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VI. General Policies and Procedures

Introduction

 

There should be little need to emphasize the importance of following the rational good for students who wish to study at Thomas Aquinas College. It would be inconsistent to seek high and serious things in class and live outside of class by unruled appetites. A student’s conduct, bearing, dress, and cleanliness signify his own character and express his esteem for the institution and its other members. His conduct on and off campus will reflect on the College.

Thomas Aquinas College is a Catholic college and, therefore, requires all students to abide by the Catholic Church’s moral teachings together with the rules of residence and the customs of the College. Since the College is part of the political community, students are also expected to obey the civil law on and off campus.

Students are asked to reflect carefully upon these standards and rules.

The College has the authority to determine how these general rules are to be applied in specific cases and to impose sanctions for violations of the rules. Disciplinary sanctions may include mandatory community service hours, suspension of privileges (e.g. parking privileges), fines, restriction to campus, disciplinary probation, and expulsion. The violation of a campus restriction, or of the terms of a disciplinary probation, may result in expulsion. Actions which gravely disrupt the campus order, such as entry into the residence halls of the opposite sex, the use of alcohol on campus, the illegal use of narcotics, or sexual misconduct will normally entail expulsion. (Note: The use of marijuana, even for medical purposes, is strictly forbidden for students both on and off campus and is subject to expulsion.) Theft, intrusion into offices or other private spaces, and stealing of confidential information, all erode the very basis of our community and cannot be tolerated; these, or similar, actions will also be subject to expulsion.

Since misconduct off campus can harm the reputation of the College, interfere with the climate of learning, and indicate that a student is not suited to the program, such behavior also is subject to disciplinary action.

 

Rules of Residence

Students who are not married are required to live on campus unless granted special permission by the Associate Dean to live off-campus. Since the purpose of the College is to establish a community of learning, such permission is not usually given. Married students must live off-campus.

Students are expected to show due regard for the rights, privileges, and tastes of others. Residence halls, designed primarily for study and rest, require order and reasonable quiet. Students should also keep in mind that separate apartments within the residence halls house faculty and staff of the College, in some cases with their spouses, and may periodically house visiting families. Rooms for social purposes are available in Gould Hall. The Library, the dining area of Gould Hall, and any of the classrooms on the first floor of Palmer Hall are available for study.

The College has a number of rules of residence that are meant to enhance the intellectual life and to keep students safe and happy. The following are the principal rules of residence that govern student life at the College, and details about their enforcement. There are more particular rules not listed in the Handbook that are communicated to the students by Prefects and Resident Directors at orientation.

 

Prefects and Resident Directors

The end of any community is best achieved when the members of that community are animated by friendship and mutual trust. This is especially so in the kind of community the College aims to establish. The importance of classroom discussion, the intensity of the academic program, and the end toward which the program aims—supernatural Truth—all require an unusual degree of friendship and mutual trust. This is the reason why the College relies on student Prefects and Resident Directors, acting in conjunction with and by the authority of the Dean, the Associate Dean, and the Assistant Dean, to maintain and enforce the rules and standards of the College. The College trusts students to follow the rules and to be forthright and cooperative with the Prefects and Resident Directors.

The moral atmosphere essential to intellectual pursuits is everyone’s concern. This atmosphere is promoted most of all by exemplary personal conduct. If a student becomes aware of serious misconduct, he should notify a Prefect, a Resident Director, the Assistant Dean, or the Associate Dean.

 

Reporting Student Misconduct

A student may be subject to disciplinary sanctions for violating the rules of residence, failing to abide by the customs of the College, contravening the moral teachings of the Catholic Church, or disobeying the civil law. Misconduct may be reported by a student Prefect, Resident Director, security guard, faculty or staff member, neighbor, fellow student, or local police department. Anyone who wishes to report misconduct, or initiate a complaint, may do so by speaking to a Prefect, Resident Director, the Assistant Dean, or the Associate Dean. Information on reporting sexual crimes (e.g., sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking), and the disciplinary procedure used in such cases, is found elsewhere. (See section below entitled Reporting Sexual Assault.)

