All posts by Angela Fortuna

Mayor Stewart Elected For Third Term

by Angela Fortuna and Shaina Blakesley

Mayor Erin Stewart was elected for her third term serving New Britain last week, and is making history in the process.

Stewart was first elected mayor of New Britain when she was 26 years old in 2013, making her the youngest mayor in the city’s history, according to her website.

“I plan to continue with the vision I laid out four years ago, which is a plan to transform our city into a place where people want to increasingly live, work, visit and open a business,” Stewart said. “We have many streetscape projects in the works, transit-oriented development initiatives waiting to come to life, various infrastructure projects for both the city and school system and grant projects that I want to see through to completion.”

Stewart has many plans for the future of New Britain, however, Democrats in the town are in control of the New Britain council.

The Democrats now have nine seats on the New Britain City Council, while the Republicans now have six on the 15-member council, according to the Hartford Courant.

Stewart ran against candidates such as Democratic candidate Merrill Gay and petitioning candidate Al May.

“It was interesting to run against candidates who campaigned without much of a platform or policy recommendations. I think voters were uncertain with what they had to offer and were turned off by the negative attacks, and the results show,” Stewart said.

Gay’s platform was mainly about change, and that New Britain could benefit from a new leader.

“I want New Britain to thrive, not just survive. We need to capitalize on our strengths and engage our diverse communities to build a better New Britain,” Gay said of his vision for the city, according to his campaign website.

The College Democrats at Central Connecticut State University shared their views on the opposing candidate’s loss.

“It was unfortunate that Merrill Gay did not win. We phone banked with him shortly before the election and thought he would have done well as mayor,” Ian Cocking, president of the College Democrats at CCSU said. “Not all is lost though. Democrats were able to gain six new seats in city council, making it 9-6 with Democrats taking a majority. We are short of the two-thirds needed to veto, but we are picking up traction for the party.”

Stewart is the only woman to be elected mayor for a second, and now a third term in the city of New Britain.

During her third term, Stewart plans to “find new and innovative ways to save taxpayers money, improve the delivery of our services, increase citizen participation in local government and facilitate new community events and partnerships.”

Stewart’s family has a tradition of serving New Britain residents, and she is proud to continue that tradition, according to her campaign website; this tradition has lasted 100 years.

“She closed a deficit of more than $30 million during her first term, increased the City’s Rainy Day fund to $15 million and brought stability and responsibility back to the city’s finances,” according to her campaign website.

This led to Stewart’s reelections for second and third terms.

Stewart is also credited to the opening of CTfastrak in 2015, which many Central students use. CCSU gives students a free semester-long U-Pass to travel to the surrounding areas of New Britain.

Stewart is well-liked in the city of New Britain and the GOP. Residents have recently urged Stewart to run for governor.

“I am currently focused on meeting the needs of New Britain residents as mayor. I am humbled by the support from individuals urging me to run for higher office [and] I will keep all my options open for the future,” Stewart said.

Veterans Day Celebrated at CCSU

by Isabella Cenatiempo

Veterans Day was celebrated on Nov. 10 at Central Connecticut State University with a ceremony to honor those who fought for our country.

“In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming Nov. 11 as Veterans Day and called upon Americans everywhere to eradicate themselves to the cause of peace. Later, President John F. Kennedy said at a Veterans Day ceremony, and I quote, ‘As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by,’” President Dr. Zulma Toro said to the crowd.

More than a million American service members have died in service to this country. More than 1.4 million lived with wounds while fighting for the United States and more then 2.5 million former service members are still living today, as shared at the ceremony.

“We are especially proud of the students of CCSU who have served and are putting their lives on the line in the trouble spots of the world,” Interim Vice President of Student Affairs Peter Troiano said.

Three CCSU veterans were honored at the ceremony: U.S. Marine Corporal Salvatore V. Sena Sr., Connecticut Air National Guard Staff Sergeant Dorota Gdula and Connecticut Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer Tasha E. Dow.

The Veterans Public Service Award for Excellence was awarded to Sena Sr.

In 1964, Sena Sr. enlisted in the Marine Corps. He graduated from CCSU in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering and management.

“My men know me and I am not going to leave the podium until I have thanked everyone being a veteran,” Sena Sr. said when receiving the award. “There is one thing you wind up learning, most of you here know a veteran learns the words, we and team. It was drove into our heads a long time ago, there is no I in team, you cannot get anything accomplished by being alone, and I know there was no way I was going to get anything accomplished without my fellow Marines and my fellow veterans throughout the state. It’s to them that I want to say thank you very much and if it was not for you, I wouldn’t be standing here right now and to you all, I thank you very much.”

