All posts by Angela Fortuna

Abduction A Hoax

by Angela Fortuna

Just a few blocks away from Central Connecticut State University, a 16-year-old girl reported that she was allegedly kidnapped on Thursday, Oct. 12.

The alleged kidnapping occurred at approximately 8:30 p.m. The incident took place in a parking lot across from Saint Francis Assisi Church on 1755 Stanley Street in New Britain, according to the New Britain Police Department.

On Saturday, the New Britain Police Department determined that the incident was not arbitrary, and that the teen knew the alleged suspect.

It was later confirmed by the New Britain Police Department that the victim willingly entered the vehicle and left without any injuries.

According to New Britain police, the victim informed officials that she “was able to free herself from the car and run to a friend’s home for assistance.”

The victim told police she was forced into a car by a male suspect, who referred to himself as Edwin, described as a heavy-set Hispanic male with short brown hair, brown eyes and a pencil-thin beard.

The victim said that the suspect asked her to “perform a sexual act,” according to New Britain police.

Police officials said the victim described the alleged suspect as driving a late-model green BMW 3 with tinted windows and possibly a breathalyzer ignition locking system, according to WFSB.

Initial police reports stated that the victim was in fact a CCSU student, however, further investigating proved otherwise.

Even though the incident did not occur on campus, CCSU Police and New Britain Police are taking precautions by patrolling the area more than usual.

An email was sent out to students on Friday morning about the incident, urging students to be cautious when walking around campus or the surrounding areas at night.

“CCSU Police will provide additional patrol coverage to this area, but please be advised to use caution nonetheless. Report any suspicious activity at once,” an email from Mark McLaughlin, associate vice president of Marketing and Communications, said on behalf of the CCSU Police Department. “The CCSU Police is providing this alert for purposes of awareness and to reinforce the need to use caution when walking alone.”

This is not the first time CCSU has been a part of a false claim, which resulted in a panicked campus.

CCSU is no stranger to enforcing safety measures, as they were implemented on Nov. 5, 2013 when former student David Kyem triggered a campus-wide lockdown after police received multiple phone calls, in fear of his realistic Halloween costume.

Kyem told New Britain police he was returning from a Halloween party one weekend when he returned to campus wearing a tactical vest, camouflage pants, mask, sword and handgun, according to the New York Daily News.

As of Monday night, no criminal charges have been filed against the alleged suspect or alleged victim.

Anyone with any information related to the incident is asked to call the New Britain Police Department at 860-826-3131. Anyone can leave an anonymous tip by calling 860-826-319.

A Call For Childcare Expansion at CCSU

by Kristina Vakhman

Twenty six children are learning their letters and numbers just off of Central Connecticut State University’s campus, but the Early Learning Program teaching these youths is insubstantial, according to Fiona Pearson, the president of the ELP’s Board of Directors.

“There are only 26 slots,” Pearson said. “We don’t have any toddler care or any infant care here on campus. It’s only [children] three to five.”

The ELP is a non-profit providing award-winning preschool education. It prioritizes the children of CCSU students, faculty and staff, but services the entirety of New Britain and other surrounding areas.

Despite the ELP’s importance in serving quality schooling to Central and low-income children, the daycare’s restrictive physical size and tight resources have prevented it from fulfilling its potential of aiding a greater number of children and their parents.

Pearson, who also serves as co-chair for the university’s Work-Life Balance Sub-Committee, along with other members of the CCSU community, including the Committee on the Concerns of Women and the Parent Advisory Committee, have been advocating for expansions to the ELP ever since it was relocated off-campus to East Street over 10 years ago.

“It used to be where Welte Garage is. If you go to the [new] building today, it’s very small. There are only two small classrooms. That’s why we can only serve 26 small children. We’ve talked about trying to renovate the basement so that we can turn that into an expanded space and expand the resources that are available, but that’s expensive,” Pearson explained.

ELP’s director, Talhaht Mannan, said discussions on the refurbishment have been going on for around three years.

As of now, though, the plan to convert the basement into either a kid-friendly gymnasium or into a preschool classroom to make space for infants and toddlers upstairs is nothing more than just a plan.

