All posts by Angela Fortuna

Deep Roots In North Korea’s Relationship With The U.S.

by Sarah Willson

It is no secret that tensions have risen between the United States and North Korea since the Korean War. Although believed to have ended over 60 years ago, the war is technically still ongoing, as the parties involved only agreed to a ceasefire.
Since then, the relationship between the U.S. and North Korea has reached an all-time low, especially since President Donald Trump took office in January.
After Vice President Mike Pence paid a visit to the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), dictator Kim Jong-un warned that a nuclear war could break out at “any moment,” putting the U.S. on high alert.
Now more than ever, Trump is preaching the importance of creating peace between the two nations, something the U.S. has been working towards for over half a century.
However, to begin the process of creating peace between the U.S. and North Korea, it must first be examined why the isolated country and its mysterious leader have grown to despise the United States.
It is important to note that the split of North Korea and South Korea, which took place in 1945, was a major blow for such a tiny country. South Korea ultimately declared itself as an independent nation in May of 1948, leaving bloodthirsty, Soviet-appointed Kim II-sung a blank canvas to construct a communist country.
After taking office on Sept. 9, 1948, he begun his political revolution, calling himself “The Great Leader.” From then, everything went downhill. Kim II-sung begun to fill his people’s heads with propaganda, specifically about the U.S.
North Korea is angry at the U.S. for something it never did.
According to the BBC News Netflix documentary, “The Propaganda Name,” Korean schools have taught for decades, under the ruling of Kim II-sung, Kim Jong-il and now Kim Jong-un, that the U.S. fired the first shot in the Korean War, when in fact it was North Korea who did. North Korea’s people believe they only fired as a defense mechanism against the U.S.
Because of this, North Korea blames U.S. for its hardships, as the country took an emotional and economic loss due to the war. North Koreans today continue to pin their hardships on America, believing that the United States is the reason they live difficult lives.
So, how can America create lasting peace with North Korea?
First, the United States should not give North Korea any reasons to intervene within American government and military. This means steering clear from the DMZ, as visiting there only provokes the communist nation.
Second, America should formally end the Korean War, which to this day is still ongoing. There is no reason as to why the conflict should continue. More than anything, it puts other countries, including the U.S., at risk with North Korea and its 20 nuclear warheads.
Third, involve China. Applying pressure from China could ultimately scare North Korea from using nuclear weapons, as they know the Chinese military is much stronger than theirs will ever be. North Korea, although seemingly scary, does not want to put its country or its people at more risk than they already are.
Lastly, although not likely, Trump may need to continue Obama’s administration condition for negotiating peace, which ultimately aims to disarm North Korea of its nuclear weapons.
Trump, however, has made it clear that he has no intention of pursuing any of Obama’s foreign policies.
Nothing is going to happen overnight. But, if all else fails, negotiating peace between the two countries may not be the worst idea. After all, North Korea has been demanding a peace treaty with the U.S. since 2011.

Students Experience The Civil Rights Movement Secondhand

by Angela Fortuna

Nearly 400 students and faculty members gathered at Central Connecticut State University to listen to mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, Dr. William Bell, speak on behalf of Birmingham during the civil rights movement.

The civil rights lecture was primarily focused on the “city of Birmingham’s ugly past, its reconciliation and the city’s legacy in promoting civil rights, equality and justice for all,” according to African American studies professor Stephen Balkaran who organized the event that occurred last Tuesday.

“I think Mayor Bell’s perspective on civil rights is remarkable,” said Balkaran. “The fact that he was part of the movement as a teenager in the 1960s brings first-hand knowledge of the struggle for equality in America.”

CCSU president, Dr. Zulma Toro, gave opening remarks at the lecture held in Torp Theatre in Lawrence J. Davidson Hall.

“CCSU takes pride in supporting diversity,” said Toro. “Our [CCSU’s] dedication for justice has been the cornerstone of our success.”

After Toro spoke, Balkaran introduced Bell.

“Our distinguished speaker was involved in the civil rights movement as a 14-year-old in Birmingham, Alabama,” said Balkaran. “His legacy as a civil rights activist continues today as mayor.”

The audience was full of emotion as Bell shared his personal childhood experiences.

“It’s important for CCSU’s faculty, staff, students and our community to have such an icon on campus. His knowledge on the civil rights movement will shape students’ minds for generations to come,” said Balkaran.

Bell recalled hearing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “power of words” and “passion” as a young boy, which inspired him.

