Julian Roberts-Grmela

I'm a freelance journalist interested in reporting on social movements, climate change and local politics. I also do some culture writing. 

Based in Buffalo, NY. He/Him. 

Contact: juliangrmela@gmail.com

An Original Strain: Armand Hammer Interviewed

ELUCID and billy woods decided it was time for a new Armand Hammer project when they were on tour in Edinburgh last year. They’d just received the beat by Earl Sweatshirt that became the new album’s opening track, 'Bitter Cassava'. But they didn’t know that then. They didn’t have a plan for the album’s major themes and they didn’t know that they would end up calling it ‘Shrines.’ “I never approach records [with a plan],” ELUCID told Clash. “I just do the record. As you continue to work at some

‘No justice, no peace’

Omran Albarazanchi wishes he had been “more vocal” when he heard instances of “pure racism” during high school. But, like many, he said nothing. On June 6, Albarazanchi, a 2020 graduate and chemical engineering major stood up and said something. “Black lives matter,” he chanted alongside thousands of other Black Lives Matter (BLM) protestors in Niagara Square, including UB students and recent medical school graduates. June 6 was the eighth of 14 consecutive days of protests against systemic

Goodbye UB

Last semester, my intramural soccer team lost in the semi-finals of the UB playoffs. It was a bummer for a team that still never won a championship. We’d come so close so many times over the last seven semesters. “But at least we had one more opportunity,” we thought. “We still had the spring.” Spring 2020 was cancelled and my time in Amherst came to an unexpected early ending. Now I’m isolated and disoriented. I don’t know what’s next. But I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m healthy. My family

Students share distance-learning challenges, UB hopes survey can address concerns

Jannat Inqiyad said that in order to complete the online work for her classes, she needs to leave her home since she doesn’t have internet access. Inqiyad, a sophomore health and human services major, said her family had to “sacrifice” internet connection to afford essentials after the family lost its main source of income due to COVID-19. Now, she needs to go to public libraries to complete her remote coursework and said she doesn’t feel safe leaving her house because she has family members an

The memory of a mother: Student loses ‘best friend’ to COVID-19

Minnoli Aya never got to say goodbye to her mother, Madhvi. Madhvi, the breadwinner of the family and “the person [Aya] would turn to when the world got ugly,” died alone in the hospital from COVID-19. She was 61. The last time Aya saw or hugged her mother was in January, before she left home for the spring semester. Aya and her family couldn’t see Madhvi in the hospital before she died because Aya’s father and grandmother both have heart conditions that put them at a higher risk if they cont

Former acting UB president remembered as leader and scholar

Peter Regan, former acting UB president, executive vice president and professor, died at 95 on April 5. Fifty years ago, Regan took over as acting president for one year from 1969-70, while President Martin Meyerson took a leave-of-absence, and later left UB. Regan’s term was marked by campus protests and a large police presence, which climaxed when 45 faculty members –– known as “the Faculty 45” –– were arrested in Hayes Hall after demanding to meet with Regan to discuss the police presence on

Financial analyst denies ‘preconceived agenda’ in UB analysis

Howard Bunsis –– the Eastern Michigan University accounting professor who reported UB spends more on administration than any of its “peers” –– denies UB’s statement that his had a “preconceived agenda.” Bunsis’ report, which he released in February, called UB financial reporting “less transparent” than any of the over 100 universities he examined over the last 15 years. UB’s urged readers to be “very skeptical of its findings” and said Bunsis had a “preconceived agenda” because he was hired. UB

Meet the candidates: 2020-21 Student Association executive board

Student Association elections will take place 10 a.m. Tuesday until 5 p.m. Thursday through UBLinked, according to members of the elections committee. While elections usually take place at a physical polling location in the Student Union, this year’s move to online voting comes after UB’s switch to a “distance-learning” model and SA’s cancellation of all other SA events. SA plans to send a student body email before polling begins with a link to the election website, according to Omran AlBaraza

Biden takes lead after ‘Super Tuesday,’ Sanders supporters say they need to ‘fight harder’

Students followed along on “Super Tuesday” as Vice President Joe Biden regained the front-runner position in the 2020 Democratic Primary. Biden earned the most delegates so far in the Democratic primary after his successful “Super Tuesday” –– when the most states, 14 this year, hold primary elections and caucuses and nearly one-third of delegates are up for grabs –– with 566, as of Wednesday night. Biden’s success left Senator Bernie Sanders, the former front runner, in second place with 501. T

UB moves to ‘distance-learning’ model for rest of spring semester

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced all SUNY and CUNY schools will transition to online classes starting March 19 during a press conference Wednesday at 1:45 p.m. UB confirmed its plan to implement a “distance-learning model” with The Spectrum Wednesday at 2:55 p.m. but did not announce the decision outside of notifying the media until a 4:21 p.m. . UB sent an email notifying the student body of the switch Wednesday at 7 p.m. UB will transition to the “distance-learning model” for the rest of the spri

Analysis finds UB administrators make combined $23 million more than their peers’ average

