All posts by lorenzo burgio

Letters To The Editor Are Fundamental To Journalism

by Lorenzo Burgio and Kimberly Pena

Letters to the editor have always been submitted to newspapers as a way to incorporate the public’s perspective.

“The letters to the editor section is the prime forum of democracy in a newspaper, the place where the little guy gets to have his say,” explained poynter.org.

The option to submit a letter to the editor serves as a bulletin board for the public to share opinions or information they feel is necessary for other members of the public to know.

It’s a way for citizens to express their concerns publicly and in their own words and has historically played this role.
“Letters to the editor can be effective in influencing public opinion and legislators’ views. The ‘Letter to the Editor’ section is one of the most widely read parts of most newspapers, offering a chance to reach a broad audience. Letters to the editor can provide readers with insights on issues with which they may be unfamiliar, and can also inspire readers to take action,” explained the National Education Association.
In the late 1700s into the early 1800s, lawyer and legislator John Dickinson wrote a series of essays titled “Letters from a farmer in Pennsylvania,” that were periodically published in various newspapers throughout the 13 colonies.

The essays argued that the colonies were sovereign in their internal affairs, and Dickinson argued that taxes were being paid by the colonies in order to raise revenue for Parliament, versus through regulated trade, which he felt was unconstitutional.

The twelve letters submitted by Dickinson helped unite the colonists against the British Empire and highlighted the importance of letters to the editor.

Something that seems to be overlooked in regards to letters to the editor, is the fact that is was written by someone who is not a member of the newspaper’s staff or editorial board.

The work submitted then does not constitute as an article, but a letter to the editor, and its content is not that of the newspaper, but of the public or person who submitted the article.

The purpose of letters to the editor are to tell the newspaper what they are doing wrong, filling holes in stories they published and for citizens to simply explain perception of certain issues to the public.

“In a letter to the editor or opinion piece, you can bring up information not addressed in a news article, and can create the impression of widespread support or opposition to an issue,” explained the National Council of Teachers of English.

Therefore it will be considered unethical for any staff member of the newspaper to change the writing and the meaning of the letters to the editor. Its purpose is to provide a perspective from outside of the newspaper organization that is untouched by the paper.

For a staff member to change the meaning of the piece, is committing an injustice to the public. It is not expressing the authentic meaning of the letter and it does not provide the most detailed insight of members of the community.

“There’s some value in providing readers with a notion of what people in their community are saying and thinking… We do our best to maintain a kind of a coarse filter and err on the side of publishing something rather than not publishing it.”

However, this does not obligate the paper to publish every letter sent to the editor, it is based on the editor’s discretion on what they think is for the best interest to the paper and its readership.

 

Letter To The Editor

by Stephen Dew

Finance Committee Vice-Chair

Student Government Association

A few months ago, the Student Government Association at Central Connecticut Sate University decided to embrace the advocacy of social justice issues on this campus, on behalf of the students, through the creation of the Social Justice Committee.

Nobody denies that as a campus we must confront issues like racism, sexism and homophobia. As a homosexual man, I want to see a campus that is welcoming to all, but SJC has done far more harm than good.

It has alienated minority communities, such as the veterans on campus, who only a few weeks ago were not invited to attend a panel organized by the committee to discuss veterans issues. While the panel may have helped some, it has thrown open divisions between not only the Student Veterans Organization and the SGA, but also divisions inside the government itself.

To feel more a part of the campus, SVO requested shirts and sweatshirts to promote themselves, which the SGA approved by a majority. But because of this, members of the SJC have pushed other organizations to request shirts to feel more included. I ask, why did SVO feel alienated? Why did members of the committee vote no on the request made by SVO? And why do they now push for more organizations to request promotional items?

It’s extremely clear to me the student government has been hijacked — for personal and moral gain — by a bunch of loony lefties who wish to impose their will on others who do not want it.

The average student does not want to be lectured on making the campus more open and compassionate. They want and need help with the cost of living that every student faces, from tuition fees to the price of textbooks.

How can the student government or senators claim the moral high ground, when not enough is done on these matters, because we as senators have to bicker and argue against those who are intolerant of those who do not think in their way.