As a 14-year-old, Bell acknowledged that he did not experience all of the difficult times his family went through, but he certainly knew something needed to be done about the way they were treated.

During the 1960s, the black community often felt intimidated and victimized by the white community, according to Bell.

During the question-and-answer portion of the lecture, a woman, who claimed to have grown up during the 1980s, said she remembers feeling intimidated by the white community and still sees this fear in her own children. She then asked Bell about his stance on affirmative action, and whether it applies today.

Bell responded that affirmative action needs to be evaluated “time and time again” to see if it is still needed.

At the end of the lecture, many students and faculty asked Bell about civil rights today, in reference to incidents such as Ferguson, Missouri and the Black Lives Matter movement. Many had the same question: what happened to the black community?

Bell said that leadership is needed in the black community today, and that there will always be a “push and pull” situation with human and civil rights.

“That’s just the nature of our society,” said Bell.

Rally Held During Town Hall Meeting At CCSU

by Angela Fortuna and Christie Stelly

Students and professors at Central Connecticut State University rallied against a proposal to consolidate services at colleges across the state that will likely impact students and faculty.

The rally was held during a town hall meeting on the CCSU campus on April 25, where Board of Regents President Mark Ojakian was speaking.

The plan to “centralize and back office functions” proposed by Ojakian has received criticism from both students and faculty.

The proposal consists of consolidating operations such as Information Technology, Human Resources, purchasing and contracts, facilities and other “back office” functions in all four state universities, according to Ojakian.

The proposal suggests combining the 12 Connecticut community colleges to have one universal president. In his proposal, Ojakian calls for “operational and administrative consolidation.”

During the town hall meeting in Alumni Hall in the Student Center, protestors holding signs gathered in front of Welte Hall and made their way into the meeting.

Students stood in the back of the auditorium holding signs that said things such things as “Board of Regents has failed” and “Stop the BOR.”

Students and staff are upset that there were no specific details given in the proposal, sociology professor John O’Connor and history professor Louise Williams said.

The proposal, nicknamed “Students First,” has been seen as cynical because students were not informed about it in the first place, explained O’Connor.

Ojakian said students and faculty will not be impacted with the proposal. However, O’Connor believes they will. The proposal could “really change experiences students have,” said O’Connor.

Ojakian plans on cutting more than $40 million out of school budgets. According to Williams, 80 percent of costs in running state universities are in personnel.

In his plan, Ojakian aims to save $41 million over the next several years. There is no way in knowing how this goal will affect faculty and the student body, although O’Connor believes it could lead to job cuts.

Faculty members are concerned because cutting funds ultimately means cutting resources from some part of the school. It is unclear, due to lack of specific details, whether that means eliminating staff members or other resources, O’Connor explained.

Williams believes the proposal should be a “policy of growth to improve education, not cut it.”

O’Connor said the proposal consists of “a lot of talk and very few details.”

The 15-page proposal was sent to faculty members on April 3, and the following Thursday, the plan was passed, allowing for no deliberation or discussion, according to O’Connor.

Ojakian claimed that the consolidation proposal is an effective way for the state to handle budget issues. “We need to invest more money in higher education and we need to do it in a way to prioritize our students and doesn’t continue to put a large burden on them and their families,” said Ojakian.

The only definitive part of Ojakian’s proposal is to increase tuition, O’Connor said.

“There doesn’t seem to be an end to increasing tuition,” Williams said. “I hope Ojakian thinks about the long-term effects and students think about the effects of paying increased tuition every year.”

Increased tuition has grown to be accepted by many students, even though it puts them further into debt, Williams said.

Tuition continues to rise because states continue to reduce funding for higher education. Williams, along with other faculty members, believes states should invest in higher education rather than cut its funding.

According to Ojakian, “[Connecticut] state funding has declined by 12.4 percent since 2015.”

“It has become abundantly clear that our operational costs are outpacing our revenues, creating a true structural deficit,” Ojakian said in an email sent to state faculty members.

Audience members were invited to come forward and ask questions directly to the BOR president during the town hall meeting.  Students and staff members took the opportunity to confront Ojakian about his plans.

Akai Long, student senator of the SGA, was concerned that students and staff members were not consulted during the process of the proposal. “Why weren’t more students reached out to when you were doing this plan?” Long asked in the town hall meeting.

“I have been all over the state meeting with students,” responded Ojakian. He suggested that there might need to be better communication between student leaders and the student body.

Students have not had the chance to voice their concerns with the proposal, causing many of them to protest at the town hall meeting, O’Connor and Williams said.

