All posts by Kimberly Pena

Just Because You Do Not Agree, Does Not Make It Fake News ((EDITORIAL))

Is an article or a newspaper really “fake news” because the audience does not approve of what is being reported?

No — hell no.

That tends to be the new catchphrase for those readers and viewers who disagree with stories that are used for publication. “Fake news” is used so irresponsibly that nobody even really knows what the real definition of it is.

According to Collins Dictionary, fake news means “false, often sensational information disseminated under the guise of news reporting.”

The phrase caught momentum during last year’s presidential election when both President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton used it towards news organizations that they believed published unflattering or potentially libelous stories about them.

Yet, if a newspaper or a TV station is just reporting the facts and it is not in the favor of those involved in the story, why is the media taking the heat?

They shouldn’t be. It is our job as journalists to report the truth because our duty is to inform the public and serve as the watchdog.

Just recently, The Recorder caught fire for being a “fake news” media organization from Twitter users for publishing a piece titled, “Sorority Suspended From Campus Following Hazing Allegations.”

The reporter who wrote the story had accurate information, but did not include in the story that the sorority had allegedly appealed the decision made by the university and their suspension was reduced from five years to only two years. The writer was not informed of this until after the article was published.

The former Central Connecticut State University president of Phi Sigma Sigma and student government vice president, who was a member of Phi Sigma Sigma, were both reached out to for comments and both declined. The reporter was not given the opportunity to get their side of the story, but she did her part to connect with them.

And then there is this word that exists in journalism that does not give reporters that much leeway in waiting for sources to get back to them: deadlines.

So why was there backlash and why was “fake news” branded onto The Recorder when the reporter did her job and gathered all the appropriate information?

They simply did not agree with the story. Not because it was fake; they were just not happy with the story being published.

Again, misusing the phrase “fake news.”

We must acknowledge there are instances where inaccurate stories are published and newspapers as well as news stations must retract the false information. However, mistakes do happen and mistakes did not just start during the presidential election of 2016 — they occurred well before then.

It is not to say mistakes and inaccuracies are acceptable, but this is something that has existed since the yellow journalism of the 1890s and even before then.

With all the obstacles that the media already has to face with getting and reporting their stories, “fake news” is just one of the latest hurdles that journalists must overcome.

And it becomes that much more frustrating when people do not know the real definition of it.

CCSU Senior Presidential Candidates In It For The Students

by Cindy Pena

The two Central Connecticut State University senior presidential candidates, Sedina Begic and Christopher Cappiello, held their first debate on Wednesday in hopes of hearing what the senior class has to say.

The Student Government Association’s Public Affairs Committee hosted the debate in Semesters Cafe where students were invited to watch, support and ask questions.

The goal of the debate was to get seniors to get to know the candidates so they can get a sense of who they may vote for. Connecting with the students was a goal of both Begic and Cappiello’s.

Cappiello stated that he believes he was able to convey his ideas to the students.

“I do believe that my message got across in the debate. I really want to involve the seniors in the planning of the senior class trip and any senior class events,” Cappiello said.

However, Begic stated that she feels like she didn’t get to spread her message to the whole senior class as she had hoped to.

“It wasn’t very highly advertised. It should’ve been advertised more so more people could come through and ask questions,” Begic said. “Your message will never get across unless someone speaks to you, knows you or has the chance to ask you questions.”

Begic’s plan if she were to be elected, is to come together with the whole senior class and combine ideas so that all seniors can benefit.
“My plan has always been to get together and create a senior class committee of seniors and have them help me by giving me ideas. What if my idea is different from yours; I am not trying to make plans and trips just for me, because not everyone is like me. So, I want to have different events, so if they don’t want to go to one, they can go to another,” Begic said. “I want different voices and different opinions because if you do the work by yourself, it’s never fun. I want to keep Mohegan but I also want to add more and instead of just having the summer week, I want a winter week.”

Cappiello’s plan, if he were to be elected, is to encourage CCSU pride and get ideas from seniors to plan trips and events.

“As senior class president, I have a lot that I want to do. I mainly want to promote Blue Devil spirit in the senior class. I want the seniors to be proud to be a Blue Devil and graduating Blue Devils nonetheless,” Cappiello said. “For trips, I have ideas, but I could really care less; it is more important to me that the seniors get what they want. I will be reaching out to the seniors if elected. I want to do fun trips like in the past, but also events that will help us in the future, like networking and resume building.”

Ultimately, they both urged the seniors to vote.

The SGA Elections are through Sept. 25-27 and ends at 11:59 p.m. You can vote online at www.thelinkccsu.edu.

CCSU Comes Together In Support Of Undocumented Community

by Cindy Pena

The student organization, CHANGE, hosted a rally last Thursday to educate the public and support the undocumented community at Central Connecticut State University and around the United States.

“The whole point of the rally was to be more educational than angry,” said Victor Constanza, SGA Senator and Vice President of CHANGE. “We wanted experiences from all different aspects, people who were impacted and allies to talk about the immigration issue and we hope that people will remember these stories because not everyone is affected by it, but hopefully they’ll learn and educate themselves.”