An open and compassionate campus cannot be created if those students who struggle with their day-to-day living have to be tossed aside simply because they cannot afford to come to CCSU; that would be the biggest injustice to impose on our students.

Keeping The Library Colorful

Kelly Moore presents her art to students at Elihu Library

Alonso Velasquez

Each week as students walk through the lobby of the Elihu Burritt Library at Central Connecticut State University, they are greeted by a different whimsical portrait of a pop-culture or historical icon drawn on a whiteboard.

Every drawing, from Sonic’s Big the Cat to the kids from Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” are courtesy of CCSU librarian worker and student, Kelly Moore.

“Half of the time the drawing depends on what the library events are. A couple of weeks ago, it was Teddy Roosevelt because we were having an event about him- so I had to do him. Otherwise I tend to draw inspiration from whatever game I’m playing at the time, so when [The legend of Zelda’s] ‘Breath of the Wild’ came out over spring break, I said ‘I’ll draw Link,’ and recently I’ve been playing ‘Sonic Adventure,’ so I drew Big the Cat,” said Moore.

During elementary school, Moore was interested in Pokémon and the artwork of Ken Sugimori, which sparked her interest as well.

“I remembered I would order posters and Pokémon cards just so I could have the pictures, I didn’t even play the card game, I just really liked the pictures and the cards, so I tried to collect them all and sort them by the artist,” said Moore, who has been working at the library for over a year and a half.

Moore is planning on transferring to Southern Connecticut State University in the fall semester to pursue a Master’s degree in library sciences, and wants to either be a children’s or music librarian.

The book series “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” inspired her to enter this profession, explained Moore.

“I’ve started reading the books when I was in fifth grade, and it was my favorite series of all time, I reread it every year. I love the amount of care that Lemony Snicket put into every word he wrote. And it’s funny, because drawing and reading, Lemony Snicket is my biggest writing influence and Brett Helquist [the book’s illustrator] is my biggest drawing influence. There are a lot of librarian characters always presented as positive role models. So I decided I wanted to be like Uncle Monty [a character from book],” said Moore, who explained how she began drawing on the whiteboard for the library.

“It was a couple of months into working here, I remember we had an ice cream social event and the person who used to draw the board, wasn’t there and I guess they left. Another person was working less often, so someone asked me if I wanted to try doing it, so I did, and I wrote all the letters in ice cream. After that, I started to draw on a regular basis. I used to draw it with Guillermo Novo, who also worked here, but unfortunately our schedules haven’t been able to match up and he really hasn’t been available on the day we need new boards. So I do them by myself now,” said Moore.

The previous artist had a more black and white style, whereas Kelly is more colorful. “I try to related it to things that are more popular, because I also work with kids in my town library and we do the board there too. I did Olaf from “Frozen,” and I don’t like “Frozen,” but the kids loved it, so I said, ‘I’ll figure I’ll try to do the same sort of thing with college students,'” said Moore. “I definitely want to make people happy and welcomed and feel like it’s a real inclusive environment here.”

Tax Breaks for Graduates Would Benefit the State

by Lorenzo Burgio

College graduates that work and live in the same state as the institution upon graduation are undeniably beneficial to that state’s economy.

Connecticut lawmakers, particularly House Democrats, have recently noticed this and are proposing a tax break that would apply to students who graduate after January 2018.

Students who obtain a job and live in the state after graduation will receive the tax break for five consecutive years. If the graduate attends an out-of-state school, they are still eligible as long as they return and begin working within two years of graduation.

The amount of the tax breaks would vary per graduate and be based on income. An estimated 50,000 to 60,000 graduates would be eligible and the first-year cost of the plan would be $6 million, according to the Hartford Courant.

Two highly debated issues are tackled by this bill; making higher education more appealing to upcoming generations and improving the state’s economy.

A study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that individuals born after 1980 with a college education have lower unemployment and poverty rates than those without one. They are also more likely to rent or own their own home and not be living with their parents; factors that benefit the economy.

“Since the 1970s, education increasingly tends to demarcate the more economically successful from the less economically successful,” PRC stated in the study.

Arizona State University also conducted a study that gauged the societal benefits from a college-educated population.

“Social benefits of a workforce with greater educational attainment and skills can be traced to the enhanced worker productivity associated with greater educational attainment. These productivity gains translate into higher output and incomes for the economy,” the ASU study concluded.

