All posts by lorenzo burgio

‘Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets’

by Lorenzo Burgio

Non-conservative media outlets were barred from entering the White House press briefing last Friday because President Donald Trump considered them “enemies of the people.”

The media outlets that did not make the cut were CNN, The New York Times, BuzzFeed, the BBC, the Los Angeles Times and Politico. ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX were all allowed to enter.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer chose not to use the podium to conduct the briefing, but instead held an informal gathering with the selected news outlets.

These actions are simply unacceptable. The First Amendment guarantees citizens of the country to a free press. It is fundamental for a democracy to allow all media outlets, whether or not they lean left or right, into White House briefings.

There should not and cannot be a specific agenda when dealing with the public and the information they are presented about government actions. If there is an agenda held by the government regarding the press, it is not a democracy.

Allowing all news outlets into briefings provides the public with enough information from diverse sources to use in conjunction with other information and reporting from those organizations, to formulate their own opinion.

It is every citizen’s right to choose what news outlets they use to inform themselves. It is unethical and immoral for a government administration to dictate what outlets are publicizing what information.

This needs to be handled with urgency and caution. Whether the reasoning for these actions are because these news outlets “have been too mean to the president,” as Sean Spicer said, or due to specific agendas and information that can only be shared with some, it is un-American and unethical.

The manner in which news outlets are being handled at the White House is a threat to the nation’s liberty, right to be informed and the words of the Founding Fathers.

“Our liberty depends on the freedom of press, and that cannot be limited without being lost,” said Thomas Jefferson.

This idea needs to be at the forefront of every citizen’s mind, regarding this situation. These actions are only causing the public to be ill-informed.

It did not seem like Trump was thinking of the importance of a free press when conducting this action, but rather was likely preoccupied with the idea of Napoléon Bonaparte that, “Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.”

Why CCSU Police Department is Accredited

by  Cyrus dos Santos

The Central Connecticut State University Police Department is setting the standard for community policing.

In November 2016, CCSUPD received re-accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. “It’s a group that measures high excellence in law enforcement,” said Sgt. Jerry Erwin.

For Erwin, this means a determination of excellence for the CCSU community. Had they failed in re-certification, he believes it would be “letting down the community.”

The department has been accredited since 2004, when they first applied to CALEA. Initial acceptance is based on successful compliance with 464 standards set by CALEA. The certification lasts four years. Re-certification culminates in a three-day, on-site inspection of all general orders and practices, where they must meet 188 standards.

One guideline is the Prisoner Transport Standard, which aligns with CCSUPD’s Double-Locking Policy. During an arrest, police must double-lock handcuffs to prevent the bracelets from tightening, which can cut off blood circulation, cause nerve injury or even break the wrist. Following that, they must pat down the suspect to assure there is nothing that can cause the arresting officer or the detainee harm, such as weapons or drugs.

“You then put the subject in the car,” said Erwin. The officer must verify the back seat is free from anything that can cause harm, or “anything in the car that would place blame on them when, really, they didn’t have anything to do with it.” This must be followed by securing the suspect with a safety belt and safely transporting them back to the station for processing.

“Being thorough is the most important part of the job,” said Erwin.

CALEA requires departments to have an established Preparedness Program. CCSU is included within the city of New Britain as a critical triage site in the instance of a natural disaster. In the event of an emergency, first responders would make use of the Bubble, Memorial Hall and other such facilities. “We’re the biggest place with alternative power,” said Erwin.

One benefit of accreditation is legal defense in situations of civil litigation or any other instance where the department may face legal action. “By us following the accreditation standards and our policies, CALEA will send a team of lawyers to assist us,” said Erwin.

The department is monitored by yearly, electronic progress reports that tracks their progress. Accreditation and software costs CCSUPD approximately $8,000 annually.

CSCU’s Protocol on Immigration Enforcement

by Lorenzo Burgio

The Connecticut States Colleges and Universities system will not enforce federal immigration laws unless legally mandated, and has installed a protocol regarding immigration enforcement, according to a statement by CSCU President Mark Ojakian.

“It is the intention of the CSCU to comply with legally mandated disclosure, orders and judicial subpoenas, but beyond those legal mandates, it shall not further engage in the enforcement of federal immigration laws,” wrote Ojakian in the statement. “The purpose of this protocol is to provide guidance to the 17 Connecticut State Colleges and Universities.”

