All posts by Lauren Lustgarten

Sitting Down with Dr. Toro

by Lauren Lustgarten

After a seven-month, nationwide search, on Oct. 20, the Board of Regents for Higher Education unanimously voted to make history at Central Connecticut State University. On Jan. 3, Dr. Zulma Toro became the first female and the first Hispanic president of the university.

As the first woman president of CCSU, many wonder if gender will have a positive or negative effect on the goals set in place and the future of the university, if any effect at all. Dr. Toro has never seen gender as an obstacle or something that makes anyone more or less than anybody else.

“Although, I do think that people have different expectations because of my gender and/or because of my ethnicity. Those expectations could be higher or lower for me rather than for other presidents, but that reality can open so many doors for me,” said Dr. Toro. “Given the demographics of this region, given the things this region needs to move forward, I think those are all assets that will help me in moving CCSU forward. I am a human being, a professional, trying to do the best I can for something I am passionate about.”

Just a few weeks into Dr. Toro’s first semester, she has already made strides in accomplishing all that she envisions for the future of CCSU.

“I have been not only meeting with the academic departments and faculty, but also our support offices to learn first what they do so I can understand where the action happens and what kind of opportunities we have to grow those programs and the type of education experiences they offer to students,” said Dr. Toro. “Also, I talk to them about where I see CCSU going and what I think the priorities will be that will guide the strategic planning process that we will engage ourselves in in the next few weeks.”

This process has been going very well, as Dr. Toro has learned quite a bit about CCSU. She has been able to use the information she has gathered to advocate for Central when she meets with legislatures. “At the same time, I am working with the leadership team, the union and faculty leaders to start moving forward with the priorities I have identified for the institution,” said Dr. Toro.

Dr. Toro’s first priority for CCSU is enrollment.

“We will be focusing on increasing enrollment, and to increase that, there are a lot of things we have to look at it. From the way we recruit students, to the way we retain students, to the educational experience we offer, to the marketing of the programs, to understanding what the things are that prospect students are looking for, but also what the things are that employers are looking for. And also, how we can allocate a citizen that is ready to contribute to society,” said Dr. Toro.

She explained the details about her priority of enrollment and the strategic planning process it involves. “So far, we know that we are the largest and the most affordable of the four-year institutions within the system,” said Dr. Toro. “We want to be the largest. We want to be 15,000 students. So, how are we going to get there? What are the things we need to do?”

As enrollment has already been dug into as a goal of Dr. Toro’s, the second priority remains extremely important; community engagement.

“According to the Carnegie Classification, we are a community-engaged institution, but I want the institution to be institutionalized across all programs across everything we do. And we need to do quite a bit of work still,” said Dr. Toro. “The objective is to take the institution to the communities we serve and to bring the communities to the institution; New Britain, Hartford, West Hartford. I want them to come to us for expertise. I want them to think that we are a resource that can work with them in the solution of the most pressing issues they are faced with. We have a lot of students that can be involved with these activities and a lot of faculty that can do scholarly work based on the issues the cities face.”

Dr. Toro doesn’t stop there when it comes to her goals for what she wants CCSU to be and do. The third priority is diversification of sources of funding. “That I will be very involved with. I will be fundraising, cultivating donors, asking donors to support the institutions and this will take me across the nation and also hopefully abroad to engage them in the Institution,” said Dr. Toro. “We will also try grant writing as a source of funding which will support our community engagement and support what we want to do.”

“CCSU has been able to accomplish quite a bit through the years and I can say that the future is really bright for this institution. We are well proficient, we have the commitment of faculty and staff and we have very unique and remarkable students that make us proud,” said Dr. Toro. “We have a lot of good things happening. We just have to assess what is working well, what can be working better and how we can go about strengthening and building upon those foundations to move CCSU to a new level of reputation and recognition. I think that everyone knows within the Central community all the good things we offer. However, that story has not been told enough outside of Central and we have to do that.”

Touching upon last week’s announcement about the new building coming in downtown, Dr. Toro hopes to continue on increasing CCSU’s presence in downtown New Britain. She is pushing to be a partner in the development of the city as she believes the university has the opportunity to help surrounding cities elevate the standard of living.