The enhanced productivity then starts a chain reaction that improves not only the state’s economy, but the country’s as well, explained the ASU study.

“Higher education influences economic well-being in three ways,” the ASU study stated. “First, the direct expenditures by the institutions, their employees and their students impact the local economy. This spending multiplies through the local economy until the monies are used to purchase goods and services from outside the local area.”

The fact that a college-educated population is beneficial to both the educated citizens and the economy where they live and work, is the most important aspect of the ASU study.

“The benefit stream contains the private benefits that accrue to the individual plus the social benefits that the employment of the individual generates for the rest of the economy,” the ASU study stated.

This means the entire state benefits when tax breaks are used as incentives to increase the size of the college-educated population that remains in Connecticut upon graduation; as the the proposed bill aims to do.

The tax break will make higher education more appealing for upcoming generations and these studies are reason enough for it to be enacted, so Connecticut residents — whether students or not — can benefit from the economical boost that will follow.

Female Artists Flock To New Britain For Tenth Annual Swan Day

by Lorenzo Burgio

The halls of Trinity-On-Main were filled with live music echoing off the stained-glass windows, while supporters of the tenth annual Support Women Artists Now “SWAN Day CT,” were promoting female artists from around the state Saturday night.

Female artists painted bodies and canvases live on the main stage, while musicians ranging from 15 to 80 took the stage to perform.

Current nominee for the New England Music Festival’s Best of CT award, That Virginia was present.

The 27-year-old DIY musician is originally from Brazil but now lives in Bridgeport, as he has been playing guitar for nine years while scheduling her own shows and tours.

 “When I first heard about SWAN Day through another performer, I reached right out to Jennifer Hill,” said That Virginia, who has participated in SWAN Day for three years now.

Hill, who is referred to by many participants as Mama Swan, has organized SWAN Day CT in conjunctions with the WomenArts organization for the past ten years.

The singer/songwriter and pianist has been recognized by the organization for making SWAN Day CT one of the most successful hosted nationally and internationally.

Ryan Kristafer from WTNH cohosted the main stage with fashion and jewelry designer Ebony Amber of Torrington.

“It’s a great way to support women artists and it’s nice to see a lot of guys here too; without women where would we be,” said Kristafer.

A pop-up market with various female vendors hosted another smaller stage where many enjoyed the music while checking out what the vendors had to offer.

Each vendor displayed their own unique craft or passion.

Lisa McDonald of Harwinton, who is a self-proclaimed chocoholic, was there representing her business Underground Truffles, and 34 of her own chocolate recipes.

When visiting friends in Gualaceo, Ecuador, McDonald became familiar with the cocoa plant and began mixing the raw cocoa with Austrian chocolate to create her recipes, taking about 20 hours each.

Her chocolates contain no preservatives or dies and she usually vends at different farmers markets around the state and online.

Second year vendor Emily Falkowski, displayed earrings handmade from balsa wood she burned designs on, prints of her artwork and t-shirts she designed.

“Last year I was cutting people’s silhouettes out of paper and I thought this year to bring some more work to get myself out there this year,” said Falkowski, adding the event is a good way to network with other female artist.

Stories Shared at CCSU’s First Dear World Event

by Alonso Velasquez  

Students sharing important moments in their lives by writing a personal message on their body filled the Student Center last Thursday when Central Connecticut State University hosted their first Dear World event. 

Messages were written on students’ arms, foreheads or upper chests, then photographed and shared on social media, in conjunction with the organization’s efforts to share people’s stories. 

Katie Greenman of the Dear World organization was the photographer of the event and focused on telling participants’ stories through their images. 

Six students from CCSU who had had their portrait taken were brought forward by Greenman to speak about their own unique message. The students included Kaylah Gore, Shane Early, Shandra Witke, Kelly Turner, Grecia Zaldivar and Christopher Aquino.  

Their messages ranged from sexuality, bullying, estranged family relations and overcoming prejudices.  

Greenman talked about the organization’s roots and how they originated in Louisiana in 2009, as a way to improve people’s spirits after Hurricane Katrina.

Messages were initially meant to be light-hearted and a “love note to the city,” such as “Team New Orleans,” or “Creole food is the best.”  

