Elevator Rudeness (Not Rules) Endures at NYU

NYU students begin to form a line to ride the Silver Center's north elevator (stopping at odd floors during rush periods). Many students believe the unspoken rules aren't always followed in university elevators.

It doesn’t take New York University students long to realize that the elevators in the Silver Center skip certain floors to avoid rush traffic. It also doesn’t take freshmen long to understand this policy goes along with the basic tenet of the university’s unspoken elevator etiquette: Unless you’re holding something heavy or are disabled, walk up or down one flight of stairs.

Eli Wilkins-Malloy, College of Arts and Science senior, said there are definitely unwritten elevator rules. “Don’t take it to floors three or below,” he said, citing one such faux pas.

Wilkins-Malloy isn’t the only student that knows the rules. “It is super annoying for one person to make the elevator stop and delay the six people getting off on the next floor up,” said Christian Anderson, sophomore at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. “I have little tolerance for people like that,” he added.

Many students, myself included, tighten with annoyance when riders, rushed and stressed, punch their stop without acknowledging that the floor above or beneath theirs is already lit. While students agree that there are elevator “dos and don’ts,” many of the same students feel others ignore these rules.

Gabriella Roselli, CAS freshman, has a theory about why so many disregard common-sense rules. “I’m assuming it’s because everyone’s in a rush,” she said, shrugging.

CAS sophomore Jon Chang was more blunt. “No one really follows them,” he said.  “People just don’t care.”

Well, except Anderson. He posted a sign reminding everyone of “the rules” in the high-rise elevators at Hayden Residence Hall last year because it annoyed him to see people making lazy choices and inconveniencing others in the process. Anderson added he felt the necessity of such action was “ridiculous.” Unfortunately for him, the sign didn’t last long.

“I was pissed that there were people who not only chose to ignore the suggestion, which is their choice, but then ripped it down,” Anderson said, seemingly lamenting the loss.

While Anderson’s endeavor was unsuccessful in curbing campus laziness, the battle has continued in recent years on the Internet, where frustrations have at least been vented, if not resolved. A site listing several basic elevator rules, elevatorrules.com, hopes to promote elevator etiquette worldwide.

“If you are going up or down one floor, use the stairs!” explained a post on elevatorrules.com. “This rule should especially be observed during peak traffic times like morning and afternoon rush,” the post continued.

Anderson said he believed such assumed elevator rules help people to be more aware of their actions. “As someone who always makes a point to hold a door open for someone, I guess it is the same principle,” he explained.

However, the elevatorrules.com added that there are some exceptions to elevator etiquette that many students also recognized.

Though Jessica Dubin, CAS freshman, said it was “really annoying” when the elevator stops at every floor, she allowed it’s okay  “if someone is on crutches or during off-hours.”

Though I’ll admit I occasionally break the rules using exceptions as a smokescreen (If you’re feeling lazy, pretending to be “sick” lessens the annoyance of other riders), I believe the rules are an important part of student life in New York City. Without the embarrassment that comes with being “that person” who can’t walk up one flight of stairs, getting from one place to another would be a lot harder. We live in a city filled with elevators, after all.

Tori Woodward, CAS sophomore, acknowledged this as well. “I think it’s embarrassing when you get in the elevator and hit the next floor up,” she said.

And for those readers who don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, please visit elevatorrules.com and, as the site says, make “the world a better place – one elevator ride at a time.”

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Many Students Calorie-Conscious At Campus Starbucks

Starbucks @ Faye's (or Faye's @ the Square) is usually packed with NYU students in between classes. Many students use the required calorie-postings to make healthier decisions. Photo credit: CollegeProwler.com, link below.

After looking at the food display at Faye’s @ the Square, Jovana Obradovic quickly decides against certain purchases.

“I see the pastries and the calories are posted right next to the price,” said Obradovic, a junior at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. Sipping a coffee with nonfat milk, Obradovic added that she and her friends weren’t as health-conscious at chains back home, but now they think twice about certain foods. “I’m disgusted by the calorie count,” she said.

Like several of her classmates at New York University, Obradovic is mindful of her calorie intake at the campus Starbucks on W. 4th—largely because of the city’s requirement for chain’s to post calorie counts clearly on their menus.

“It’s disturbing when you’re like, ‘Why is that cookie 400 calories?’” explained Kayla Flaherty, Steinhardt junior. Though she’s in Starbucks at least once a day, Flaherty said she stays away from the pastries, and only occasionally treats herself to a latte at around 200 calories whereas she usually purchases a regular coffee with skim milk.