“Five years from now, when I am listening to a panel of students describing the reasons why they had to come to Central, I want them to say, ‘I came to Central because it was my top choice due to the quality of programs they offer and the opportunities they offer to engage with the communities around them.’ I want Central to be a destination for students. I don’t want Central to be a second choice.”

Dr. Toro earned a doctorate from the Georgia Institute of Technology, a Master’s degree from the University of Michigan and an undergraduate degree in industrial engineering from the University of Puerto Rico. Most recently, she was the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, making her the most qualified out of the 69 candidates that were looked at for the position at CCSU.

“We are going to be immortal in the nation in how we educate the student population we are serving and also in how we go about doing what we do; serving our students and our community,” said Dr. Toro.

The ‘Unapologetic’ Spoken Word Artist

by Kayla Murphy

On Tuesday Jan. 24, at 8 p.m. in Devil’s Den, Central Activities Network (CAN) hosted part one of a four part poetry series program. Over a hundred people attended to hear poet Ashley Haze perform.

“I thought her performance was very powerful,” said freshman elementary education student, Lyndsy Ignacio.

“She touched on very important topics and I thought she did a good job connecting with the audience,” said Ignacio.

“I was ten years old when I picked up a pen and a piece of paper,” said spoken word artist Ashley Haze.

“Every day after school I would write for an hour,” Haze said.

Haze had said that writing and performing poetry was her dream, but she realized that she would need a steady job first and then she could focus on her career.

Laughing, she said, “I work nine to five, and then from five to nine I work on my dream. It’s a good balance and practice to have.”

Haze’s pieces focused on many different aspects of life such as feminism, celebrities, Saturday mornings and cultural enlightenment of African Americans. Haze said that a lot of inspiration for her poems comes from current events and movies such as, “The Help” and “Alligator Bait.”

“I really liked her poem about body image,” said freshman nursing student Sarah Allen.

“Haze made good points about when people say she has a ‘pretty face’ but implying that her body isn’t. I like how she empowered feminism and talked about being beautiful inside and out,” Allen said.

In one of her poems, Haze responds to the idea of feminism with, “I can be eye candy and soul food because I can multitask.”

Damar Britto, a junior technology and engineering education major, said his favorite poem by Haze was “Saturday Mornings.”

“I could relate to her piece about immigration and housework because my great grandmother was a housemaid as well,” Britto said.

In her poem, Haze mentions about how she would clean spotless with her mother on Saturday mornings and how her grandmother was a hotel maid in Chicago.

Haze said she was taught that “cleanliness was close to godliness.”

For the next few months, students can join C.A.N in the rest of the poetry series. The next performer is Gabriel Ramirez: On What it Means to be Black, on February 1st at 8 p.m. in Alumni Hall.

On Feb. 13, at 8 p.m in Alumni Hall, “Kyla Lacey: On Her Experience of Domestic Violence and Abuse” is the third part of the series. The final performer is “Ebony Stewart: Selfless Spoken Word Artist,” on Mar. 21 at 8 p.m. in Alumni Hall.

An Inside Look at the Recent Women’s March

by Angela Fortuna and Lauren Lustgarten

Mixed emotions filled the air across the United States following Friday’s events. Although, there was one common feeling among the millions of people who gathered to protest in the streets of many big cities across the country this past Saturday, Jan. 21.

With more than two million people protesting in the Women’s March all across the world, the movement could be one of the biggest in U.S. history.

Of these cities included New York City, Washington D.C., Boston, Los Angeles, Hartford and many more.

“It was amazing to see so many people out there standing up for what they believe in, and it felt good to know that so many other people feel the way I do,” said University of Wisconsin-Madison student Gillian Quinn.

Quinn informs that there were between 75,000 and 100,000 people at the march in Madison, Wisconsin.

Although the demonstrations were mainly focused on women’s rights, that is not the only cause that was protested.

The protests were held to make a difference and raise awareness of issues such as reproductive rights, immigration and civil rights under the new United States president, Donald Trump.

“A lot of things that our current president and his colleagues have been doing have been absolutely deplorable and have transcended not only women’s rights, but really rights for all,” says Central Connecticut State University student Levanie Freeman, who attended the march in Hartford.

Many of the people involved in these protests have never protested before.

The issues that were protested are important to many Americans, causing large numbers of people to come out and defend their views.

“I knew sitting around and just being angry about it wouldn’t do anything,” said Quinn. “I had to get out there and have my voice be heard.”