UB spends over $23 million more on administrative salaries than the average of their “peer institutions,” according to an accounting professor’s independent financial analysis report. The analysis, conducted by Eastern Michigan University’s Howard Bunsis, found roughly 13% of the money UB spends on salaries is on upper administration. It also cites faculty salaries are $20,615 less than the average at peer institutions and found UB had a 22% decrease in the number of assistant professors it hir

The Spectrum’s exclusive interview with Yusef Salaam of the ‘Exonerated 5’

Yusef Salaam and the four other members of the "Exonerated 5" did not receive compensation until 12 years after the Daily News declared "We got the wrong kids" on Oct. 11, 2002. Over a decade before the Daily News' 2002 article, the ‘Exonerated 5’ were wrongfully accused of raping ‘The Central Park Jogger.’ Salaam was imprisoned for nearly seven years for a crime he did not commit. But he refused to be bitter, and trained himself to channel his anger toward changing the system that failed him,

Students urge UB Foundation to ‘divest’ from fossil fuels

Students called the UB Foundation (UBF) over 100 times Wednesday, urging it to “completely divest” from all investments related to the fossil fuel industry. UB Divest organized the phone-banking drive to ask UBF to “stop investing in fossil fuels". Participants in the phone-banking drive said they believe UBF still has investments in the fossil fuel industry because it never made a statement declaring that it doesn’t. Roughly 30 students met in Student Union 317 to participate in UB Divest’s –

Quarantined students worry they may lose visa statuses, won’t graduate on time

Emily Mingxia’s* sophomore year at UB came to a halt when she was quarantined in Wuhan, China before she could return to Buffalo. Mingxia said UB was unable to offer solutions to her predicament, as she said she may graduate later than expected and might lose her student visa as a result. Mingxia said she reached out to her academic advisor after she realized she may not be able to return to the U.S. from her trip to China over winter break. She was grateful her advisor helped her enroll in on

Student Association president’s fate in limbo after six-hour meeting, board of directors planning meeting to further discuss

The Student Association Board of Directors spent six hours Tuesday night discussing the suspension of SA President Yousouf Amolegbe and voted against lifting his suspension. Close to 80 students –– many of whom came in support of Amolegbe –– watched, spoke and shared their thoughts during and after the meeting, which lasted from 6 p.m. Tuesday to 12 a.m. Wednesday. Amolgebe was suspended on Jan. 31 due to conflict-of-interest violations, but insists he doesn’t deserve suspension and that he was

SA president suspended due to deal with rapper, according to board of directors member

A member of the Student Association Board of Directors (BOD) told The Spectrum, on the condition of anonymity, the primary reason for SA President Yousouf Amolegbe’s suspension is that Amolegbe planned to host rapper Fivio Foreign at SA’s Trap Fest on the same night he planned to host the rapper for an event hosted by RAGE Boyz Entertainment, a company he is co-CEO of. Under Amolegbe’s deal, SA would have paid Fivio Foreign $9,500, which would cover his transportation to Buffalo and enable RAGE

Committee confirms Student Association president suspended for potential conflict-of-interest violations

The Student Association Board of Directors (BOD) will keep documents which led to SA President Yousouf Amolegbe’s suspension private until at least next Tuesday, 11 days after the vote to suspend him. But students say they want answers now. Roughly 40 students attended the board’s Rules, Administration and Government Oversight Committee (RAGO) meeting, where RAGO confirmed its investigation –– which prompted the BOD to suspend Amolegbe of his presidential duties –– concerned potential conflict

Student Association president indefinitely suspended for alleged conflict-of-interest violations

The Student Association’s Board of Directors voted to suspend SA President Yousouf Amolegbe on Friday. The vote came after SA’s Rules, Administration and Government Oversight Committee (RAGO) found Amolegbe guilty of nine SA policy violations, including alleged conflict-of-interest violations concerning his role as co-CEO of entertainment company RAGE Boyz, according to Amolegbe. Twelve BOD members voted to suspend Amolegbe, one voted against suspension and four abstained after roughly 40 minut

Students express concerns, difficulties despite ‘low’ local risk of coronavirus

Bella Chen* notices when people glare at the surgical mask she started wearing after her trip to the Hubei province in China this winter. She says the looks are hurtful and add to what is already a stressful situation. Chen, a UB student, traveled to the province to visit family this winter. She returned just before the Chinese government ordered travel restrictions that quarantined over 56 million people in order to contain the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), according to Al Jazeera. So far, 20

Iranian students fear immigration hardships may amplify during political tension

Graduate student Gheysar Jebelli* tries to avoid news stories about his home country, Iran. They upset him and distract him from his academic studies. But when his friend texted him on Jan. 8 that Iran had fired missiles at an Iraqi airbase housing U.S. troops in retaliation for the U.S.’ assassination of General Qasem Soleimani, Jebelli became distressed. He kept his eyes glued to the headlines. He also feared for his safety and worried what would happen to him and the 102 other Iranian stude
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