However, one man took a different direction, writing “Cancer Free” on his lower neck, bringing to light how much more the project could mean.

Since then, the organization has traveled internationally, trying to facilitate and bring to light people’s untold stories.  

Through videos and other media, they have shared stories of hope from Syrian refugees to those affected by the Boston bombings.  

Those who helped run the event had to go through a two-hour training session in preparation; of those helpers were Simmi Miranda and Mehna Desai, of the Mosaic Center. 

“Last semester, during one of our Mosaic meetings, we were talking about how we wanted to bring all of CCSU together,” said Miranda. “We’re in the height of a lot of things going on. With the political season came a lot of tension, so what we wanted was some kind of way where students, faculty and staff could come talk to people, reflect in a safe environment and unite… Dear World had exactly what we wanted.” 

“Dear World is basically a project that consists of storytelling. It is a time to reflect about your individual story, something that makes you unique,” said Desai. “I feel like we’re not really focused on each other, we don’t really have time to talk about our stories. We usually just talk about usual things.”

A photoshoot was also held the day before, which was restricted to a select number of student leaders, students and faculty who were helping to carry out the following day’s event.

Professor, Catholic, Father, Grandfather and Social Activist

by Sophie Contreras

Many people spend the majority of their lives searching for their passion. Luckily for Professor Christopher Doucot, he found his passion early.

Doucot was inspired by Jesuit priest Daniel Berrigan, who lived his life as a contemporary of Christ by actively practicing his faith and anti-war activism.

Doucot decided to live life in a similar way, by promoting nonviolence, peace and helping the less fortunate.

As a college student, Doucot spent his free time volunteering at his local Catholic Worker, in Worcester. He eventually moved into the Catholic Worker home to further contribute to the organization upon graduating.

Doucot then married his wife, Jackie Allen Doucot, and moved to Hartford where he began some of his most impactful work.

Doucot is not only a professor at several universities, but also helps the less fortunate.

Around the early 1990s, Doucot and Jackie decided they wanted to practice their faith in a more serious way. Doucot used a football analogy to describe how he felt and why him and his wife decided to become “players of God’s Kingdom.”

“All around the country on Sunday morning, people gather in a stadium or in their homes to watch football, but that doesn’t make them football players, they are fans of football but the guys on the field are the players because they study and practice it,” said Doucot.

In 1993, Doucot began to live his passion by working with his wife and friend Brian Cavanaugh to open a branch of the Catholic Worker in the north end of Hartford. Their branch is commonly known among locals as the green house.

“We [the green house] try to practice the works of mercy in a daily matter; we share our home, food and clothes with people who need it,” said Doucot. This was evident at the green house, which was filled with children seeking after-school help and volunteers preparing snacks and aiding with homework.

In addition to providing a safe place to get help with homework and an after-school snack, the green house hosts a holiday party and a week at a summer camp. Their goal is to keep the kids of the north end of Hartford out of the streets and gangs.

Richard, a young boy who was been going to the green house for two years, shared some of his favorite things about it,

“My favorite part of the green house is playing basketball with the older kids and circle,” said Richard.

Doucot explained that everyone will hold hands to form a circle and share something they are grateful for. Richard said he was thankful for the green house.

Besides local work, Doucot does humanitarian work abroad. Doucot and his family have traveled to Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Mexico, Palestine and Darfur to provide aid to people America has called enemies. During the Bush, Clinton and Obama administrations, Doucot and his family actively protested against the war in Iraq and still promote peace among nations.

Doucot is originally from Boston and during his early life he attended a private Catholic school, then Holy Cross College in Worcester, where he graduated with a degree in religious studies in 1989.

Doucot later went on to graduate from Yale University with a master’s in religion and is now a professor at Central Connecticut State University and several other universities.

“People ask me about the hardest thing I’ve done, and I think it’s been raising our children in a society that values greed and violence, while we try to instill values of sharing and non-violence and communal living,” said Doucot.

Doucot has always kept his family and faith on the top of his priorities through his life, and having these values is what makes Doucot inspirational.

Phi Delta Theta and Student Government Build Relationship

by Lorenzo Burgio

Members of Phi Delta Theta and the Student Government Association at Central Connecticut State University are working together to lessen stereotypes about Greek life and continue to develop their previously shaky relationship by organizing the third annual ALS Walk.

