Make America Great Again” hats and carried around a blue Trump-Pence flag.

“For the first time since 1928, the Republicans are going to control the Senate, the House and the White House,” said Fuentes, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. “We’re going to hope to do a lot of good for people with that power. This is Brexit all over again. It’s a really solid victory.”

The year-and-a-half-long campaign came down to the early hours of Wednesday, when Trump gained an upper hand in the electoral votes.

Karol Montilla, a junior in CAS, said the results were a shock, but people should remain hopeful.

“Going forward, it’s important not to lose hope,” she said at BU Central. “I don’t feel hopeful now, but it’s important not to fear the future presidency. It’s important for people to speak out.”

Students chattered throughout the night and expressed anxiety about the close results.

Cristian Morales, a first-year graduate student in the College of Engineering, said the results make him feel uneasy.

“As a gay Mexican-American, I have a lot riding on this election,” Morales said. “I also volunteered a lot during the primary season, and because I was so involved in this, it means a lot. It’s really nerve-wracking.”

When the HTC closed at 1 a.m., students went to BU Central, which stayed open for another hour.

Natalia Deibe, a junior in CAS, stayed until the end of the watch party. She said the idea of Trump winning is disturbing.

“I’m very disappointed by America in general, how bigoted and xenophobic and disgustingly racist and sexist it is,” Deibe said. “He could say whatever he wants and they would still defend him.”

Flags, banners and patriotic decorations adorned BU Central. Students posed with cutouts of the two candidates throughout the night.

An “expression board” in the BU Central alleyway allowed students to write why they voted, what issues matter to them and why elections matter.

“I have a voice and it deserves to be heard,” one student wrote in purple marker. “Communities of color shouldn’t live in fear…” another wrote in red.

Earlier in the night, students cheered when states including Massachusetts, Virginia and California were called for Clinton. They booed when CNN called Florida for Trump.

Pedro Falci, assistant director of the HTC, said the atmosphere during election night is more conversational compared to the presidential debate viewing parties hosted by the center earlier this semester.

“Here it’s kind of passive as you’re watching the results come in, but you don’t need to be glued to the TV,” Falci said. “I’m seeing a lot of anxious students questioning what’s happening.”

The ambience among students evolved from comedic to tense as the night progressed. Students began to shed tears as Trump gained strong lead with electoral votes.

The HTC viewing party became more silent as the TV monitors showed a disappointed crowd at the Clinton headquarters in New York.

Ramya Babu, a senior in CAS studying math and political science, said she felt stressed at the watch party in the HTC. She said it’s disappointing that not as many people were excited about the chance to elect the first woman president in the country.

“So much of the attacks this election have been gendered,” Babu said. “People don’t give her enough credit.”

Fatmah Alquhaidi, a student at the Center for English Language and Orientation Programs, said she came to the watch party in BU Central with friends to see how others reacted.

“What shocks me is that most people I’ve seen on social media are against Trump, but when I see the results and what voters are saying, it’s interesting,” Alquhaidi said. “I didn’t think he would get this far.”

Alquhaidi, who is from Kuwait, said she wanted Clinton to win because she is an inspiration to women around the world.

“I like girl power,” Alquhaidi said. “I like that she’s a fighter. She’s an example of not giving up.”

She made a bet that if Trump won the election, she will buy her friend a coffee. If Clinton won, Alquhaidi said her friend would buy her one.

Rita Mayoral, a non-degree student in the Metropolitan College, said learning the results in BU Central gave her more insight on the American perspective.

“Instead of seeing it from my residence, I prefer to watch it surrounded by Americans to see

what they think or their reactions,” the exchange student from Spain said. “I study journalism, so it is very important for me to understand the election from inside.”

Alex Mowen, a junior in CAS, said the results made her fear for her safety.

“I wasn’t expecting myself of being scared,” she said at around 2 a.m., as students emptied out of BU Central. “Even if Clinton wins, there is still half the country that supports Trump. I’m ashamed and disappointed all of this has happened.”



Inspection records raise health concerns on BU dining halls, restaurants

Published in  The Daily Free Press September 22, 2016 – Front page

Pink mold inside an ice machine. Dirty cooking equipment. Improperly stored rice from last night.