 

Investigation of Misconduct and Notification

Smaller infractions are handled by student Prefects and Resident Directors. With smaller infractions, an investigation is usually unnecessary, but a Prefect or Resident Director may investigate if there is a dispute about whether an infraction occurred. Larger infractions are investigated by the Assistant Dean. In the case of serious misconduct, which may result in serious disciplinary action (e.g., disciplinary probation or expulsion), the Assistant Dean will conduct an investigation and make a report to the Dean and Associate Dean. If there is sufficient evidence of serious misconduct, the Assistant Dean will make a report to the Instruction Committee (a committee composed of the Dean, the Associate Dean, the President, and six senior tutors elected by the faculty). Cases of serious misconduct that are academic in nature (e.g., academic dishonesty or plagiarism) are investigated by the Associate Dean. A student accused of a larger infraction or serious misconduct will be contacted by the Assistant Dean or Associate Dean to discuss the alleged violation or complaint.

 

Student Discipline

For smaller infractions (e.g., curfew violation, dress code violation, texting in class) a Prefect or Resident Director will notify a student of community service hours with an “hour sheet.” Hour sheets must be signed by the kitchen or maintenance supervisor and returned to the Prefect or Resident Director who assigned the work.

Larger infractions are adjudicated by the Assistant Dean. Larger infractions usually result in restriction to campus, but may also include the suspension of other privileges (e.g. parking privileges). The following are examples of larger infractions: repeated violation of the rules of residence, intoxicated behavior, providing alcohol to underage students, lying to an officer of the College. Any of these larger infractions could, depending on the circumstances and the gravity of the particular act, amount to serious misconduct. The Assistant Dean will notify the student in writing of any disciplinary sanctions.

Serious misconduct, which can lead to disciplinary probation or dismissal from the College, is adjudicated by the Instruction Committee. The following are examples of serious misconduct: the possession, or use, of marijuana or of any illegal drugs; the use of alcohol on campus outside of College-sponsored social functions; a serious or repeated incident of intoxicated behavior; behavior creating a serious safety hazard to other persons; starting fires in prohibited areas; entry into residence halls of the opposite sex; sexual misconduct; theft; intrusion into offices or private spaces; purloining confidential information; hacking into, or compromising, the College computer network; plagiarizing a paper; cheating on a final exam. In adjudicating alleged serious misconduct, the Instruction Committee will either discuss the matter itself, or appoint a subcommittee to determine the facts and make a recommendation. In any case, the Instruction Committee makes the final determination about serious disciplinary action. Serious misconduct usually results in disciplinary probation or expulsion. The Associate Dean will notify the student placed on disciplinary probation or expelled. A student who is expelled may be required to leave the campus immediately. If the student is a minor, the Assistant Dean will contact the parents or guardians and assist in making suitable arrangements for travel, storage, and accommodations for the student.

 

Appeals of Student Discipline

Appeals or complaints about smaller infractions are made directly to the Assistant Dean, and he has the final say about whether the decision will be overruled. Appeals or complaints about larger infractions are made directly to the Associate Dean, and he has the final say about whether the decision will be overruled. Complaints or appeals regarding serious misconduct are only heard if they present new information that would likely have affected the outcome of the original decision. Complaints or appeals should be made in writing to the Associate Dean. If the Associate Dean determines that the appeal should be heard, the Associate Dean makes a report to the Instruction Committee, whose judgment is final.

 

VII. Campus Policies and Procedures

Campus Property

The campus is divided into two portions, one owned by Thomas Aquinas College, the other by the Moody Center. The following buildings and areas, included on campus maps, belong to the Moody Center, and should not be entered without permission therefrom: the Auditorium, Moody Cottage, Hibbard Hall, Round Top (the gravesite of D.L. Moody and his wife), the Moody Homestead, and the Moody Birthplace.

The combined campus is bounded by Winchester Road, Moody Street, and Main Street, and extends into the forested area to the north; all parts of this combined property, whether they belong to the College or to the Moody Center, are regarded as on-campus with respect to the rules of student life.

 

Alcohol and Drugs

At some social functions, the College will serve alcohol to students who are of legal age; this service is overseen by the Assistant Dean. The possession or use of alcohol outside of these functions is strictly forbidden on campus and normally entails expulsion from the program. The possession or use of marijuana, even for medical purposes, or of any illegal drugs is strictly forbidden for students both on and off campus and may entail expulsion.