“The Presidential Executive Order ‘Enhancing Public Safety in The Interior of the United States’ will be treated with the utmost respect, dignity and care within the confines of CSCU obligations,” added Ojakian.

This is the protocol laid out in the statement.

If an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent is seeking information on a CSCU campus about student, faculty or staff, they must be referred directly to the president of the institution, or their designee. It should always be reported if an agent is present.

The president will then ask why they are visiting, for a subpoena, and whether the sensitive locations policy has been followed. This policy ensures specific locations, such as churches and schools, are targeted.

The president then contacts the CSCU Legal Counsel. No information or contact with the person in questions will be taken before this point.

If the ICE agent presents a warrant, this needs to be provided to the CSCU Legal Counsel for verification. If verified, only the CSCU Legal Counsel is allowed to provide any information to the ICE agents.

This is protocol for campus security personnel, laid out in the statement.

Police officer and security personnel will not inquire about an individual’s immigration status, or the status of crime victims, witnesses or others who approach security personnel seeking this information.

No one will be detained on the basis of immigration. And CSCU police forces will not arrest or remove any individual based on warrants issued by ICE of other federal agencies. This includes immigration warrants and deportation orders.

However, CSCU does not declare “sanctuary,” explaining that the meaning is too broad. “CSCU does not have the power or ability to declare any ‘sanctuary’ that is exempt from federal or state law,” wrote Ojakian in the statement.

“Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, however, is considered to be a ‘sensitive location’ as described in the 2011 U.S. Immigration and Customs (ICE) policy. As a sensitive location, the grounds of our campuses should not be the focus of enforcement actions, however, as public spaces are open to the general public, CSCU does not have the authority to bar federal enforcement officers from CSCU public space,” added Ojakian.

‘It is extremely counterproductive’

by Kristina Vakhman

The choice by the Trump administration to revoke federal guidelines that allowed transgender students to use bathrooms of their choice was ill-informed and misguided, according to Crystal Nieves, university assistant at Central Connecticut State University’s LGBT Center.

“It is extremely counterproductive to ensuring that transgender students have an equal opportunity to succeed in reaching their educational goals and surviving their educational environment,” said Nieves.

A key point in the federal guidelines was allowing transgender students to use the bathroom that corresponded with their gender identity. Overturning this element, Nieves said, is extremely dangerous.

“There are serious health risks of not having safe access to restrooms,” said Nieves. “Think about the pain, discomfort and health issues associated with holding in your restroom needs for an entire day because, you are away from the privacy of your own home bathroom. Imagine having to experience that every day over your entire educational career, because your privacy, your safety and your life may be at risk otherwise. It’s unacceptable.”

“Even more concerning is the risk of injury and death that transgender people face when forced to use a restroom based on their assigned sex at birth if it is in-congruent with their gender expression. This act outs transgender people against their will to strangers and puts them at extraordinary risk for violence,” said Nieves.

The revocation came after the Justice Department and the Education Department informed the Supreme Court in a joint letter that they “have decided to withdraw and rescind the guidance documents,” and “will not rely on the views expressed within them.”

Multiple Republican sources told The New York Times that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos “initially resisted” the repeal. However, Attorney General Jeff Sessions — who has long opposed LGBT rights and needed DeVos’ consent to proceed — brought the case to the White House, where President Donald Trump pressured DeVos to relent.

With the federal guidelines annulled, it is up to individual schools to decide whether to let transgender students use the bathrooms of their choice. In addition, the United States Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case of Gavin Grimm, a Virginian transgender student who sued the School Board of Gloucester County in 2015 for barring him from using the boy’s bathroom at his high school.

At CCSU and other Connecticut institutions, “transgender students will continue to have their fundamental civil rights protected, regardless of what Washington says,” according to a written statement by Mark Ojakian, president of Connecticut State Colleges and Universities.

“Our focus is on developing successful, engaged citizens and to do that we must provide a learning environment that welcomes and encourages personal growth for all students,” said Ojakian in the statement. “We will continue to make sure that all of our students feel valued, visible, protected and empowered to pursue their education.”

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy also responded, immediately signing an executive order that strengthened protections for transgender students and urged school superintendents to “honor a transgender student’s choice of [bathroom] facility.”

Trump’s siding with Sessions goes against his campaign promises to defend the LGBT community. In an interview with “The Today Show” last year, the president expressed support, even going so far as to say Caitlyn Jenner would be free to use the bathroom of her choice if she walked into Trump Tower. At one point, he tweeted that he “will fight” for the LGBT “while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten its freedoms and beliefs.”