A much more favorable scenario for Pearson, however, would be for the ELP to return to CCSU’s campus. She believes that the move back would not only bring a greater expanse for the children, but is also better suited for parents.

“We feel that it being off-campus is not convenient for parents,” Pearson said. “We talked about it being in the DiLoreto reconstruction, which is not happening. We’ve talked about having it in the reconstruction of Barnard, which is also not happening. We’ve talked more recently about the Student Center. That would be centrally located and would be near convenient parking. I’d love to see it integrated into an expansion of the Student Center, but much depends on the needs of the university, although we think this is a need that ought to be prioritized.”

Onyinye Obidoa-Pelletier, a CCSU graduate student expecting her first child who works with student parents, agreed that this approach “would be much easier to continue with one’s work and studies if there were a drop-off center or childhood learning program on campus.”

Obidoa-Pelletier added that certain grievances expressed to her by parents, such as “not being able to get accommodations from professors… to cater to the needs of one’s children” — a matter which the university does not have a set policy on, according to Human Resources, and is thus dictated on a professor-by-professor basis — would be resolved with the construction of a practical, on-campus drop-off site.

“It would be wonderful to see additional programs on campus that are early learning programs,” Mannan said, although she propounded that it would be better for the ELP itself to stay where it currently is because it being a “stand-alone building” that is “peaceful” and “secluded” has given the children the ability to “enjoy more since…[there is a] playground.”

Additionally, a report written in 2011 by the faculty-appointed Child Care Task Force and the Work-Life Balance Sub-Committee called for the creation of a Family Resource Center similar to that of schools like Southern Connecticut State University. It would address the needs of families and provide resources other than childcare likes nutrition workshops and financial management.

Furthermore, the report noted that Central could utilize an on-campus daycare as a “lab daycare center” for academic learning.

“Students from various academic departments, including psychology, nursing and physical education, and from various CCSU programs, including Residence Life, have benefited from conducting programs or conducting observations at the ELP,” the report said. “It is clear that CCSU’s students benefit from visiting the ELP, but without a CCSU academic or program sponsor, the ELP cannot grow to address the child care needs highlighted.”

The possibility of other projects dealing with families and children, such as on-campus apartments with kitchens, have also been discussed without coming to fruition, Jean Alicandro, director of Residence Life said.

The expansions and benefits claimed to accompany them have yet to be looked over. With the budget crisis already hitting the state with cuts to educational funding, discussions to the ELP’s improvements have become more stagnant than before. Nonetheless, Pearson is optimistic, especially due to President Dr. Zulma Toro’s expressed interest in adding on to the program.

“I feel like we’ve been speaking in a vacuum for a long time,” Pearson said. “We are in a place at least where we have people in high positions listening to us and who understand us. The mission is there. In terms of what we want out of this academically and as a student resource, people understand the need, but no one is clear on how we are going to fund such a project.”

Residence Life Pays Little Attention To Maintenance Issues

by Angela Fortuna

Central Connecticut State University welcomed new and returning students this fall with a new mini golf course and hammocks outside, while leaving unresolved maintenance problems on the inside.

On Friday, Oct. 6, all actively enrolled students received an email from President Dr. Zulma Toro regarding a power outage that occurred on Saturday, Sept. 30 in both Robert Vance Residence Hall and Robert Sheridan Hall. The power did not come back until Sunday, Oct. 1 at 6 a.m.

“Because there was no electrical power, the halls were closed and the students living in those halls were displaced,” Toro said in her email to students. “It was very unfortunate that so many students’ lives were disrupted. I realize that University staff responded as quickly and professionally as they could under shifting circumstances, but I deeply empathize with the impacted students for the difficulties they had to confront in finding accommodations for the duration of the power outage.”

One CCSU student residing in Sheridan Hall, who wished not to be named, informed that students who lived in Sheridan and Vance had the choice of either sleeping in the lounges or basements of either Sam May Hall or Gaulladet Hall.

“Other than that, it’s like we were left on our own to find places to sleep,” said the student. “I think everyone did what they could to make it work but more communication on what happened and where to go would have been helpful.”

 When Residence Life was contacted by The Recorder for more information on the power outage, they responded saying they are unable to provide additional information at this time.

When The Recorder contacted resident assistants from each hall, they informed that they could not share any information due to contract restrictions.

