All posts by Lauren Lustgarten

Changing Views of Objectivity and Ethical Challenges Conversed at CCSU

EIC of ctnewsjunkie.com Christine Stuart, investigative reporter for the Hartford Courant Matt Kaufman, CCSU journalism professor Theodora Ruhs and writer for Hartford Business Journal David Medina.

by Christie Stelly

Journalists and students gathered together to discuss changing views of objectivity and ethical challenges in the new era of President Donald Trump and his administration.

Stan Simpson, the Robert C. Vance Endowed Chair in Journalism and Mass Communications, moderated the event that included panelists David Medina, writer for Hartford Business Journal, Connecticut Latino News and Identidad Latina; Theodora Ruhs, assistant professor of journalism at CCSU; Christine Stuart, editor-in-chief of ctnewsjunkie.com and Matt Kauffman, investigative reporter for the Hartford Courant.

“Trump is the first president elected with no military experience or political background,” said Simpson. “He is running the country as the corporate CEO that he is and the reality TV star that he was.”

The first discussion by panel members was how long they believed this “reality TV star” mentality and practice could be sustained for. Medina said that “it’ll sustain as long as the press allows it to.”

“There are bills being put into place right now, as we speak, but we are too busy covering what he says,” said Medina, suggesting that journalists should report more on certain changes Trump is implementing, rather than on the outlandish things he says.

Ruhs disagreed in part with the statement that the media is not covering enough on all aspects of Trump’s presidency, including policies. She explained that part of the issue is how our media is set up as a business model.

“We are producing news for what is going to sell, what is going to bring audience members in,” said Ruhs, adding that she has faith in the media and believes that journalists are doing their best to cover these issues.

Staurt has more confidence about the future of the field of journalism. “Reporters are doing a better job at actually digging in and I am very much optimistic for the future of journalism,” said Staurt, who also said she believes there is no use in reporting alternative facts.

Kaufman believes that it is more on the public than the media to pay attention to key issues that journalists are reporting on.

“The American people personally decide what is important to them,” said Kaufman. It is not an issue of whether or not reporters are doing a good job reporting, but on what the American people are going to actually be interested in reading, he explained.

Some individuals believe that there were red flags that should have seen with Trump during the campaign, so Americans should not be surprised by what they are seeing now.

“He did exactly what he said he was going to do,” said Medina, also explaining many people were tired of the way the country was being run and Trump promised a change to them. Issues within only the first 60 days included false claims about the size of inauguration crowds, allegations of voter fraud and claims of Barack Obama wiretapping Trump towers.

Is there a “Get Trump” mentality in the media? The New York Times publicly stated that they were going to suspend the rules of objectivity and go after Trump. This brings about questions of ethics and objectivity, asking if it is dangerous to have this type of mentality.

Ruhs believes that it is journalist’s job to be watchdogs and hold people accountable. Instead of a “Get Trump” mentality, she suggests use of the phrase “accountability” instead. She added that the definition of what a journalist’s job actually is needs to be clarified.

Some would argue that Trump has been great for the media. Newspapers and other media organizations have had more to cover than ever. Many newspapers have had to hire new staff members because there needs to be substantial coverage on Trump. Readers are relying upon journalists to provide accurate news about their president so that they can remain informed.

The Pew Research Center reported that 36 percent of people surveyed got their news from news organization websites or apps, more than any other online source. This means that people are still relying on their news directly from news organizations.

The Pew Research Center also reported that two-thirds of Americans surveyed worry about fake news. People are remaining skeptical about the quality of news. This provides a hopeful glimpse into the future, since news consumers clearly care about where they get their news and the reliability of it.

Medina suggested that journalists go back to the basics of journalism and what it is supposed to be about. That includes holding authority accountable and maintaining the quality of information. Journalists need to always remain accurate and continue to serve as watchdogs and hold people accountable.

Earth, Fire, Water, Air

by Lauren Lustgarten

With its “unusual juxtaposition and intermingling of art and science,” the Central Connecticut State University art exhibition, “Earth, Fire, Water, Air: Elements of Climate Change,” is aiming to give visitors a new sense of urgency towards climate change.

