Author Archives: Kassondra_Granata

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Farewell: A Year In Review

By Kassondra Granata

It all started three years ago when I was a freshman at this University. I was not sure what to do, where to go and what the next step would be to pursue my career. I was uncertain if I was even interested in being a journalist; I always liked to write, I had a talent for it, but there was no motivation.

I was in sort of a limbo until I arrived at The Recorder. I was told by an acquaintance that I should get down there. I told him, “yes, totally, I’ll be there next week” and asked when the meetings were. He told me the date and I was destined to make it there for the next meeting.
It took me three weeks to get to that damn meeting. Every Monday I would walk out my door and make a quick beeline back to my dorm because I was so nervous. I had no idea what it was going to be like, I was scared out of my mind.

I walked into my first meeting literally shaking to the bone to find to my surprise that there were all students there; ordinary, yet more cultured students than I was at the time. There I met the Editor-in-chief Mike Walsh who helped me write my first article and eventually helped me obtain my own voice. He was my mentor for a year after he graduated when Nick Proch took his place.

Under Proch, I moved from a staff writer to News Editor and eventually Managing Editor where I learned how a publication worked. I saw how much work is put into a weekly production- with layout, editing, copy editing, photos- the list goes on. I traveled to Orlando and Seattle where I met and have kept relationships with journalists across the country.

I was Editor-in-chief at The Recorder for my junior year and it was one of the most difficult, yet most rewarding jobs I have ever had. I learned what the entire staff needed to do in order to get The Recorder on the stands every Wednesday.

I saw growth in The Recorder this year. I saw growth in many of those who had just joined, like our Photo Editor, Erin O’Donnell, and the publication gain a different, yet developing image from our Layout Editor, Sean Ferris. The Upgrade section was one of our strongest throughout thanks to Danny Contreras and Acadia Otlowski and the News section developed tremendously thanks to Amanda Webster, who managed the entire section on her own, even if that meant writing it all by herself at times.

The sports section has taken a better turn this semester with coverage of solely CCSU sports with writers under Matt Aveni like Corey Pollnow and Derek Turner that have taken coverage to a whole new level. Joe Suczcynzki wrote opinion pieces every week contributing to the lonely opinion section where there would be comics from Erik Valad, my column and Justin Musczynski’s column. The staff writers were  terrific, taking on stories and making their own style, developing clips for their future.

The website has been at its best state that I have seen since I started with thanks to Rachael Bentley for kickstarting it’s rejuvination and Erik Durr for updating it each week since. The copy editor team has grown to work together in one copy voice, making sure that we all don’t make complete idiots of ourselves each week. They are real troopers for dealing with my constant oxford commas and misplacement of semi colons. Thank you Maxine Eichen, Tj Coane and Hayley Smith.

I met Justin Muszynski on our trip to Orlando and we have been working together ever since. We’ve traveled to Seattle, Chicago and San Francisco together and have developed a great dynamic. Muszynski is a tremendous leader, journalist and one of the greatest friends I have ever made. He will be an asset tremendously missed when he graduated this May. Thank you for being an awesome co-pilot.

With the help of this team, as well as Dr. Vivian Martin, Sue Sweeney and Chelsey Baude The Recorder thrived this year and will continue to do so. I’d like to thank my boyfriend, Ian Mangione, for dealing with me every Tuesday. You are the most supportive and loving person I have ever met.

I have full confidence that The Recorder will continue to grow and succeed within the next year. Best of luck to the staff next semester as well as Amanda Webster, and thank you all for one of the best years of my life.

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Musical Theatre Club Impresses Crowd With ‘Spring Awakening’

By Chris Pace

A few days before the grand opening of Spring Awakening, members of the Musical Theatre club put on a private showing to members of the Student Government Association. It is based off of 2006’s musical adaptation of Frank Wedekind’s 1917 original play. It’s a coming of age story that takes place in early 20th century Germany.

The music was beautiful integrating slow, sad acoustic solos with hard, angry rock songs. The musical numbers in the production really elaborated the characters teenage angst.

John Hickok, the director of the play has a great résumé directing famous productions all over the world and United Sates including Los Angeles, New York City and London.

The play starred Zach Heidorn, Melanie Gawlak, Sam Wolf and Julia Idarola.

Wendla (played by Gawlak) asks her mother, (Idarola) how a woman becomes pregnant. Her mother won’t tell her because she can’t talk to her about the subject feeling like she just shouldn’t have sex let alone learn about it.

