All posts by Analisa Novak

No Confidence: Faculty Senate Votes Agaisnt The BOR

by Analisa Novak

In a defying motion against Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System Board Of Regents, the faculty senate of Central Connecticut State University voted for the no confidence resolution during an emergency meeting this past Monday.

The no confidence vote was made during a secret ballot out of fear of retaliation, and passed in an overwhelming 39-10 vote. Although CCSU voted no confidence, it did vote to participate in the proposed implementation plan with 65 in favor and two opposed.

“CCSU will participate in the implementation of the plan in order to advocate for and assert that our rights as faculty [AAUP and SUOF-AFSCME,] the rights of students, and the institutional identity are respected and to offer the needed expertise of faculty on the CCSU campus, even though we oppose the proposed plan as unfounded, nontransparent and undemocratic, and consider the plan an assault on the integrity and autonomy of the institution of higher education forced to be part of CSCU,” said the faculty senate.

The faculty senate is openly resisting BOR President Mark Ojakian proposed Student First plan that is looking to remove student services for all four CSCU Universities and consolidate them to one central one.

“This will eliminate redundancies across our campuses, leverage the expertise of our talented staff and allow better coordination and consistency of non-student facing activities,” Ojakian said in a statement released on April 3.

The proposed measure would save an estimated $13 million in administrative cost. Another proposed action from the BOR under the Student First plan, would be to centralize all 12 community college operations into one. The measures are estimated to save an estimated $41 million, according to Ojakian.

The faculty senate felt as if this counterbalances the Student First title and would actually hurt students.

“Centralization of functions will remove needed staff from campuses, beginning with human resources, and potentially affecting other departments and even faculty in later phases, preventing them from working directly with students, faculty and campus administrators,” said the faculty senate.

“This isn’t Student First, this is putting the Governor first,” said David Blitz when opening the “no confidence” debate.

If the proposed Student First Plan passes, each CSCU university would lose student services such as human resources and information technology on their campuses, & would have to travel to a central location for administrative services.

CCSU faculty senate found out about these measures when the general public did earlier this month. The faculty senate was not offered an explanation or breakdown of how these savings would be applied, having to resort to a presentation that was attached to the statement to see how the BOR decided this plan.

“He has not told us how, he has told us to guess how these numbers will be reached,” said faculty senate member Dr. Sue Holt. “It was not even a written plan, the board did not even ask one question about a massive cut to the system.”

Although last week the support for the no confidence plan seemed unanimous, the conversation on whether or not to table the motion was raised.

Some faculty members argued to get support of other CSCU universities and to inform more students of how this proposed plan would affect them.

Faculty senate members said that voting no confidence would show the BOR that they are ready to fight on behalf of all that would be affected.

“We have been cut to the bone, look at the years and years where we have been funded less and have had students bear the burden,”said Holt when voting for the resolution.

CCSU is the first university in the BOR to stand against Ojakian.

“This vote here is about leadership,” said faculty senate member John O’Connor. “Someone has to take leadership and vote with conscious.”

Shattered Trust: CCSU Student That Was Sexually Assaulted By Professor That Resigned And Later Taught At A Women’s College

 

by Analisa Novak

Although room 212 of Willard Hall is no longer in use, the traumatic memory of what occurred there still exists for former Central Connecticut State University student, Shannon Cunningham. This is where she was sexually assaulted by then Adjunct Professor Daniel Gula, according to multiple court documents.

Cunningham said that her attack happened when her guard was down the most and in broad daylight.

“The location was without a doubt safe. It wasn’t in a dark ally, in a dark parking lot or parking garage. It was on a state university campus, around 5 p.m. The sun still out and shinning bright when I walked in. Classes in session all around , students and faculty walking around outside. I can see the students and professors teaching in the rooms; doors are open,” Cunningham said in a victim statement to the court.

Before the assault, Cunningham said she respected Gula after she met him through a chance encounter. They spoke about Italian culture and museums, and had previously met in his office before where they shook hands as she left.

She never expected that weeks after meeting him he would trap her in a room, grab her breast, grind on her buttocks and expose himself to her.

According to the arrest warrant, Cunningham met with Gula on Sept. 15, 2014 to discuss an event she had attended. They conversed in his office and Gula shut the door due to noise.

Once the door was shut, the conversation then shifted with Gula playing with his wedding ring and saying “shinny shinny, pretty pretty.” Cunningham thought this was odd and got ready to leave for class. It was then that Gula asked her for a high-five, instead of the normal handshake they would do.

Shortly after, he asked Cunningham to hug him. As they hugged, it was then that he squeezed her, so tightly that Cunningham heard the professor’s shoulder pop.

“The hug was only a way to restrain me,” Cunningham said in her victims statement.

Cunningham still remembers how she was backed into a small corner of the room, as Gula began to sexually assault her.

“He backed me into a wall between the first desk in the room on the left and book shelves to the right. The area felt small. I felt trapped. I remember feeling like my brain was numb and body was numb all over. I couldn’t think clear…it wasn’t registering what was happening to me….it was as if my brain was on overload and wasn’t connected,” Cunningham said in the victim statement.

Cunningham told police that the more she tried to get away, the more aggressive Gula became.