The most recent addition to the exhibition, which has been seen flying around campus, is the Fossil Fuel Dragon.

Concerned students stepped up to the challenge of assembling the 60-foot papier-mâché dragon that battled the Earth — equipped with a wind turbine sword and solar panel shield — throughout the campus as fliers promoting the art exhibition and more were distributed.

Professor Longhorne borrowed the dragon from New Haven school students.

The driving force behind the Fossil Fuel Dragon March was to not only bring attention to the art exhibition, but to also bring attention to the Global Environmental Sustainability Symposium, a conference regarding climate change, which will take place at the Student Center on April 13.

Curator of the “Earth, Fire, Water, Air” exhibition and emeritus professor of art history, Elizabeth Langhorne, hopes that this representation of the battle between the fossil fuel dragon and earth will open people’s eyes to the severity of climate change.

“Emission of CO2 into the earth’s atmosphere, largely caused by the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas [Earth, and hence the fossil fuel dragon] drives global warming [Fire], causing the melting of glaciers and destructive sea rise [Water],” said Langhorne. “But, through the embrace of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar [Air, and hence the earth puppeteer using solar panel shield and wind turbine sword], we can mitigate the disruptive forces, global and local, of climate change.”

The papier-mâché dragon was originally made by school children in New Haven who they borrowed it from, explained Langhorne. Along with theater professor, Thom Delventhal, Langhorne called through Facebook and other social media sites, asking for participants to hold the dragon, signs and hand out fliers. Delventhal organized the participants and all together, they assembled the dragon.

“As an activist, I wanted to chant, ‘Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Fossil fuel has got to go,’” said Delventhal. “As an actor, my life has been about imagination and play. But President Trump’s recent statement about ‘really clean coal’ is extremely upsetting. That is an oxymoron.”

Dr. Charles Button, geography professor and founder and chair of the Global Environmental Sustainability Action Coalition, helped with the assembling and marching of the dragon as well. GESAC and the art exhibit worked together to have the exhibit function as a lead into the symposium in which Button organized. Button has hosted the Sustainability Symposium every year since his arrival on campus 10 years ago.

The tenth Annual Global Environmental Sustainability Symposium will have the theme of ‘Climate Change: 10 Years of Progression, Aggression, and Suppression.’ The Symposium is free and open to the public.

“There will be numerous educational programs and activities that engage audience members in discussions about the status of social, economic, and environmental dimensions of climate change. The day highlights the academic work of CCSU students and numerous prominent scientific, political, and community leaders, including: CT Senator Ted Kennedy Jr., Earthwatch’s Dr. Stan Rullman, Yale University Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy (and former CT DEEP Commissioner) Dr. Daniel Esty, and CCSU Professor of Geography and Sustainability Dr. Charles Button,” said Dr. Button in the press release.

Just some of the topics that will be examined during the symposium will include the impacts climate change has on bees, water sources and ecosystems; electrical vehicles; the impacts corporations have on climate change; discussion of current political attacks on climate science and sustainability and more.

“The CCSU and New Britain community is alive with climate change activity. For example, CCSU Education Club members brought fourth graders from New Britain’s Jefferson Elementary School into the exhibition,” said Langhorne.

There will be a closing reception for “Earth, Fire, Water, Air: Elements of Climate Change” on April 12 from 4-7 p.m. where student art, made by New Britain fifth graders from Holmes and Smith Elementary Schools and CCSU art students, created in interaction with the exhibition will be displayed.

“I am so grateful to Professors Langhorne and Button for their commitment to bringing these issues to the forefront of their work,” said Delventhal. “It was my honor to use my acting skills and to enlist the help of my students in bringing this puppet to life.”

Students can attend the art exhibit until April 13 in the CCSU Art Gallery located on the second floor of Maloney Hall.

