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Columbia Spectator - frontpage
By Jonathan August
and Eleazar David Meléndez
Columbia Daily Spectator
On a spring night at Shea Stadium, a
slugger by the name of José Guillén faces a
middle-aged pitcher named Pedro Martínez.
As Guillén walks up to the batter's box, spir-
ited reggaeton booms from the field speak-
ers. Martínez, himself ushered into the game
by a soulful bachata ditty, throws a curveball
inside and hits the batter in the elbow.
Guillén jumps back in pain, points his bat
at the mound, and curses at the pitcher in
Spanish. As the dugouts clear, the crowd in
the cheap seats starts chanting "¡Dale!" ("Hit
If not for the Queens skyline beyond
the park fence or the 50-degree weather, it
wouldn't be hard to imagine the game being
played in the Dominican Republic, where
both Martínez and Guillén were born.
With Latinos becoming an ever larger
part of the national demographic, many long-
standing American institutions are racing to
become bilingual. The national pastime--on
the shoulders of several hundred players,
managers, and savvy advertisers--is one of
"The significant growth among the His-
panic population is something that any brand
has noticed," said David Newman, CC '83
and a former Spectator sports writer. New-
man is now the senior vice president for mar-
keting for the New York Mets. "Diversity is
good business," he said.
Columbia Daily Spectator Online
Monday, April 17, 2006
Vol. CXXX--No. 57
Area Bars
Shrug Off
'Stend Brawl
Bartenders Keep Working to
Keep Drinkers Safe, Happy
The West End brawl on the night of March
24 had little effect on area bars, which
already had bouncers and checked IDs.
Friday's Matsuri Festival
Marks Success of Program
Hits It Big
First You Get the Pulitzer...
Then you get the respect, and movie
deals, and everything else that
Richard Russo found himself with
after he snagged the big one.
Books, page A3
Tigers Untamed
Princeton swept the Lions, allowing
just five runs in four games to climb
atop the Gehrig Division.
Sports, section B
Step-by-Step Magic
Columnist Caitlin Shure explores the
warm-weather appeal of the Low steps.
Opinion, page A6
Vacation in a 1-Bedroom NYC Apartment
Landlords Avoid Lengthy Process to Create Temporary Rentals, Illegally Rent Single-Room
Occupancy Apartments to Vacationers to Increase Revenue, Drive Out Mostly Elderly Tenants
Major League Baseball has made a concerted effort to reach out to Hispanic fans. Almost half of the
Mets' players were born in Spanish-speaking countries, and the team's general manager, Omar Minaya, is Dominican.
By Tom Faure
Spectator Staff Writer
The 200-person brawl that took place a few
weeks ago outside the West End may have left
some bars worried about safety.
But Aerosoles quickly replaced its front
window and nightlife seemed to go back to
normal. Columbia students' favorite watering
holes haven't yet felt the need to heighten secu-
rity. Though many say they see no opposition to
added safety measures, they feel the West End
incident was more the exception than the rule.
"We haven't heard anything," said one NYPD
officer sitting in a patrol car. "There's no nightlife
up here--there's two bars."
Two students from the Law School having a
cigarette outside 1020 had not heard of the inci-
dent outside the West End but speculated that
security and ID-checking could become more
But in the two weeks since, students have
packed the bars without any apparent shift in at-
"I haven't noticed anything. I think these
kinds of incidents happen often, and there's al-
ways that fear of stricter security, but it never re-
ally seems to happen," Rebecca Abbott, CC '08,
"We're always diligent with checking IDs,"
said, Mike, owner of O'Connell's Pub. "And we
always have stronger security when we know
it'll be busy--Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and
Sunday. It's safety for us and our patrons. Who
wants a lawsuit?"
"We never have fights here, and there's a
bouncer every night except Mondays and Tues-
days," echoed a bouncer at the Lion's Head Tav-
City officials have recently been targeting
New York's bars with fines for exceeding legal
capacity and for allowing clients' drunken distur-
bances to carry on in the streets.
"Please respect our neighbors by keeping
noise to a minimum while outside," says a sign
on 1020's front window, likely posted in response
to Mayor Bloomberg's amendment of the city's
noise code in December.
Since Imette St. Guillen, a graduate student at
John Jay College, was murdered six weeks ago
after leaving the SoHo bar called The Falls, some
city officials have looked to increase nightlife se-
curity. A bouncer on duty that night was arrested
for working illegally as an unchecked ex-convict.
"A lot of people don't know who they're hir-
ing. They don't do background checks," said
Mike Kiernan, owner of the Lion's Head. "Our
bouncers are people we know."
One proposed bill would allow off-duty NYPD
officers to serve as bouncers or security guards.
"I have no problem with that," said Mike of
O'Connell's. "If they'd had that at the Falls, who
knows what would have happened?"
"Since that girl downtown was abducted,
they've been pushing for that," noted Kiernan.
State Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Brooklyn)
has proposed a bill he dubbed "Imette's Law,"
which would demand the installation of security
cameras in all bars.
"We don't ever get crowds of 200," said Kier-
nan, referring to the West End brawl. "We have
security cameras all around the building, on the
Many bar owners expressed doubt at the
need for heightened security.
"We don't worry because we check every-
body for ID," said Nelson Tahtboy, owner of Cas-
bah Rouge.