“I kept trying to pull his arms and hands off my breasts and body. He was untouched by my words to stop. He continued pulling and grabbing at my breasts,” Cunningham said in the victim statement.

Cunningham said the event lasted eight to nine minutes, but felt like it was never ending. She was fearful that if she screamed, Gula would do something else.

“My thinking wasn’t clear, but I was terrified and numb. If I screamed or made any sudden moves, I didn’t know if he would strangle me, to shut me up. His hands had been so close to my neck. I had no idea who this monster was. I had no idea what else he was capable of doing,” said Cunningham in the victims statement.

Cunningham told police that she was unable to yell but she did manage to convince Gula to stop. She then escaped the room and went to class, although she was very late.

Days later with the support of her friends, Cunningham went to the Ruth Boyea Women’s Center and reported the assault. The case was then passed on to the CCSU Office of Diversity and Equity.

According to the arrest warrant, CCSU Police then spoke to Cunningham and she told them about the assault that had occurred.

Later that day, Gula came into the CCSU Police Department to speak to the them. According to the arrest warrant, he was told that he was not under arrest and could leave at anytime.

According to the arrest warrant, Gula adamantly denied any sexual misconduct, only stating that he gave her a hug. CCSU Police then told Gula that Cunningham was not going to be pressing charges, and they were looking to get the truth to close the investigation.

It was then that Gula admitted to the assault and signed a sworn voluntary statement, attesting that what he did to Cunningham was true. After the interview was over, he was allowed to leave the police station, according to the arrest warrant.

Cunningham said in the victim statement that the CCSU Police told her they had took Gula’s badge and keys, and fired him. Cunningham elected to be withdrawn from her courses and was issued a refund.

Months later, according to an investigation report done by Chief Diversity Officer Rosa Rodriguez, the report concluded that Gula violated the Board Of Regents and Connecticut State Colleges and University’s Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Assault and Intimate Partner Violence Policy.

The conclusion of the investigation was that the case was completed and closed, as Gula resigned from his position before the investigation was completed according to the report.

After Gula resigned from CCSU, he then went on to teach at the University of Saint Joseph, a mostly female university.

“Daniel Thomas Gula was an adjunct faculty member here from Aug. 24, 2015 to Sept. 4, 2015,” said University of Saint Joseph marketing director, Diana Sousa.

Almost a year after the assault, Cunningham decided to press charges when she discovered that Gula was never fired from CCSU. Cunningham said she feels betrayed by CCSU because they allowed him to resign, thus allowing him to go teach at other universities.

“I believed he was fired. I believed they took his badge and keys the day he confessed. I believed this would forever stain his teaching record. After all, it was a criminal act, a felony or two and misdemeanor and not just policy violations. I believed that a university had obligations by law to ensure the safety of their campus and other campuses,” Cunningham said in the victim statement.

On Aug. 14, 2015, Cunningham along with CCSU Victim Advocate and Violence Protection Specialist Sarah Dodd, met with CCSU Police where Cunningham then pressed charges. Gula was arrested for third degree sexual assault, second degree unlawful restraint and disorderly conduct.

Gula pleaded no contest and was found guilty of second-degree unlawful restraint and first degree reckless endangerment. He was sentenced to a one‐year suspended jail sentence and two years probation.

According to Cunningham, a judge suppressed Gula’s confession because he confessed under the impression he would not be arrested. Cunningham has currently filed a civil suit against Gula and she is being represented by Nina Pirrotti.

The event took place more than three years ago, but Cunningham is still suffering from post traumatic stress.

“It has affected everything in my life. I would say prior to his crimes against me, I was a strong woman, able to overcome anything. I believed in myself. I could count on myself. Now, I live in this place that is guarded by fear of the unknown. I have never been so scared, humiliated or degraded in my whole life. I have lost my independence,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham still is haunted by what occurred at CCSU and how administrators handled it. She wants students to know of what occurs behind closed doors.

“Students and campuses have a right to know what happens on their campus. That when an institution fails to address the horrible acts of a faculty member or anyone, committing such violations of law, that the criminal court will serve justice and hold the individual accountable. I had no control over the investigation by CCSU Police. I had no idea my life would be changed forever after the crime. CCSU Police had an obligation to process this assault for the crime that it was sexual assault,” Cunningham said in the victim statement.

 

Is SGA Discriminating Against The Student Veterans Organization

by Analisa Novak

The mood at the Student Veterans Organization’s weekly meeting was business as usual, but a looming question thickened the air for its members; do they go for a third time to the Student Government Association and ask for the apparel originally granted to them, but then quickly vetoed the next week?

For current SVO Vice President Paul Small, that is no longer an option.

“I am not going back, I went there, plead my case to them, asked them for money that we pay for students funds and for SGA to cut our budget to $812 dollars last semester. This is okay but you should know if you cut a club’s budget so much, especially an active club and important club that does a lot of campus, SGA should expect us to come and ask for money,” said Small.

The SVO was approved for funds totaling $1,720.01 for sweatshirts and T-shirts on April 4. The majority unanimously approved it originally with 18 senators in favor and four against it.

Small then found out that SGA President Jahmil Effend vetoed the motion hours after the meeting. Small felt hopeless after finding out it was vetoed, as it was the only other option to receive the funds after a dismal budget that was given to them.