The College also reserves the right to dismiss a student from the program for any serious incident or any repeated incident of an intoxicated or drugged state of behavior on or off campus, for behavior creating a safety hazard to other persons, or for behavior that seriously impedes the legitimate activities of the College community.

Any alcohol purchased as a gift, received as a gift, or intended for the off-campus use of those of legal age must be stored by a Prefect or Resident Director.

The College strongly disapproves of off-campus use of alcohol by those under legal age because it violates the civil law and harms the College’s reputation. Infractions of this alcohol and drug policy may be brought to the attention of a student’s parent(s) or guardian.

 

Dress 

Proper dress is proportionate to the dignity of one’s activities; coveralls, for instance, are suited to manual labor but not to divine worship. Those who dress improperly display an indifference towards nobler pursuits. Accordingly, more formal dress is to be worn throughout the week in the chapel, offices, classrooms, laboratories, dining hall, and library and for formal dinners and Sunday brunch. Women are to wear skirts or dresses of modest length with modest sleeve lines and necklines and dress shoes or sandals. Men shall wear slacks, shirts with collars, and dress shoes (or sandals) with socks.

In keeping with the College’s intention to establish a dignified community of learning, extreme hairstyles and other such distracting bodily accoutrements are not permitted on campus.  

School dress is always required in the chapel during Mass. At other times, less formal dress is allowed; however, sweat pants, tank tops, and shorts are never allowed in the chapel.

School dress is required in Kenarden Hall until 3:30 pm. Footwear is always required in the chapel, offices, classrooms, laboratories, dining hall, and library.

A period of more casual dress begins after 3:30 pm on the weekdays; school dress is still required for dinner, Monday through Thursday. During the week, students on work study will, as far as possible, be given work shifts which allow them time to change for meals; when this is not possible, the student should ask the Assistant Dean for permission to wear casual attire to the meal in question. Students not properly attired who have not obtained permission will be asked to change.

For swimming, women are to wear modest one-piece bathing suits or tankinis which fully cover the midriff. Men are to wear shirts on campus, even when they are working on the grounds crew. They are allowed to go without a shirt on the basketball court and athletic field (during men’s sports).

 

Parking and Traffic

Vehicles are to be operated safely and at reasonable speeds on campus, but never faster than 15 mph. Driving or parking on lawns or paths is prohibited. Student parking is restricted to the parking lots behind the residence halls and the parking lot by East Hall. Further overflow parking is available behind Gould Hall. Students are not to park in the flagpole parking lot.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires all drivers to have liability insurance and to carry written evidence of insurance in their vehicle at all times. The College, therefore, requires all students who have vehicles on campus to maintain liability insurance. Evidence of insurance must be presented when registering the vehicle.

All student vehicles must be registered with the College. Students will be issued parking permit stickers during registration or throughout the year as needed, if they come to the front desk in Kenarden. Students should be sure that the vehicular information is included on their Registration Form. If a student should change vehicles, he must update the College with the license number, make, and model of the new vehicle.

The privilege of keeping a vehicle on campus may be revoked when the rules are not observed. A student who registers a vehicle with the College is responsible for its proper use. Vehicles not registered with the College may be towed away.

 

Doors

Students are requested to cooperate with the College’s efforts to control heating, as well as to comply with fire code, by not propping open outside doors.

 

Communications

Students may not use telephones in Gould Hall, the Library, or Kenarden Hall without permission.

The general College number, 1-800-634-9797, should be used for contacting students only in emergency situations.

Students are required to provide the Associate Dean’s Office with the current addresses and telephone numbers of persons to be contacted in case of emergency in their registration paperwork.

 

VIII. Residence Halls

Residence Hall Visitation

Men’s and women’s residence hall areas, including the back patio of Wilson Hall, are always off limits to the opposite sex; this restriction applies to holidays and summer vacations as well as the academic year. The patio of Merrill-Keep Hall may be used by both men and women as long as they do not disturb and respect the privacy of those in the adjacent common room and dorm rooms. With permission of a Prefect or Resident Director, exceptions to the residence hall visitation rules are made at the beginning or end of the academic year for purposes of moving boxes or luggage in and out of residence halls. Exceptions are also made for maintenance jobs, particularly over the summer, but these exceptions are always to be made during normal business hours.  