 “Our relationship was on the rocks clearly due to stereotypes of Greek life in the news and that there has never been a Greek life representation in the SGA before,” said Jake Goulas, SGA Senator and PDT member.

“However, Marissa Cusano is a member of a sorority and also the SGA. We both joined SGA because we both felt that Greek life on campus was misunderstood and the SGA did show signs of discrimination towards Greek life in its past,” said Goulas.

Senator Marissa Cusano explained it was argued in the past that PDT members were not eligible to run for SGA because it is not a club, but a separate organization that collects large amounts of dues.

“It was argued that because they pay a large amount of money per semester in dues, it was unfair for them to ask SGA for money because they had plenty of it,” said Cusano, adding that this came up when the SGA denied PDT $300 last semester, requested for an alcohol awareness fair.

“In reality, the dues of the fraternity were mostly for national dues, meaning that almost all the money went to the national chapter and the local CCSU chapter was only able to keep a very small percentage of their dues,” said Cusano, explaining it was not enough to support all the events they hoped to hold on campus.

Another reason their relationship was tense in the past was due to lack of planning and organizing of the ALS Walk, explained Goulas.

PDT member Tum Souriyamath explained that other members and SGA senators were not able to meet to organize the ALS Walk in the past, something that is being worked on this semester.

“We started a committee formed of both members from SGA and PDT, and it allowed us to use everybody’s input and the minds of each other and push forward a common goal,” said Souriyamath.

“This year, we made a big leap in working the PDT. Last year when PDT requested funding for the walk, many senators argued against it. This year, it was a decision of the SGA Executive Board to form a joint committee with PDT to sponsor the annual ALS walk,” said Cusano, who explained she is the vice chair of the committee and Goulas the chair.

The SGA wants to continue building a relationship with PDT as they have this semester, explained Cusano.

“All the brothers in PDT are full-time undergraduates. Therefore, they pay into the student activity fee and have every right to those funds just like clubs and organizations,” said Cusano.

“We hope moving forward, the SGA can remove stereotypes towards all clubs and organizations and give everyone an equal right for funding,” added Cusano.

The ALS Walk is set for April 23, from noon to 3 p.m. in the Quad, and the walk will take place along campus.

“We currently do not work directly with the ALS Walk foundations; however, they are the national philanthropy of PDT. They don’t have any direct say in how we run our walk, but we do take suggestions and we are in the works of having some people from the ALS association to show representation at the walk and speak,” said Goulas.

Connecticut Police Show Little Interest In Body Cameras

by Lorenzo Burgio

As a student who has worked multiple retail, labor and customer service jobs throughout college, it’s baffling when police officers oppose the use of body cameras.

It is difficult to remember a job where security cameras were not running around the clock to make certain that employees did their jobs correctly.

Nearly everyone employed in the labor, retail and customer service fields are constantly being monitored to ensure their jobs are performed correctly; it’s trivial to think this does not apply to armed law enforcement.

It’s not a sufficient argument that “no one want to be monitored on the job,” when everyone is except police officers.

Across the nation, many law enforcement agencies have begun issuing body cameras to officers willing to comply, but there has been an alarming number that oppose the idea.

Coming from someone who has spent the last five and a half years being recorded at multiple jobs, only one reason comes to mind when an officer resists: they are not doing their job correctly.

It’s the only reason that lingers each time it is reported that an officer tried to prevent someone from filming them, or covered their badges from being seen.

An Act Concerning Excessive Use of Force was signed by Governor Dannel P. Malloy last October, to encourage the use of body cameras and use-of-force investigations in the state of Connecticut, but has received little response from state law enforcement.

Earlier this month, The Hartford Courant reported 12 out of the over 100 law enforcement agencies in the state have reached out to the Office of Police and Management regarding the act to receive reimbursement for body cameras; a $15 million program.

More interest in this program needs to be showed by law enforcement across the state, particularly to align with the beliefs of officers and the public.

A Pew Research study showed 93 percent of the public and 66 percent of police favor the use of body cameras to record interactions between officers and the public. About six-in-ten Americans said they would likely be more cooperative with officers if they wore body cameras, while only one-third of police agreed.