The recent actions taken by the Trump Administration on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals prompted the event.

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DACA is a program created by the Obama Administration that protects individuals from deportation and gives them a permit to work and go to school.

On Sept. 5, the Trump Administration decided to end DACA and give Congress six months to solve the issue through legislation. President Donald Trump stated that if Congress does not come up with a solution, he will revisit it.

Last week, Trump met with Democratic leaders, Chuck Schumer from New York and Nancy Pelosi from California, to discuss a possible deal to protect DACA. No deal has been made yet.

President of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, Mark Ojakian, made a speech emphasizing that what is happening in Washington may have a serious impact on the undocumented community.

“How is what is happening in Washington humane? How is telling people one day, maybe in a tweet to begin with, that they are no longer welcomed in the country that they call home? That they are going to be forced, perhaps, to leave our country, to give up their education, to give up their jobs and go back to places that they never lived before. How is that humane?” asked Ojakian, to the crowd of about 50 individuals. “The stronger we can come together, the better we can make sure that what is being proposed does not happen.”

The possible elimination of DACA has directly impacted the president of CHANGE, Jose Diaz. Diaz is a DACA recipient and fears for the future of the program — not just for himself, but his peers as well.

“Not having a work permit, not being able to drive, being afraid to be stopped, having to go to a deportation center or having to go back to Mexico, all of those things I always think about,” Diaz said, whose DACA permit expires in two years. “It’s not just about me, but also other individuals whose work permits expire in April. Those are the individuals that are going to be out of work permits first. It is scarier for them, more than me.”

Diaz stressed that although the Dreamers are in danger, there are others who are not under any program that protects them from deportation. The goal of the rally was to bring light to the entire immigration community, not just the Dreamers.

“It was important to bring all these individuals together and remind everyone it’s not just DACA, because that’s the redirect that everyone and the media is taking,” Diaz said. “Yet, we tend to forget about parents who are undocumented, we forget those individuals that don’t qualify for DACA, and even though Congress is working on something, they are only working on something for the Dreamers. Having rallies like this kind of reminds the public that there are other individuals who deserve something and should not be left behind.”

Constanza agrees. “With the rally, DACA is a big thing, but there are other immigration issues that are never talked about such as undocumented students who never got DACA or American citizens with undocumented parents who have the fear of their family being separated,” Constanza said.

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Two CCSU students, Jason and Erick Ramos, are U.S. citizens. However, their parents, who came to the U.S. illegally, will be deported Sept. 29. They spoke to the crowd about how it feels to know that their parents will be deported and unable to come back for 10 years.

“I want to dedicate my whole success as a son to my parents, they sacrificed things that I can’t even fathom, coming over here,” Erick Ramos said. “As students we get asked the question of, where do you see yourself in five years, ten years? I don’t know. I have no idea because my success is around my parents.”

Although the future for DACA and the undocumented community is not clear, Diaz stated that he hopes these rallies can help push legislation that will continue to protect undocumented individuals, and possibly create a pathway to citizenship.

“It’s not just about dreaming and hoping for a solution, it’s important to continue to put pressure and educate the community that we need to fight for this,” Diaz said.

CCSU’s First Steps to a Collaborative Community

by Cindy Pena

Central Connecticut State University made its first visit to Downtown New Britain as student leaders, athletes, faculty, staff and administrators took the first steps to build a partnership with the New Britain community.

The group, led by CCSU President, Dr. Zulma Toro, met with various business owners and residents on Wednesday to discuss how CCSU can facilitate the needs of the community.

“One of the initiatives we are implementing is strengthening the relationship of the university with the community. In fact, to make Central the Steward of Central Connecticut,” Toro said.

Students emphasized that CCSU’s visit to Downtown New Britain was essential in accomplishing Toro’s goal of uniting the community.

“President Toro has done a really good job so far getting to know around CCSU, getting our face out there and bringing the community together,” said Madison Norton, a senior at Central. “She wants to get to know the downtown community a little more and kind of show the students and faculty that we have a large downtown presence.”

“We are trying to build a relationship and become more involved and show the businesses that CCSU is here to support,” said Joe Hugley, a player for the CCSU Men’s Basketball team. “She will accomplish her goal because everything she’s done at CCSU is amazing. The student athletes are out here to show how much she means to our school and the things she does in the community.”

CCSU faculty members agree.

“This is wonderful. We [have] never done this before so I think it’s great to partner with the New Britain community,” said Kimberley Dumouchel-Cody, an Academic Advising Specialist at CCSU. “Dr. Toro is really goal-oriented. She came in like a little dynamo and I am confident she’s going to make her mark on New Britain, the community and CCSU.”

Toro arrived at Downtown New Britain in the CT Fastrak and stopped at businesses like Yoyo Ice Cream, Dunkin Donuts, TD Bank and Amato’s Toy and Hobby.

Toro hopes that these businesses will get involved on campus by providing career opportunities and in return, CCSU students will come to Downtown New Britain and shop at these local stores.