Nationwide protests are demanding that Trump stay true to his word, arguing that he has gone too far. A CCSU transgender student, who asked to remain anonymous, agreed.

“I can’t stand that he’s taking the most vulnerable demographic, the demographic with the highest suicide rate, and throwing them under the bus,” the student said. “This presidential administration has crossed the line and the American people must demand accountability.”

People Should Read More Books

by Lorenzo Burgio

People should read more books. Reading every day has immense health benefits, and helps create and keep alive various ideas through time, something that should be taken advantage of by every individual.

Reading every day helps maintain mental stimulation and fight off diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, “since keeping your brain active and engaged prevents it from losing power,” according to lifehack.org.

It also improves short-term memory, because readers must remember characters, background, history and any other aspects of the book, in addition to any sub-plots or information from prequels. These new connections and memories create new synapses in the brain and also strengthen existing ones, in turn helping short-term memories. This has been common knowledge for some time now.

“One of the most robust findings in this area is that there is a relationship between level of reading ability and performance on short-term memory (STM) tasks, with better reading skill being associated with superior STM,” said Susan Brady in a Yale study in 1986.

Reading every day also teaches skills that aid in every day life. It provides knowledge, better writing skills and vocabulary expansion that can be very useful. It also improves focus and concentration. “The more knowledge you have, the better-equipped you are to tackle any challenge you’ll ever face,” wrote lifehack.org.

Reading books used to be a fundamental aspect of everyday life. In addition to health benefits, literature has a connection to the world that helps individuals understand better. Whether it is historical, current, social or political, books create connections and keep them alive through time.

“The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments fall; nations perish; civilizations grow old and die out; and, after an era of darkness, new races build others. But in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen again and again, and yet live on, still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men’s hearts of the hearts of men centuries dead,” said famous author and cartoonist Clarence Shepard Day.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “I am a part of everything that I have read.” It seems he wanted it to be apparent that literature brings individuals closer to what is happening in the world, and the less people that read, the more that disconnect grows.

The benefits of reading, from how it is good for health, to creating ideas and keeping them alive, it is something that every individual should take advantage of every day.

The War on Media

by Laura Haspeslagh

The media has always been under scrutiny. Many claim that George Orwell warned us of its dangers in his novel, “1984.” Though the book was written in 1949, many see similarities in his dystopia today.

Media has come up in politics more often with the topic of “fake news.” It feels as though we are surrounded by misinformation, making it difficult to find the truth. I think this confusing time stems from a fear that the media is in control of how we think. We’re worried about becoming the common analogy of conforming sheep and the government turning into the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Mass communication studies show that the media isn’t telling us what to think, but instead what to think about. This still worries many, that the elite conglomerates of this county who own mainstream media companies are forcing their agenda upon us. So do we control the media or does the media control us?

Fearing the media would be a symptom of paranoia. To claim that the media has control over us would be to forfeit our abilities and accept that we are gullible. We have the sources needed to keep mainstream media accountable. Fact checking sites work avidly to confirm or deny information that sources put out. The market also works in a way that competitors keep each other in check in an effort to prove themselves to be the more reliable network.

Social media provides an outlet in which viewers can immediately respond in a positive or negative way that effects news reporting. It’s true that media is constantly in our faces within our society but we are the ones in control of the information we accept or reject. To say the media controls us would be undermining our own capabilities.

We know better than to simply accept whatever information is fed to us. Skepticism is important in verifying any information we receive. That’s why it is urged that we get our news from multiple sources. Any information from media should be taken with a grain of salt but that does not mean we must condemn it entirely. The media does have an agenda, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

There are so many topics that people value in hopes of making a difference, it would be impossible for anyone to give a fair amount of coverage to each issue. Media can provide the people with a unified topic to focus on that begins discussion and can lead to change. This isn’t to say that the topics that the media covers are more important than others or that the work that activists do is less important because it isn’t being covered by the media. However, the topics acknowledged in the news reach a mass audience that, in return, can illicit important discussions and change. Getting such a large audience to think and discuss similar issues is a feat in of itself.

Instead of fearing media, let’s embrace it wisely. Educate ourselves on issues brought up by the media and on the ones that aren’t. Listen to our peers and their own narratives on controversies. Have open-minded discussions. Become investigators ourselves. The media doesn’t have the power to control us unless we give it to them.