“I stand with those students and will continue to do so,” said O’Connor.

“I hope the concern we are expressing will affect Ojakian’s strategy,” said Williams.

Matt Warshauer, a history professor at CCSU, said that he has long believed Ojakian is the “perfect” leader for the student body at state schools.

“I believed we needed somebody with your kind of legislative background, the connections that you have, the understanding of government and budgets,” Warshauer said to Ojakian. “But what we don’t need is a systems office that micromanages us. This seems to be a top-down decision that is going to be implemented on us, not with us,” said Warshauer.

Warshauer agrees that the university system has serious budget issues, but he does not believe that Ojakian will be successful with his consolidation plan.

The proposal could also affect the plans and leadership of new CCSU president, Dr. Zulma Toro, according to O’Connor and Williams. State school presidents will have less freedom, making it harder for them to expand.

Williams hopes Ojakian does studies to see how similar plans have worked in colleges and universities across the country. Currently, no research has been done.

A faculty senate no confidence vote during an emergency meeting on April 17 voted 39-10 against the proposal, although it will most likely have no effect on the outcome of Ojakian’s plan, O’Connor said.

Think Before Clicking That Link

by Kristina Vakhman

While cruising through ones Central Connecticut State University email and a message pops up titled ‘final warning’ in all uppercase letters, one would not hesitate to open and read the content.

Once the user opened the email, a message popped up saying their account was about to be shut down and that they must click the provided link to save it. Once the link was opened, the window asked the user to enter their email account’s username and password. That user then just became a victim of a phishing email.

Over 600 CCSU students fell for phishing emails since April 4. This incident is the biggest one that Amy Kullgren and Sean McNickle of the university’s Information Technology Department said they have seen thus far, beating out last summer’s situation where 400 students were affected.

“They got an email, they clicked on the link in the email and they put in their username and password,” McNickle said of the students. “So, it’s not just clicking on the link and opening up a page. The page actually asks for your username and password, and they entered it.”

“If I can get across one thing from IT’s point of view: we will never, ever, ask for a user’s password. That’s one of the keys. Most legitimate places will never ask you to enter in your password,” said McNickle.

Kullgren agreed, stating that anytime a link asks for an user’s password, it is a big indication to stop and immediately disregard and delete the email. Those who did not know of this red flag and gave the phishers their credentials, she said, should instantly change their password.

“If you change your email password, then the credentials you gave the spammer or phisher are gone,” said Kullgren.

She reminded students not to panic, as the phishing and scam emails are hard to spot if they are not looked out for, and to simply follow IT’s advice to recover their account.

“They’re getting more and more sophisticated. Sometimes they’ve actually had our CCSU logo in them. It looks like it’s coming from somebody that’s part of Central,” said Kullgren. “Unless you’re really reading them critically, it’s easy to fall victim.”

Protecting your account will not only keep you safe, but help IT. Though there are many security systems put into place that filter out third-party threats, compromised CCSU email accounts are more difficult to catch. Phishers use robots to send out thousands of messages through a victim’s account to other students who, seeing a fellow CCSU email, put their trust into the content and fall for the scam as well.

“They [phishers] have a script that goes out and starts sending a different email hundreds or thousands of times,” said McNickle. “Just one person compromised can send off five hundred emails and two more people get compromised and they send out another five hundred. It just goes [on and on]. That’s kind of what happened to us in a very short order.”

IT is working to detect compromised email accounts, as well as to educate students on how to spot and avoid phishing emails. If you receive an email asking you to click a link:

  • Check who the sender is by hovering over the address with your mouse. If it is an email outside of the CCSU network, there is a high chance that it is a phishing attempt.
  • Look out for typos and unusual phrasing; if the email addresses you as ‘Dear Customer,’ it is most likely a scam.
  • If the email is from the CCSU domain, you click on the link, and are asked for your username and password, DO NOT enter them. Delete the email.
  • If you do end up entering your username and password, IMMEDIATELY CHANGE YOUR PASSWORD.
  • NEVER GO BACK TO AN OLD PASSWORD. Returning to the password that has been given to the scammer will only return their access to your account.

For more information on how to protect yourself from phishing and scammers, visit the IT department in Henry Barnard Hall, Room 019, or look for the poster-guides on the walls of every CCSU building.

In addition, IT will be hosting an ice cream social about the topic on Thursday, April 27.

CCSU Students React to United Airlines Incident

by Sarah Willson

United Airlines is set to testify at an upcoming United States House Transportation Committee hearing after a passenger was dragged off an overbooked flight on April 9, in order to make room for crew members.