The apartments at either end of Merrill-Keep Hall are not regarded as part of the women’s residence proper, and have separate entrances. As these apartments are private residences, students must not use the separate entrances or enter the apartments from within the building at any time without invitation; however, upon invitation from faculty or staff residing there, students of either sex may enter these apartments, provided that men enter only through the separate entrances and do not pass through to any part of the women’s dormitory proper.

 

Curfew

The residence halls are locked at 11:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and at 1:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Students are to be in their residence halls by these times. In special cases students can be admitted later by prior arrangements with the residence hall Prefect or Resident Director. These arrangements must be made at least 24 hours before the scheduled event. Since this requires that the Prefect or Resident Director stay up to admit a latecomer, permission is given only for very good reasons.

Sign Out

Students are to sign out when they will be away from their residence hall overnight. Use of the sign-out sheet enables the College to ascertain quickly who is or is not in the residence hall in the event of fire or other emergency.

 

Quiet Hours

At all times the residence halls and their immediate vicinity should be sufficiently quiet to permit study and rest. Conversations, radios, and stereos should not disturb those in adjoining rooms. As evening approaches, sounds which might not be noticed during the day more readily disturb study and rest. Accordingly from 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. (11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday) a more complete quiet is preserved. During quiet hours, music should not be played in the common areas of the dorms without earphones or earbuds.

 

Theft

Students should be aware that cases of serious theft at the College are rare, but do happen on occasion, and are grounds for dismissal.

Theft of food, clothes, books, and other personal items violates the trust among the members of the community and should be reported to a Prefect, Resident Director, or the Assistant Dean.

Care of Students’ Rooms

Students are expected to keep their rooms clean at all times. In residence halls having common bathrooms, the bathrooms and sinks will be cleaned on a regular basis by the maintenance department.

Pictures and wall decorations may be hung with pushpins provided by the maintenance department. Students may not paint walls or woodwork. Wall decorations should be in keeping with the dignity of the intellectual and spiritual life of the College.

Furniture is not to be removed from or dismantled in the residence hall rooms. If a student wants to re-configure his modular furniture, he first must receive permission from the Operations Supervisor (Nathan Borchers). Students will be held liable for any damage to their rooms. Damage to the common areas of the dormitory will be charged to all of the students assigned to the dormitory unless a specific person assumes responsibility.

Except in residence hall kitchenettes, use of large refrigerators, hotplates, water kettles, electric skillets, popcorn poppers, coffee makers, and other electrical appliances is specifically prohibited due to fire hazard. Students may have small refrigerators only after obtaining permission from the Assistant Dean. Students may keep non-perishable food in residence hall rooms, provided it is contained in metal, glass, or plastic containers.

The smoking of cigarettes (including vaping devices) is prohibited by state law in any campus building. The use of candles or incense inside the dorm is also forbidden due to the fire hazard.

 

Care of the Lounges, Common Rooms, and Dorm Patios

Care of the men’s and women’s residence hall lounges and all rooms designated for common use throughout the campus is the responsibility of the students using them. Students should leave areas clean and orderly, turning off lights when not needed.

Furniture in the lounges, on dorm patios, or in other buildings is not to be appropriated for use elsewhere. The temporary removal of furniture from one area to another requires the approval of the maintenance department, and furniture moved should be returned immediately to its proper place.

 

Overnight Guests

Overnight accommodations (when available) are principally for the use of guests invited by the College as prospective students. Accommodations may also be provided for parents or other immediate family members who desire to visit the College. Other personal guests (e.g. alumni) may be accommodated briefly, if space is available.

Arrangements for meals and overnight stays for all visitors must be made at least one week in advance with the admissions office. Visits longer than four days are discouraged. The availability of accommodations should be verified and the length of the visit approved before plans for a visit are far advanced.

