The Making of an ASL Song

By Maria Gillin, President, SUNY New Paltz American Sign Language Club

Every semester begins the same, we introduce ourselves and say what we do. Then we see what the members of our club are interested in. We learn the most about each other when we pick what song we want to translate and learn how to sign. Our members always get to choose – we ask them for song ideas, narrow them down based on level of difficulty, and put it to a vote. Then the fun begins. It usually takes 3 or 4 days to translate a song and then from there it takes about 4 meetings to teach everyone and be comfortable enough that we can perform the song, or record ourselves.

This past year we had the awesome experience of performing twice, once at Relay for Life and again at the Sexy Pitches final spring performance. Our debut at Relay for Life was bigger and better than we ever imagined. Everyone stopped what they were doing to watch when we took the stage. Afterwards we spent over a half hour with people asking about how they could join and be a part of something so awesome.

Here is the ASL Club performing “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen:

The ASL Club meets on Mondays at 8pm in the Commuter Lounge, SUB100S. Please join us, or get in touch-


Twitter: @NewPaltzASLClub

Instagram: @newpaltzaslclub

President Maria Gillin –

Vice President Sarah Broughton –


EvoS Program Announces Spring Seminar Series

The New Paltz Evolutionary Studies (EvoS) program has assembled an esteemed group of speakers for its spring 2015 seminar series. The speakers represent a diversity of disciplines (anthropology, biology, sociology and psychology) and will continue the EvoS program’s tradition of providing accessible and thought-provoking academic talks that connect evolutionary principles with all areas of knowledge.

The EvoS program, together with its sister program from SUNY Binghamton, is at the center of the international EvoS Consortium, which was launched with funding from the National Science Foundation. The EvoS program celebrates the power of Charles Darwin’s theories of evolution across all aspects of the academic curriculum.

Patricia Wright of Stonybrook’s anthropology department will deliver the Darwin Day keynote lecture on Feb. 9 from 6-7 p.m. in Lecture Center 102. Darwin Day commemorates Charles Darwin’s 206th birthday. Wright will speak about her years of work with Madagascar lemurs (currently featured in the IMax film, Island of Lemurs, narrated by Morgan Freeman).

Patricia Wright

Patricia Wright, shouldering a lemur, will deliver the keynote lecture in the EvoS Program’s spring seminar series. Photo by Ben Hider

The full series, which features other luminaries in the field of evolution – including notable rising stars, is free and open to the public.

The series is sponsored by Campus Auxiliary Services, the EvoS Program and the EvoS Club.

For more information about this seminar series, or how to get involved, contact EvoS Director, Glenn Geher,

2015 Seminar Series Schedule of Events

Feb. 9:  Lemur Evolution and Ecology
Patricia Wright, Ph.D.
Stony Brook University
Department of Anthropology
6:00-7:00 p.m.
Location: Lecture Center 102

Feb. 23: Songs and the Suburbs: What Birds Can Teach Us About Communication and Conservation
Kara Belinsky, Ph.D.
SUNY New Paltz
Department of Biology
6:00-7:00 p.m.
Location: Lecture Center 102

Mar. 9: Using Evolution to Improve our Cities
Dan O’Brien, Ph.D.
Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
Department of Sociology
6:00-7:00 p.m.
Location: Lecture Center 102

Mar. 23: Primate Evolution in the Modern Age
Todd Disotell, Ph.D.
New York University
Department of Anthropology
6:00-7:00 p.m.
Location: Lecture Center 102

Apr. 6: Facebook Frenemies and Selfie-Promotion: Intrasexual Competition in the Digital Age
Mandy Guitar, M.A.
Binghamton University Ph.D. student and Teaching Assistant
Department of Biology, Anthropology
6:00-7:00 p.m.
Location: Lecture Center 102

Apr. 13: Transcendental Medication: Defraying the Costs of Analysis Paralysis
Christopher Lynn, Ph.D.
The University of Alabama
Department of Anthropology
6:00-7:00 p.m.
Location: Lecture Center 102