Likewise, Eric Herbst, sophomore at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, is well versed in the calorie-counts of his favorite Starbucks drinks. “This is a Skinny Iced Tall Caramel Macchiato and it’s 100 calories,” he said, explaining he doesn’t order food at Starbucks because of the high calorie counts. “If I wanted that to be one of my meals, I might,” he added.

New Yorkers have long felt the impact of their high-calorie choices in food chains. In January 2008, the Board of Health voted to require the city’s chain restaurants to clearly display calorie information on menus, according to the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The law, which the city began to enforce later that year, was part of a larger initiative to reduce obesity, explained a 2008 report by the Public Health Association of New York.

“They help me make my decision,” explained Ashley Baratian, Leonard N. Stern School of Business sophomore. Baratian enjoyed a petite vanilla scone for 170 calories—significantly less than the 420-calorie doughnut she was considering.

Though she makes healthier choices using the calorie postings, Baratian doubts their effectiveness on combating obesity. “I still see people getting stuff with more calories,” she said.

Professors at NYU and Yale University were also curious about the posting’s usefulness. A study published by those professors in the November 2009 issue of Health Affairs found that half of consumers surveyed in low-income minority communities noticed the calorie postings but only 28 percent of them said the information had an impact on their purchase. The authors noted that their findings are limited, particularly with the group of consumers surveyed, but concluded that food habits are “notoriously resistant to change.”

Though Greenwich Village is far from a low-income minority community, some NYU students interviewed seem to echo the report’s findings.

“I glance at them,” Gallatin senior Melissa Oketani said. “I feel like I should, but I don’t really count calories.”

While Stern junior Jon doesn’t use the calorie counts to eat healthier, he still tries to be nutritious. “I guess I have an intuition about nutrition and what I’m eating,” he said.

Photo credit: This photo was found using Google.com and is from the CollegeProwler website here.

Correction: Jovana Obradovic’s and Kayla Flahrty’s names were misspelled in the first posting of this assignment. I have since made the correction from “Obradovice” and “Flahrtey”. 

Vigil for Japan Strengthens NYU Community

NYU students from the Japan International Club, Seiko Kano and Julia Lui, spoke at the Vigil for Japan.

New York University came together tonight in a tragically beautiful Vigil for Japan where a diverse group of students, faculty and community leaders showed their support for those affected by the earthquake that shook Japan and set off a tsunami devastating the country and areas in the Pacific this month.

“You don’t know where to start,” said Kokei Otosi, a freshman in the Liberal Studies Program. “But anything, even just showing support for your fellow man, helps.” Otosi added that she attended the vigil because she felt such support was important.

Rabbi Yehuda Sarna, the Jewish University Chaplain, echoed this sentiment in his opening remarks.

“As the world gets smaller, our family gets bigger,” he said.

Over 150 people gathered on the west side of Gould Plaza, located on W. 4 St. between Mercer St. and Washington Square W., where volunteers passed out candles stuck in paper cups. Supporters huddled close in the 30-degree weather, heads sometimes bowed, as they listened to speakers.

“The world has become very small,” said NYU President John Sexton in his address to the crowd. “But we stand against that smallness and say ‘but we are human, and we love, and we care.'” Sexton continued that love was the only response to Japan’s devastation. “We need to help in order to be human…there’s nothing more to say,” he concluded.

Among the speakers were several students who experienced the earthquake’s effects through their close ties to Japan. Seiko Kano, senior at the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, described the confusion and panic as she tried to determine her family’s whereabouts halfway around the world. Though Kano’s family and friends are safe, she expressed sorrow for her home country of Japan. “She took care of me and taught me everything I know,” Kano said.

Rabbi Sarna spearheaded the vigil’s organization along with other spiritual groups at NYU. Despite religious differences, he explained that it made the most sense to support efforts in Japan from a multi-faith perspective. In addition to the rabbi’s own Bronfman Center for Jewish Life, the event was organized by the Center for Spiritual Life, the Islamic Center at NYU, the Protestant Campus Ministry, the Catholic Center at NYU, and the Center for Student Activities, Leadership and Service, as well as other students clubs and organizations. Over 30 students worked as volunteers for the vigil, hoping to do anything to help.

Emily Walker, Tisch School of the Arts senior, said she volunteered because she felt the event would provide an emotional outlet for the community. “We need space to hold that intense emotion,” she explained.