During an inspection last winter, these were among seven health and safety violations that city inspectors found in the Warren Towers dining hall.

In fact, according to a Daily Free Press review of Boston Inspectional Services Department’s public data, approximately 40 percent of the time, inspectors found violations eateries in and around Boston University’s campus between January 2015 and September 2016.

Fifty-six restaurants, dining halls and quick food stops along Commonwealth Avenue and streets branching off of campus amassed a total of 716 inspection violations.

“The mayor’s committee is making sure everyone has a really good dining experience in the city,” ISD Commissioner William Christopher said. “Our response is to ensure that. When we find violations, we want to correct them.”

The “Mayor’s Food Court” rates violations as noncritical, critical or foodborne critical, Christopher said. For example, food that isn’t heated or cooled properly can be a foodborne critical violation, he said.

About 67 percent of violations found in and around BU campus were not critical, yet 23 percent are foodborne critical and could pose a threat to students and residents, the review found.

On average, each eatery around BU had four inspections between 2015 and 2016. The number of violations for each establishment averaged to about 12, including eight non-critical violations and three foodborne illness critical violations.

The kosher dining hall inside the Florence and Chafetz Hillel House had 24 violations — the highest of all the BU Dining Services eateries. Its violations ranged from missing allergen advisories on menus to a lack of employees who are trained in anti-choking.

The next one on the list is Breadwinners on the second floor of the Questrom School of Business, with 17 violations, 10 of which are foodborne critical violations.

The Fresh Food Company at Warren Towers had 11 total violations over the year and a half, lower than the area’s average.

On the other side of the spectrum, Basho Express, Einstein Bros. Bagels in the basement of the College of Arts and Sciences and Starbucks at 700 Commonwealth Ave. had no violations between January 2015 and September 2016.

Scott Rosario, a spokesman for BU Dining Services, said city inspections are a standard practice.

“Dining Services receives inspections at 20 locations twice a year from the City of Boston,” he said. “Most often those inspections result in a pass without need for re-inspection. Occasionally a location will receive a fail with need for re-inspection.”

Anna Nizhnik, a senior in CAS, said her friends who work with BU Dining have told her stories about things that have gone wrong.

“It’s not the best, so I’m not entirely surprised, because I’ve known the quality of the food is not the greatest,” she said. “I still like Panda [Express.] I still like orange chicken, so I’m going to go there anyways.”

The city inspects all restaurants at least once a year, and all restaurants with critical violations will be re-inspected until they pass, according to ISD.

A management team oversees dining safety and sanitation to minimize potential violations, Rosario said.

“All of the Dining Services locations that have required reinspection have received a pass after their reinspection,” he said.

For students like Max Brewington, a CAS freshman, cleanliness and safety is always a concern. Brewington hopes BU will address that in the dining halls and the George Sherman Union.

“I understand that people make mistakes and stuff, but when it comes to health concerns, they should keep safety in mind,” Brewington said. “It’ll make me think about where I’m going and to look into places before I eat there.”

Eateries pass or fail inspections based on state sanitary codes, and the information is added to a database that is publicly available online, Christopher said.

While it is common for establishments in the BU area to have violations, data shows that only two of 56 restaurants failed their inspections — the McDonald’s on 540 Commonwealth Ave. and Thai Dish Authentic Cuisine in Kenmore Square.

Most restaurants pass their inspections, Christopher said. Eateries around universities fare as well as those in other parts of the city.

“It ebbs and flows,” he said. “There’s no consistent failure that’s problematic.”

Janelle Jorgensen, a first-year graduate student in the College of Engineering, said she frequently eats at places like Noodle Street because she does not have a BU dining plan. When she is on campus, she may stop at the GSU.

Jorgensen said health and safety violations aren’t usually on her mind when she goes out to eat.

“It’s one of those things you don’t really know what’s going on until stories like this come out,” she said. “You’d like to think that your food is being made in a clean, healthy way.”

Kalina Newman and Sophia Eppolito contributed to the reporting of this article.

Interfaith program teaches students to foster peace, calm conflict

Published in The Boston Globe August 7

NEWTON — Omri, a 15-year-old Palestinian boy, has traveled thousands of miles from Jerusalem every summer for the past four years to learn more about his Muslim faith, cope with conflict, and become a leader.