Problems in Don F. James Hall include leaking toilets, stains on couches, chipped walls and even mold has reportedly grown in the bathrooms of a few suites.

Katie Bolduc, resident assistant on the third floor of James Hall, says “this building [James Hall] is falling apart.”

Bolduc said that a suite on the third floor of James Hall recently filed a complaint that their toilet was leaking, and has still not been fixed.

“I think that student satisfaction should come from residence hall updates before leisure activities,” said CCSU student Melissa Schuberth.

At the beginning of the semester, before students move into the residence halls, all RA’s are required to complete a form about the condition of each room on their floor. Buldoc informed that many of the requests she filed on her floor were not attended to, and many students were left with problems they could not fix.

“There is at least one drawer in every suite that would not open,” Buldoc said.

CCSU student Madison O’Neill informed that three out of six drawers in her room were broken when she moved into her dorm in James Hall.

“I heard that 100 students in my residence building had broken or dismembered furniture in their dorm when moving in,” O’Neill said.

With the recent tuition increase of about $500 from last year, O’Neill believes problems like this should not be happening.

Central offers nine residence halls, housing 23 percent of students, according to the CCSU website.

According to CCSU’s Office of Institutional Research and Assessment, in the Fall 2016 semester, 9,539 students commuted while just 2,245 lived on campus.

While the number of students living on campus seems low compared to commuters, most of the nine residence halls face unresolved maintenance issues.

“A few of my friends who live on campus always have something to complain about that needs fixing in their room,” Schuberth said.

Bolduc is having difficulty trying to get the drawers in her room to open; her clothes are scattered outside of her dresser because she does not believe the issue will get solved anytime soon, as it is not considered a “top priority” to Resident Life workers.

“[Hammocks and a mini golf course] aren’t a priority. Fixing the drawers and the bathrooms and everything is,” Bolduc said.

Many argue that CCSU is not spending their money wisely, and are concerned that issues that can be seen as a top priority are getting dismissed.

“I definitely think they should be putting more money into working on maintenance [issues] around the building,” Bolduc said.

Over the summer, history professor Matthew Warshauer spent many hours laying out and constructing CCSU’s new mini golf course, in which he described as having a “frivolous” budget.

It took 60 hours just to construct the mini golf course, according to Warshauer.

With the many residence hall issues going on, many students believe more needs to be done to ensure students have a good experience living on campus.

State Budget: Now In Crisis Mode

The Connecticut state budget proposed by Republican lawmakers, which plans to cut a total of $93 million over the course of the next two years, has been a topic of debate recently.

The proposed budget was recently vetoed by Governor Dannel Malloy, in which he called the budget “unbalanced, unsustainable and unwise,” according to WFSB.

According to Central Connecticut State University history professor Louise Williams, CCSU had already felt the impact of a $66 million reduction to the CSCU system budget in the past three years.

A budget cut in the amount of $93 million has the potential to do a lot of damage to Central: class sizes will grow, the amount of courses offered will decrease, travel funds will be reduced, some part-time faculty will be fired and clerical support will be reduced, according to Williams.

The backlash in regards to the proposed budget being vetoed is that an official budget is yet to be announced.

The debate over the current proposed budget continues to push back the official release of a Connecticut state budget.

Back in the beginning of June of 2016, the state budget was finalized, facing $77 million in cuts, according to the Connecticut Mirror.

The state budget was officially finalized in June of last year, while this year, Connecticut is still trying to finalize a budget, reaching the middle of October.

Even with the original budget proposed by Republican lawmakers being vetoed, that does not mean similar proposals cannot be put into effect, which could mean budget cuts will continue to worsen.

Students will face large repercussions financially if the proposed budget cuts of Republican lawmakers get approved, ultimately putting their education in jeopardy.

Coming so far into the 2017-18 fiscal school year without a set-in-stone budget really portrays the struggles of compromising on a budget that would best suit Connecticut.

Although lawmakers are expected to move forward with a budget proposal by the end of this week, it was not discussed what the new budget will entail for the residents of Connecticut.

Despite the planned meeting, Malloy still remains pessimistic, as he says both Republicans and Democrats are “hundreds of millions of dollars apart,” and the “lack of a state budget for more than three months is causing the state to lose jobs.”