The veto prompted the SVO to reach out for the third time to the SGA, only to be called “immature,” and was attacked by SGA senator Danielle Plaskonka.

“They’re using emotional heart string pulling tactics, they’re saying they feeling alienated, which I understand where you’re coming from. I understand you feel Social Justice has not been fair to you, but it was not intentional and I wish you guys could see that. You also mentioned you tried coming for sweatshirts all semester, so why do you keep calling back SJC?” said Plaskonka.

“Is that your one move to get these shirts? I’m very sick of personal attacks, it’s immature and below everyone in this room. If you can’t handle this professionally, then shame on you,” Plaskonka added.

She continued on in a recently deleted Facebook post saying; “Please help me in understanding how both T-Shirts and sweatshirts will assist them in significant issues such as PTSD, suicidal ideation and societal understanding.”

“One of our agendas is raising PTSD stereotypes, but that was never the intent of the reasons to get shirts,” SVO  President Tyler Listro said. “Being able to raise awareness about PTSD is a benefit of having great representation of student veterans on campus, not the reason why we submitted a request for shirt funding,” Listro said.

Small said the request for the shirts was to let over 400 veterans know that there was a club here for them.

“Many veterans don’t participate with our club or know we exist. We have 50 members, 20 of which are active all the time. But we have approximately 500 veterans on this campus, National Guard members, and veterans from active duty that receive benefits to continue their education. Upon approval, when worn by members of our group, this will show others here that there is a club with people like them,” Small said.

Small stated that the request had nothing to do with using emotions to manipulate the system.

“I was told by that particular senator that I was there to manipulate the feelings, manipulate peoples’ decisions. That’s true in the sense that this emotional for me, but it’s not true that I am using what happened with the Social Justice Committee as a catalyst asking for money,” Small said.

This desire for sweatshirts and T-shirts has been actively discussed during the SVO meetings for the entire year. The SVO actively participated in the SGA canned food drive, so they could use the funds to attain apparel. However, due to a decreased budget, they had to use it for their annual Hoffman’s Gun Range trip instead.

“Our club minutes reflect that we have been trying to get this clothing all semester,” Small said.

The veto was held up by a 2/3 vote and the SVO was denied the funds. The same meeting in which the SVO’s contingency request was vetoed, Lunar Exploration Club’s contingency request of $905.76 for space suits was approved.

“They came with a similar request like SVO and they were approved. We were approved, but then vetoed by the SGA president. It seems clear to me that there is a clear case of discrimination,” Small said.

SGA senator Stephen Dew believes by the SGA not overturning the veto that the president ordered, and allowing the Lunar Exploration Club to receive space suits is a clear indication of discrimination happening within the SGA. Dew, who voted for the space suits, says that he has been voting for club requests each time.

“The fact that the veterans got a 18-4 vote the first time they requested, and got a majority the second time, speaks to the facts that senators in the majority want to fund the SVO. However, there is clearly an element on senate that doesn’t feel that way. It is rather disgusting that four people who voted against the SVO to begin with managed to obstruct government, and by obstructing government, a club was not able to get what they were requesting for,” Dew said.

Small has said that a number of senators have stepped in to assist the SVO and even attended their meeting last Thursday.

The SVO then filed another contingency request to the finance committee for $1,174.57 on April 17, for uniformed sweatshirts. The Chair of Finance Committee Treasurer, Brendan Kruh, decided not to hear the contingency request after he felt it was invalid due to the bylaws.

Vice President Christopher Cappiello disagreed with this, and said there seems to be a pattern with the SGA bringing up bylaws when it comes to the SVO.

“I think this is a good motion, they have everything they need to fill the bylaws, in my opinion: there is nothing wrong with this. We don’t have to pay 50 percent of it, we can pay 100 percent of it,” said Cappiello. “I don’t know why the argument is being brought up again when it comes to SVO and bylaws. Its like senate has this gravitational pull with bylaws when SVO walks into the door.”

It was appealed unanimously by the finance committee. The contingency request was approved by the majority of members of the finance committee, and will be heard by the SGA today.

Small already paid out of his own pocket to provide the club with T-Shirts. The shirt designer felt bad that Small had to pay for the SVO shirts after the SGA vetoed their request, and gave him a small military discount of 10 percent.

Active members and members who put out for the food drive will be receiving T-Shirts for free from Small. The SVO is looking into charging new members who would like to have T-Shirts, so that they can no longer go to the SGA for any other requests and are able to sustain themselves.

Personal Identifiable Information Of More Than 340 Students Exposed

by Analisa Novak.

Personally Identifiable Information of more than 340 Central Connecticut State University students was accidentally sent out to the entire Computer Electronics and Graphic Technology Department Friday afternoon.

Information including Blue chip numbers, GPA’s, addresses, phone numbers and registration pins were sent out and attached in an email by department chair, Dr. Karen Tracey, who was not willing to comment on the matter.

“I made a huge mistake today and I ask that all of you PLEASE delete the excel file I sent you,” Tracey said in an email sent out shortly after.

The original email was supposed to contain information of what was going on in the department and upcoming registration. Attached to this email, students found an excel document titled “BS CET REVISED FOR FALL 2017,” that contained personal information of the 340 students that make up the department.