Muslim Student Association Holds Immigration Panel

by Cyrus dos Santos 
Amongst a family from Syria, a student from Bosnia and others, Central Connecticut State University students came together Monday evening to raise awareness and voice their concerns of the growing intolerance for Muslims in America.
Amid further action from President Donald Trump to ban the entrance of immigrants from predominantly Muslim Countries, CCSU students gathered for an open-forum discussion on a variety of issues hosted by the Muslim Student Association.
We want to bring awareness to who we are, and how it affects us in society,” said MSA President Isra’a Alsaqri. “And with Trump being our president, how that affects us.”
Students from CCSU’s theater department read from the “Gaza Monologues,” a dramatic look into the suffrage within the Gaza Strip.
Although the concentration on Muslims in the news tends to be focused on The Middle East and Africa, students from predominately Muslim populations in Europe came to speak.
“We didn’t come here for a better life,” said CCSU junior, Semra Efendic. “We came here to have a life.”
Efendic, a refugee from Bosnia, came to the United States in 2001 after her native country was torn by war. “Everyone’s scattered, my family included.”
 Efendic’s family was able to escape their turmoil due to a lottery that her mother entered the family in.
Guests of the open forum included a family of refugees from Syria. The family of nine arrived in December of 2016.
Muhamed and Aysha Marri arrived in New Britain with their seven children, ages 1-11, through Catholic Charities. Catholic Charities, a non-profit out of Connecticut, mission is “Motivated by Christ’s social teachings and respect for the richness of diversity,” according to their web site. They stand to promote diversity and equality.
Catholic Charities provides the Marri’s with food and rent for six months while they get settled into their new surroundings. After that, “they are on their own,” according to the family’s translator, Ghoufran Allababidi, a Syrian immigrant who came to the United States in 2000.
The children that are of age, have enrolled in the New Britain Public School System, “with difficulties, of course,” said Allababidi.
Through translation, the family expressed that they miss their family, “because they left everything behind,” said Allababidi.
At the onset of the war in Syria, Marri and his family fled to Turkey, where they lived in a refugee camp. Three of the children were born there. There was no school and they were living in a tent as, Allababidi explained.
She spoke openly of a fear of the regime in Syria and that most refugees believe “the walls have ears.”
  After three years in the camp, and two more years of extensive vetting, the family was finally allowed to enter the United States.
“Do these kids really deserve to live in turmoil?” Ahmad Badr asked as the conversation quickly returned to Trump’s recent actions.
Trump signed a revision of his controversial immigration ban, known collectively as the “Muslim Ban,” Monday morning. The revised law now excludes Iraq from the travel ban as well as the provision that gave priorities to religious minorities from the remaining banned countries.
Trump’s ban on Syrian refugees, which was formally categorized as “indefinite,” has now been given a 120-day ban, according to reports from The New York Times. The ban will be up for review after the 120 days.
 Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen still remain on the list of Trump’s travel ban.
 CCSU President Zulma Toro released a statement after Trump’s original executive order, that said, “I want to say on behalf of the university that we stand in compassionate solidarity with our Muslim students and colleagues.”

President of CSCU Proposes Tuition Increase

by Lauren Lustgarten

President of Connecticut State Colleges and Universities Mark E. Ojakian released a statement this past week recommending a tuition increase to all Connecticut state colleges.

Ojakian is recommending an increase smaller than the previous two years. As he said in the statement, for the first time ever he is suggesting a two-year time frame, “so that students and families can plan better for their educational costs.”

In the released statement, Ojakian said: “We are working hard every day to put our students first. That is why, like last year, I want you to hear this news directly from me. I am recommending a tuition increase at all of our schools.”

The recommended increase for all students at the four universities, 12 community colleges and Charter Oak State College for Fiscal Year 2018 is as follows:

Current tuition for universities is $10,079, with an increase of four percent or $403, the new tuition will be $10,482.

Current tuition for community college is $4,168, with an increase of 2.5 percent or $104, the new tuition will be $4,276.

Current tuition for Charter Oak State College is $7,611, with an increase of four percent or $304, the new tuition will be $7,915.

For Fiscal Year 2019, the recommended tuition increase is as follows:

Universities will face a four percent or $419 increase to the 2018 tuition,  resulting in the 2019 tuition being $10,901.

Community colleges will face a 2.5 percent or $108 increase to the 2018 tuition, resulting in the 2019 tuition being $4,384.