According to CNN, the 69-year-old passenger, Dr. David Dao, who was forcefully removed from the aircraft, is filing a lawsuit after suffering a concussion, broken nose and the loss of two front teeth, said his attorney.

The airline, which is facing severe backlash from the public, was quick to apologize to Dao, saying they “continue to express [their] sincerest apology to Dr. Dao,” and “cannot stress enough that [they] remain steadfast in [their] commitment to make [the situation] right,” according to an article published by CNN on April 10.

The airline made a claim on April 18 saying no one will be fired after the incident.

Despite the apology, fellow passengers on the flight were still upset by the violent turn of events.

“Had they just tried some diplomacy, none of this would have taken place,” said one man who was on the flight when the incident occurred.

One passenger tweeted at United, saying they had “no words” for the “poor man.”

CCSU students were also outraged after the violent removal.

“I was very shocked to hear how they handled it. After seeing the video, I felt nothing but sympathy for the doctor,” said computer science major Justin Wanciak. “I find it despicable that people could just sit around while that happened to him.”

Moryam Badiru, a junior majoring in social work, agreed.

“I thought it was just horrible”, said Badiru. “He paid for a ticket to go somewhere and he just got dragged off, bleeding on the airline.”

“Nobody’s going to want to fly with them,” said Badiru, referring to United Airlines.

When asked about how the airline could have better handled the situation, Badiru said the problem could have been solved by avoiding overbooked flights.

“If a flight is overbooked, they shouldn’t still be selling tickets and seats,” said Badiru.

At the very least, Badiru believed that the overbooked passengers should be put on the next flight out to their destination.

Although agreeing that overbooking was the issue, Wanciak had a slightly different approach as to how United could have better handled what happened.

“De-escalation training should be essential for officers or security as a first line of protection. If an individual can be coerced to calm down or comply, it resolves the situation before conflict,” said Wanciak. “Sure, they offer money as compensation, but some things are more important than that.”

“Dr. Dao should not have automatically been forced off, and should not have been manhandled to the point where he had been bloodied,” said Wanciak. “Understandably, people are going to be really angry when they are thrown off a plane they paid for, so why not have better contingencies for it?”

More than anything, both students agree that United Airlines is in the wrong.

“It makes no sense,” said Badiru. “Who does that?”

“United Airlines is without a doubt in the wrong with this one,” said Wanciak. “There are so many other techniques that people can employ to try and convince people to give up their seats.”

The date has not been set for the upcoming U.S. House Transportation Committee hearing.

The airline has made no further comments on the incident.

2017-2018 SGA Senators: What Do You Plan To Accomplish Next Year?

by Angela Fortuna

At-Large Senators:

Victor Constanza: “I want to keep my promises in what I said when I was running. First, I want the “Paper-Boy Initiative” to be passed. This will create a personal connection to students when we give out information about events and what is going on with the school. This will require senators to actually go into public and go up to students one-on-one. Second, I would like to reform the liaison program. We have to actually go to club meetings, so the SGA knows what these clubs are about, what they are doing exactly, and help them with whatever they need. Lastly, we need to improve upon community engagement. We have to participate with all clubs to help the students of New Britain, since the town does not have a high graduation rate. We should take it upon ourselves to help.”

Stephen Dew: “My re-election to senate will focus on three focal points. First, we must join with the other schools in the CSCU system to coordinate our efforts to challenge the state legislature and system office when it comes to tuition [and] fees. Second, we must introduce a student alternative to the bookstore, to help lower the cost of textbooks. And third, we must really do more to lower the barriers to club funding, to give every organization and student the best possible chance to succeed and meet their potential.”

Damar Britto: “For those who don’t know, I have a four-point platform, dubbed the STAR Platform. It stands for scholarships, tuition grants (for undocumented students), active senate and finally relationships with organizations. I plan to have these ideas pushed, especially scholarships and tuition grants, by becoming the chair of the Student Life Committee within the SGA, as one of its focuses is scholarships.”

Jailene Nazario: “Next year, I want to keep a strong relationship with students and faculty, so I can focus on open resource textbooks and on the issues that students come to me with.”

Joseph Carangui: “I am delighted to be representing the student body at CCSU once again. I believe I got re-elected because my platform connected with students. Therefore, I intend to make the positive impact that I campaigned for, which is to continue to have this organization host wellness events and increase the amount of money in SGA scholarships that [are] available to all undergraduate students.”