For many, being heard was the largest motive in attending. CCSU freshman Shelby Williams attended the march in Washington D.C. and explained it as “an intense experience.”

“Although this experience was intense, I would do it all over again if I could,” said Williams.

As a member of the Youth for Socialist Action group here on CCSU’s campus, Williams felt as if it was her obligation as a comrade to attend the march.

“As a woman of color, to be in solidarity with other women that are trying to prevent the cut of Planned Parenthood and sustain other civil liberties such as maintaining our right to abortion, I felt I had to be there,” said Williams. “The march was peaceful with a lot of pissed off people. Everyone from all walks of life made sure to make it to this march and we all felt angry, but most of all, we wanted change.”

Perhaps what made people feel most passionate about their experience at the march was the feeling of connectedness and togetherness they felt with the people who were marching next to them.

“To see so many people [come] together to fight and speak up for the same thing was so empowering,” said Freeman. “I met people that I would never have met otherwise.”

Quinn remains hopeful for the future and hopes that we, as a nation, will continue to make similar huge strides in the years to come.

‘We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay!’

By Kaitlin Lyle

Looking closely into the issues of today, the Central Connecticut State University Theatre Department achieved an impeccable production in beginning its 2016-17 season with Dario Fo’s “We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay!” Following a guest lecture by Ron Jenkins, the show’s translator, in September and a series of steadfast rehearsals, the culmination of the cast and crew’s dedicated work was discernable in last week’s performances.

Directed by Jan Mason, the story behind “We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay!” is a testimony to the individuals who, driven by hunger, struggled to survive during the rampant inflation of the 1970’s. The play focused on the lives of two married couples and their reaction to the “autoriduzione” movement that struck Italy as well as the United States. After making the decision to pay the prices of their choosing, the couples maneuver within troublesome (and frequently hysterical) situations in order to get by. Within the first few minutes of Act One, the show’s title arose in the chant of the women refusing to pay the rising costs of their groceries. As the fiery heroine Antonia proclaims, “It was the shopping spree to end all shopping sprees! Not because we didn’t pay for the stuff, but because suddenly we were all there together with the courage to stand up for ourselves.” From the moment Antonia and Margherita decide to react against the injustice, the ensuing turn of events produced a riotous narrative that demonstrated the buoyant nature of the human spirit during a time of economic hardship.

The show ran from Oct, 11 to the 15 at the Black Box Theater of Maloney Hall, including two preview showings on the 11 and 12 and a free morning matinee on Oct. 14. The CCSU rendition of Dario Fo’s political farce featured a cast of five, including one performer who took on several roles that intermingled uproariously throughout the plot.

Actor Dustin Luangkhot exhibited a remarkable talent for comedy in playing a “utopian subversive” sergeant, a rigorous trooper, an undertaker with an Italian accent, and a senile grandfather, much to the bewilderment of Nick Carrano’s Giovanni. Senior Carrano conveyed a majority of the show’s feverish monologues with an artistic zeal, delighting the audience with his eccentric interpretations of the surrounding events. When paired with Orianna Cruz, who starred as the inventive Antonia, the duo was as dynamic in their lively interactions as the late Lucille Ball and Ricky Ricardo.

While rehearsing the nonsensical humor of Dario Fo’s work, Orianna Cruz found Fo to be an animated playwright, especially in his ability to fuse comedy with strong political meanings. “It is unusual, but very liberating because of the fact that, right now, people perform comedy just for the sake of entertainment and it kind of gets old after a while,” said Cruz.

In agreement, actor Kendra Garnett, who starred in the play as Margherita, described “We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay!” as “commedia dell’arte.” “It isn’t just a comedy in that the only reason to be there is to be funny,” said Garnett. “It was also made to get a point across and it has a big message for everyone to take with them.” In her fourth mainstage production, sophomore Garnett was vibrant in her movements onstage as her character reacted to the madcap situations around her.

Alongside Margherita, her husband Luigi, played by senior Alex Szwed, shifts from internalizing the newfound societal inequalities to going along with his companions’ absurd means for survival, particularly in his scenes with Giovanni. The experience of “We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay!” marks Szwed’s final mainstage production with the CCSU Theatre Department as well as his last collaboration with director Jan Mason. “I’m so grateful for this theater department,” said Szwed. “It has instilled great confidence in me, it has opened so many doors for so many great relationships, and I’m very sad and gracious in leaving.”