As members of the interfaith group Kids4Peace, Omri and other students met with US government leaders and others in Washington, D.C., to get a clearer picture of how to find solutions to the conflicts in the Middle East before returning to the Boston area to reflect on their experience.

“It’s opened up how to communicate with people from other cultures,” he said.

Jewish, Muslim, and Christian students from Boston and the Middle East make up Kids4Peace, a nonprofit that infuses religion with social action.

Peggy Stevens, a founder of Kids4Peace Boston, said the program spans six years. Starting in 6th grade, students head to Camp Merrowvista in New Hampshire each summer to learn how to become peace leaders, she said.

Older students work on service projects and eventually take on roles as counselors to lead and mentor younger students, Stevens said. In all, 22 students participated, she said.

Kids4Peace students gathered at Temple Beth Avodah in Newton Sunday afternoon to discuss what they had learned and celebrate with family and friends. The group allowed the students to be interviewed on the condition that only first names were used.

Rabbi Keith Stern introduced the students, saying their advocacy gives him hope.

“Every day I read the news and it breaks my heart,” he said. “I thought of the three main Western religions and how they have a prayer for peace. It’s a beautiful prayer, but peace takes will and commitment. It’s about love and respect.”

Half the students donned turquoise shirts, and the others wore light blue ones. The Arabic, Hebrew, and English words for “Peace” were printed across the front.

Shayan, 15, of Needham told the crowd about a negative experience with racial profiling. His family, who are Muslim, was stopped at the airport while returning from a vacation, and a transportation agent yelled at his father for accusing him of being a racist.

“I want to end that narrative for every 8-year-old who has to learn the definition of racism after a family trip,” he said.

Yasmine, 16, from Lexington, said she also hoped to inspire social change. “I don’t believe in extremism and terrorism,” she said. “Where is that empathy? . . . I am proud of my Muslim identity and my advocacy for peace.”

As the celebration came to an end, about 40 students took the stage together and sang the camp song “We Can See That Peace is Coming,” with verses in Hebrew, Arabic, and English. They put their arms around each other and ended with smiles on their faces, singing “Lean on Me.”


N.H. car dealership offers, ‘Buy a car, get an AR’

Published in The Boston Globe June 17, 2016

People who buy a used vehicle can get an AR-15 assault rifle for free, courtesy of a New Hampshire car dealership.

Hagan’s Motor Pool in Rochester, N.H., is offering the promotion for select cars. The promotion, which began in May, features the slogan, “Buy a car, get an AR.”

Owner Mike Hagan, who served as a combat medic in Afghanistan, said the promotion has been well-received by the community. So far four AR-15s and one 9mm handgun, an alternative selection, have been given out, he said.

The process of getting the gun is the same one a normal buyer would use, Hagan said, except he gets the bill. All the transactions are in compliance with the law, he said.

Despite an AR-15-style rifle being used in the mass terror shooting in Orlando on June 12 that left 49 people dead, Hagan said the dealership is committed to continuing the promotion. The act of one individual has not shaken his commitment to the Second Amendment, he said.

He emphasized that the promotion had begun before the Orlando attack.

“We’ve gotten feedback from people who think we’ve done this as a response to the events in Florida,” Hagan said. “It would be absolutely reprehensible to exploit a terrorist attack to generate revenue.”

Renaissance Firearms, a licensed gun dealer in Rochester, has partnered with Hagan’s Motor Pool for the promotion deal, Hagan said. The firearms dealer runs background checks on the customers, he said.

Sergeant Jeremy Aucoin of the Rochester police said as long as the sale is going through a licensed firearm dealer and the vendor is following the same rules, the promotion is legal.

Hagan said that some customers have declined the promotional guns because they already own some. He also offers a discount for those who do not want guns.

According to Hagan, he would not offer the deal to someone suspicious.

“If I encounter someone who I thought had bad intentions, I would decline the sale,” he said.

Hagan said the promotion would continue until Aug. 31.

If customers give it a good reception, he said, the dealership will change its offer to a different firearm “to keep it fresh.”

