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Who Pulled The Plug on OWTV?

“There’s nothing happening over there,” complained said Banusa Sivanesathasan, a senior at SUNY Old Westbury and former reporter for Old Westbury Television (OWTV). The studio is inactive and students who wish to gain television experience are lacking a teacher.

This semester Sivanesathasan has been using station equipment to shoot, however all of her work is solely for her portfolio and has not been aired on OWTV.

Prior to recent changes, OWTV produced at least eight shows a month. It has not uploaded any videos to its YouTube account since December of 2016. As for this semester, OWTV is no longer holding meetings.

Moses Nunez,  a senior at SUNY Old Westbury and former president of the OWTV club, shared his frustration: “That studio has so much potential to do great things, but it’s never utilized. It’s not fair. Old Westbury Web Radio (OWWR) has Manfredi, The Catalyst has Friedman. Who do we have?” His goal as president was to expand OWTV and incorporate television production with other departments at SUNY Old Westbury. According to Nunez, OWTV is not an official SGA club and due to its inactivity, the chances of being recognized on campus are limited.

The resignation of Station Manager Sherry Baker in September has a taken a toll on students and faculty. Baker’s former position as a teacher of TV programming and mentor to students has not been filled and there are no immediate plans to find a suitable replacement.

Instead, the IT department is overseeing the TV station. Chief Information Officer Evan Kobolakis was surprised when told that the TV club is no longer on the air.

He wrote in an email to The Catalyst, “We had an open search for Sherry’s replacement, the Media Services Manager. That position is now occupied by Alex Sartakov. We have not created a search for the TV Studio Manager since we are still trying to define roles and responsibilities.”  A faculty member who has frequently used the TV studio in the past said that  the “open search” was closed down and that members of the search committee were not part of the decision regarding Sartakov.

According to Kobolakis, Sartakov may not have the necessary experience: “His expertise is on instructional technology, and on audio visual. Not necessarily video editing and not necessarily on the specific skills that you need in order to use the TV for educational purposes.”

Asked to comment, Sartakov, Director of Instructional Technology Information, did not reply.

“With no dedicated oversight, it’s really hard for the students to move forward,” said American Studies Assistant Professor Laura Chipley. “Studio A has outdated equipment and students lack training and necessary equipment to make full use of Studio B. It’s a shame.” Chipley noted  that professors are also lacking the support they need, and in turn have cancelled TV station visits with their classes. As for her upcoming plans, Chipley is teaming up with IT in hopes to “re-create the once vibrant student media culture.”

Samara Smith, American Studies assistant professor, explained the importance of the TV station. “When the TV studio is active, it helps students to produce, work on meeting a deadline and build their portfolio.” She added, “If it’s not functioning at that level, students are not going to have professional experience to add on their resumes.”

Senior T’Khari Fisher said of  his experience at OWTV: “Back when I was an intern, Sherry Baker was there. She was very helpful.” Fisher questioned the school’s decision regarding staffing, “I don’t know why the school decided to put more people from the IT department in the TV station…instead of hiring a new Sherry Baker.”



SUNY Old Westbury’s Historic Trip to Cuba

By Troy Georges

SUNY Old Westbury was well-represented in a historic trip to Cuba in February. It was a follow-up to a meeting that the Cuban Ministry of Education held in New York City in the fall of 2016.

Representatives from seven different SUNY schools, including SUNY Old Westbury’s Vice President of Enrollment Services Mary Marquez Bell and Professors Zenaida Madurka and Fernando Nieto, visited six different campuses as well as the United States embassy. They got a chance to meet with administrators involved in International programs as well. SUNY Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Alexander Cartwright, who is in charge of the academic aspects of all SUNY Universities, was also there to try to reach an agreement with the Cuban Ministry of Education.

The SUNY delegation got a chance to meet with some of the students currently enrolled in the SUNY study abroad programs in Havana. This showed both Cuban and SUNY delegates that their common goals were in fact based on a mutual respect that is already in place. This led to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, which will help both sides coordinate a relationship among their respective institutions. According to Cuban Vice Minister Aurora Fernandez Gonzalez, it is the first agreement that her ministry has ever signed with a U.S. university. With this agreement now in place, it is only a matter of time until both sides facilitate a deeper relationship.

To finish the week, the University of Cienfuegos hosted a meeting that gave the SUNY delegation the opportunity to sit down and meet with rectors from six provincial universities of Cuba. Areas of discussion for partnership and innovative exchanges of faculty, researchers and professional staff included: community health, language and Caribbean studies, information systems, art and design.

Associate Professor Nieto, chair of  Biological Sciences, thought that the trip was a success and hopes that SUNY Old Westbury can expand international programs with Cuba. “ I think it’s a great opportunity,” he said. “It’s a beautiful country and they have a very strong public education system and it is a primetime opportunity to go there and establish some educational connections with them. And I think that SUNY is leading in that aspect nationwide.”