As an unexpected surprise, the cast and crew paid a kind tribute to the memory of playwright, Dario Fo, who passed away in Milan last Thursday, during their official opening night on Oct. 13. “He was definitely in our thoughts all day,” said Garnett, who observed that Fo’s passing altered the mood of their performance onstage. “It felt like we were definitely more doing it for him.”

Throughout the hysteria of the storyline as well as its timeless themes of desperation and determination, “We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay!” created a lasting impression on its audience, delivering riotous laughter for their enjoyment and inspiring them with the plays underlying message. For a production that pinpoints the rising cost of living, the talent found at the Black Box Theater last week was undoubtedly worth the price.

Party In Pink Zumbathon Event

By Lauren Lustgarten

            In honor of October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Central Connecticut State University students have taken matters into their own hands when it comes to raising money for breast cancer awareness on campus.

Hosted by CCSU student, Meg Winzer and the Exercise Science Club, Party in Pink Zumbathon charity event is being held in Kaiser Gymnasium on Thursday, Oct. 27 at 6:30 p.m. for the first time ever. All donations go directly to the Susan G Komen for the Cure Foundation.

“This is the first year this event is being held at CCSU, however Meg Winzer has held many similar events with a great turnout in the past,” said CCSU student, Leigh Holahan. “If the turnout is great here on campus, we would like to make it an annual event.”

The Zumba portion will be taught by Meg Winzer, who is a certified Zumba instructor.

“We really want people to come out and dance for those who can’t and help us fight for the cure. This is a really important cause that affects a lot of people directly and indirectly,” said Holahan.

Admission is free, but there is a suggested donation to start. To participate in the event, you don’t have to pay anything. The organizers of the event ask that participants either preregister through Facebook on the event page or register when you get to the event.

There will be a raffle at the event so people can purchase tickets if you wish. The raffle will consist of a CCSU bookstore gift card, some CCSU gear, a one-month membership to both Big Sky and Amped Fitness, a dinner for two at Bar Taco and some other various gift cards to different places well.

“It’s a way to have fun and do good at the same time, all while coming together as a school to fight a common fight.”

Visit the “Party In Pink at CCSU hosted by Meg Winzer” page on Facebook to purchase tickets and for more information.

American Football Album Review

By Matt Balogh

At first glance, this particular band’s name would lead you to believe you are accidently reading the sports section. American Football is an Indie Rock/Emo band from Champaign, Illinois that started in 1997, back when emo was a genre and not a falsely labeled fashion trend. Created as a studio project of Steve Holmes and Mike Kinsella (previously of emo bands Joan of Arc and Cap’n Jazz), American Football experimented with elements of indie and math rock.

While initiating the process of “just jamming,” Mike Kinsella invited his college roommate Steve Holmes to join in. The trio subsequently put out two self-titled releases: A 3-song EP in 1998, and their debut studio album in 1999. At first, the album showed to little response, considering it only being viewed as a side-project to Kinsella. Later on, through popularity on college radio, the album gained a much larger following, claiming it as a new classic in the emo genre.

After three years of American Football, the band ultimately came to an end. More recently, in 2014, the band announced they had gotten back together to perform a limited amount of shows in the U.S, to coincide with the re-release of their debut album. This release charted the band on the Billboard 200, landing a spot on number 68, a benchmark rarely obtained for many underground bands. This rapidly spreading audience motivated the band to get back together full time, with the inclusion of Mike’s brother Nate Kinsella on bass, and to release a new album.

On Oct. 21, 2016, 17 years after their first album, they released their second self-titled album on Polyvinyl Records. The album is a modern masterpiece of both indie rock and emo. The band brings back their familiar charm of pristine guitar licks, songs varying in both tunings and time signatures, and of course the unique sounds of the trumpet: an instrument seldom used in emo music. Along with their signature guitar work, they infuse technical back melodies with jazz-influenced drumming style, keeping the band together through time and speed changes.

The opening track, “Where Are We Now?” works as the seamless transition to cover 17 years of absence. Right away, the listener is returned to the sounds of the former record, with a new refresh on the band’s intricate song formation. Track number two, “My Instincts Are The Enemy,” features a classic melancholic melody that drives throughout, and cuts time signatures half way through, creating a sound similar to combining two songs into one.