Melchior (Heidorn) speaks to his friend Moritz (Wolf) about what he does to pleasure himself and offers him a book with erotic writing in it. Moritz is later expelled from the school and commits suicide after his father disowns him and he denies a girl from sleeping with him.

Melchior meets Wendla in the woods and sleeps with her. Wendla later gets a checkup and finds out she is pregnant. Wendla’s mother brings her to get a back alley abortion, which she dies from.

Melchior doesn’t know about Wendla’s pregnancy until a group of schoolboys take a letter she wrote to him and all masturbate around it.

Melchior later finds out Wendla had passed away when he sees her gravestone. Then Melchior speaks to a woman in the cemetery and the whole cast, dressed in modern day clothing come back up for one last song.

The production was rather odd. I liked the rock music taking place in an early 20th century. The content, however, was what interested me the most. There was nudity in the production that captured both mine and the rest of the audience’s attention.

The actors did a pretty good job altogether. I’m not a huge fan of musicals but this one was pretty interesting. I’d love to see the school do Once, that’s a musical I’d go to. But I’m impressed with the amount of talent our CCSU students have both singing and acting. All of the actors and actresses did a great job on this production.

1979, ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ

Netflix It! Escape From Alcatraz

By Kassondra Granata

This March, a group from The Recorder traveled to San Francisco for the National College Media Convention. Alongside going to sessions and touring the beautiful city, the group took a tour of Alcatraz.

Before it was the infamous prison, Alcatraz was the site of a U.S. military prison from the late 180s to 1933.

Alcatraz prison operated from 1934-1963 and housed some of America’s most difficult and dangerous felons. Al “Scarface” Capone (1899-1947) and murderer Robert “Birdman of Alcatraz” Stroud (1890-1963) were among the few that were imprisoned at “The Rock,” a nickname that stuck with Alcatraz

No one successfully escaped The Rock, although there were more than a dozen known attempts made over the years. The prison was closed down due to high operating costs and starting in 1969, the island was occupied by a group of Native American activists. Now, it is a popular tourist destination.

It was said that there was no “successful” escape from Alcatraz, but there was one that might have been a possibly successful escape. Based off a true story, Escape from Alcatraz depicts the escape of three prisoners, Frank Morris, John Anglin and his brother Clarence Anglin with the help of Allen West who was known as the mastermind of the plot, but couldn’t escape due to technical difficulties. Morris had carried out his escape within a year of his arrival at Alcatraz.

The men had dug through the vents in the back of their individual cells and placed dummies in their beds that they made from newspaper, the leftover cement from their digging and human hair. The group escaped through the vents and into the utility corridor. They climbed the pipes up to the roof and boarded a raft that they had made and disappeared into the dark bay. Their bodies were never found; no one knows if their escape was successful.

The film stars Clint Eastwood as Morris, Fred Ward as John Anglin, Jack Thibeau as his brother Clarence and Larry Hankin as Charley Butts, the spinoff character of Allen West. The movie was filmed in 1979, 16 years after the prison was shut down. The film was well done, but what made it more interesting was the fact that I was actually there and previously toured the prison prior to watching the film. I enjoyed looking through photos I took and seeing that these actors were where I stood.

The film was very real- there were no censoring like there was in the tour. The film didn’t keep out the violence, the sexual assault between the prisoners or even the relationships between the caucasian and African American prisoners on the island. It was if I was taking my own personal second tour of The Rock. The director, Don Siegal, depicted the story and the prison very well and made it an engrossing, interesting story making the audience have no choice but to root on these felons attempt to escape out of the prison. While watching, it was difficult not to sympathize with the prisoners, especially Butts, who had a dramatic scene when he was unable to escape.

Escape from Alcatraz is a good film to watch if you toured the prison or not. It is suspenseful and has the full package of an older, classic film. It is a wonderful portrayal of what the prison looks like and what life was like at The Rock.

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Merge Of Health Services And Wellness Center Underway

By Kassondra Granata

Within the next year, the University Health Services and the Counseling and Wellness Center will join to become the Department of Wellness Services giving students a one-stop location for health care.

“This is becoming a model throughout our health care system and for what we do here and what we need to do here it is a student model,” says University Director of Health Services Christopher Diamond. “It is a holistic model and it will really allow us to not only continue the care that we have already but really be able to expand that care and meet a lot of the new needs.”

Diamond took over Health Services in 2009 and now there is only one physician (Diamond) two nurse practitioners, a nurse and two receptionists. At the Counseling and Wellness Center there are three full-time counselors and a few newly hired part-time counselors. The center also has an office on Drug and Alcohol Education. Both of these services are under Student Affairs.