Apr. 20: The Evolutionary Psychology of Breaking up and Making up
Joel Wade, Ph.D.
Bucknell University
Department of Psychology
6:00-7:00 p.m.
Location: Lecture Center 102

Somerstein Examines ‘Selective Memory’ of 9/11 Iconography



By Despina Williams Parker

On the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11, Guernica: A Journal of Art and Politics published a provocative article by Rachel Somerstein, a New Paltz assistant professor of digital media and journalism, which examines the New York Times’s “partial, simplified, whitewashed, masculinized” anniversary coverage of the terrorist attacks.

Somerstein’s article, entitled “The Selective Memory of 9/11 Iconography,” compares the New York Times’s 2001 coverage of the attacks to the newspaper’s anniversary coverage from 2002-2011. Somerstein found that over time the photographs used to illustrate the anniversary reporting told a “much narrower” story.

Somerstein examined the “Portraits of Grief,” brief obituaries about 9/11 victims that ran for months after the attacks, and which earned the Times a Pulitzer in Public Service. She found that the “Portraits,” which once “effectively reflected the financial, professional, and ethnic diversity of the people who died,” had become “more and more homogeneous” in the updated, anniversary coverage published in 2006 and 2011. In the subsequent printings, the obituaries and accompanying photos overwhelmingly represented men, whites, and firefighters or financial-services workers.

Somerstein compared what she observed in the Times to demographic statistics published by the Department of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control. From these sources, which included the Special Master Report for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, Somerstein found that a quarter of the 9/11 victims were women; a quarter were people of color; and though firefighters and financial-services workers suffered large losses, they were overrepresented in the paper’s anniversary coverage.

Pictures of the World Trade Center also far outweighed images of the Pentagon or Shanksville in the newspaper’s anniversary coverage, and the photos tended to depict buildings (the Twin Towers, the memorial at Ground Zero, the New York skyline) rather than people. Somerstein found this photographic focus notable “because 9/11 was about the body,” and the 3,000 people who died.

“Body images may be too grisly to show – or perhaps they were at the time, before this era of widely-circulated decapitation videos,” Somerstein wrote. “Still, it is worth noting that our photographic anniversary coverage of such a watershed event is all metaphor.”

Though she questioned whether journalism should function as history, Somerstein acknowledged the people whose “stories don’t fit the [9/11] mythology.”

“These were people with complex inner lives. Some heroic, some not. All human. And we can honor them, and the past, by resisting the media’s narrowed narrative of loss.”

Guernica is published twice monthly, and features nonfiction, fiction, interviews, and photography “dedicated to exploring the intersections between and conversations surrounding art and politics.” Contributors range from former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich to contemporary novelists to reporters based around the world.

Somerstein teaches courses in news writing and feature writing. Her research interests are collective memory and visual culture, especially news photography and documentary film.

Read Somerstein’s complete article here.

2014 “Honor Ride” Raises Over $10K

2014 Honor Ride group photo

Group Photo at Stewart Air Force Base

On August 24th, I joined over 120 cyclists from eight different states in a 50-mile fundraising “Honor Ride” for Ride 2 Recovery, an organization that gets veterans into cycling and provides training and specially adapted equipment to aid in their recovery.

We set out from Veteran’s Park in Maybrook with dozens of red, white, and blue jerseys among the usual road-safe yellows and greens. At every major intersection, scary-looking guys from the Orange County chapter of the Defiant Crew roared up on Harley Davidsons and turned them sideways to block traffic, then cheered us on as we streamed past. After a rest stop in Gardiner at mile 25, our escorts bunched the group so we could ride into our next stop, Stewart Air Force Base, as a unit, weaving through barricades, road spikes, and gateposts. As we assembled for a group photo under the flags, a veteran asked me to turn off the flashing safety light on my bike because it could trigger a seizure in someone who has had a traumatic brain injury; a poignant reminder that not every veteran has visible wounds.