Brianna Rose: “I plan to raise awareness of the barriers CCSU students face while trying to attain an education to better their quality of life. Research shows that most colleges are unequipped to service vulnerable students. This is a deterrent in the college success of students who come from difficult backgrounds such as first-generations, immigrants, foster care or homelessness. As a senator, I will use my power to be an advocate for myself and others like me, whose pathway to college was not simply just a journey, but a fight.”

Flavja Muka: “I am excited to represent the student body as a new voice on the senate. I plan to encourage students to become more involved in the SGA and CCSU community. It is important to have each student feel heard and empowered. Therefore, I plan to have a positive connection with the clubs and organizations on campus. I believe the senate can make a powerful impact on student life, so I will do my best to represent all students.”

Jessica Aguilar: “I’m very thankful to have received the opportunity to represent the student body at CCSU. As an SGA member, I want to create better communication between students and organizations on campus. Also, I’ll strive to have an open mind in students’ concerns and ensure that students’ needs are met on campus.”

Resident Senators:

Amanda Gorman: “I am excited to be serving the students for another year. I plan to assist in changing scholarships to make them more accessible and larger in both quantity and quality.”

John Coleman: “My plan for this coming year is to work with the Academic Affairs Committee to provide a high-quality educational experience to all CCSU students. The one thing that all students have in common is education, so addressing academic issues benefits everyone. In particular, I’d like to address two issues: college affordability and the advising process. I want the senate to be strong advocates and earn the trust of the student body.”

Kelly Hernandez: “One of my main goals is to be a voice to cultural-based clubs as well as other clubs on campus that are often overlooked. As a member of [the] Latin American Student Organization, the Ebony Chorale Ensemble and a host of other clubs, I know what issues seem to hurt clubs across the board and I wish to stop it. Another goal of mine is to help represent student athletes. The student athlete population is another group that is severely underrepresented in student government and I hope to change that.”

Akai Long: “As a senator of the Student Government Association, I plan to create a better connected campus. To create a better connected campus, I have come up with a two-part plan: the first part is to better connect the SGA with state and local governments. As is stands, the SGA has put the minimum amount of effort to advocate on behalf of students. The second part is better connecting the SGA to CCSU students. I plan to go to as many hall councils as I can because as a resident senator, I want to hear as much feedback from residents as I can.”

James Angelopoulos: “My mission is to improve the environment of the university. If we can improve the environment and culture to show off the talented and big members of our campus, I believe we can get more students to come to CCSU and slow down the tuition growth. I also want the hard-working clubs on campus, who make a point of getting involved, to receive more funding to promote a stronger environment on campus.”

Jacquelyn Daniels: “As resident senator, I will encourage more communication between the student body and the SGA, so that every student receives the representation they deserve. I plan to collaborate with clubs and organizations to increase involvement and promote more events. I also hope to extend dining hall hours through a petition, if students continue to express interest in this plan. I will advocate for the SGA to increase scholarship funding, to give more students greater chances and a wider variety of scholarships.”

Thomas Mitchell: I ran for the SGA to do one simple thing: finish what I have started. In order to do such, it is my mission to acquire a golf cart for the student government in order to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of events on campus. Many initiatives can come from this golf cart, such as the SGA Designated Driver as well as the SGA Meals on Wheels. Aside from that, I want to promote an open source textbook platform as well as advancing the academic technologies within majors to create a generation of future experts coming from CCSU.”

Jared Sales: “While on SGA, I want to make sure that all resident senators are going to their hall councils at least once a month and asking their constituents what they want SGA to do for them. Personally, with senator Akai Long and any other senators who join me in the future, will go to every hall council at least once a month. I will join the Student Life Committee and dedicate myself to working on mental health and other aspects of the committee.”

Commuter Senators:

Dajana Sejdiraj: “I want us, as SGA individuals, to work with different clubs and to create amazing things on campus that can benefit everyone. For example, I would want to work with all the science- and technology-related clubs to create a single solar panel umbrella that students can use to charge their laptops and study outside. I would want to start with just one and see how successful it would become before expanding upon it. I want to work with the LGBTQ [community] and create gender-neutral bathrooms on campus. I want to work with CAN and create fun promo items such as free ponchos for everyone to use on a rainy day when walking to classes.”