Charter Oak State College will face a four percent or $319 increase to the 2018 tuition, resulting in the 2019 tuition  being $8,234.

When it comes to how this will directly affect Central Connecticut State University, director of admissions Lawrence Hall believes this proposed increase will still keep CCSU competitive in the marketplace.

“Some students and families within the state and region will find it a little more challenging to attend,” said Hall. “However, CCSU will still maintain its status as the most affordable bachelor’s degree program in the state of Connecticut.”

As CCSU President Zulma Toro and CCSU have been committed to working on increasing enrollment numbers, this proposal can have an effect on their mission.

For Brendan Kruh, SGA treasurer, Finance Association president, and currently running for SGA president, he believes any increase at all is detrimental to the student body.

Kruh testified at the legislative offices in Hartford to the state legislatures of Higher Education Appropriations Committee about how damaging he believes tuition increases are to CCSU.

“I feel as though a four percent increase slated for this year and next is not as bad as a 12 percent increase, which was a figure being thrown around,” said Kruh. “However, with that being said, I am strongly against any increase because I have had the opportunity to meet students from every walk of life on this campus and I feel as though rising tuition will soon have a direct correlation with pricing out students from financially disadvantaged households who cannot afford to pay even a cent increase.”

The Board of Regents Finance Committee will meet on Wednesday, March 29, to discuss the recommendation. The full Board will meet on April 6 to vote.

“I believe it is our duty as students to continue seeking an affordable quality education, and to ensure that we do it is vital more now than ever to consistently place large amounts of pressure on the BOR and State Legislators,” said Kruh.

Ojakian said the CSCU system is facing a $35 million deficit, but this proposed increase does not close that deficit and the system would never look to tuition to do so. He added that if they did look to tuition, they would have to raise it by double-digits and that is not an option they are willing to consider.

Ojakian added, “I am fully aware that an increase is still an increase and this will impact you and your families. As a public higher education system, we will work hard to provide you with the affordable high quality education you deserve and expect.”

Willard-DiLoreto Construction Is Underway

The Willard-DiLoreto construction will be a $63 million project. Photo Credit: Charles Bass, Staff Photographer
The project is expected to be finished by March 2, 2019. Photo Credit: Charles Bass, Staff Photographer

by Cyrus dos Santos

After a three month delay, construction has officially begun on the Willard-DiLoreto expansion and renovation project.

“We were hoping the project would have started last year,” said Jim Grupp, director of engineering at Central Connecticut State University. “We broke ground in December, and that’s when we were hoping it would start.”

Due to contract issues, it took a year for Downes Construction Company of New Britain to work with the contract manager at Risk in breaking ground, according to Grupp.

“Part of our job is to make sure that we’re getting a building that’s going to be functional for dealing with the students and faculty,” said Grupp.

The estimated completion date is October 31, 2018.

“That’s when we can technically occupy the building,” said Grupp.

It will take approximately three months to move in all necessary furniture and to get the building up and running.

“We plan to open the building for the spring of 2019,” said Grupp.

According to documents obtained from the State of Connecticut Division of Construction Services, the construction phase, from start date to substantial completion date, is 720 calendar days.

Should the project go past 720 calendar days, the CMR would be held accountable by the state. “It’s thousands of dollars per day,” said Grupp.

Grupp confirmed the official start date of the renovations was recently. “March 13, of this year.”

720 days gives the CMR until March 2, 2019 to arrive at the substantial completion date, under the contract’s proposed construction phase, without penalty.

Downes Construction Company, which constructed CCSU’s Mid-Campus Residence Hall and the Vance Academic Center, was chosen by a team consisting of members from CCSU and the State of Connecticut’s Division of Construction Services. They will be working with a budget of $63 million.

“The guaranteed maximum price is $47 million,” said Grupp. “And then there’s the overall project cost.”

The project cost covers mechanical and electrical designer fees, inspections, hazardous waste mitigation, consultant and architect fees. According to Grupp, those costs total about $63 million.