The first single, “I’ve Been So Lost For So Long” immediately hinted at the environment of the record. Once released, the song fits perfectly as a transition and to introduce Side B of the record. Track number eight, “Desire Gets In The Way,” has a very original sound, and is very different from previous work. The song not only features Mike Kinsella singing higher on his vocal register, it is a lot more upbeat, and stands out among the tracks on the album.

Lyrically, the album explores usual topics of loneliness, but also strays off to more intimate features. Splicing together feelings through metaphor and vivid imagery, the band never fails to create an ambience of isolation, and the perfect “rainy-day” album that the world of emo had needed in this day and age.

Rating: 10/10

 

CCSU Art Show

By Kayla Murphy 

Popular works from artists Emily Berger, Zhang Hong, Rick Lewis and Claire Seidi were shown on Tuesday Oct. 20 at 3 p.m. in the Maloney Art Gallery. The Central Connecticut State University Art Department hosted the Abstraction 2016: Surface and Color Art Show. Abstract art is non-objective art that uses shape, form, color and line to create a composition. Around 50 students and staff came to listen to each of the artists talk about their paintings. Berger, Lewis and Seidi were in attendance at this art show, but on Nov. 10, Zhang Hong will be traveling all the way from Shanghai to CCSU to talk to students about his pieces.

Senior art education student, Angela Cipriano, said that she found the art show very interesting. “Abstract art isn’t my thing,” she laughed, “but I really like the color choices on Claire’s pieces and I really admire her brush strokes.”

Claire Seidi, an abstract painter of 4o years, said that she gathers most of her inspiration from nature. Using lots of blues and greens and browns, Seidi says she tries to create gestured images that resemble whirlpools, whirlwinds and tornados.

“After spending time in Maine,” said Seidi, “I was inspired by the spaces in between trees, especially at night. I’ve created some really spooky paintings from these concepts.”

Sara McLaughlin, a junior art education student, thought the art show was very dynamic. “There was a lot more movement than I expected to see for an art show,” said McLaughlin. “I really enjoyed Emily’s print making pieces because her style reminds me of my own.”

“I really like horizontal lines and repetition,” said abstract painter Emily Berger.  Inspired by elements of grain and wood, Berger tries to create a visual conversation between the painting and the audience.

“I always have an idea of what I want to paint, but I always plan color first,” said Berger. “It might change as I go along, but the relationship with color is very important to me. I stop working on a painting until it stops driving me crazy,” she laughed.

Rick Lewis, another abstract painter at the event, also undergoes the same challenges as Berger.

“I’m constantly working on and improving my artwork,” he said, “I will stop at a place that’s interesting enough for me to stop and look at it for awhile.”

Raised in Texas, Lewis’ abstract pieces were inspired by the landscapes. Observing the raw beauty from the environment his paintings try to evoke emotion.

Lewis said, “I find sadness in rotting trees and calmness in the repetitive patterns of cobblestones.”

From Oct. 20 to Nov. 17, guests are welcomed to come to the free gallery showing Monday through Friday, 1-4 p.m.

CCSU Choirs Concert

By Kayla Murphy

Timely enough, The Central Connecticut State University Choirs performed on Tuesday Oct. 18, in front of hundreds at 3 p.m. in Founder’s Hall, but this time, the concert’s theme focused on a political statement. Dr. Drew Collins conducted each of the choirs, the Chorale, the University Singers, and the Blue Notes, always selecting chorale from the past five centuries.
“Nationalization and economic recession in most cases is the result of oppression, and these are some of the situations that our country is in today,” Dr. Collins said.
Each of the songs in the Chorale’s performance touched upon certain moments in history where music was oppressed.
“My favorite part of the concert was the Irish folk song,” said Eddy Sevilla, a freshman mechanical engineer student. “I really liked how the lyrics were about Irish history.”
In one of Dr. Collin’s examples of oppression, he chose the song “The Wearin’ of the Green,” which was about the Irish Rebellion of 1798. It was an uprising against British rule, where the rules were so strict that Irish men and women were prosecuted for wearing the color green. Making the song interactive, Dr. Collins asked the audience to recite the refrain; “for the wearin’ of the green, for the wearin’ of the green, they’re hanging men and women for the wearin’ of the green.”
Chorale bass singer Mercurio Evangelista said that the concert went very well. “We have all been working very hard to learn the music and make it as beautiful as it was intended to be,” Evangelista said.
Spencer Sonnenberg, a freshman student in both the Chorale and the University Singers, also agreed that the concert went perfectly. “Everything in the program was very well. I thought we, as performers, did a good job taking the audience on a journey” Sonnenberg said. Enjoying the unique pieces that Dr. Collins picked, Sonnenberg’s favorite choice was “Abendlied,” a German song.
“I’m half German,” said Sonnenberg. “I speak it fluently and this song really speaks to me. The text behind the text is far beyond what the English translation says.”
“They sang their hearts out,” said Dr. Collins. As proud as he was of his students and their performance, Dr. Collins’s next plans are preparing for the Holiday Concert in December.
The next concert hosted by the Music Department will be the Faculty Recital: The Connecticut Trio on Thursday Nov. 3 at 3 p.m. in Founders Hall.