Sedina Begic: “A few of the things I plan on doing next year as a senator are to implement Wellness Week in the fall, since one is already in the spring. Also, themed months to increase the wellness of students as well as getting the SGA’s name out there. I would like to invest in a career closet. If it’s approved, we can rent out a small area somewhere in the library or student center and provide business casual attire for students who may need to rent it in cases of job interviews or internships, etc. One final thing I plan on doing is just being more accessible to anyone with questions through text, email and in-person meetings.”

Gabriella Bierwirth: “This upcoming year, I have a lot of goals that I would like to accomplish with the SGA. Besides simply making sure that senators get more involved with clubs and their events, I want to try and host more awareness weeks and activities in which different cultures, religions, ethnicities and clubs can host games and activities to raise awareness of who they are as well as address micro-aggressions. I want to eliminate a lot of the tension seen within the SGA and ensure that we are working together as a group to help as many people as we can. I especially want to increase involvement within the entire campus and build a stronger connection with the rest of New Britain.”

Estefania Maya: “Next year, I want to create stronger relationships with the clubs and students. I hope to support the other committees on senate and the new e-board with their future endeavors and by volunteering my time, planning events and communicating with students. I strongly believe that, in order to better represent the students, we must know what issues they face, whether that be funding or academic struggles. This can only be done if we take time to check up on the clubs and students.”

Kassandra Fruin: “I want to help provide our campus with more accessibility to all students, a better sense of campus community and advocate for affordability. My own challenging life experiences have given me a strong desire to want to give back. I pride myself on advocating for a more inclusive and welcoming campus. Identifying with the LGBTQ community, I understand the fear of safety on campus, in our community and country as a whole. I will fight for a strong stand on social justice issues and fight for a safer campus. The Student Government needs to be proactive in ending the stigmas related to mental health and help aid our students into the right direction when it comes to proper funding. Along with accessibility, the cost of attending CCSU is a huge issue that needs to be addressed. We are experiencing a time that tuition is going up four percent and we need student leaders to advocate for an affordable education. I will provide the guidance and experience as a returning senator the SGA needs to be of larger benefit to students.”

Dante Solano: “By the end of the next semester, I look forward to the implementation of an SGA climate survey.  This survey will give students the opportunity to grade the work of the SGA along with making their voices and concerns heard. I await the opportunity to make sure that we, here in the SGA, fund clubs and organizations in both a fair and responsible fashion. I hope to soon meet with some of our administration to discuss the safety of students during the winter and campus policies for emergency weather situations.”

Christopher Theriault: Unreachable for comment at this time.

Jose Diaz: Unreachable for comment at this time.

Sawera Hussan: “I’m honored to be re-elected as a senator for the SGA to continue representing the student body. My initiatives are to increase club funding, advocate for affordable higher education and provide a safe and inclusive environment for everyone at CCSU.”

Sabrina Morin: “I am very pleased to be a re-elected senator here at CCSU.  As a senator next semester, I am hoping to bring better communication to campus, end stigmas and spread mental health awareness as well as resources here on campus.”

Tiffany Aguilera: “I ran for senate this year to hear the voices of students and to make this campus a more inclusive community, especially for those who have disabilities. I have noticed that students, especially those who have disabilities, don’t participate as much in club activities or events that occur on campus. I would like to change that by working closely with Student Disability Services, the Wellness Center and the Women’s Center. Although details aren’t fully worked out yet, I would like [to express] that I plan to dedicate myself to this and to make it my mission for the next academic year.”

Jalal Butt: “I plan to help steer the academic affairs committee in the path it has been directed to over these past two years. This involves the facilitation of CCSU course transitions to open-source resources, expansion of the plan to increase course transparency through online syllabi and an increase in academic mapping reliability.”

Mariano Cardoso: Unreachable for comment at this time.

Natalia Rozio: “I am extremely excited to represent commuter students on campus and be a part of SGA. Next year, I hope to connect SGA with the Transfer Office to make the transferring process for future students smoother and less frustrating. I also plan to make commuters feel more comfortable on campus by introducing commuter-based events throughout the semester.”

The War on Drugs Will Never Work; Decriminalization Will

by Kristina Vakhman

In 1971, President Richard Nixon waged a “war on drugs” in an effort to curtail drug use among American youth. Since then, the United States has resorted to prohibition, believing that aggressive drug bans will reduce and prevent drug-related crime, addiction, incarceration, death and disease. Yet, the opposite has occurred.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, 46.3 percent of inmates are currently imprisoned because of drug offenses. The National Institute on Drug Abuse approximates that more than 50,000 individuals died from drug overdoses in 2015 alone, and states that diseases such as hepatitis and HIV continue to rage, spreading through unhygienic methods like unsterilized needles.

