All posts by Analisa Novak

Breakdown Of The Suspension Of Phi Sigma Sigma

By: Analisa Novak

This article “Sorority Suspended From Campus Following Hazing Allegations” was published off all information leading up to an appeal. The following is an updated detail documented account of why Phi Sigma Sigma Sorority was suspended for Hazing and Threatening earlier this year. All documents were attained by a Freedom of Information Act request.

An internal investigation from the national headquarters of Phi Sigma Sigma that found that the Central Connecticut State University chapter was hazing is what opened the door for the organization to be suspended from the campus, according to official reports.

Out of this investigation, eight women of the CCSU Phi Sigma Sigma chapter were removed. One alumna advisor was removed after she participated in hazing when she was an active member and when it was found that she hid information from other advisors.  Five women were banned from ever holding office and the headquarters had to appoint the would-be 2017 executive board. The chapter was to be put on Fraternity Intervention Disciplinary status by headquarters, but this was put on hold after CCSU suspended the chapter.

Phi Sigma Sigma Headquarters were first made aware of the hazing when they received an anonymous email last October in regards to possible hazing within the current new member process. A reporter was sent on behalf of the chapter to attend a following new member meeting. The reporter noted that nothing specific surfaced during that meeting and offered herself as a resource to anyone who wanted to come forward.

Two weeks later, according to the report, members of the chapter came forward to discuss “troubling chapter behavior and resistance movement” that had been taken place within the recent officer elections.  International Standards Board then decided to conduct a membership review of the chapter members and required all members to attend on Nov. 20, 2016. During the review, all members were required to participate in a 15-minute individual interview with the review board, according to the report.

Following the review on Nov. 29, the ISB met to review the information they attained. They concluded that Phi Sigma Sigma should be put on Fraternity Intervention Status, which according to the report is a disciplinary status. This was based of the following statements:

  • Each interviewee confirmed that oral quizzes were given to new members covering the Phi Manual at an off-campus house. New members would have to stand for at least 30 minutes and would not be allowed to sit down until they passed the quiz. Various members did not agree with the oral quizzing and admitted sisters were mean and intimidating.
  • The chapter was divided into cliques of “popular girls” and “other girls” causing deep social division. Those in the “other” clique saw a destructive platform of no advisor and continued hazing.
  • New members were not allowed to talk to members of Phi Delta Theta fraternity until after initiation.
  • Members ran on a platform advocating excluding the advisory board and continuing “quiz night hazing” tradition.
  • New members would have to wear a blue pin under their shirt pinned to a bra strap throughout the new member process.

An advisor was also removed from the organization after the relationship with a member was questioned. According to the report, concern was raised during the investigation about the relationship of the accused advisor with the chapter. The accused (who is not named in the report) was a recent alumna and is said to have participated in hazing activities. It also reported that the accused advisor was hiding information from other advisors.

Even with all this information presented, Phi Sigma Sigma decided not to suspend the chapter from the organization. Instead, headquarters devised a plan to assign a volunteer mentor to assist in a chapter culture change for two years. The chapter was also to receive support from a staff member throughout all membership selection and a new education process.

The report goes on to say;  “Chapters are provided a workbook, but no instruction on how to teach the content. As a result, chapters have adopted inappropriate processes for teaching and reinforcing the learning experience for new members.”

This was all to start following the investigation, but stopped after CCSU alerted the chapter that it would begin its own investigation, thus temporally suspending the chapter.

“Phi Sigma Sigma Iota Delta Chapter at Central Connecticut State University is temporally suspended pending a university investigation of the organization. During this time no sorority activity is permitted either on or off campus,” SALD Director Scott Hazan said.

The investigation was separate from the one that headquarters conducted, and began after the university was made aware of the hazing.

CCSU Investigation: 

The CCSU portion of the investigation began in Nov. 2016, and a Notice of Charges was formally filed on Mar. 28. CCSU Student Conduct Director Christopher Dukes said in the charges that were sent to Phi Sigma Sigma, the engaged behavior in which the chapter was accused of, has been happening for a period spanning approximately “6-8 years.”

The university charged the chapter with seven violations of the BOR/CSCU Student Code of Conduct including; 08 Hazing, 04 Physical Assault, Intimidation or Threatening behavior, 10 Harassment, 11 Disorderly Conduct, 12 Threat to health safety or well being, 13 Offensive or disorderly conduct, 28 e Discouraging  Participation.