 

CCSU Campus- A Previous Host for Independent Horror Films

By Kaitlin Lyle

With the full arrival of the fall season on campus, both the university buildings and attending students of Central Connecticut State University have been occupied with preparations for celebrating Halloween. As of this past Tuesday, a pumpkin carving competition was held in Semesters and the Elihu Burritt Library hosted its annual Trick-or-Treat e-resource fair.

In closing the week with the last Devil’s Den of October, the Society of Paranormal Research will be hosting a “Haunted Carnival” themed event in Semesters on Oct. 27. Yet even as the CCSU community makes arrangements for the popular fall holiday, many of its residents may be surprised in learning that, in the past, the campus has been used for the filming of two independent horror films, “The House of the Devil” in 2009 and “Laundry Night” in 2011.

According to Mark McLaughlin, the Associate Vice President of News and Media Relations at CCSU, the university is generally flexible in accommodating requests to utilize locations on campus for the purpose of filming. “It’s a good, prudent, and safe use of state property to help the entertainment industry and others recognize Connecticut as a rich resource for the arts,” said McLaughlin, who mentioned his involvement in accompanying both the film’s advance team and director in scoping out locations on campus.

Though the News and Media Relations does not require that the film company provide a certificate of insurance, precautions are established in order to notify university officials – such as the CCSU Police and Facilities Management – that campus facilities are being used for filming. As a result, Facilities Management ensures that the designated settings on campus are made available for those involved with the production, particularly in making sure that the campus buildings are accessible and that filming is scheduled when there are no events or classes taking place.

In addition, McLaughlin stated that, in the past, he has successfully lobbied for CCSU students to be a part of the filming process in order for them to attain professional exposure, whether they participate onscreen or behind the scenes. “Although the university does get a credit at the end of the movie, it’s almost always not identified as Central during the actual film,” said McLaughlin in closing.

Directed by Ti West, “The House of the Devil” is a 2009 homage to horror films of the 80’s as its protagonist, student Samantha Hughes, decides to accept a mysterious babysitting job that she finds posted outside of her dorm. Coinciding with a full lunar eclipse, the plot soon takes a terrifying turn as Samantha learns that the job’s elusive circumstances are meant to conceal her client’s ghastly secret. The horror film stars Jocelin Donahue, Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov, and Greta Gerwig, and is rated “R” for bloody violence. Throughout the opening credits of the film, director West establishes the storys atmosphere by tracking Samantha’s movements as she walks around her college campus. In doing so, viewers are then able to briefly observe various sections of CCSU, including the outdoor walkway of Vance Academic Center, Davidson Hall, the path alongside Marcus White Annex and Marcus White Hall, which is depicted in the film as the protagonist’s residence hall.

Presented by Lumonox Films, the short film “Laundry Night” displays the story of how a college student’s routine laundry trip takes an eerie supernatural turn, going from average to alarming within a short span of time. The film was directed by Peter Bradley and written by Erik Bloomquist, who also starred in the film. In utilizing the basement and laundry room of Barrows Hall for the purpose of creating a six-minute thriller, “Laundry Night” casts a frightening outlook over an otherwise comfortable lounging area for students.

For those interested in observing the CCSU campus as portrayed in a horror film, both “The House of the Devil” and “Laundry Night” are available for viewing via YouTube.