The Honor Ride is not supposed to be a race, but road cyclists are a competitive bunch. On the last leg, this spirit was unleashed, and the leaders were soon well ahead of the escorts. I pushed to stay on their heels as a personal tribute. As I attacked the long hill back into Maybrook, the burning in my lungs and muscles was a visceral reminder of how hard injured veterans have to push every day in rehabilitation to restore something even close to a normal life.

Prof. Anne Balant

Prof. B on a bike? No way!

We crossed the finish line accompanied by the ringing of cowbells and the grins of young volunteers. As we demolished a buffet lunch, we heard inspiring remarks from a number of individuals. Veteran Matt Dewitt, an accomplished cyclist and racer, showed us how it is possible to steer, shift and brake an adapted bicycle using his prostheses. The Defiant Crew posed for photos with some of the cyclists and announced that they were donating what they would have been paid for their time. Overall, we raised more than $10,000 that day.

The Honor Ride will be back in Maybrook again sometime next year. Hope to see you there!

– Written by Anne Balant, SUNY New Paltz Communication Disorders Department

Matt DeWitt - Vet Rider

Veteran Matt DeWitt demonstrates his adapted bicycle

  invisible words to push this down so it isn’t broken up by the photos – don’t know hows!

Ride 2 Recovery is a non-profit organization that assists injured military members, veterans, and first responders in their physical and mental rehabilitation through cycling. To donate or become involved, visit their web site:

Psychological Counseling Center Announces Fall Group Sessions

The Psychological Counseling Center (PCC), a division of Student Affairs, provides direct services in the form of individual and group counseling sessions, consultation for managing psychotropic medications, and facilitation of outside referrals. The center is committed to developing and growing its group counseling programs, and offers the following group sessions this fall:

Strive to Thrive Group
This supportive, psycho-educational group focuses on ways of improving and maintaining emotional and physical well-being. Topics include: identifying strengths and areas in need of development; stress and time management; nutrition, exercise, and sleep habits; building supportive relationships; and developing coping skills and resources to manage challenges. This 8-session group will be closed to new members after the third meeting. Therefore, committed group attendance is important. The group will be offered on Wednesdays from 2:30- 4:00pm, and will be facilitated by Amy Tully, Ph.D.

“How you feelin?” Men’s Group
Guys, have you ever gotten angry for no reason? Did that anger result in making some bad decisions, like ending a relationship, or getting into trouble? Wasn’t it confusing? This process group will assist college men in making sense of complex feeling states. Participants will learn more about triggers for anger and other “hot” emotions, so that they can make better decisions and take clearer action in their lives. The group will meet on Tuesdays 1:40pm – 3:00pm, and will be facilitated by Dave Kasson, PhD.

Circle of Hope Group
The Circle of Hope Group provides psycho-educational and therapeutic support in a group setting for survivors of sexual assault. The Circle of Hope group has the goal of increasing knowledge of the effects sexual assault can potentially have on an individual long after the assault has occurred. Topics addressed in the group will include (but are not limited to): common symptoms experienced after a sexual assault, myths and realities of rape and sexual assault, effective coping strategies, common feelings and reactions and self-care. The group will meet on Thursdays, 2:00pm – 3:30pm, and will be facilitated by Sue Acosta, LMHC.

First-Year Focus
Are you a first-year student who would like some extra support in adjusting to living and learning at SUNY New Paltz? This supportive solution-focused group is a safe place for sharing concerns, feedback, and ideas. Topics may include: developing skills and resources for academic success, preventing and resolving conflicts, developing new relationships, staying connected with loved ones, and stress and time management. This 8-session group will be closed to new members after the third session. Therefore, committed group attendance is important. The group will be held on Tuesdays, 4:00pm – 5:30pm, and will be facilitated by Amy Tully, Ph.D.