Hazing is defined in the BOR/CSCU Student Code of Conduct as “an act which endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student, or which destroys, damages, or removes public or private property for the purpose of initiation or admission into, affiliation with or as a condition for continued membership in a group or organization. The express or implied consent of the victim will not be a defense to an allegation of hazing. Consenting to the activity by remaining silent or not objecting in the presence of hazing is not a neutral act and is also a violation of this Student Code.”

Physical Assault, Intimidation or Threatening Behavior in the BOR/CSCU student code of conduct is defined as “actual or threatened physical assault or abuse, threatening behavior, intimidation, or coercion.”

Harassment in the BOR/CSCU student code of conduct is defined as “conduct which is abusive or which interferes with a person’s pursuit of his or her customary or usual affairs, including, but not limited to, such conduct when directed toward an individual or group because of race, ethnicity, ancestry, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation or expression, age, physical attribute, or physical or mental disability or disorder, including learning disabilities and mental retardation.”

Disorderly Conduct in the BOR/CSCU student code of conduct as “conduct that is disorderly, lewd or indecent (including, but not limited to, public nudity and sexual activity in areas generally open to members of the campus community), breach of peace or aiding, abetting or procuring another person to breach the peace on CSCU premises or at functions sponsored by, or affiliated with the University or College.”

The threat to health, safety or well being in the BOR/CSCU student code of conduct is defined as “behavior or activity which endangers the health, safety, or well-being of oneself or others.”

Offensive or disorderly conduct in the BOR/CSCU student code of conduct is defined as “offensive or disorderly conduct which causes interference, annoyance or alarm or recklessly creates a risk thereof at CSCU or CSCU premises, CSCU web or social media sites, at a CSCU-sponsored activity or in college or university courses, including cyberbullying.”

Discouraging participation in the BOR/CSCU student code of conduct is defined as “attempting to discourage an individual’s proper participation in, or use of the disciplinary system.”

A disciplinary hearing was held on Mar. 31 and found Phi Sigma Sigma “responsible” of two of the seven charges; Hazing and Threat to health, safety and well being. The chapter was sanctioned a two year suspension to end on 2019. They were also sanctioned a “Persona Non Grata- Ban from CSCU 4 yr Universities” meaning that they could not go to any university in the CSCU system and restart a chapter.

Appeal:

The chapter with the support of headquarters decided to appeal the hearing body decision of suspension. In a letter sent to former Vice President of Student Affairs, Laura Tordenti, it was argued that the two-year suspension would be “unduly harsh given the remedies and steps already taken by the national organization to address the violation.”

By freezing the chapter for two years the letter said that it would “deter others from reporting and prevent the chapter from learning from its prior mistakes. The letter also argued that the chapter was ready for rebuilding, after those who were involved or promoted the hazing had already been removed. With the removal, the chapter had already ready to take responsibility for their hazing and grow from this behavior.

“By placing the Iota Delta chapter on a two-year suspension, none of this growth and change would be able to take place.”

The appeal was heard and denied by Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Ramon Hernandez, who said that the sanction is reasonable with the organization’s offense. The chapter could apply for readmission in Fall 2019, the appeal said.

Aftermath:

We reached out to members of the sorority to comment on this story and no one wanted to comment on the record. One sister did inform The Recorder that SALD director, Scott Hazan, informed them not to comment. We reached out to Hazan who said these allegations are false.

The void of Phi Sigma Sigma is felt strongly within the CCSU community according to Jose Nunez, President of Intergreek Council.

“Phi Sigma Sigma used to be heavily involved on campus. Last year half of them used to fill this room for our meetings and now it’s just us,” Nunez said.

According to Nunez, during their Meet The Greek night held earlier this year, over 100 girls came to the event looking to join a sorority.  Currently there is no sorority on campus.

“If they keep diving us and taking out greek life, one organization at a time it’s going to affect the campus and makes us look more like Eastern State Connecticut University that has no greek life,” Albert Yaldeh of Phi Delta Theta said.

Nunez argued that having no sorority on campus counters the ideals of all Greek organizations.

“Having all fraternities on campus ruins everything we strive for because now we are only secluded to males,” Nunez said.

The suspension of Phi Sigma Sigma hurts all greek life, according to Nunez.

“Greek life, in general, is like a unit. The more organizations that we have on campus, the bigger we are together. We all have the same goal in mind, to help the community and to do good within the organization. The more organizations we have, the more we can get done,” Yaldeh said.

Help! I Suck At Dating

By: Analisa Novak

Imagine calling all of your exes and asking them why the relationship fell apart. Mix that in with getting experts opinions on why you suck at dating and what habits need to be changed to prevent a life of solidarity and unhappiness.  Cringeworthy if it was you, but entertaining if its not.