No visitor or day student is to sleep in a residence hall without permission from the College. Under unusual circumstances and with permission, a day student may remain on campus overnight, sharing the room of a resident student. Lounges and other areas are never to be used for sleeping.

 

Pets

Pets, except for fish and very small reptiles, are forbidden. Students are not to bring any animal to the campus, or encourage strays to stay; they become housekeeping problems and health hazards.

 

Vacation

Students who are unable to go home for Christmas and summer vacations must receive permission from the Assistant Dean to stay on campus. They should be prepared to pay room and board and/or work.

For those staying on campus, all rules and regulations will remain in full effect. This includes the prohibition of alcohol and residence hall visitation.

 

Baggage and Storage

Personal items (trunks, suitcases, etc.) students wish to store at the College during the year should be carefully labeled and placed in the appropriate residence hall storage areas, space permitting.  The College is not responsible for loss or damage to students’ belongings.

 

Accommodations 

Thomas Aquinas College is committed to providing reasonable accommodations for students with physical, medical, or psychological disabilities. Students with disabilities who desire an accommodation should make a request to the Assistant Dean. Incoming freshmen with disabilities should communicate their requests to the Associate Director of Admissions, who will then contact the Assistant Dean to arrange for any accommodations that should be made prior to matriculation. Requests seeking permission to live off campus should go to the Associate Dean.

 

IX. Electronics

Electronic Texts

Kindles and other electronic text readers are not to be used in the classroom. While these devices have been extremely useful for research, they are not the best medium for reading and thinking about a text in preparation for a class discussion. The use of real texts works very well for our purposes, and there is a discipline that goes into preparing to discuss a paper text. The student must make an effort to read carefully and digest the reading, so as to be able to locate pertinent texts. He must attempt to grasp and retain the reading as a whole. Electronic search functions provide an easy opportunity for the student to become lazy in reading.

 

Cell Phones

Cell phones can be useful tools for communicating, but they can also be a distraction from the intellectual life. It is important to ensure that cell phones do not detract from the dignity of the academic program. Cell phones have no role to play in the classroom, and therefore should not be used in class; if students choose to bring their cell phone to class they are responsible to ensure that it does not emit sound, or light, or be a distraction in any other way. Cell phones should be turned off during examinations. Ringers should be silenced during lectures and concerts, in the library and the chapel.

In accordance with the College’s policy to limit Internet access to that provided in the library, the use of cell phones, or cell phone service, to access the Internet is prohibited except for a limited number of approved apps.

 

Movies, Television, and Video Games

To foster and preserve the dignity of the intellectual life, the College does not permit the use of televisions or video players in student rooms. On weekends from 3:30 p.m. Friday until 5:00 p.m. Sunday, students may watch movies in the residence hall common rooms, but only with prior permission from a Prefect or Resident Director.

Students may play video games in a designated study room on weekends from 3:30 p.m. on Friday until 5:00 p.m. Sunday.

 

Computer Networks

The College provides Internet access in the library by means of the College’s computer network. Tapping into, or tampering with, the College’s network or telephone wiring is strictly prohibited. In keeping with the College’s aim of maintaining a community of learning in the dormitories, students are not permitted to set up their own computer networks either by means of wireless technology or by running network cables from room to room.

 

Internet and Computer Services

The College provides computer resources for three purposes: research, communication, and retail business transactions (such as purchasing airline tickets). To allow for the quietude and rest that contemplation requires, the College has no interest in promoting widespread use of the Internet for entertainment purposes. Internet access, however, is limited to the library. The use of cell phones, cell phone service, or any other wireless service, to access the Internet is prohibited. Students are welcome to bring their own computers. If they bring laptops, they may request to have their computers configured to access the Internet in the library (their computer should be equipped with an Ethernet port).

It is essential that each user exercise responsible and ethical behavior when using the College’s computer resources. It is impossible to anticipate all of the methods that individuals may employ to intentionally damage or misuse the College’s computer resources, but the following is a list of some of the inappropriate uses of the College’s computer resources.