The Student Veteran Award for Excellence and scholarship was given to  Gdula. In 2012, she joined the Air National Guard. She grew up in a small town called Zmiennica in southern Poland. When Gdula was 17 years old, she moved away from home to attend college in the U.S. Gdula attended Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia, as well as West Virginia Northern Community College. When she moved to Connecticut, she enrolled in Asnuntuck Community College where she earned her second associates degree. After this, Gdula attended CCSU; she graduated in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology.

The Great Elm VFW 9945 Wethersfield Veterans Scholarship was received by Dow. Dow enlisted in the Connecticut Army National Guard one month after her eighteenth birthday. Dow currently has two semesters left at CCSU; she is pursuing her degree in exercise science.

“You have a lot to be proud of here at CCSU for many different reasons. The CCSU extended family really cherishes and supports veterans. [The university] seeks out veterans to be students and  honors them. [This] is not true in all communities in America, but it is true here in New Britain, and it is true here at CCSU, and that creates a culture of respect and of service that is needed now more than ever,” Congresswoman Elizabeth Etsy said.

The mayor signed three proclamations, saying “As mayor of the city of New Britain, I join with all gathered here today in thanking Salvatore Sena Sr., Dorota Gdula and Tasha Dow for their service to our country, state and community and congratulate them on being given three different awards.”

Women Make History, Too

by Cindy Pena

The women’s right to vote amendment was passed and implemented almost 100 years ago. The fight to get this passed was definitely not an easy one. It required time, determination and most importantly, unity. Unity with all women to fight for what they deserved; it was a fight for political representation.  

However, until this day, women are still extremely underrepresented in politics. According to the Center for American Women and Politics, nationally, women make up 19.6 percent of the 535 seats in Congress: 21 percent of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate and 19.3 percent of the 435 seats in the House.

In 2016, Connecticut was listed as one of the top states for women in politics with 28 percent of elected state officials being women and 53 of female elected officials in the state legislature, according to CT Post. InsideGov used information from the National Conference of State Legislatures and ranked Connecticut the fifteenth highest state of women in elected office. Although this is a good sign, there is still room for improvement.

The underrepresentation of women in politics means laws pertaining to women’s rights, like paid family and medical leave, are created mostly by men. That needs to change. We need more women to enter the political arena to not only to represent womens issues, but also to inspire the younger generation to do so as well.

Mayor of New Britain Erin Stewart is one woman leader breaking that mold. Stewart is the 40th mayor of New Britain and is the youngest mayor in the United States. She went to New Britain High School and is a Central Connecticut State University alumna. She is also a role model to women and girls in New Britain who may have political aspirations.

Her impact in New Britain is tremendous. She has revitalized the New Britain area, improved the economic state of New Britain, and worked with community members, like CCSU, to better New Britain. She is just one local example of a woman flourishing in the political arena, and I know there are more around the U.S.

Ultimately, we need more women like Erin Stewart to not only motivate women, but create future political leaders. We have made substantial progress since 1920 when the 19th Amendment was passed, but unfortunately not enough. So go vote, talk to your congressperson, or even run for office; let your voice be heard.  

As Michelle Obama once stated, “You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have, because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.”

‘A Mile in My Boots: Combating the Camouflage of Mental Illness’

by Isabella Cenatiempo

Bryan Adams, Assistant Director of Veteran and Military Services for the Rutgers University system, came to Central Connecticut State University to share his personal experiences as a combat veteran and as a college student.

The event took place in the Constitution Room in Memorial Hall on Wednesday, Nov. 1.

Adams is an Active Minds speaker; Active Minds is the nation’s premier nonprofit organization supporting mental health awareness and education for students. All the members of the Active Minds Speakers Bureau are trained to educate, entertain and inspire audiences through compelling mental health presentations and personal story telling. Each speaker’s story is unique and sheds light on a range of topics related to mental health.

Through award-winning programs and services, Active Minds empowers the new generation to speak openly, act courageously and change the conversation about mental health for everyone.

Adams’ mental health story began in Tikrit, Iraq in 2004 when he was shot twice during an ambush. He spoke about overcoming depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. After returning home, Adams was awarded the Purple Heart.

Adams was not prepared for how challenging the transition to a college campus would be, he told the crowd.

“It really blows my mind, traveling across the country, at the magnitude of mental health issues in the United States. The statistic our organization uses is that one in four college-aged adults have some type of diagnosed mental health disorder,” Adams said. “That’s a huge issue and it’s something you don’t see a lot of people talking about. It’s very uncomfortable [to talk about] but the only way it’s going to change is if you’re open to talk about it [and] if you try to tear down those stigmas.”