“Help! I Suck At Dating” is a new iHeartRadio podcast by  Dean Unglert of The Bachelor franchise, that entertains viewers weekly as Unglert openly examines why at 26 , he is single and nowhere near to finding a future wife.

We first fell in love with Unglert  during season 13 of  “The Bachelorette.” Seeing him on the screen, its understandable why so many women went to twitter and made his name a weekly trending topic.  His soft spoken personality and his baby blues took everyones breath away. But what made the Colorado native a top contender amongst fans and amongst Bachelorette Rachel Lindsey, was his tragic personal story.

At the age of 15, Unglert lost his mother to Breast Cancer.  Unglert shared the story of his mother to Lindsey and shared how at just nine years old, he discovered his mother was ill.

“I remember she picked me up from math class one day and there was a book in the middle of seat, and it was “How To Deal With Breast Cancer. I picked it up as a nine year old and was like ‘Mom, whats going on? What is this?’ And she said ‘I have something to tell you.”

She would pass a couple years later, destroying and separating Unglerts family. He would open up about his past and about his strained relationship with his father to the world with each episode, slowly revealing each layer of his depth to Lindsey.

Viewers even  witnessed the incredibly awkward reunion between the father and son during an episode. Unglert wasn’t just good looking, but he was emotionally raw, something that was a breath of fresh air to most women watching the series. This is why bachelor fans loved him and were so disappointed to see him go home after reaching the final four.

But America celebrated when five weeks later, he reemerged during “Bachelor In Paradise.”  “BIP” as fans call it,  takes all the rejects from “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” and puts them in an all inclusive resort in Mexico, in hopes that they will find love within other rejects. The challenge is, that each week you need to make a connection with someone, the power and threat of elimination switching between the sexes and one on one time with each other being extremely competitive.

Unglert made an instant connection with season 20 Bachelor reject Kristina SchulmanThe two having a similar childhood and soft personalities gave all viewers hope that we would see a happy ending for the pair. But in what surprised everyone, Unglert would completely turn face as he got himself in a love triangle with Schulman and fellow BIP contestant Danielle Lombardo.

Viewers quickly swiped left and the love turned to hate towards Unglert, as his total sweetheart personality quickly dissolved in front of their eyes as he juggled two women, leading each of them to believe that Unglert was interested in them. In the end of BIP, Unglert ends up alone as Schulman, being tired of his games, decides to leave the show leaving him to Lombardo-who he rejects at the finale.

Realizing how horrible he appeared on BIP, Unglert opens his podcast by saying; “Publicly speaking, Paradise was just the worst experience of my life.”

Making the podcast was also a low moment in his life, as he noticed he became a poster child of everything wrong in dating and its the reason why he signed up to do this podcast. In the first episode, he opens up about what he thinks he needs to work on.

“Maybe I’m a little too critical at times; you give me an inch and I take a mile with certain things. Maybe I get into my own head and I self-sabotage. I read too much into things. If there weren’t any problems, I’d be married by now,” Unglert said.

When it comes to commitment, although it appears he is afraid of commitment, Unglert said its the complete opposite.

“I think I’m a realist. I don’t want to have to sacrifice certain parts of my happiness for someone else. I think when the right person comes along, there won’t have to be any sacrifice,” Unglert said.

The most exciting moments during the podcast take place when his exs are called and are interviewed by Unglert himself.  Schulman being the most recent ex was asked if in two decades from now how  will  she remember him?

“I think I will always think you’re a nice guy because I think you have a good heart and you are kind, maybe not in dating,” Schulman said.

Is there hope for Unglert? Listeners will continue to follow his journey. “Help! I Suck At Dating” is weekly podcast found on iHeartRadio and iTunes.

Bylaws And Tennis: Will The SGA Fund Tennis Club’s Contingency Request?

by Analisa Novak

A debate on whether the Student Government Association was following its bylaws or protecting their own dwindling financial  balances erupted last week during their meeting.

The Finance Committee overwhelmingly voted against funding Central Connecticut State University’s Tennis Club contingency request of $700 for hotel accommodations on Monday, Oct. 2.

The request would come out of the SGA Contingency account that has $81,452.10. The reserve account is used to transfer money to the contingency account when it empties. It is significantly lower this year than the previous year. In 2016, the reserves account held $204,665.86. Its current balance is $124,976.07, an almost $80,000 difference. 

The annual Spring concert and the senior class trip, in which the SGA funds also, is funded through the reserve account and is not accounted for in these numbers. It is estimated the combined total of those two events could cost close to $100,000.