Michael Botticelli, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, told Scott Pelley on CBS’s “60 Minutes” that the United States’ war on drugs led to “failed policies and failed practices.” Considering the costly results of these efforts, the federal government should look for an alternative approach in combatting drug use.

That alternative is the decriminalization and legalization of all illicit drugs. This may seem like a disastrous choice. However, in Portugal, it has worked.

In 2001, Portugal’s government decriminalized and legalized all drugs, no matter the classification, in response to a growing heroin problem. Instead of a being criminally charged, those caught with less than a 10-day supply of hard drugs are taken before a special court of legal experts, psychologists and social workers. In the place of incarceration, a small fine or community service, as well as rehabilitation and treatment is provided.

Today, Portugal has one of the lowest drug-usage rates in all of Europe. The British Journal of Criminology found a significant reduction in the imprisonment of alleged drug dealers, from 14,000 in 2000 to 5,000 in 2010, as well as a decrease in the imprisonment of addicts, which fell from 41 percent in 1999 to 21 percent in 2008.

The Washington Post reported that “there are three drug overdose deaths for every 1,000,000 citizens” in Portugal; as a comparison, 44.6 per million die in the United Kingdom. Drug-related diseases, like HIV, have decreased, “while the dramatic rise in use feared by some has failed to materialize,” as stated by the Transform Drug Policy Institute.

By focusing on treatment rather than punishment, Portugal has given its citizens the opportunity to rehabilitate and contribute as functioning members of society. Consequently, the demand for drugs falls as the number of users declines.

In the U.S., certain states are moving towards reformation instead of incarceration. The New York Times reported Mayor Bill de Blasio’s efforts to combat the wild opioid epidemic in New York City, where $38 million a year would go to programs including “expanded methadone and buprenorphine treatment for addicts” and “a focus at city hospitals on dealing with addiction and overdoses.”

That is what the U.S. needs. The current system is a complete failure; the concept of the war on drugs is ridiculously ineffective. It’s time to look for an alternative model, and Portugal has proven that its model works.

US and Syria Update

by Sarah Willson

The United States has dropped more bombs and killed more civilians in Iraq and Syria this March than any other month on record, according to an independent monitoring group. 

In Iraq 268 strikes were carried out, while 434 were carried out in Syria within the month of March, killing as many as 3,471 people.

This statistic involves data from the U.S. airstrike on Syria’s Shayrat airbase, launched on April 7, which destroyed 20 percent of the Syrian government’s operational aircraft and killed six people.

Although some may be satisfied with the fact that President Donald Trump is keeping his campaign promise to target ISIS, one Central Connecticut State University student is not so sure this is the best option.

“I’m for and against [the U.S. airstrike],” said Andrea Sanchez, a student majoring in international studies with a concentration in the Middle East. “I don’t agree with over-involvement by the United States because it seems that we always make things worse.”

“From a humanitarian standpoint, I think it’s a good thing not just because it was that the U.S. got involved, but because international intervention needs to happen in Syria because there is a huge humanitarian crisis on its civilians,” said Sanchez. 

Tensions between the U.S. and Russia have also been on the rise since the airstrike. In a recent statement, Trump said that U.S. relations with Russia may be at an “all-time low.”

“I think they already kind of did [impact the U.S. and Russia relationship],” said Sanchez about the airstrike. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin called off a meeting last week with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. 

“I think it’s kind of interesting that he didn’t meet with him,” said  Sanchez. ”I think that already speaks volumes.”

When asked about the Syrian people, Sanchez stated that the only way to bring them peace would be “if there was some international coalition to stop Bashar,” because “he will do anything to stay in power.”

Sanchez also believes that the U.S. should accept Syrian refugees. 

“We’re bombing a country for killing civilians but we don’t want to take the civilians from the country that’s being bombed,” said Sanchez. “It doesn’t make any sense why we would not accept them, especially if we’re bombing their airfield.”

“Taking in civilians would help the cause because it would send a message to the the whole world to join together instead of turning them away,” said Sanchez.

Along with this, the U.S. is also struggling to decide who to take out first— ISIS or Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. 

“I think the most imminent danger is Assad at the moment,” said Sanchez. “It’s not that one is less evil than the other, I think they’re both equally as bad; I just think that Assad has more means to create a more catastrophic effect on its people.”

For the U.S., this problem ultimately leads to the question of whether or not the U.S. should continue to enforce military actions against Syria.

“You’re almost one and done” said Sanchez, regarding the airstrike. “It didn’t really help anything.”