“One of the things that we are just exploring here is asking the businesses how we can bring Central closer to downtown and how we can get downtown closer to Central and that’s basically the purpose,” Toro said. “I believe that we have resources that can help the city, but at the same time the city has opportunities in New Britain that we offer to our students and also can offer opportunities for our faculty and staff.”

Danica Levesque, assistant to the owner of Amato’s Toy and Hobby, emphasized that Toro’s collaborative efforts can help stimulate businesses as students become familiar with New Britain and what it has to offer.

“We always wanted to bring the college over and bring them in and get them involved with the businesses around here. We are hoping we will get some customers even though they are teenagers and young adults. I think we have some things to offer and that they can benefit from this store,” Levesque said, who has been working at Amato’s toy store for over 10 years. “It’s a great idea, meeting face to face and talking to the owners and it’s going to make a really good impression on the businesses to feel that they are important.”

Toro was recently appointed as the 13th president of CCSU, making her the first Hispanic and female to hold that position. Ultimately, in the 11 months she has been president, she has made the first steps to reach her goals through these recent collaborative efforts with CCSU and the community.

“I am accompanied by faculty, staff and students and I think that all of us have that goal of bringing the communities together,” Toro said.

Approved State Budget Cuts May Take A Toll In Student’s Pockets

by Kimberly Pena

The weight of university costs may become heavier as the Connecticut General Assembly passed a budget that includes cutting about $93 million of funding from the University of Connecticut and the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system over the next two years, according to an email sent out by CSCU President Mark Ojakian.

Ojakian shared his sentiments on the budget approved this past Saturday as something that will have a profound impact on the 85,000 students in the CSCU system, including those attending Central Connecticut State University.

“Our students are almost entirely from Connecticut and they overwhelmingly stay here after graduation,” Ojakian shared in a statement he made regarding the budget. “Our students are not numbers on a budget sheet. They are and will be Connecticut’s nurses, teachers, educators, small business owners, corporate leaders and manufacturers, and the rest of our future workforce.”

According to the CT Mirror, legislators met at the State Capitol to discuss, for the first time, the details of the $41.4 billion, two-year budget proposal that the administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Democratic legislative leaders anticipated would end Connecticut’s summer-long budget standoff.

Republican lawmakers proposed a package that succeeded to get passed in both the Senate and then the House with the help of Democrats who were unsatisfied with any of the options presented to them, according to the CT Post.

However, CCSU Economics professor Carlos Liard-Muriente claims that the Central administration has prepared themselves for these types of hurdles.

“Although budget cuts are never good news, we have three extraordinary women in leadership roles at CCSU (new President Dr. Zulma Toro, Chief Financial Officer Charlene Casamento, and Interim Provost Dr. Susan Pease); they anticipated this outcome and planned accordingly,” Liard-Muriente said.

“For example, we deployed a new strategy to increase enrollment and, among the four Connecticut State Universities, Central is the only campus that witnessed an increase in Fall 2017. Furthermore, our endowment is the largest among the four CSUs; more than the endowments of Eastern, Southern and Western combined.”

But for Ojakian, this approved budget cut is the latest blow that the CSCU system has faced in recent years.

“Our system has continued to absorb cuts year after year and we fully understand that in order to balance the budget, we will have to absorb more once again,” Ojakian said. “But our schools are already operating with $66 million less than they had in 2015. These cuts have had real and lasting damage to our ability to serve our students.”

Under the Republican budget, the Roberta B. Willis Scholarship would also be phased out. According to the CT Office of Higher Education, the scholarship provides state aid to help talented and needy students pay for college.

Students may use the award at any of Connecticut’s public colleges and universities or any Connecticut nonprofit independent institution of higher education. This past year, the annual Roberta B. Willis scholarships for students ranged from $4,550 to $5,250 for full-time enrollment and $2,275 to $3,937 for part-time enrollment, according to the CTOHE.

“The phasing out of the Roberta Willis scholarship fund would deny access to higher education for almost 15,000 of the state’s neediest students,” Ojakian explains. “This budget would force severe cutbacks and elimination of essential services such as academic advising, counseling, physical and mental health referrals.”

The full-time equivalent enrollments of the Roberta B. Willis scholarship for Fall 2016 was 4,140 at CCSU, according to the CTOHE.

Marta Komosinska, a senior at CCSU, is one of those students who receives the award.

“They are placing a constraint on the students’ ability to apply to or even continue to enroll in college,” Komosinska said. “The budget cuts are interfering with the education of young adults and could possibly be putting a burden on their families due to overall low incomes and loss of jobs in Connecticut.”

Liard-Muriente agrees that CCSU must prioritize that students continue to receive the financial support they need.

“Connecticut confronts a projected biannual deficit of $3.5 billion. Thus, this new reality requires a new strategic plan,” Liard-Muriente said. “The goal is to minimize or if possible isolate direct services to students from any potential cuts, while trying to maintain the level of financial aid we currently offer our students.”

Malloy could still veto the bill; however, if a bill is not passed by Oct. 1 there will be massive spending cuts across the state.