“I understand the need for such a file to keep track of all the students in the program, but how does one accidentally send that file. Also, as the dept for computer engineering, she should know how to lock the file. So why wasn’t it locked,” said a CCSU student who was on the email list and did not want to be named.

“The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (Codified at 20 U.S.C. §1232g) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. This law applies to student records at CCSU. Generally, CCSU may not disclose personally identifiable information within student education records without the written consent of the student at issue,” according to Confidentiality of Student Records: The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, last reviewed July 2016.

Many students were upset with there home addresses and grade point averages being displayed. They were also upset about how the issue was being downplayed.

“I was surprised not a lot of people knew about it, and I find it both scary and outrageous. It’s scary because this is a big issue. That email had all our personal information and it’s outrageous because why didn’t she encrypt this file to keep it safe,” said another CCSU student who was on the email list and did not want to be named.

 

 

Student Government Association Divided Over Social Justice Committee

by Lorenzo Burgio

An intense debate centered around the Social Justice Committee of the Student Government Association at Central Connecticut State University last week, resulted in the campus police being called and Student Affairs Vice President Dr. Laura Tordenti stepping in.

“Please remember yourselves, okay. You are better than this, all of you. You are supposed to be modeling leadership and civility. That’s not what I’m seeing here. You can agree to disagree and do it respectfully without vulgarity, or sarcasm. Respecting another person’s point of view even though you may disagree with it,”  Tordenti said.

“The student government’s mission is not to foster social justice, its not on the constitution and not why we’re here. We foster those movements and give other organizations the chance to do so. We don’t constitute what is SJC and what is not,” SGA Senator Wyatt Bosworth said.

The SJC was formed by then president Jahmil Effend a week after the 2016 presidential elections as an ad-hoc committee of SGA focused on social justice and related issues.

Senators Sawera Hussan and Christopher Marinelli were then elected to chair the committee. SJC has held many events including Tea Against Bigotry, Accept Existence or Expect Resistance Rally, assisting with “The Laramie Project” and more recently a veterans panel.

At the first SGA meeting in February there was a debate over when the Accept Existence or Expect Resistance rally was supposed to happen and the message being sent when advertising the rally.

Senator Marinelli promoted the rally to stand in solidarity with the CCSU community’s undocumented individuals, immigrants and refugees to other senators at that SGA meeting.

“We’re sending a message to the student body that we care about these things. We passed a resolution for Differed Actions for Childhood Arrivals and Differed Action of Parents of Americans, most of us are against the travel ban. This is a way to show students that we care deeply about issues that affects people like our undocumented students on campus with this wall,” Marinelli said.

“I understand what the message is encompassing. But the optics of what the protest will look like might fray into partisanship. SGA should remain relatively neutral in the political part of it,” Bosworth said.

The rally gained statewide attention when it was live streamed by NBC Connecticut, currently it has over 96,000 views.

At last week’s meeting the debate continued and Marinelli argued that SJC should be a standing committee so it is easier for other activism clubs on campus to receive funding and plan events with the SJC.

“Every SJC meeting has had outside representation. Leaders, activists, [we are] meticulous at making sure we have student representation. We need it as a standing committee because with diversity week as a platform, as SGA we have easier access to funds, we have an established relationship with SALD. We’re well versed with our SGA finance system, and a lot of clubs aren’t aware of that,” Marinelli said.

Many senators argues that it was other organizations’ job to activate SJC, no the SGA’s.

“SJC is a great idea and we need it on campus. But at the same time I don’t think it’s something SGA should be doing. There are times when SGA thinks of itself as the most important organization on campus, and in many ways it is. When it comes to social justice, we have a lot of other clubs like LGBTQ, MSA, SASA, LASO. They need to be represented at social justice events,” Senator Eric Ott said.

Marnielli argued that separate organization is invited to SJC meetings, but are not allowed to vote on financial or procedural matters in meetings.

The debate on whether or not to make SJC a standing committee will be revisited next week after President of the Student Veterans Organization at CCSU, Paul Small, expressed to the Senate that the organization weas upset they had not been invited to the SGA veteran’s panel.

“No relationship with the SGA is better than the one we have right now. We’re hoping that the new e-board will be willing to police the committees like SJC that failed to notify and advocate for the veterans on campus. I don’t want to take anything away from the SJC, you guys have held wonderful events for worthy causes on campus. The rally you hosted was a great success. I just hope in the future our veteran organization can be considered worthy enough to participate in these types of events,” Small said.

Marinelli did not want the other senators to lash out on the SJC, and admitted the mistake of not inviting the SVO was his.

“We’re a new committee, we’re learning how to do our things, I know we have some controversy with who wants a SJC and who doesn’t. Put that on me, don’t put that on the committee or let it build apathy against the committee,” Marinelli said.

After the mistake, Senators felt that the SJC was not properly organized and should not be allowed to be a standing committee, because it was damaging the credibility of the SGA.

“I don’t think SJC in current form should be allowed to carry on. I know that’s a controversial issue, I’ve been to some meetings and I respect the committee’s work. My concern is that we are disrupting the effective governing of our SGA as a whole. I wouldn’t want someone to question the student government on a core essential activity like scholarships, base budgets, our core functions,” Senator Stephen Dew said.