When the Director of Counseling and Wellness Tim Corbit took a position at Clarkson College in upstate New York, it granted an opportunity to move forward, says Diamond.

Vice President of Student Affairs Laura Tordenti and Diamond started looking into the program and when Dave Denino left as the interim director Diamond became the Director of the Student Wellness Services.

“They are completely separate departments,” Diamond says of the centers. “You call one number for counseling and wellness and the other for health services. You can’t make an appointment through the other.”

Diamond expresses his distaste in this fact and said that the services weren’t being we weren’t  being student focused.

“This is an opportunity to provide holistic services and student focus services where we can meet when necessary,” Diamond says.

“We will have one phone number and one approach to getting an appointment. It’s such a great idea and there has been a number of times where I was either working in a private practice or in a community health center that had the need for counseling nearby. It was constant and extremely frustrating to operate.”

According to Diamond, common concern is the confidentiality between patients that go to Health Services and the Counseling and Wellness Center. There could be concern that the counselors and the nurse practitioners will converse about the patient. Diamond says that there will be no conversation going on unless extremely nevessary.

“The point of collaboration and communication is about when it is necessary for a person’s care,” says Diamond. “It doesn’t mean that private conversations or appointments are shared it’s all about being completely open.”

Currently the privacy policies do not include that type of communication. Diamond says that the center won’t move forward with that practice until students are aware of the new collaboration policies.

Diamond says that he likes to think of the program as tending for a person’s “multiple walls of wellness.” He describes an individual’s well-being as a pyramid with three sides: physically well, emotionally well and mentally well.

“That’s how I am thinking about this department,” Diamond says smiling. “The idea is that each part of this pyramid doesn’t stand if the other is weak. We want students to have one place to go where we can address any of these issues. We want to help students develop self skills so when you get hit with all different stressful things, you are going to be able to weather it. Part of this is to encourage and maintain flourishing and when stressors hit people will be able to avoid being derailed.”

Diamond says that he looks forward to the integration that is said to be in the bottom floor of the soon-to-be connected Diloreto and Willard Hall that is projected to undergo architectural plans this summer. As of right now, these separate services are staying in the same locations.

 

 

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Administration Aware Of Drop/Fail Withdrawal List

By Kassondra Granata

Among the many lists and speculations that roam on CCSU’s campus, a course drop, fail, withdraw list has recently been brought to light by the Student Government Association. Administration said that they have seen the conjectured list and are taking action.

University Provost Carl Lovitt said that the Administration is interested to know that there are places where students stumble for one reason or another.

Student Government Association Sen. Alex Lee says that former Sen. Kim Towler had spearheaded the project with the Academic Affairs Committee, and he might take on the challenge for this upcoming academic year.

There are 12 courses that meet the criteria as “high-risk” courses with persistent drop, fail and withdrawl rates of 30 percent or above for six consecutive semesters:

MATH 099 and 101

CHEM 161

MATH 152, 115, 119, 221

CS 151

CHEM 163

MATH 116 (pre Calc)

PHIL 121 (Intro)

ANTH 140

“It’s hard to generalize about the courses, there is math and chemistry but broadly the University is committed to strategies across the board that will help students succeed,” Lovitt said.

According to Lovitt there is an Early Academic Warning option which gives faculty the chance to identify students who are having difficulties with their courses and route them to either the learning center or another center to address these issues.

“More faculty are opting to use EAW,”  said Lovitt. The professors are also giving student’s their midterm grade under the Midterm Grade Inititative.

“We are telling the faculty if you haven’t told students how they are doing by the midterm or after you need to do it soon,” he said.

Lovitt said that a goal for next year is to get professors to use Banner even if they post on Blackboard. Lovitt said that the administration can see the students who are struggling on Banner so others can intervene, rather than relying on the student’s who can voluntarily get help.

“Once we put that specific list of courses together, we work with the learning center to develop tutoring that focuses specifically on students in those courses,”  said Lovitt. “If you go to the math courses on many of the syllabi students are being informed that there are tutoring hours.”

Lovitt said that there is a lot of ambiguity when determining why these classes have such a high DFW rate.

“Every class on that list has its own story,” Lovitt said. ” With the anthropology course we have one of the few large lecture courses that we offer at the University. The Dean is aware of this and the department is aware of this and they are going to re design the course. Somehow we are delivering this large lecture course unsuccessfully to students.”