Investing in Knowledge

by Lorenzo Burgio

It is becoming increasingly difficult to convince upcoming generations that education is vital when poor graduates surround them.

Higher education is becoming more and more unappealing as the debt graduates face and the duration to pay them off increases. Being able to finish high school then immediately generate an income has become an increasingly appealing thought. There needs to be a sense of urgency to ensure higher education is obtainable and appealing for upcoming generations.

Benjamin Franklin was right when he said, “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest,” but it appears to be developing into a bad investment, or at least one that doesn’t seem feasible for many.

Seven out of 10 students graduated from a four-year public or non-profit college with an average of $30,100 in student loans in 2015, which is a four percent increase from 2014 according to The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS). In Connecticut, the average student debt for graduates of a four-year public or non-profit colleges is $34,773.

This is part of a gradual increase that has been seen for years. The average student loan upon graduation in 2012 was $29,400, “a 25 percent increase from $23,450 in 2008,” according to TICAS.

In addition to the amount of the loans increasing, so is the amount of students who are borrowing. In 2004, 62.4 percent of public university graduates had student loans — in 2012, that number rose to 71 percent, according to TICAS.

One Wisconsin institute performed a study in 2014 that concluded the average bachelors degree holder takes about 21 years to pay off their student loans in the United States. This is an extremely long time for upcoming generations to commit to.

If nothing is done to make higher education more affordable and accessible for upcoming generations, the size and amount of student loans are going to increase and the number of college graduates is going to decrease. The benefits of an educated population can only provide a helping hand to the economical and social aspects of our country.

“Research has supported this conventional wisdom, revealing that education not only enables individuals to perform better in the labor market, but also to improve their overall health, promote active citizenship and contain violence,” wrote the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in a study about the social benefits of higher education.

It seems the words of John F. Kennedy have been forgotten and should be reiterated and taken into consideration to benefit upcoming generations.

“Student loans have been helpful to many. But they offer neither incentive nor assistance to those students who, by reason of family or other obligations, are unable or unwilling to go deeper into debt. It is, moreover, only prudent economic and social policy for the public to share part of the costs of the long period of higher education for those whose development is essential to our national economic and social well-being. All of us share in the benefits – all should share in the costs.”

50 Shades Darker, or Just Duller

by Sophia Contreras

It’s safe to say that “50 Shades Darker” is not a film you would watch with your parents. If you’ve read the book or were hoping for improvement from the first movie, you will be sadly disappointed, and it will happen fast.

The film lacked an actual deep and interesting plot. Rarely ever does the movie live up to the book, but the movie adaptation of “50 Shades Darker” was just too long to sit through without getting bored.

The film sort of glorifies relationship abuse; a guy sweeps a naive girl off her feet and tries to control every aspect of her life. He orders her food, buys the company she works for to control her and tries to convince her that everything they are doing is perfectly normal, knowing that she doesn’t have enough life experience. They break up at the end of the first movie, and just like every other young naive girl she takes him back because “he is going to change,” we’ve all heard that one before.

Putting Christian Grey aside, the sequel includes another man competing for Anastasia love her boss, who invites her on a supposed business trip in New York and after Christian tell her she can’t go, her boss sexually harasses her.

Besides Anastasia’s new work drama, the film also exposes Christian’s old drama and history of abuse. We are introduced to his biological abusive parents, and to one of ex-submissive who desperate for his attention again. Christian’s mother and ex-submissive both look strikingly alike to Anastasia, making the viewer think that he might have some mommy issues. Christian past put Anastasia into life or death situations, and if you’ve seen the first movie you know how he gets about her safety.

Anastasia is exposed to his past and sees a side of him that disgusts her, however, this still doesn’t stop her feelings for him. Anastasia and Christian get more serious and make big steps in their relationship.

Specifically during Christian’s birthday party, the couple openly expresses their feelings for each other, leaving Christian’s mother to find out about his sexually abusive past with their family friend. The whole family is distraught, and to make things worse, Christian ends up in an awful helicopter accident. When he walks back into his house, he is annoyed that his family was worried. Like all Hollywood movies, despite his freak accident, he only comes out of his accident with a single scratch on his head.

The movie ends on a relatively happy note, but it definitely left space for another two movies. Despite how bad “50 Shades Darker” was, everyone knows that it’s so bad that everyone just has to watch it. Its like “Keeping up with Kardashians” or “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding,” no matter how bad it is, you will never be able to look away or delete all the episodes from your DVR.