The U.S. has proposed no further military action on Syria, but Press Secretary Sean Spicer says it is not off the table. 

For now, the White House says its priority above all is defeating ISIS, contrasting the UN Ambassador to the U.S. Nikki Haley, who claims there cannot be peace in Syria until Assad is defeated. 

US Drops Most Powerful Non-Nuclear Bomb on ISIS

by Angela Fortuna

In an attempt to send a message, the United States military dropped the most powerful non-nuclear bomb on ISIS targets in Afghanistan on April 13.

Afghan officials originally reported 36 deaths near the Pakistani border, but later confirmed at least 94 Islamic State fighters were killed, including four commanders, according to CNN.

The U.S. military estimated that 600 to 800 active ISIS fighters were in the area at the time of the attack, at 7:32 p.m. local time.

The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb, or MOAB, nicknamed the “mother of all bombs,” weighed 21,600 pounds and stretched 30 feet long, according to U.S. military officials. The GPS-guided bomb was dropped by an MC-130 aircraft controlled by the Air Force Special Operations Command.

The MOAB is capable of destroying an area equivalent to nine city blocks, according to CNN.

The MOAB proved to be successful in targeting an ISIS cave and tunnel complex, along with military personnel. The bomb destroyed three underground tunnels, weapons and ammunition, without civilian casualties, according to CNN. Intense surveillance had been conducted to prevent any civilian deaths before the dropping of the MOAB.

President Donald Trump described the attack as a “another very, very successful mission.”

This attack has caused many to contemplate the repercussions of the incident for the U.S. Tensions between the U.S. and other countries, particularly North Korea, have grown since the attack.

The North Korean military threatened the U.S. on April 14, stating plans to carry out an attack on a major American military base in South Korea, according to the New York Times.

Shortly after, North Korea launched a missile test that failed within seconds. This outcome means the U.S. has no reason to respond to the incident, according to Vice President Mike Pence. If the missile test in North Korea proved to be successful, there is no way of knowing what kind of damage it could have caused, or if the U.S. would have been directly affected.

Since the missile test in North Korea did not involve nuclear weapons, the U.S. felt no need to take notable action.

The dropping of the MOAB has certainly drawn attention to the rising conflict between the U.S. and ISIS. Potential retaliation by ISIS is currently unpredictable.

The Future of the Social Justice Committee

by Angela Fortuna

Whether the Social Justice Committee of the Student Government Association at Central Connecticut State University will exist next academic year has been debated after mistakes made with the Student Veterans Organization on campus.

“We’ve been looking into different options as far as whether we want this committee to exist on SGA, exist as a commission, kind of like CAN, or stay as it is right now,” said SJC Chair Christopher Marinelli.

The SJC was formed by current SGA President Jahmil Effend to act as a group predominately focused on social justice and related issues.

Senators Marinelli and Sawera Hussan were elected to chair the committee that has been involved in many events and has spread awareness of various social justice issues.

“I think our committee has genuinely made a difference this year. We’ve been active with so many groups, and have heard really good feedback from the students and faculty, such as ‘The Laramie Project,’” said Marinelli.

Director of “The Laramie Project” Thom Delventhal spoke on behalf of the SJC on April 5.

“I have to thank the SJC and I want to echo other people’s sentiments, they don’t want to see this committee go away,” said Delventhal.

“There’s a scene which calls for a march, and the play is all about [the] community coming together after a hate crime took place in which a gay college student was killed,” said Marinelli.

The SJC organized the event Tea Against Bigotry, rallies, diversity week, passed resolutions and held a veterans panel.

Tea Against Bigotry was an event “which brought a group of people together from different ideologies and beliefs and gave everyone an opportunity to share parts of their life,” said Marinelli.

The SJC also organized a rally to stand up for undocumented students and Muslim students “in light of the travel ban, in order to show solidarity with immigrants,” said Marinelli.

Two important resolutions were passed by the SJC in their first year as a committee — the Social Sciences Hall will have its name changed to Ebenezer Bassett Hall and students on campus protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals are now supported by the committee.

Bassett was “the first African-American to graduate from CCSU and was the first African-American diplomat,” said Marinelli.

Whatever the outcome of the SJC, Marinelli remains proud of all the committee has accomplished in such a short period of time.

“I’m honestly proud of all my committee members for everything we’ve accomplished this year together,” said Marinelli. “We’re a new committee and this was a learning opportunity for everyone involved, and it’s been a wonderful experience.”