S2WAG – Strong Successful Women Achieving Greatness
The Strong, Successful Women Achieving Greatness group is a therapy group that gives members the tools to create a stronger sense of self, to increase their self-awareness, to learn to set boundaries, to navigate relationships, and to create an authentic, happier life. Topics may include: becoming more assertive, fostering independence, learning to say “no,” raising self-esteem, body image awareness, shyness, making friends and managing relationships. The group will be offered on Wednesdays from 3:00-4:30pm, and will operate for a period of approximately eight weeks. The group will be facilitated by Sue Acosta, LMHC.

Call the Psychological Counseling Center at (845) 257-2920 for more information.

Sociology Professor Appointed to Ulster County Human Rights Commission

Anne Roschelle

Professor Anne R. Roschelle

Professor Anne R. Roschelle, Department of Sociology, was appointed to a two-year term on the Ulster County Human Rights Commission. The commission meets once a month and their activities include: monitoring human rights violations in Ulster County, engaging in public education about human rights, keeping abreast of national and international human rights issues, organizing public events and forums on human rights, engaging in public outreach to agencies, and lobbying state and local legislative bodies when appropriate.  In November, the Ulster County Human Rights Commission is having a conference on Disproportionate Sentencing of Juveniles in Ulster County.

Deaf Awareness Week Film Presented in Sign Language and Closed Captioned for the Hearing

In celebration of Deaf Awareness Week, students are invited to attend a screening of the film Versa Effect on Monday, Sept. 22 from 6:30-8:30 in LC 100. The PG movie is presented in Sign Language and is closed captioned for the hearing!

From their childhood years to working at a Deaf school in Texas, Jackie and Seth have Versa Effectalways loved to…HATE each other. To make matters worse, their bodies have been switched. What follows is a series of laugh-a-minute hijinks as Jackie and Seth struggle to get back to their own bodies before they are stuck forever. Versa Effect is filmed in the vein of Freaky Friday and is sure to be enjoyed by all.

The film screening is sponsored by the Mid-Hudson Deaf Awareness Group, Department of Communication Disorders, Sociology Concentration in Human Services, Taconic Resources for Independence, Inc. and Campus Auxiliary Services.

The screening is free.  For more information, email

Deaf Education and Empowerment in Ethiopia

Ethiopia_2014_Empowerment_GroupParticipation in the Visions Global Empowerment Deaf Education and Empowerment program this summer renewed my love for traveling in Africa and strengthened my desire to awaken and increase Deaf Awareness in others.

In July and August I Ethiopia_2014_Empowerment_Youth1had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Ethiopia on a service trip. My experience of Ethiopian culture and of cultural exchange was amazing. As part of the trip, we participated in Deaf Leadership Capacity training workshops with local Deaf adults, teachers and profeEthiopia_2014_Empowerment_Youth2ssionals in the field of Deafness. Also working in partnership with the Ethiopian Deaf Community, we conducted activities for Deaf children, youth and young adults. One of my favorite activities with the Deaf youth was to have them create a book about themselves. Then we had each student share their book with the group.

I especially enjoyed gaining insight into Ethiopian Deaf Culture. One similarity to American Deaf Culture that I observed was the desire for clear communication, expressed by being straight forward and getting to the point when conversing. It was intriguing to be immersed in the culture and to compare Ethiopian Sign Language to American Sign Language. There were differences in many signs and we had interpreters. After a short time signing together we were able to find ways to clarify things and communicate appropriately. It was a fantastic trip!

Ethiopia_2014_Empowerment_LeadersIn collaboration with Visions Global Empowerment, SUNY New Paltz will be offering a Study Abroad Program to Ethiopia in summer of 2015, June 15-27. For information about this opportunity contact: Rebecca Swenson at

For information about Visions, visit:

-Post written by Rebecca Swenson, SUNY New Paltz Lecturer in the Deaf Studies Program and the Dept. of Communication Disorders