Imam Khalid Latif, executive director and Chaplain for the Islamic Center, led the group in a moment of silence. “Use it as an opportunity to hear everything within you,” he said.

Throughout the vigil, the audience lit and re-lit their candles. Starting on the outskirts of the crowd, fire was passed from person to person. When anyone’s candle blew out, several people silently offered to share their light. Rev. Susan Field, Protestant Chaplain, noted the symbolism of the audience’s actions.

“As we share the light, we share our hope,” she said.

Correction: So I was looking at the Washington Square Newscoverage of this event, and the reporter, who I believe had a recorder, quoted that John Sexton said something slightly different than what I said. Hanqing Chen quoted him as saying: “The world has become very small, but we stand against that smallness and say ‘but we are human, and we love, and we care.'” Since it was very cold and therefore hard to write, I have decided to reflect this difference above. I quoted Sexton originally as saying: “The world has become very small,” said NYU President John Sexton in his address to the crowd. “But we stand against that smallness to say that we love.” Sorry to Sexton and anyone else who was misled by my error.

Tompkins Square: A Park Divided…on Cleanliness, Anyway

The central knoll at Tompkins Square Park in N...

Image via Wikipedia

Depending on the different sections of Tompkins Square Park, visitors are divided on its cleanliness, though a government report found a small drop in the percentage of  parks deemed “acceptable” in overall cleanliness.

Jeremy Flynn, 23, said that the dog run is always cleaner than the walkways in the park. “There’s a lot of trash,” he said. “I have to watch the dogs so they don’t pick up cigarette buds and shit like that.” However, Flynn, who moved to the city from Texas five years ago, explained that the park was better than those back home. “This is probably as good as it gets,” he said.

Many East Village residents seem to agree with Flynn. Despite the chilly 40-degree weather, hundreds flock to Tompkins Square Park on one of the few clear days in February to enjoy the sun. The park, between Avenues A and B and from East 7th to 10th Streets, has a dog run, several playgrounds and a basketball court that skateboarders share with the players. In addition to water fountains, a comfort station and many benches, several dozen trashcans are available to the park’s visitors.

Regardless of the trashcan abundance in Tompkins Square Park, the city reported fewer parks throughout the five boroughs deemed “acceptable” for cleanliness, with a decrease from 93% in 2006 to 88% in 2010. The Mayor’s Management Report for Fiscal Year 2010, released last September, evaluates services during the City’s fiscal year from July 2009 to June 2010 and assesses the performance of 46 of the City’s central agencies and organizations, most of which report directly to the Mayor. Evaluations are based on the office’s own research.

Through this research, the city found the percentage of large parks like Tompkins Square rated “acceptable” for cleanliness declined from 89% in 2006 to 76% in 2010. However, the amount only decreased by one percent since 2009.

In spite of the decrease in the number of acceptably clean parks in the city overall one visitor said she thinks Tompkins Square Park has gotten cleaner in the last eight or seven years. “It seems a lot more family oriented,” said the woman, 31, who has been living near  the park for the last decade. “They upgraded the kiddie area and did a lot of landscaping.”

East Village resident Mark Wightman, 41, visits the park with his kids a few times a week. While they spend most of the time in the park at the playground, Wightman said he believes the park is reasonably clean. “I don’t think there’s a lot of graffiti or anything, but we’re mostly in the playground.”

The park’s playgrounds and dog run are virtually spotless, but pathways with less foot-traffic attract glass, cigarette butts and litter. In corners of the park further from the entrances, garbage is sprinkled near trashcans instead of thrown away, attracting the city’s nastier residents.

Though Bridget Maher, 24, visits the dog run often, she explained she was worried about her small dog being hurt by the park’s rats. “I was walking her the other night and this rat just came out of a pile of trash and starred at us,” Maher said. “I’m worried about the garbage piles and all the rats that live in them,” she added, pointing to a heap of ten bags near the comfort station. Like Maher, a reporter observed several rats in various sections of the park walking through the park one night.

While she’s weary of the rats, Maher said her dog chases after them. “She has fun,” Maher said, laughing. Notwithstanding vermin, Maher explained she was pleased with the cleanliness in Tompkins Square Park overall. “Other than that, it’s fine,” she said.

Note: The above was an assignment for my Journalistic Inquiry class. I published it because I liked it and thought it might be interesting to some people.