Hussan defended the SJC, stating that inviting the veterans to the panel was a mistake, SJC works closely with club present at their meetings and takes every clubs’ opinions into consideration when voting. Hussan also read the human-rights statement attached to the SGA constitution and related it to how essential SJC is.

“The constitution literally states we need a SJC,” Hussan said.

Ott countered the argument, stating that Hussan was misinterpreting the statement.

“To the human rights statement, there is not a single spot in this statement that says we need a SJC, that is an inference, an assumption based off the human rights statement; we do not need it. It protects human rights but it does not mean we need a SJC, it means we support the rights on CCSU,” Ott said.

Bosworth then said the conversation was focused on the SJC and now what the SGA plans to do to apologize to the SVO.

“Simply saying ‘we messed up’ and ‘we’ll get it better next time’ does not work for me and it shouldn’t work for anyone else. 450 veterans we slapped in the face because the committee was poorly run and poorly organized,” Bosworth said.

President Effend said he didn’t believe that SJC was run poorly, that the debate was tense and that the mistake needed to be rectified.

Dew said the SJC did not represent the entire campus; just those whose political views tend to be more liberal. He also questioned whether the SJC would have been formed if President Donald Trump had not won the 2016 election.

“We are in this climate now because of what we see outside that somehow we feel we have to take a stance as a student government. When we take a stance on issues like this, yes you might empower those that want to let their voices be heard, but at the same time you also offend a lot of people,” Dew said.

The debate then quickly escalated and multiple senators became angry. Bosworth, who had three points of order for saying “pissed off” twice and speaking out of turn, was asked to leave the room by Effend.

Bosworth refused to leave, causing Effend to call the campus police to escort him out. At that moment, Tordenti stepped in and urged all the senators to be respectful and take a breather.

“Come on, I’m stunned. Can everyone just take a deep breath? Does the conversation need to continue right now? Perhaps we can agree to table this while everyone collects themselves. Meet again perhaps informally to sort these things out? These are difficult issues, perhaps you’re reflecting what you do see occurring at the national level which is an embarrassment to many Americans at the national level. You’re better than this,” Tordenti said.

The meeting was then adjourned and another informal one was held two days later with Tordenti SGA members. The SJC will remain a committee until the end of the semester year unless allowed to act as a standing committee.

 

‘Smack In The Face:’ Student Veterans Organization Not Invited To Student Government Veterans Panel

by Analisa Novak & Lorenzo Burgio

The Student Government Association at Central Connecticut State University spent a month planning a veterans panel to promote veterans’ voices on campus.

According to the CCSU Student Veterans Organization, their voices were left out by the SGA, when they were not invited to participated or informed about the panel discussion.

SVO President Paul Small explained, he and the rest of the SVO found out about the event through an email the SGA sent out that day, inviting the entire student body.

“When I received the email about the veterans panel I was confused, upset, angry and disappointed,” Small said.

He then contacted the SGA office and Student Activities and Leadership Department program advisor Chris Hazelton hours before the event for more information.

“After I figured out the office and the club were both unaware of the event, I then called the SGA office and didn’t receive a response until 5p.m,” Small said.

Event organizer and chair of Social Justice committee Christopher Marnelli, then offered Small a seat in panel discussion since a seat was vacant due to a cancellation-Small declined.

“That offended me the most, that they tried to get me to be a back up for the presentation,” said Small.

The Social Justice committee is an ad hoc committee formed out of senators from the SGA. According to Marinelli, who is the committee president, a sub-committee was created to organize the panel discussion.

“I have a lot of respect for veterans, I felt like this would have been a great opportunity for students on our campus to hear veteran perspectives and get veteran advice,” Marnielli said when explaining why the panel discussion was planned.

Marnielli stated a miscommunication in the planning process led to SVO not being informed or invited to the event.

“I delegated the task of reaching out to the SVO to another senator on the committee,” said Chris Marinelli, unwilling to specify the senator.

Although the task was assigned to a senator, no members of the SGA ever contacted the SVO throughout the planning process, that started on Feb. 16.

The veterans invited to panel were veterans from the Tuxnis Community College Operation Academic Support for Incoming Service (OASIS), and Air Force Veteran Greg Michaud from Plainville.

SVO member Tum Tum Souriyamath said he was shocked when he realized SVO was not invited.

“It was a smack in the face. Not only to us [veterans] but to the administration, the people who work and support us and provide us with such a great environment to feel like a normal student and have people around you who can understand what you have been through and are going through,” said Souriyamath,

SVO is a campus organization that promotes appreciation for members of the U.S. Armed Forces and helps provide transitional support to the current student veterans. CCSU Veterans Affairs coordinator Chris Gutierrez explained the organization is an essential organization for both the campus and the students.

“They get involved in many programs on campus. In the past they help provided voices to other veterans. They also help with many programs off campus by visiting high schools and talking about their experience in the military. Its also not just for veterans, all students are welcomed.” Gutierrez said.

There are between 450 to 475 veterans that currently attend CCSU. The SVO consists of about 50 members, with about 15 always accessible.

“SVO has done so much for veterans and then there is an event on campus and they’re not even contacted about it until the night before, that’s just a huge smack in the face. That’s pretty much saying you don’t exist and you’re not here. It’s just neglecting that we’re existing and we are a population that matters,” Souriyamath said, adding, the SVO still wants to know which senator the work was delegated to.