A Concern for Medicaid

Republicans in Congress and President Donald Trump are making an effort to alter the Medicaid program by issuing block grants, or per capita enrollment, to states.

This would differ drastically from how the funding is currently. “Medicaid now operates as either a negotiated fee-for-service system or a monthly rate per Medicaid enrollee. The federal government pays a portion of the expenses, and state government pays the other portion,” wrote usnews.com.

Ultimately the federal government pays for the needs of its beneficiaries. This results in the federal government covering about 57 percent of the states’ Medicaid costs, according to The Fiscal Times.

A block grant is a specifically structured federal funding with a set sum of money that will be given to the states in a designated period of time.

Under a per capita enrollment, the federal government would only reimburse the states for a specific amount per enrollee.

Whether states are issued block grants or per capita enrollment, Medicaid benefits are going to be impacted and will affect many elderly and disabled individuals. This would also impact children and adults who were unfortunate enough to be born with a disease, such as cystic fibrosis or kidney disease, that prevents them from working.

The change in Medicaid funding is part of Trump’s effort to save the federal government money, which he believes will leave more power in the hands of the state.

Medicaid is a federal program that provides healthcare funds for nearly 70 million Americans, according to the Chicago Tribune.

This raises concern in Connecticut because there are more than 765,000 Connecticut residents who receive Medicaid and $2 million at stake with the proposed cuts, according to the New Haven Register.

“Eliminating the federal dollars for experimenting with payment methods and care delivery structures would cost Connecticut billions,” said Lieutenant Nancy Wyman, co-chair of the Access Health CT board of directors to the New Haven Registrer.

The funds states are receiving for Medicaid should not be tampered with. They are used to help immense numbers of elderly and disabled individuals nationwide. Tampering with the funding to save the federal government money would impact the largest insurer in the country and the 73 million people they currently cover, two-thirds of which are in nursing homes.

There needs to be more caution taken when it comes to altering the dynamics of Medicaid and who that will impact. There seems to be an unwritten obligation that needs to be upheld in which Medicaid is maintained, or even improved in order to ensure all who rely on it are properly receive the care they need.

RECentral’s Insanity Workout

by Sophia Contreras

On Wednesday night, students were hot and sweaty in Kaiser Gym thanks to the Insanity Workout event hosted by RECentral. The instructor was a Central Connecticut State University alumnus, who attended three years ago and studied physical education.

The Insanity workout is said to burn up to 1,000 calories during a single 45-minute session, which, for students looking to get their spring break bodies soon, was a major appeal in attending the event.

When the Insanity warm-up began, about 100 students were present and eager to start their workout. However, by halfway into the workout, about a quarter had left. The high intensity workout was just too much for some. “My favorite part of the workout were the breaks,” said Jeffrey Flores, a criminal justice major at CCSU.

The instructor was very supportive and motivating. She offered plenty of alternatives to every movement. By the end of the workout, only the most determined participants remained. Although not all the participants finished the whole workout, everyone went home with an Insanity t-shirt to prove their accomplishment of participating in the workout.

RECentral was looking forward to hosting the Insanity workout event again. “A couple of years ago, [ReCentral] hosted the Insanity workout, we had about 400 students show up. We’re excited to host it again and are hoping for another big turn out, but with the weather conditions outside, we are unsure. We just want the students to have a fun way to stay active,” said Ken DeStefanis, director of RECentral.

Participants ranged from experienced athletes to students who wanted to get out of winter hibernation. “I’ve just started to vigorously work out because I am working on my Revenge Body inspired by Khloe Kardashian,” said Flores.

“I would recommend this workout to people who love cardio,” said sophomore Amy Brigham. When asked if she would do the workout again, she said, “I feel like I should say yes, but definitely not, it was a lot to handle at once.”

For students looking for a more vigorous workout, DeStefanis recommends the fitness classes offered by RECentral at Memorial Hall that include body boot camp, Zumba, spinning, yoga and more. The fitness class schedule can be found on RECentral’s website and paper copies are available at all gyms on campus.

RECentral hopes to host other similar events to encourage students to become more active. “We’ve been thinking about having Work Out Wednesday. We usually have programs like Insanity a few times a semester, we are hoping to have another similar event around Spring Week too, to get the students moving,” said DeStefanis.