As a result, thousands of workers could lose their jobs within the near future, ultimately putting Connecticut’s economy at a greater risk for collapse than it already is.

Making matters worse, Malloy has made it clear that if a budget deal is not reached by Friday, the chances of anything getting done before the start of November are unlikely due to legislator scheduling conflicts.

With that being said, it will not only be students who will feel the effects of the budget crisis but also state workers and their families, as some can be expected to be without a job by as soon as the end of this month.

Ultimately, it is because of the state budget crisis that Malloy said taxes could increase for Connecticut residents, making an already difficult situation even worse.

CCSU Hopes Las Vegas Shooting Prompts Change

by Kelly Langevin

Once known primarily for gambling, shopping and a wild nightlife, the name Las Vegas now sets a drastic new tone in everyone’s hearts, leaving heavy chests and saddened eyes behind.

The devastating shooting that took place on Oct. 1 at the Route 91 Music Festival across the Las Vegas Boulevard killed 58 people and injured over 500, according to CNN.

It has been called the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, according to NBC News.

The gunman has been identified as 64-year-old Stephen Craig Paddock of Mesquite, Nevada.

The Route 91 Music Festival is a three-day country music concert that about 22,000 people attended this year.

The deadly act was planned out, and Paddock acted alone, according to CNN.

It is hard for people to understand why someone would commit such a horrific crime.

“The manner by which human beings perceive information varies. Some might see something and be able to readily ‘connect the dots,’ and realize that a person is at risk,” said Central Connecticut State University psychology professor Jason Sikorski. “Perhaps we dismiss some of the things we see to save time or to focus on what we think is more important.”

The mass shooting left those impacted forever wounded by one man’s choice. It has evoked change within the country. The United States’ gun lobby has expressed willingness to put a restriction on bump-fire stocks that allowed Paddock to fire into the crowd at an unbelievably fast rate.

“I think that older generations refuse to see the real problems we have just because they might not have it, or because it would require a huge change that they don’t want to see,” said CCSU freshman and SGA Senator Johanna Zukowski. “I think there is a lot of room for reform and change, and it’s going to take a strong leader with a stronger Congress behind them to make this change for the better.”

People who knew Paddock knew him as antisocial man who liked to avoid people as much as he could. He was rich, took many cruises and spent most of his time in casino hotels, sometimes weeks at a time. He loved to gamble and take high risks, according to CNN.

“If you told me an asteroid fell into the earth, it would mean the same to me. There’s absolutely no sense, no reason he did this,” said brother Eric Paddock, according to The Washington Post. “He’s just a guy who played video poker and took cruises and ate burritos at Taco Bell. There’s no political [or religious] affiliation that we know of.”

Stephen Paddock’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, was unaware her boyfriend had an evil side. She stated that he sent her on a trip to the Philippines because he wanted her to visit family. He then wired her money and told her to buy a house. Danley took his behavior as a way of potentially breaking up with her, not setting up for a mass murder, according to CNN.

“He never said anything to me or took any action that I was aware of, that I understood in any way to be a warning that something horrible like this was going to happen,” said Danley in her statement, according to The Washington Post.

Paddock’s motive is still unclear, and police are still investigating the life of the mass murderer. During the horrific event, it took about an hour and 15 minutes from the initial gunfire to the time a SWAT team burst into Paddock’s room and found him dead, according to CNN.

“While it is really difficult to prevent these things from happening sometimes, maybe we can all do a little better to check in with those we care about and be sure to ask them if everything is okay,” Sikorski said.

Paddock brought about 10 suitcases up to his room at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino over the course of his stay. He set up about 23 weapons inside his hotel room, including multiple rifles, some of which had scopes. He attached 12 bump-fire stocks to his guns, which allow shooters the ability to fire bullets at a faster rate, according to CNN.

At around 9:40 p.m., country singer Jason Aldean took the stage. By 10:05 p.m., Paddock opened fire at the crowd, lasting for nine to 11 minutes, which people originally thought were fireworks, according to CNN.

The devastation in Las Vegas has broken many hearts across the country. While many people are unsure how to feel, one can only hope a mass shooting like this can finally prompt change in the U.S.