Marneilli and other SGA senators are apologetic about the misunderstanding and continue to say it was never their intention to exclude the organization.

“We need to make right our mistake and it was just that, a mistake, by making sure the veterans on this campus feel the support, respect and love they rightfully deserve. The intent was not to exclude them from the panel. We owe our lives to the men and women that serve this country and make the sacrifices so many of us are afraid to,” SGA President Jahmil Effend said.

Marnelli and SGA Senator Marrissa Cusano attended the SVO meeting days later to apologize and are the only two senators to reach out to the SVO

“I went to support them, they are an amazing organization. By the time I found out about the panel it was already set in stone who was going. By the time I found out SVO wasn’t asked they already knew,” Cusano said.

“Senator Marineli is trying to make up for the incident, but no one else from SGA has reached out,” said Small.

Organizations and clubs on campus typically depend on their liaison to communicate with the SGA to organize events and similar matters.

Since the previous liaison left the position at the end of January, the SVO has been unaware if they had one or who it was, until last Wednesday’s SGA debate when Senator Thomas Mitchell stated he held the position.

Small said Mitchell never contacted the club or ever attended a meeting of theirs, despite being the liaison.

Small wants a more open dialogue between the two organizations. He is still baffled as to why it wasn’t a priority for members of SGA, much less his club liaison to inform them of this event.

“The SGA wouldn’t invite the Tunxis car club to a car enthusiast event on campus, so why would they reach out to the Tunxis OASIS and ignore the veterans organization at Central? It’s baffling to me,” said Small.

Gorman And Fruin Shine During SGA Debate Despite Personal Questions

On the left is the debate moderator WFCS Radio Station Manager Anna Battye, speaking with SGA candidates during the Executive Board debate. Photo Credit: Analisa Knovak

by Analisa Novak

Despite being singled out for their sexuality, Senator Amanda Gorman and Senator Kassandra Fruin were able to remain calm and collected during the Student Government Association Executive Board debates last week.

The debate, that was moderated by WFCS Radio Station Manager Anna Battye, was filled with non-traditional debate questions, much to the dismay of the majority of the senators who were in attendance.

Personal questions about the relationship between running mates Treasurer Brendan Kruh and Senator Fruin kicked off the SGA e-board debate.

Citing his close relationship with both his running mates, Kruh explained his romantic relationship with Fruin would always remain separate when it comes to the senate. “Moving forward I feel like it would only help to benefit the student body rather than hinder it,” Kruh said.

Overall, Kruh said he would actively work to promote the CCSU story if elected and to highlight the accomplishments each individual brings to the campus. Kruh would also be proactive so each student feels comfortable on campus, no matter what their background or viewpoints are.

Presidential candidate Victor Constanza, the only non-SGA member running, was quickly questioned about his lack of knowledge of the Board of Regents and the inner workings of student government.

Although Constanza could not answer majority of the questions, he reassured the audience that if elected he will spend the summer reading and studying the rules and regulations.

“I am representing people, if I do get elected I do have some time to review all these bylaws and Roberts Rules,” Constanza said.

Constanza wants to focus on giving back to the community and helping clubs and SGA co-sponsor events to benefit residents of surrounding towns.

Fellow presidential candidate Gabriella Bierwirth came to the defense of her opponent, stating that even the most veteran senators occasionally brush up on senate rules.

“Even if you have been doing this for years, not everyone is a 100 percent on every single rule. People who have been elected to their position, no matter what position it has been, had often had to check the bylaws during a debate,” Bierwirth said.

Bierwirth’s campaign is focused on bringing attention to communities, clubs and students. She hopes to unite multiple clubs and put together bigger events on campus and wants SGA to volunteer more within the community.

Gorman, who was accused of being soft spoken, was asked how she intended to command a room full of debating senators.

Gorman, chair of the Student Life committee, said her experience in delegating and listening to every particular person will benefit her if elected.

“I really don’t think it will be an issue, in fact it’s actually something I am really good at,” Gorman said.

Experience with distributing scholarships, Gorman hopes to increase them to help students who pay the student activity fee, but can not be on campus to participate in clubs and activities.

“Everyone deserves to benefit from the money they put into the school and we need to make sure that happens,” Gorman said.

The audience, consisting of mostly current SGA senators, immediately were uncomfortable with the moderator’s questioning style, often shaking their head and gasping at the questions.

At one point an audience member asked the candidates if they would feel more comfortable if the moderator read the questions provided by the SGA public affair senators. The moderator responded back saying, “ I don’t want to use just the questions that you prepared.”

The audience member quickly snapped back at the moderator saying that the question wasn’t being asked to her, but to the candidates.

After the confrontation, the moderator reluctantly agreed to use both the questions provided. “I will work them both in, but I don’t think questions about what would you do if you had a magic wand, work for this,” the moderator said.

After the presidential debates, the three vice presidential candidates took center stage for questioning. All three candidates had very different platforms on why they wanted to be elected.

Fruin, said that she understood the direction the student government needed to go, to move this campus forward.

Senator Marissa Cusano centered her platform on building communications between clubs and the SGA, and working on improving the relationship between students and the senate.