“Over all if you look at all our account this year we have $93,635.85 less than we started with last year,” Treasurer Chris Cappiello said. “This year we are being more careful with what we allocate.”

Tennis club will be attending the New England Championship on Oct. 22. The club’s eight members who are going paid a combined estimated total of $1,200 out of their own pocket. The members will also be paying to provide their own transportation and food during the trip.

They have been going to the tournament for four consecutive years. In 2014, they were the finalist in the Bronze Bracket. They followed in 2016 by winning the Silver Bracket.

SGA Senator Gabby Bierwirth said that the request was not valid because they did not request it during their base budget back in March this year.

SGA President Kruh was the one who informed the committee that it would be in violation of the SGA bylaws if it was approved, with Treasurer Chris Cappiello stating the bylaw.

“Requests must be made for an item or event not anticipated at the time of base budget requests,” Cappiello read from the bylaws, under 4-2 section J.

The request was then denied with six against and one abstaining.  It was not until the weekly SGA meeting that Senator Stephen Dew questioned why finance committee was using bylaws to deny motions, when in previous years they have not.

“I understand the concern, but we’ve done this as a senate for every year before this. Now we’re going to hide behind the bylaws? For the past 3 years on, this has been blowing over on the bylaws. All of a sudden because senate and its own government, now we’re going to penalize a club for our past senate’s mistakes? That’s absurd,” Dew said.

Dew also questioned if it was due to reserves account depletion and the new financial stress that the SGA was under that they were selectively choosing to enforce the bylaws.

“This body is under financial stress right now, and we have to start looking at requests with more critique and deciding what to do with its money. That being said, I will use a British phrase, “Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish.” That means, don’t try to use our bylaws to cut corners and spending, but when it comes to bigger items, not have the courage and guts to speak against it, or it effects more people,” Dew said.

The SGA granted over $35,638 in contingency requests last fall alone and $80,000 for the entire year.

Kruh argued that the Tennis Club should have been aware that they would need to put it in their base budget request, as the finance committee last semester put on workshops to show clubs how to request items and it was stated on paperwork.

But Kruh was the SGA Treasurer for the two prior years that the tennis club came to the SGA to request the same contingency, it was approved both times, without the talk of bylaws by Kruh or any other Finance Committee members, Dew brought up.

SGA Senator Dante Solano argued that the bigger issue was that senators are willingly wanting to break the bylaws to approve the contingency request.

“As for this motion, as we’ve already established to our bylaws, it is not legal. If someone in this room wishes to vote against the bylaws, and then blame everyone else for not joining, it’s up to them. Absurd, this is fiscally irresponsible in the position we’re in,” Solano said.

Newly elected SGA Senator Adaniel Thompson said the Tennis Club should not pay for the mistake of the student government.

“So what I’m hearing [is] we messed up three years in a row and we’re going to punish a club for it,” Thompson questioned.

Thompson urged the senate to allow this contingency to pass and teach the clubs how to correctly request items so this does not happen again in the future.

“We should grant this to the club, it’s our mistake, then inform them going forward to request it in their base budget. From what I’m hearing, they can’t go back and revise their base budget. We need to tell them how to correct it in the future to allow them to do what they want to do,” Thompson said.

The contingency request was never voted on as the meeting was cut short. There is no word on whether this will be brought up again at this week’s SGA meeting.

The Recorder reached out to members of the Tennis Club to ask if they knew it was required of them to put it in their base budget and did not hear back from them by the time this issue went to print. Also unknown is how the tennis club will pay for the $700 for hotel expenses.

Sorority Suspended From Campus Following Hazing Allegations

 

by Analisa Novak

There  is no longer an active  sorority on the Central Connecticut State University campus, after the Office of Student Conduct allegedly formally suspended the Phi Sigma Sigma chapter for five years.

This comes after the sorority was reportedly accused of threatening to haze their members last spring. The sorority, which has been on the CCSU campus for 15 years, was reportedly found guilty by an impartial hearing body and was deactivated as a club on campus.

“Phi Sigma Sigma is not currently a recognized group at CCSU,” said Student Activities and Leadership Development Director, Scott Hazan.

According to the Connecticut State College and Board Of Regent student code of conduct, any student organization that is found guilty of violating the code of conduct will be sanctioned by a loss of recognition to include: loss of privileges, such as the use of university space, access to student activity fee funding, and/or the privilege of functioning as a student organization.