But Kiernan agreed that disturbances can oc-
cur regardless of clients' age.
"Hypothetically, anything could happen any-
time, anywhere."
By Lauren Hovel
Spectator Staff Writer
Many low-income New Yorkers are
losing rooms to the tourism industry.
In what has become a widely growing
trend, many New York City landlords are
illegally changing their buildings into
hotels, making a steep profit but leav-
ing their long-standing tenants without a
place to live.
The buildings subject to conversion
are typically single-room occupancies,
mostly in Harlem and the Upper West
Side, where nightly rates of $300 or $400
for tourists prove much more profitable
than $700 a month from a tenant. For
some of these landlords, renting to tour-
ists is only a short-term plan; once all the
rent-stabilized residents have left, many
landlords hope to turn the former single-
room occupancies into more lucrative
apartments or condominiums.
In some SROs, classified as type A,
renting to tourists is forbidden and hav-
ing any non-permanent residents is a vio-
lation of the law. In other SROs, however,
renting to tourists is allowed, though
most, if not all, of these SROs' occupants
are long-term tenants. In both cases, the
landlords have to find a way to evict their
tenants; this typically means resorting to
"It's just amazing how inventive land-
lords are. They are like gophers: if you
stop them from coming up in one loca-
tion, they'll come up in another," said
Terry Poe, the supervising organizer of
the West Side SRO Law Project, which
has been a leader in the fight against the
loss of SROs. "If you stop a landlord from
doing one thing to evict a tenant, he will
find another."
To force tenants to leave, Poe said,
landlords neglect to do repairs or provide
heat, aggressively confront tenants or
threaten them, or take tenants to hous-
ing court for frivolous things like being a
couple days late on the rent.
SRO tenants are frequently immi-
grants, the elderly, or people with mental
or physical disabilities, many of whom
are unaware of the housing laws regulat-
ing SRO tenants. Although it is illegal to
rent to people with children or put more
than two or three tenants in one room,
landlords often rent to these tenants,
hoping to evict them later.
"Landlords will call inspectors when
they want to rent a room and turn a blind
eye when they don't," Poe said.
Converting an SRO to a hotel or apart-
ments is a complicated legal process that
includes applications for rent destabiliza-
tion and various city certificates. How-
ever, according to Poe, many landlords
choose to bypass this process and begin
conversions illegally.
Illegal conversion is made easier by
the obstacles faced by city agencies in
finding and preventing violations. Sarra
Hale-Stern, a legislative aide in the office
of New York State Senator Liz Krueger'
(D-Lower East Side), said that no stan-
dard definitions exist as to what con-
stitutes a transient tenant--definitions
range from one week to 90 days--or a
permanent tenant--definitions range
from 30 days to six months. Further-
more, if violations are found, Hale-Stern
said, the fines issued for them are too
low and do not function as a deterrent.
"The agency responsible for enforcing
these laws is the Buildings Department,
and they don't do it," Poe said. "We have
By Ashley James
Columbia Daily Spectator
The program of the rising sun is on the rise
at Columbia.
This year's Haru Matsuri festival, sponsored
by the Japanese Language Program within the
East Asian languages and cultures department,
was as successful as it was projected to be. The
festival reflected the rejuvenation of the program
after its new leadership took power.
The Haru Matsuri festival garnered much
buzz within the academic Japanese language
community, promising to be bigger and better
than last year's festival. One portion of the event
had students at each Japanese language level
competing in language presentations. The sec-
ond portion of the event took place in the Kent
lounge, where traditional Japanese food and
drinks were served.
The Japanese Language Program secured
support from major Japanese businesses such
as Itochu International Inc., Japan Network
Group, Inc., and the Kinokuniya Bookstore of
New York. Three lucky students performing at
the festival even won free tickets to Japan, valued
at a thousand dollars each.
The woman with the most credit to gain for
these successes is Fumiko Nazikian. A former
senior lecturer at Princeton University, Nazikian
joined the Columbia faculty in 2004 as director
of the Japanese Language Program. She was a
main force in attaining the sponsorships for this
year's festival, and she has worked to strengthen
the Japanese program in other areas, as well.
Columbia University, with the help of Naziki-
an, secured this year's International Language
Conference on Japanese Language Education.
The noted conference has never before been
held outside of Japan.
There are also smaller things Nazikian has
done to improve the department. Geoffrey Sant
an associate in the Japanese Language Program
said Nazikian has "had a huge impact on the day-
to-day operations of the program." For instance,
she led the initiative to replace the department's
old computers.
The director noted that "previously, there was
not much chance for students studying Japanese
to get together," and that she hopes through
events like the Haru Matsuri festival, students
will get the chance to interact with one another
in order to "form a sense of community."
For Nazikian, the Haru Matsuri festival fur-
thers this goal of "communication and connec-
tion" because it was a "wonderful opportunity for
students to mix outside of campus" and allowed
students to "network with the business repre-
sentatives present."
Columbia's increasing prominence in the
field of Japanese language is being recognized
by other academic institutions. The noted Kyoto
Center for Japanese Studies' Overseas Studies
Program, whose administration offices were pre-
viously based in Stanford University, will move to
Columbia University this summer.
SRO, page A5

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