The remodeled building will offer a new, indoor common area surrounded by natural light, “that provides the CCSU campus with a one-stop student services center,” according to TSKP Studio, the architect for the project. “The design adds 35,000 square feet between two existing buildings, totaling 105,000 square feet.”

Colliers International, a global commercial real estate company with a branch located in Hartford, has come on as the contract administrator.

“They’re like our eyes and ears on the project,” explained Grupp. Colliers’ main job is to assure the contract is upheld for the state. “They’re there every day, eight hours a day, because we just can’t be there eight hours.”

Simple And Delicious Easter Dessert

by Lauren Lustgarten

If you’re looking for the perfect dessert to make for your guests this Easter, we have the one for you. These cupcakes with toasted coconut and Cadbury Eggs are the perfect combination of presentable, simple and delicious – something you just can’t pass up.

First, prepare the cake mix of your choice according to the package. Place the cake mix in cupcake holders and bake according to the package directions.

To make the frosting, mix together cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Once the cupcakes are baked and cooled, frost them with desired amount.

To toast your coconut, spread evenly over a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for five minutes. Top the cooled, frosted cupcakes with the coconut and as many Cadbury eggs as desired and enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • Store bought cake mix, prepare with ingredients according to package
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1 package Cadbury eggs
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 stick of butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

The Quest for Increased Enrollment Rates Begins

by Lauren Lustgarten

Due to a number of factors, it is no shock that enrollment rates for Central Connecticut State University have been declining. From a total number of 11,784 students enrolled in Fall 2016 to 11,060 students enrolled for the spring semester, the numbers are at the lowest they have been in quite some time, according to Larry Hall, director of recruitment and admissions.

Increasing enrollment has been something Dr. Toro has set her mind to since the first day she started at CCSU. In order to implement the necessary tactics to raise these rates, the first step was to look at what exactly was causing them to drop.

“The fact that the college-age student population in the state is going down means our enrollment rate will as well,” said Dr. Toro. “We didn’t have a marketing campaign going and we didn’t have enrollment targets. All of those things are important. Even when I don’t think we compete with other institutions because I think our educational experience provides better volume, we have competition. The fact that people don’t understand all the things we offer is contributing to that competition as well.”

“We have been relying on the history of the institution, but we haven’t been diligently working towards maintaining our enrollment levels,” said Dr. Toro.

Hall explained how, although it is normal for spring semester enrollment rates to drop from fall, these numbers are still far too low.

“We cannot ignore the financial realities of 2016 and the climate that was there during that time. The economy will always play a role. It was also an election year and I am certain that there was some unsettling moments for individuals about what was coming next,” said Hall. “We need to work on moving the needle on our first to second year retention rate from 75 percent to above 80 percent.”

Progress has already started to be made.

“We have already started by launching a marketing campaign which includes billboards, a number of advertisements on public transportation buses, television ads and also digital ads,” said Dr. Toro. “We are also working with current students who are reaching out to perspective students. We have a call center downtown that we are using for that purpose.”

On top of a new marketing campaign, a new slogan has also been implemented to help along the recruiting process: “See You at CCSU.” Dr. Toro has been involving current students in the process by having them work on short videos and other pieces that you can find on social media.

Dr. Toro also held an Admitted Students Day where students enrolled for Fall 2017 came and interacted with faculty and students and were able to ask questions. Dr. Toro stated that her main goal with holding these admitted events is to have potential students picture themselves as part of CCSU. Another Admitted Students Day will be held soon.

Dr. Toro, admissions and other faculty continue to make visits to high schools, community colleges and community based organizations and  recruit both within the state and region.

“We are in the process of developing the Central story; why students come to Central, what makes our educational experience unique. As soon as the story is developed we will launch another marketing campaign using that information,” said Dr. Toro.

The “Central Story” Dr. Toro has been speaking about is something that she believes will bring the university far if told.

“As a university, we have a responsibility to formally tell our story. It is really a matter of awareness,” said Hall. “There are still pockets in the state that don’t necessarily know us or think about us the way we would like them to. We have a lot of alumni across the state that are doing great things. We have to make sure people know that and that those folks are proud enough to say that they are alumni of this institution.”