 

Graeme Simsion’s ‘The Rosie Project’

 

by Kaitlin Lyle

In a newfound genre where unexpected love tends to unveil itself under circumstances of personal tragedy or nationwide catastrophe, it is difficult nowadays to come across a love story that maintains the quirks of modern romance while remaining entirely realistic. Luckily, Graeme Simsion’s 2013 novel “The Rosie Project” satisfies the need for a reasonable, if not charming, romance in today’s literature. For readers who have felt – at one point or another – overwhelmed by the logic of modern relationships, “The Rosie Project” will provide amusing, if not slightly offbeat, reading material.

When it comes to relationships, 39-year-old Don Tillman believes that he is simply not wired for romance. In spite of his achievements in aikido and his career as an associate professor of genetics at the University of Melbourne, Don is the type of idiosyncratic character who can count his friends on one hand and debate a woman out of a second date. From the Standardized Meal System to scheduling a weekly bathroom cleaning, his life revolves around a series of regimented routines that discipline his every action as to not waste a moment of precious time. Even when giving a lecture on Asperger’s Syndrome, Don cannot pinpoint the exact deficiency of what separates him from everyone else (despite the fact that several symptoms of Asperger’s align with his personality).

After a series of innovative dating mishaps – one of which is referred to as the Apricot Ice Cream Disaster – Don has decided to take on the quest of finding a compatible partner using the methods he knows best. Thus the Wife Project is born: a sixteen-page scientifically-based survey comprised of multiple choice questions that are designed to the candidates’ compatibility to Don’s specific preferences. Narrowing out the time wasters, the smokers, the scientifically-illiterate, and the vegans, Don believes that his newfound project will help him to choose the “perfect woman”. Like any competent scientist, Don carries out the Wife Project with critical observation and unwavering determination, but as his “short skirt” cleaning woman, Eva, chastises, “no one is perfect”. Just as Don is waiting for the perfect candidate to reply to his project, 29-year-old Psychology student, Rosie Jarman enters his office.

Following a bizarre first date, Don immediately disqualifies Rosie as being a potential candidate, seeing her vibrantly dyed hair, her tendency to smoke, and her poor timing as being flaws to the qualifications of his Wife Project. Yet he cannot help being intrigued by her character, particularly when it is revealed that Rosie is on a quest to find her biological father. Given Don’s knowledge of genetics testing, he decides to assist Rosie in her Father Project and the two set out to find and test the DNA samples of the project’s numerous candidates. While collaborating on the project, Rosie’s spontaneous spirit helps to coax Don out of his social challenges and encourages him to think beyond his regularly regimented schedule as their working relationship flourishes. Over time, Don begins to realize that the stunning woman before him could be just the person he was looking for, and the eponymous final project begins.

Oddly endearing and refreshingly candid, “The Rosie Project” has been hailed as a “smart love story” for men and women alike by the San Francisco Chronicle. Don Tillman is the literary embodiment of television’s Sheldon Cooper in his ability to continuously state the apparent and unconsciously create social gaffes as a result. Acknowledging Rosie through what is observed by Don, she is an impassioned heroine determined to better herself for when she meets her biological father, though her independence allows her to adapt to any circumstances that life may throw at her. Overall, Simsion’s characters inspire his readers to cheer for Don’s success in finding love and to fall for Rosie as the spirited counterpart of the socially inept narrator.

In addition to tracking Don’s journey as he attempts to pinpoint the symptoms of love, the novel encourages the reader to question how much of their own information on love and relationships stems from outside forces. While working on both the Wife Project and the Rosie Project, he consults his closest friends, Gene and Claudia, on how to recognize love when it’s within proximity, though their answers differ significantly. Gene, who has made it his mission to have sex with as many different nationalities as possible, believes that men cannot be expected to remain faithful, and Claudia believes that one should be capable of accepting their partner’s true nature, even as she hopes for Gene’s mission to end. Along with his friends’ advice, Don analyzes the messages of famous cinematic love stories, such as Casablanca and As Good as It Gets. As Don aptly states in his narrations, “humans often fail to see what is close to them and obvious to others,” a statement that remains especially poignant once he realizes that finding someone to fall in love with isn’t something to be diagnosed with scientific scrutiny.

For readers who found themselves charmed by the follies of Don and Rosie, a film adaptation is currently in development and Simsion’s sequel “The Rosie Effect” has received excellent reviews by fans of the original story.