Senator Jailene Nazario said her outgoing personality would help educate students on campus on what student government can do for them.

If elected, Fruin said that she would work to heal issues internally and by doing so, it would reflect externally onto the campus. She wanted to make more seats available on the senate to students and to make more standing committee on the SGA.

Fruin was also called out on the lack of transparency her committee has; as no public minutes of the meetings can be found online.

The moderator brought up how the entire public affairs committee, in which Fruin is the head, failed to promote the upcoming elections. Fruin said she admits to her failures and takes full responsibility of the lack of promotion.

“I took over PA when it was crumbling,” Fruin said in reference to last falls Good Neighbor Campaign.  “Part of coming into this position, I am very good at adapting to new things and adjusting, so I was able to do that with Public Affairs.”

Cusano, who has a personal relationship with Treasurer candidate and current Vice President Chris Cappiello, also claimed she will separate the two relationships if elected.

“My personal life is my personal life and that needs to stay personal and far away. When it comes to senate, I am here to do a job and I am going to do my job,” Cusano said, “we are there to work.”

Nazario, who has a background in fiancee, was asked why she wasn’t running for Treasurer instead. Nazario said she wants to challenge herself with a new position.  “I just have so much on my mind than just being treasurer, I want to branch out more, I want to learn more about myself,” Nazario said.

This year, four candidates are in the running for treasurer including current vice president Chris Capiello and fellow senators Thomas Mitchell, Damar Jarrett and Estefania Maya. All four candidates come from extremely different backgrounds.

Cappiello, who has been vice president for the last year wants to increase club funding and make it easier for clubs to get more money.

Mitchell, a finance major, said he wants to create a transparent club funding process.

Jarrett had a similar platform, emphasizing transparency is key and Maya said that she wanted to ensure that clubs are comfortable coming to SGA for everything that they will need.

With an upcoming budget increase, candidates were asked why they are ready to handle the potential of hundreds of thousands of dollars that would come into their hands.

Mitchell said his experience managing a seafood restaurant, makes him fiscally responsible to handle any sort of budget.

Cappiello said, his previous two years on finance committee and close relationship with past and present treasures, has given him the knowledge.

Jarrett said he wanted to give clubs more money and allow them to use it to the full capability.

Maya, who has also been on the finance committee, said she wants to welcome everyone to voice their opinions without the fear of being denied funds.

During the open floor part of the debate, an audience member singled out  both Fruin and Gorman to ask how as bi-sexual women, they will represent the LGBQT community.

Both canidates exhibited poise, when put on the spot. In particular Gorman, who had never reveled to most her sexual orientation was taken back by the question.

“I was a little surprised by this, I am not really out to a lot of people, but surprise,” Gorman said.

Fruin commended Gorman on her bravery during this instance and said she will try to have a more inclusive and safe campus for all.

Last year more than 650 people voted during the e-board debates. Election results will be released by next week and voting ends March 30. To vote, you can go to the Link at ccsu.collegiatelink.net.

Angry Bull Shuts Down After Student Death

 

Angry Bull Saloon closed their doors after the death of Taylor Lavoie, 18, on March 3. Photo Credit: Facebook

by Analisa Novak

The doors of Angry Bull are officially closed after owners cancelled their liquor permit due to death of Central Connecticut State University student, Taylor Lavoie, 18, who is said to have fallen more than four stories off the roof of the establishment after a night out on March 3.

The state medical examiner ruled her death accidental. Lavoie died after suffering from blunt force trauma, according to medical examiners.

According to Hartford police, Lavoie was alone when her death occurred. The results of a toxicology test have not been released to the public yet.

Police have said when her body was discovered she had a “very good” fake ID and was wearing a wristband that allowed her entrance to the bar.

The bar, which is owned by Paul Genna, immediately suspended their liquor license for two weeks. The bar released a Facebook statement on March 3, stating that they will be using the time to review procedures and the incident with the Hartford Police and Department of Consumer Protection, which handles all liquor permits.

The license was only temporarily suspended for two weeks as the time of the investigation, according to Hartford Police.

The Hartford Police chief sent a notice to Genna stating that in order for Angry Bull to reopen, they would need to hire police detail each night, which could cost the bar up to $500.

Due to this financial constraint, the owner then decided to not renew its liquor license, thus permanently closing the establishment, according to the bars lawyers.

The investigation to how Lavoie gained entrance to the bar is also closed, according to the Department of Consumer Protection, as they no longer have a liquor permit.

Deputy Police Chief Brian Foley said that The Department of Consumer Protection  was planning an undercover raid before Lavoies death. Staffing and availability from both departments played an important key on why the raid was delayed.

Foley said that Hartford Police had made multiple complaints to the Liquor Control Commission, the most recent complaint on Feb. 24.

“We were in communication with them that week, they had our documentation, we wished it moved faster in a perfect world but that’s not where we are,” Foley said.

 

Sitting Down With Senator Cusano

by Analisa Novak

If someone would have told Marissa Cusano that she would be making campaign posters for herself last year, she wouldn’t believe it. But the commuter senator has grown a lot within her time at Central Connecticut State University; so much that that she is throwing in her hat in the race for Vice President of the Student Government Association.