  • Transmitting information that contains obscene, indecent, lewd, or lascivious material or other material that explicitly or implicitly refers to sexual conduct or contains profane language.
  • Using the College’s computer resources to gain unauthorized access to resources of this or other institutions, individuals, or organizations. Using false or misleading information for the purpose of obtaining access to unauthorized resources.
  • Accessing, altering, copying, moving, or removing information, proprietary software, or other files from the College’s computer resources without authorization.
  • Copying, downloading or distributing copyrighted materials, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, without the authorization of the copyright owner is illegal and may result in civil and criminal penalties, including fine and imprisonment. Copyrighted materials include, but are not limited to, copyrighted music, films, and software.
  • Using the College’s computer resources for online gambling.
  • Violating laws or participating in the commission or furtherance of any crime.

Thomas Aquinas College acknowledges its obligation to respect the privacy of a user's computer files and e-mail, but users should be sensitive to the inherent limitations of the College’s computer resources—no computer security system can completely prevent unauthorized individuals from accessing a user’s computer files or e-mail.

The College maintains the right to monitor and access a user’s computer files, e-mail, and use of computer resources when it is necessary to protect the integrity, security, and proper functioning of the College’s computer resources, when it is necessary to enforce this policy, or when it is required by law. The College will notify users of such monitoring provided that it will not compromise the College’s investigation or the investigation of an appropriate law enforcement agency.

Any violation of this policy, other related College regulations, or federal or state laws may result in immediate suspension of computer resource privileges. The College's authorities and/or the appropriate law enforcement agency will determine other possible disciplinary or legal action. Nothing in this policy supersedes existing College regulations and policies and/or state or federal law.

 

Photocopying

Students can use the copier located in Kenarden Hall if they come to the front desk between 3:30 and 5:00pm. They can pay for their copies at the front desk.

 

Federal Copyright Laws

Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one or more of the exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner under section 106 of the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code). These rights include the right to reproduce or distribute a copyrighted work. In the file-sharing context, downloading or uploading substantial parts of a copyrighted work without authority constitutes an infringement.

Penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or “statutory” damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For “willful” infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys’ fees. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505.

Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense.

For more information, please see the Web site of the U.S. Copyright Office especially their FAQ’s at www.copyright.gov/help/faq.

 

X. Safety and Security

Campus Security

Although theft, vandalism, and other crimes by off-campus intruders are rare, they are real possibilities that should be taken seriously. Crimes or suspicious behavior should be reported immediately to an appropriate authority.

Campus security also requires that the fire doors be locked at all times. These doors are to be used only in the case of an emergency, or for moving in and out of the dorms at the beginning and end of the school year.

Students who are issued keys as part of their work study should never lend their keys to anyone, should not allow copies to be made, and should promptly return any keys in their possession when their responsibilities are at an end. Should a student come into possession of an unauthorized key, he should return it immediately to the front desk in Kenarden Hall.

 

Weapons

Students are prohibited from bringing any kind of weapon to campus. The discharge of firearms on or about the campus is strictly forbidden.

Safety Alert System

The College has a safety alert system which is intended for use only in the rare occurrence of a danger to the community as a whole that requires immediate action. In such an event this system will be used to send out a mass text message to help spread the safety alert as quickly as possible among the on-campus community. Students will be automatically enrolled in the safety alert system using the cell phone number they provided during registration. Students should update the Associate Dean’s Office if their cell phone number changes during the year.

 

Fire Procedure

The dormitories, dining hall, classroom building, library, and gymnasium are all equipped with emergency fire exits and fire alarm pull boxes.. Students should familiarize themselves with the location of the fire doors and fire alarm pull boxes in their dormitory.

In case of fire, pull the nearest fire alarm, exit the building, and call 911.

Do not return to the building until instructed to do so by a Prefect, Resident Director, or other college official.

 

New England campus chapel
Caleb Skvaril (’19)

“Learning from the great books, you can see the questions that history’s greatest thinkers have asked and all the ways that they have tried to answer them. You’re able to see what’s right about what they’re saying, but also what’s wrong. The more your opinion is challenged, the more you have to refine it in order to get closer to the truth.”

– Caleb Skvaril (’19)

Asan, Guam

“Thomas Aquinas is already the preeminent Catholic college in the country.”

– John Cardinal O’Connor (†)

Archbishop of New York

(1999)