Dr. Toro’s goal for the school is to have 15,000 enrolled students after five years. She remains realistic for Fall 2017 with a goal of 12,200 students.

“You may be thinking that’s not a high number, but when you have experienced this kind of decline, turning that around takes a lot of time. 12,200 is quite an accomplishment,” said Dr. Toro.

Hall explained that retainment and graduation rates are extremely important to enrollment rates. Everything is being looked at from making sure students continue to feel connected to the university to having mechanisms in place to help students if they have any sorts of problems.

“We need our students to have a positive experience so they can go tell their friends and family about the institution. No one can market the place like currently enrolled students and/or alumni,” said Hall.

“Dr. Toro’s implemented marketing campaign is certainly the start,” said Hall. “It is the beginning of continuing to move in the right direction, but that has to be coupled with positive experiences of students that continue to tell the story. Visibility and awareness is key.”

With these initiatives implemented and with the involvement of the right people, the future of enrollment at CCSU remains hopeful. Dr. Toro also hopes to add new academic programs that seem necessary for the school and students.

“There are definitely some obstacles, but nothing impossible for us to overcome. I am extremely happy to see how people have engaged themselves in the activities and the initiative we have been implementing,” said Dr. Toro.” The faculty, staff, students, alums and people from the community have been helping us along the way. I am very thankful and pleased to see that engagement.”

CCSU Discusses Immigration

by Sarah Willson

Central Connecticut State University held a panel discussion in Alumni Hall to educate students and the public about the immigration bill making its way through the White House, after it was moved from the Sprague-Carlton room due to safety reasons from a high-volume turnout.

The event, held on March 1, brought in four key speakers to talk with students and faculty about the importance of the bill proposed by President Donald Trump, because it could deport up to three million undocumented people.

CCSU President Zulma Toro introduced the key speakers; two immigration attorneys, a CCSU student and CCSU’s associate director of international student and scholar services.

“We are committed to providing a safe environment,” said Dr. Toro, opening the discussion by speaking about immigration laws. “You will have a better handle [after today] on what comes your way.”

“It’s very important not to get in trouble with the law,” said immigration attorney Monika Gradzki. “It is extremely, extremely important not to find yourself in a situation where you are being arrested. If you are arrested, you do not want to take any chances with that situation, you need to make sure that your criminal arrest is analyzed by both criminal attorneys and immigration attorneys.”

The panel explained some precautions undocumented and international students should be aware of, if they are ever confronted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Immigration attorney Jeff Dressler stressed the importance of having a plan and cooperating with the police, before explaining that arguing with them will only escalate the situation.

Dressler continued to say documents and other important information should always be accessible, as they will be needed if ICE arrives. More than anything, he emphasized on how critical it is to be courteous, remain calm and follow instructions if confronted by an immigration officer.

Dressler suggested downloading SafeLock on your personal phone, an app which lets users safely store and easily access all identification documents if need be.

As for where to receive help on campus, CCSU’s associate director of international student and scholar services, Toyin Ayeni, said that an email will circulate campus from Dr. Toro, encouraging students to reach out to her if they feel they need help or are in danger.

“Talk to the [CCSU] president about your situation,” said Ayeni. “She will be able to analyze it and make it easier for you.”

If Dr. Toro is not available, and students feel as if they need immediate attention regarding their situation, Ayeni said she encourages them to visit the Student Wellness Center, located in room 205 of Marcus White Hall.

Students can find five counselors available to help, Monday through Friday.

Every panel member stated that the most important thing to remember is that no one at CCSU is alone.

“We know there are anxieties and concerns,” said Ayeni. “We, as an institution, are a resource to all our students.”

CSCU Gets Hit With Budget Cuts

by Lorenzo Burgio and Lauren Lustgarten

After realizing that years of cutting costs and services is not a feasible solution to the financial challenges Connecticut has been facing, on Feb. 8, Governor Malloy released his proposed budget for 2018. This budget consists of a 4.4 percent cut to the Connecticut State Colleges and University (CSCU) system. This cut represents a decrease of approximately $25 million to the total allocation.