“I think you are going to come up with a variety of reasons for each one and every one is going to be different, they’re going to say ‘it’s too large of a classroom,’ ‘it has a lot of reading’ or ‘it has a lot of math,'” Lovitt said. “It’s got something that makes this course harder. I don’t think you will find students say that there is a bad instructor i think there is something inherently challenging about these courses. We are aware of it and I don’t think we can make the complexity go away but we will try to put in place either support systems for students or see if there are ways that the course can be redesigned.”

Antonio García Lozada, the University ombudsman said that he had conducted a chart regarding the 323 students that have approached him about classes that they want to drop or withdraw from. As the Ombudsman, it is García’s responsibility to hear students’ complaints and direct them right to the source to solve the issue.

“They come to my office with all different varieties of reasons,” said García. García said that he asks the students why they drop these classes.

“Sometimes some of them find out that they do not have time for this class or that their adviser suggested them to drop the class,” said García. He said that some students said that the classrooms are too small, like those in Diloreto and Willard. García said that he suggests to the faculty member to change the classroom but the professors say that there are no other available rooms.

According to García’s chart, many of the reasons that the students present to him are that they missed too many days, they were doing poorly in the class or they did not like the instructor.

“I will try to be an ombudsperson to present options and give them suggestions and find ways to accommodate with them.” When García needs to work with the chairperson or the Dean, he said they are very helpful and listens to the students’ needs. “I will try my hardest to find a solution for the student.”

 

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New Senate Sworn In At Student Government

By Kassondra Granata

After the ratification of the election results, President Eric Bergenn, Vice President Liz Braun and Treasurer Nick Alaimo gave up their seats last week after two years of service to the Student Government Association.

In uniform, those who were not to return on the senate next semester left the general assembly table and the newly elected senators took their place. Dr. Laura Tordenti, Vice President of Student Affairs took her turn swearing in the new executive board with Brian Choplick as President, Ashley Anderson as Vice President and Kory Mills as Treasurer. After Tordenti swore in the new senate, it’s first meeting under the new board began.

“Things are going to be a little different with excusals,” said Choplick to the senate during his first president’s report. “I am only going to excuse senator’s for academic reasons or personal short things that come up. You can obviously petition to the senate at any time you want.”

Choplick spoke directly to the new senate and gave his request that when the senate is voting for a motion, they will either say “yes” or “yay” and when they are voting against they will either say “no” or “nay.” If they want to abstain, they will just say “abstain.”

“Abstentions should only be used in sparing situations when you are unsure of something or would like to remain unbiased,” said Choplick. Choplick finished up telling the senate to not work privately within the Student Government Association.

“The most effective way you are going to get something done is by working with others,” Choplick said. “Or else you are going to get torn apart during the meetings for something that you present.” Choplick said that his first goal is to get the safe ride initiative that former President Eric Bergenn started last semester going.

“The most important thing that I want to do next year is spend more money,” Choplick said. “I think it is a big injustice to the student body that we have hundreds of thousands of dollars rolling into our reserves every year. That’s money that this student body pays for and they should see this money being spent.”

During Treasurer Kory Mills’ report, he said that it was crucial that the senate should pass the base budget for the 2013-2014 academic year. Mills said that the total amount was $334,384.10 to clubs. Mills said that the senate funded 101 clubs this year. Mills explained to the senate what was passed and what was failed throughout the budget for clubs and why. He motioned to have the senate pass it.

Sen. Bobby Berriault said that the base budget was “not a good one.”

“I hate this base budget,” said Berriault. “The student body is not represented in this budget. We are here to serve the student body and this budget does not do that.” Berriault also said that he understands that the senate needs to pass this budget, so he would abstain. Berriault suggested that the senate has money sitting around to make a profit.

Sen Dean Ott asked President Choplick if the  SGA could make a profit off of the money that they do not spend. Choplick said no. Treasurer Mills answered Ott’s question.

“We don’t make a profit, and we do not have $55,000 sitting around for club’s use,” said Mills. “The Finance Committee did the best the could to stay with the budget. We did what he had to. That’s it. The end.”

The base budget passed with 18 yes-votes and 4 no-votes. Earlier in the meeting Sen. Berriault motioned to create a standing rule for the 2013-2014 academic year that when point of information is called, the person asking for the POI may direct their question to another person through the chair with the chair’s permission. The motion passed with 21 yes-votes and one no vote.

Sen. Berriault also motioned to approve the resolution concerning funding for the ConnSCU system. The resolution expressed the support of the student body for additional funding for the ConnSCU system.

Sen. Alex Lee moved to postpone the motion indefinitely. And with 18 yes-votes, two no-votes and one abstention the motion was postponed.