“Greek letter social and social/service organizations share in the responsibility with the university in regards to facilitating the learning process and the cultivation of an environment, which enriches the educational experience and promotes the development of human talent. In addition to the general student organization polices, there are distinct policies regarding the formation, recognition and expectations for these Greek letter organization,” according to the CSCU handbook. “The policies include specific prohibitions against discrimination, sexual abuse and hazing.”

Phi Sigma Sigma will have to reapply for university recognition due to the fact that they will be suspended for more than two semesters as stated in student code of conduct.

Phi Sigma Sigma is a national organization and is in three Connecticut universities. It was founded on the Central campus on December 7, 2002, and was the only Phi Sigma Sigma in the CCSU system.

According to their bio on thelink.ccsu.com, Phi Sigma Signa describe themselves as “a dynamic, principled, passionately committed group of women from around the world who define ourselves not by our distinct differences, but by what we have in common.”

The code of conduct defines hazing “as an act which endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student, or which destroys, damages, or removes public or private property for the purpose of initiation or admission into, affiliation with or as a condition for continued membership in a group or organization.”

The Recorder reached out to Salma Malik, the former CCSU President of Phi Sigma Sigma for a comment, but never heard back from her. Student Government Vice President Marissa Cusano, who campaigned on her experience and advocacy for Greek life and who was a member of Phi Sigma Sigma, also refused to comment.

The national Phi Sigma Sigma chapter also would not comment if they would continue to support Phi Sigma Sigma if they were to return to CCSU.

The Curse Of Allyn Street: Black Bear Saloon Closes Down

 

by: Analisa Novak

The popular Allyn Street in Downtown Hartford just got a little quieter as the  bar Black Bear Saloon reportedly has closed its doors, according to workers.

Sources who work for the bar confirmed that they received a text from the owners stating that they will not be needed this week, and that they will be closing its doors. Multiple nearby restaurants also confirmed that they have seen little to no business or signs of action recently. Black Bear’s doors were also closed on Monday evening, a day that was advertised on their website to be open from 11 a.m to 1:30 a.m.

A facebook post was posted late last monday evening by manager Elizabeth Lombardo confirming the closing.

“Just wanted to let everyone know that Black Bear closed the doors today, it sucks but we had a good run.. I’m coming off almost 6 years and my partner in crime is just under me.. life changing to say the least. Just wanted to thank you all for supporting and believing in us ..we had quite the time.”

The closing makes it the fourth bar to shut down in the center downtown Hartford area since 2013, after the first bar Up or On The Rocks was shut down after two fatal shootings.

21-year-old Miguel Delgado, of East Hartford, was shot outside the  establishment in August 2013 . Weeks later, a second incident happened that killed Brian Simpe, 19, of Manchester. At the time, Up or On The Rocks allowed people 18 and over into its premises.

“The start of the downhill spiral was when Up or On The Rocks closed down,” said local Hartford DJ Bill Bass. He said he never saw business in that area recover after that.

Four years later, Allyn Street would suffer another fatality as 18-year-old Central Connecticut State University student Taylor Lavoie fell to her death from the roof of The Angry Bull Bar Saloon. Angry Bull closed its doors after the Hartford Police set security measures that would have the bar paying $584 a night for extra security.

Pyur Nightclub would also close down in late 2015 after a decline in business. The emptied nightclub whose patio and ajar windows used to welcome guest from outside now are covered with plywood.

Black Bear Saloon, which was popular among its students for its “all you can drink Thursdays,” has recently been tied into a copyright infringement suit with  the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). According to the lawsuit, ASCAP was suing BB Allyn Street LLC, the owners of Black Bear Saloon, along with 10 other bars and restaurants, for $90,000 for knowingly allowing the public performance of copyrighted songs without payment. The suit was filed in the Connecticut district court in New Haven earlier this year.

In a statement released about the suit in April, ASCAP stated that “hundreds of thousands of well-run businesses across the nation recognize the importance of paying music creators to use their music, and understand that it is both the lawful and right thing to do,” Executive Vice President of ASCAP Vincent Candilora said. “However, each of the establishments sued today has decided to use music without compensating songwriters. By filing these actions, ASCAP is standing up for songwriters whose creative work brings great value to all businesses that publicly perform their music.”

Black Bear was one of 10 restaurants named in the suit after it was caught playing Fifth Harmony’s “Worth It” and LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” and  “Sexy and I Know It” without payments for the songs.

The Recorder reached out to Alyssa Berlandy, who is listed as the liquor permittee license holder, for a confirmation about Black Bear Closing, but by print did not hear back.

Bass, who is regularly booked in Connecticut as a DJ, said it is disappointing to see another local bar go down.

“This is how we earn a living, at this rate there wont be any place left to play,” Bass said.