Tennis clinics teach game, life skills to students with autism

Published in The Boston Globe June 7, 2016 – Metro B3

A new tennis program at Boston Community Leadership Academy is helping students with autism hone their athletic and life skills.

In the two months since the tennis clinics began, 35 students at the Hyde Park school have learned about patience, self control, and attentiveness to directions through sport, said Toni Wiley, executive director of the Sportsmen’s Tennis & Enrichment Center in Dorchester. The club has partnered with BCLA to coach students.

“Tennis is kind of a unique sport in that there is a lot you can use off the court,” Wiley said. “It’s a great sport to begin as a way of encouraging the type of behavior you want kids to see in their everyday life.”

BCLA headmaster Brett Dickens said that in addition to cultivating social skills, the program will help instill students with an appreciation for the sport and a healthy lifestyle.

About 5 percent of BCLA students have autism, Dickens said. The tennis program is one of the largest of its kind for students with autism at the high school level, she said.

The clinics run twice a week for one hour, Dickens said.

“We start teaching them the basics of tennis,” said Mark-Anthony Kenney, 21, a Sportsmen’s coach who teaches the Thursday program. “How to hold the racket, how to swing the racket, what to do with your feet when the ball is coming, just simple things.”

Kenney, who graduated from BCLA in 2013, said the program helps children with autism adapt to social environments outside of their comfort zones and learn to respect each other’s space.

While matches can sometimes get competitive, the atmosphere at the program is usually relaxed and light-hearted, he said.

“The kids are usually laughing, smiling, running around, talking to each other,” Kenney said. “It’s a very fun environment.”

The idea to launch the program started in October 2015 when students got a chance to participate in a clinic, according to Dickens. BCLA later applied for a $2,500 grant from the US Tennis Association to buy equipment.

“It is an enriching sport that builds self-confidence,” Dickens said. “It’s good that it’s not a contact sport. You learn the skills on your own, and with students with disabilities this is a good way to learn.”

In February, the school was approved for the grant and by April, students began coming to the clinics, Dickens said.

Looking ahead, she said BCLA may apply for the same grant or look to introduce the program schoolwide.

“It’s a lifelong sport,” she said. “It’s great that the USTA isn’t just about building college athletes and champions.”

Elusive moose still on the loose

Published in The Boston Globe June 3

A moose that pranced down sidewalks in Belmont and Watertown on Wednesday and took the Internet by storm may still be in Belmont, wildlife officials said.

The juvenile moose was spotted Friday on Robinwood Road close to the Lexington border at around 10:30 a.m., officials said.

There is a nearby sanctuary that has wetlands and swamps that moose like, said Major William Bilotta Jr. of the Massachusetts Environmental Police.

Environmental Police spent Thursdaysearching for the moose with the help of a State Police helicopter, Bilotta said. They will continue to search the Belmont area.

“Public safety is the main issue,” Bilotta said. “In that area you have Route 128 and Route 2. We don’t want to see anything happen to the motorists and animal, too.”

The goal is to tranquilize the moose and bring it to the western part of the state where it will have more room to roam, he said.

Bilotta said Environmental Police do not know what direction the moose is heading.

UMass official killed in crash ‘was always there for you’

This is the third of three articles about the Oxford car crash and fatalities. 

Published in The Boston Globe June 2, 2016 – Metro B3

To the University of Massachusetts Boston, Gina Cappello was the vice chancellor who led successful fund-raising efforts. To her family, she was a selfless mother who had taken up golfing and had a smile that radiated optimism.

“She was always there for you,” said Nanette Campo, her older sister. “She’d take charge when she needed to. We have a very close family. Family was everything to her.”

Cappello died Tuesday from injuries sustained in a multicar crash in Oxford. Her partner, Daniel Sullivan, a 53-year-old truck driver for Transgas Inc. from Oxford, was pronounced dead at the scene on Memorial Day. The two were walking when struck by one of the vehicles involved in the crash.

The two were just getting to know each other, Campo said. She thought he was a nice and sweet man.

Born in Somerville, Cappello was the youngest of four siblings. She had two older brothers, Pasquale and Frank, along with her sister.

Campo said she was her best friend and confidante.