Kate Ayotte, Wellness Program Administrator for Suicide Prevention, spoke at the event about the resources available to students regarding suicide awareness and counseling.

“I just want to highlight our Veteran’s Affairs Office on campus that veterans can utilize. Also, that Student Wellness Services has free confidential counseling, and there is also a veteran’s counseling group that Dr. Jonathan Pohl runs; they meet Wednesdays at 4 p.m. in Vance Hall,” Ayotte said.

At the event, it was stated that suicide is the most preventable death, and CCSU takes pride in training the Central community in “question, persuade and refer,” or QPR. Over two thirds of CCSU athletic coaches, trainers and staff act as QPR gate keepers, as stated at the event.

Signs that a friend could be struggling include: depressed mood, change in sleep or appetite, feeling like a burden, difficulty concentrating, increased risky behavior, isolation from friends and family, self-harm and more, as stated at the event.

Resources at CCSU include Student Wellness Services located in the Marcus White Annex and Victim Advocacy located in Carroll Hall, room 248.

Some off-campus resources include the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which can be reached at 800-273-8255. The crisis text line is 741741. The Wheeler Clinic’s number is 860-747-8484 and the National Hope’s number is 860-784-2458. The Sexual Assault Crisis line is 860-223-1787 and the Trevor Project’s (LGBTQ) phone number is 866-488-7388.

“You can always affect change; don’t ever think that you can’t. If you’re determined enough and you’re organized enough, you can really get a lot of stuff done,” Adams said.

CCSU Conducts Search For Dean Of The College Of Liberal Arts And Social Sciences

by Isabella Cenatiempo

The Carol A. Ammon College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) is currently in the process of selecting a new dean.

CLASS houses 17 departments, with programs touching every student at Central Connecticut State University, according to a Campus Announcements email sent out to students on Oct. 16 from President Dr. Zulma Toro.

Toro sent out an updated email on Nov. 6, announcing that the Provost Search Committee had selected 10 candidates to take part in off-campus interviews.

The interviews will be held at the Sheraton Hotel at Bradley International Airport where candidates will meet with the search committee for an hour and with Toro for approximately 50 minutes.
Central hopes the future dean of CLASS will help take Central to a new level of excellence, according to the email.

The committee also held its organizational meeting on Oct. 20. The committee was selected when Toro asked who was interested in being a part of the committee; Toro wanted to make sure there was a good representation from different groups and departments on campus.

The committee is chaired by Anna Suski-Lenczewski, CCSU’s Chief Human Resources Officer. Other members of the committee include: Vicente García, professor in the Department of Art; Gil Gigliotti, professor in the Department of English; Katherine Hermes, professor in the History Department; Carlos Liard-Muriente, professor in the Department of Economics; A. Fiona Pearson, professor in the Department of Sociology; Evelyn Phillips, professor in the Department of Anthropology; Laura Minor, Advising Specialist for CLASS; Stephen Hard, Executive Director for Greater New Britain Arts Alliance and Charles Johnson, Assistant Director for Development/Annual Giving.

The committee is currently putting together the job posting for the position; they met last Friday to finalize it.

Once the posting is put together with the qualifications expected from applicants, the committee will have Toro review it and make sure it is in line with the instructions she gave them.

The available position will be advertised to the public soon for a six-week period; it should be closed by the end of December.

Once all the applications are in, the committee will review them and look at the candidates who meet the qualifications. Then, they will go through the interview process and pick the 10 to 12 most qualified candidates as semifinalists.

The committee will then determine a smaller group of finalists within the 10 to 12 applicants to come to campus and meet with different groups of students and faculty.

The new dean must meet the following qualifications: they must have education and training in at least one of the disciplines in CLASS at a higher-level college or university setting, be looking to increase diversity and enrollment, have excellent interpersonal skills, the ability to work and get involved with faculty, students and the community and look to continue the mission of the university, according to Suski-Lenczewski.

“I think we are looking forward to having somebody permanent in place because we have been dealing with interims for the past year. It’s difficult to kind of do things when you’re an interim. Once someone is appointed to the permanent position, then we can go forward with additional work in positive directions,” Suski- Lenczewski said.

The interviews are scheduled for Dec. 5 to 8 in hopes to have the new dean selected before the spring semester. Until then, students and faculty at CCSU can look for further progress reports, opportunities to offer your thoughts and recommendations and the dates for the finalists’ campus visit.