The study also showed two-thirds of the public and half of officers believe police are more likely to act appropriately when wearing a body camera.

It appears the actions taken by law enforcement agencies across the state regarding the use of body cameras do not match the beliefs of the public, or the majority of officers.

It is difficult to comprehend how nearly every employee in the retail, administration, labor and customer service industries are constantly monitored, but this does not apply to armed law enforcement, when statistics clearly show the public and many police feel body cameras will help protect and serve.

Four Jumped On Fastrak Near CCSU

Four individuals were mugged at the Cedar Street CTFastrak station on the night of St. Patrick’s Day when coming back from downtown Hartford; two were Central Connecticut State University students. Photo credit: CTFastrak.com.

by Lorenzo Burgio

One person was jumped, one had a phone stolen and another got punched in the face at the Cedar Street CTfastrak station on the night of St. Patrick’s Day.

A trip back to New Britain from downtown Hartford resulted in two Central Connecticut State University students and two friends getting mugged.

Two minors, who are not CCSU students, were charged with sixth-degree larceny, breach of peace and interfering with an emergency call. They were later given juvenile summonses and released.

After parking at the East Street station in New Britain and getting on the CTfastrak, three females and one male arrived in downtown Hartford at approximately 10:30 p.m.

“Since what happened at Angry Bull, all the bars are strict. My friends’ fakes wouldn’t work anywhere, so we decided to leave,” said one of the three females, unwilling to be named, citing concerns for safety.

Half an hour later, the four friends got back on a Hartford CTfastrak bus to go back to New Britain. About 15 minors allegedly entered the bus at the next stop also in Hartford, said the woman.

The woman allegedly knew one of the individuals and he greeted her with a hug. The group of girls he was with, who were allegedly under the influence of alcohol, then became aggressive towards her.

“They started throwing glass bottles at us inside the bus while the bus was moving,” the woman alleged. She relocated to the front of the bus as her friends held the aggressive group of juveniles back. “The bus driver was doing nothing. She was letting it happen and continued driving.”
After approximately ten minutes, the bus stopped at the Cedar Street station in Newington, one stop away from their car at the East Street station. The woman said the group decided to get off because it was closer to the CCSU Police Department.

“The bus driver gave us a head start. She opened the doors for us and then shut them right after, but then [the bus] sat there,” the woman alleged, adding that as she was running away from the bus, the group of juveniles were banging on the bus’ windows.

The woman said she and another friend were approaching the Newington side of Fenn Road near Starbucks, and their two friends were on the New Britain side of the road, when she realized the group of juveniles were following them.
“The first two girls came running at me, and I’m trying to get away from them. Then three more girls came; they just surrounded me,” alleged the woman, who was thrown to the ground and hit until a friend pulled her up, according to the police report.
The minors then ran up to the other two friends across the street and punched the male in the face, pushing him into the snow, the woman alleged.
The woman was mugged in Newington and the male friend was punched in New Britain, alleged the woman, explaining that she and a friend were on the phone with police at this point.

When one of the juveniles realized the police were being called, they allegedly stole her friend’s cell phone and ran away, said the woman.

According to the police report, Sgt. Ramon Baez had just finished his shift and was exiting the building when he noticed several young females running into the lobby of CCSU Police Department.

The women informed Officer Rafael Rodriguez and one other officer they were victims of a robbery that occurred on the CTfastrak terminal on Fenn Road when Baez noticed two suspects behind the Dollar General, stated the report.
He watched the suspects as they began walking westbound on Wells Street, until they saw the cruiser and began running eastbound, at which point Baez pursued them on foot, ordering them to stop and identifying himself as a CCSU police officer, according to the police report.
As one suspect was being detained by Baez outside the East Hall Parking Lot until New Britain Police arrived, Rodriguez got to the scene, according to the report.

New Britain officers apprehended the second suspect in the front entrance of James Hall on Paul Manafort Drive, according to the report. The juveniles were placed under the custody of state police who are conducting further investigations.

“They caught the two males involved and put everything on them, because they didn’t catch any of the girls,” alleged the woman.

CTfastrak buses and stations are well lit with cameras and usually crime-free, other than problems associated with large groups of college students on certain nights, CTtransit general manager David Lee told The Hartford Courant.