Cappello went to Northeastern University for undergraduate studies and earned an MBA from Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, Campo said.

She was married to Charles Cappello for 26 years and raised two daughters — Kristina and Gabrielle — in Andover, her sister said.

“First and foremost, she was the most dedicated mother to her children. That was her first ambition . . . to always be there for them,” Campo said. “Her girls were her best friends. They did everything together.”

While raising her family, Cappello worked at UMass Boston and used her fund-raising expertise, Campo said.

Cappello started at the university in 2007 as assistant vice chancellor for major gifts and was appointed vice chancellor for university advancement in 2012.

“She was very, very involved and definitely enjoyed the work, the people she worked with, and the recognition of UMass,” Campo said.

Kristina and Gabrielle both recently graduated from college, Campo said. Kristina earned her master’s in social work from Boston College and Gabrielle studied criminal justice at SNHU, the school her mother attended.

A graduation party for them was one of the last times the family was together, Campo said.

“Her unconditional love will be missed,” she said. “We’re all going to miss her.”

UMass official hurt in Memorial Day crash dies

This is the second of three articles about the Oxford car crash and fatalities. 

Published in The Boston Globe June 1, 2016 – Metro Front B1

A University of Massachusetts Boston official who was seriously injured when she was struck by a vehicle while walking on Memorial Day has died, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Gina Cappello, 52, of Andover, was vice chancellor for university advancement at UMass Boston.

She died on Tuesday, the Worcester district attorney’s office said.

“The staff members who worked with Gina every day, and indeed the entire campus community, looked to Gina as a kind and capable leader who helped our university build positive relationships with our alumni, the corporate community, and many other friends,” said Chancellor J. Keith Motley in a message to the UMass Boston community.

Cappello was struck by a car in Oxford and rushed to UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester. The man she was walking with, 53-year-old Daniel Sullivan of Oxford, was pronounced dead at the scene on Monday.

The events unfolded when a vehicle exiting Interstate 395 onto Sutton Avenue started a chain reaction crash that involved the car that hit Sullivan and Cappello, as well as three other cars. Seven other people were taken to the hospital. State and local police are investigating.

Cappello was appointed vice chancellor in 2012, Motley said.

She started at the university in 2007 as assistant vice chancellor for major gifts.

She led UMass Boston’s largest fund-raising campaign, Just Imagine, which has a $100 million goal, Motley said.


Pedestrian killed, UMass Boston official is critically hurt in crash

This is the first of three articles about the Oxford car crash and fatalities. 

Published in The Boston Globe May 30

A chain-reaction crash involving multiple vehicles Monday killed a 53-year-old man and seriously injured a University of Massachusetts Boston administrator as the two were walking in the town of Oxford, officials said.

Daniel Sullivan, 53, was pronounced dead at the scene, the fire department said. The other pedestrian, Gina Cappello, 52, of Andover, was in critical condition at UMass Medical Center in Worcester.

Cappello is the vice chancellor for university advancement at the UMass Boston, according to DeWayne Lehman, a university spokesman. Lehman said Monday night that the school community was “very concerned.”

“We are all hoping for the best for Gina, and our thoughts are with the Cappello and Sullivan families,’’ the university said in a statement.

The crash left debris scattered across a swath of the highway.

Firefighters and police in the town, south of Worcester, responded to the area near Sutton Avenue just after 11 a.m., and found the two pedestrians and four cars involved in the collision, the Oxford Fire Department said in a statement.

A total of nine people were taken to the hospital, the department said.

State Police said a Lexus exiting Interstate 395 onto Sutton Avenue lost control and struck a Toyota Corolla. The Corolla hit the two pedestrians and continued down the road, striking a Nissan Altima and a Nissan Rogue.

The driver of the Lexus, who may have suffered a medical emergency before the crash, and passengers of the Corolla and Rogue were taken to UMass Medical and the driver of the Altima was transported to Hubbard Regional Hospital in Webster. Occupants of the cars sustained injuries that were not life-threatening, State Police said in a statement.

The accident spanned a few blocks starting near Dunkin’ Donuts and ended by a McDonald’s, the fire department said.

Sutton Avenue was closed for about three hours, State Police said.