The Southington native, who first arrived at CCSU three years ago, found that commuting to campus was affecting her ability to be involved. It was then, that Cusano decided to get involved in one of the biggest organizations on-campus Greek life.

“I joined because I lacked confidence in myself and I wasn’t involved on campus at all. Being a commuter and being involved was hard for me. Phi Sigma Sigma gave me the confidence to aim high and really reach for the goals I wanted to accomplish. It was a home away from home for me,” Cusano said.

She found confidence within the many philanthropy events that Phi Sigma Sigma holds on campus, including the annual ALS walk, in which this year she is chairing.

“Phi Sigma Sigma taught me how to feel a sense of belonging on campus and how it’s important to get my voice heard and to do whatever I can to improve the way others view this campus,” Cusano said.

As big as Greek life is on campus, Cusano noticed there was no representation of it on the SGA. Even with the campus and fundraiser events that Greek life actively participate in; Cusano, like most sorority and fraternity members,noticed the negative stereotype that come with joining these organizations.

“Greek life had no representation on the student government when I joined. Greek life on campus really does work towards great things. We do philanthropy and are working on showing ourselves more on campus,” Cusano said.

This past year, with the support of her sisters, Cusano chose to be the voice for all Greek life by joining the senate.

“I joined senate this year and I joined to help represent Greek life and to help break the stereotype that Greek life is all about partying,” Cusano said.

It with amongst the SGA that Cusano found another family and another group of brothers and sisters. She explained her inspiration to run for vice president was found amongst her peers.

I know that it kind of sounds cheesy but if it wasn’t for senate I wouldn’t know my true strengths and abilities. I have grown so much since joining and I definitely owe a lot to senate along with Phi Sig. Phi Sig taught me how to feel a sense of belonging on campus and how it’s important to get my voice heard and to do whatever I can to improve the way others view this campus,” Cusano said.

As a commuter student she knows how important it is for all students to feel welcomed and to be involved.

“Not a lot of clubs know their liaison and that doesn’t sit right with me.I have noticed through being a liaison to clubs that communication between the SGA and clubs is strained,” Cussano said.

If elected, Cusano said she will make it a priority to bridge the divide between club officers and senators.

“We send emails out to the presidents occasionally but from my perspective it doesn’t seem to be the best way to communicate. Clubs need to be able to meet with their liaisons and feel comfortable talking to them and I don’t believe that clubs our comfortable coming to us. I want to change that. Clubs need to be able to communicate with us and feel comfortable coming to us for anything that they may need,” Cusano said.

Cusano credits her open minded mentality as key strength. She is actively searching to hear student concerns and to break any stereotype she comes across.

“I would describe my leadership style as participative. I value what others have to say about issues and I want others to voice their opinions on topics and feel like their voice is heard and I would be able to take those opinions and views and be able to make the decision that needs to be made,” Cusano said.

Cusano will graduate next year as a sociology major. She hopes to have a career in human resources in the near future. In her spare time she practices karate and plays softball. Cusano, has a lot of hope for the future of CCSU and for the future leaders of the senate. The once shy and timid student hopes to become a leader for all whether elected or not.

I’ve wanted to run for a while and almost didn’t submit a packet but then I realized that I want this and I shouldn’t limit myself because of others. It’s important that everyone on campus knows that they all have the ability to be a leader.  I want to be able to help encourage students to see their potential and to help them become leaders. When we graduate I want to be confident that I have done all that I could to make sure no one felt as though they couldn’t do something that they wanted,” Cusano said. 

Five Years After Osama Bin Laden’s Death

by Analisa Novak

It’s been five years since we caught Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind behind 9/11. It’s been five years since we brought justice into the lives of those who were affected by this tragedy.

Five years ago when Bin Laden was killed, Americans went to the streets in unity. They went to the state capitol and cheered as the United State’s flag hung in the background. It was a moment of peace and closure to those affected by the terrorist attacks.

Blissfully speaking, this was something that America needed to show the world that justice will always prevail. Books and movies of this event followed right after the official announcement of his death. Everyone wanted to know what happened, how he was killed and who was there.

A great mystery still surrounds that day; no one has ever publicly seen Bin Laden’s body. Conspiracy theorist have drawn out theories that he was never captured. Many wanted to know who put the bullet into his head that ended his life. But in those five years, can we really say we are safer?

Even though we captured and killed him doesn’t mean that his legacy doesn’t live on. ISIS and Taliban forces still promote terrorism by murdering innocent victims. Recently the brazen attacks in Brussels and Paris have caught the attention of the world, but these attacks that may seem sporadic, have been in continuous motions for the years after his death.

Earlier this week a bomb exploded killing 32 in southern Iraq. Afghanistan and Iraq continue to be danger zones along with Syria, who has been most affected by the ISIS terror group. Daily bombing occur in these countries and the death toll continues to climb. While this may not be splashed over the media like the Brussels attack was, it is a reality of what is left even after the world most wanted terrorist dies.

Bin Laden was a representation of terror, but not the force that drives it. Terrorist attacks continue to happen and will continue to happen no matter who else steps into role. The world will continue to face danger because it is hate that drives people to preform such evil, not respect. Bin Laden was a martyr to many, but his death did not affect or stop terrorist attacks from happening.