CSCU President Mark Ojakian released a statement following the announcement of this proposed budget.

“Our state has faced significant fiscal challenges for some time and there was no indication that this year would be different,” said Ojakian. “Over the last year and a half, we have made many tough decisions to live within our means while always putting our students first.  However, responding year after year by cutting costs and services is not a viable solution to the shrinking budgets we know exist in the foreseeable future. We must do our part to develop a long-term plan for our system that is realistic, predictable and sustainable in the future and provides our students the opportunities they need and deserve.”

CCSU professor and chair holder in public policy Don DeFronzo believes this budget is significant, but the outcome remains undetermined at this point.

“Where this all falls out is probably a little premature to determine, but it is a significant cut and there will probably be some negative impacts across the system,” said DeFronzo. “The governor’s budget is balanced with the assumption that there is going to be $700 million in the union concessions from all the various state employees and without that $700 million in concessions, that sets up a potential situation where perhaps hundreds, maybe thousands of employees will be laid off and that could have a far more detrimental effect to the university system than any other part of the budget. It’s a real daunting process no matter how you look at it. Certainly that aspect of the $700 million in union concessions, which is planned for but not at all determined yet, is the real ticking time bomb in terms of what might happen.”

CSCU educates 45 percent of Connecticut’s college-age population, while almost 75 percent are employed in the state within nine months of graduation.

“I believe that the 4.4 percent budget cut to the CSCU system is detrimental to not only students who cannot afford a tuition increase, but also to the longevity of our state,” said CCSU Student Government Association Treasuruer Brendan Kruh. “I know that as we raise the cost of attending our public institutions, we will be pricing out a demographic of disadvantaged students.”

“The fact of the matter is, 30 percent of our high school graduates leave the state to attend college elsewhere. As we increase tuition, we can expect that this number will grow larger,” said Kruh. “Students who attend college out of state are more likely to attain employment near where they went to college, than they are to return home. If we continue to increase the cost of tuition out state is in serious jeopardy of losing students whose public education is an investment in our state’s economic future.”

In a statement released on Feb. 8 by Matt Fleury, the chief executive officer of the CSCU system, it was stated that he asked Ojakian to develop a management recommendation for the Board in order to close the proposed deficit in the biennial budget, but “there remains no credible reason to treat these circumstances as temporary.”

The recommendations aim “to streamline the administrative process that frustrates staff and students to re-direct all possible resources to serving and teaching,” wrote Fleury in the statement. “They will be a good start, but not remotely the full solution.” The CSCU system plans to have all recommendations in order by July 1 to move forward with the plan.

“What is needed in 2018 differs greatly from what was needed in 2011 when the system was created. The needs of our students are different, our economy is different and the state resources available to support higher education are different,” wrote Fleury in the statement.

“The Governor’s proposed budges is the beginning of a long conversation realated to the budget,” said CCSU’s chief financial officer Charlene Casamento.

Heart of the Batter

 

by Lauren Lustgarten

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to show your loved one how much you appreciate them, not only with gifts, but something better: food. Looking for the perfect dessert to make your loved one this Valentine’s Day? These ‘Heart of the Batter’ cupcakes are perfect for you.

With just 30 minutes of preparation and 30 minutes in the oven, these appealing and delicious cupcakes will be the highlight of your night. First, preheat the oven the 350 degrees. Line a six-cup jumbo muffin pan with liners. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

Beat the butter and granulated sugar in a bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed. Once the batter is light and fluffy (after about three minutes), beat in the eggs one at a time, following with the vanilla extract.

Reduce the mixer to low speed while beating in the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the strawberry milk, beginning and ending with the flour until all is combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for five minutes then remove to a rack to let cool.

Using a paring knife, cut a cone-shaped piece of cake; about the same size of the strawberry, out of the top of each cupcake. Stop at about ½ inch from the bottom, then stuff with the strawberries. Cover with the removed piece of cake.

Frost each cupcake with a frosting of choice and then top each cupcake with a strawberry half and enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

¾ cup of granulated sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup strawberry milk, at room termperature

6 strawberries, hulled