Category Archives: News

CCSU Takes First Steps to Becoming a Smoke-Free Campus

By Jacqueline Stoughton

Students return to a campus that now caters to non-smokers through the creation of new smoking stations around campus. The university hopes smokers on campus will voluntarily use them to smoke.

Smoking centers are located sporadically among the grounds: Diloreto-Willard Hall parking lot, near Copernicus Garage, between Welte Hall and the Student Center and Kaiser Lot are the areas that students and faculty must be when smoking.

Each smoking center is designed to protect students from the elements and is clearly marked so smokers know where to find them.

“I’m unsure about how successful this will be because it’s not like every student is constantly smoking so I don’t think it’s going to make any difference,” said Kristee Bisson, a student at CCSU. “I don’t think there’s going to be any more or less smokers on campus than we had before.”

“In keeping with the University’s goal to provide a safe and healthy work environment, and in conformance with Connecticut’s General Statute 31-40q(d), smoking is prohibited everywhere on the campus other than in four designated areas,” states CCSU’s official smoking policy. “This policy applies to students, employees, contractors, and campus visitors.”

Despite the impression this statement is giving most students, Dr. Christopher Diamond, Director of Health Services insists that smoking on campus isn’t necessarily “prohibited,” but rather is intended to be a voluntary action.

“The president made it clear that it’s not going to be enforced it’s requested to be voluntary,” said Diamond. “I’m not a fan of prohibition so I don’t think that if your goal is to get people on campus who are smokers to be non-smokers. Prohibiting smoking on campus will not achieve that end.”

In President Jack Miller’s address, prior to the start of the semester, he explains how this approach seemed to best reflect the sentiment of those responding to the surveys that were conducted on those attending CCSU last year.

“I hope this is not a ‘rule’ which requires ‘enforcement,’ but rather is one with which we all voluntarily comply,” said Miller in his statement. “It may take a short time of transition for people to remember our new policy. If you see anyone violating our policy, remind them in a courteous way that there are only limited places where smoking is allowed.”

Eliminating the amount of second hand smoke is a major goal of the new smoking policy. Diamond explains how we don’t often think about how second hand smoke can affect others, such as triggering heart and asthma attacks to those who are especially vulnerable.

“When you are around a person who is smoking, you inhale the same dangerous chemicals as he or she does. Breathing second hand smoke can make you sick. Some of the diseases that secondhand smoke causes can kill you,” states the Surgeon General’s warning on second hand smoke. “There is no safe amount of secondhand smoke. Children, pregnant women, older people, and people with heart or breathing problems should be especially careful. Even being around secondhand smoke for a short time can hurt your health. Some effects are temporary. But others are permanent.”

“Secondhand smoke is actually worse for you than cigarettes it definitely could trigger some sort of health issue in someone,” said Bisson. “So in that sense, yes I think this new policy is a good idea.”

Diamond explains that he hopes the students will look at this in a positive light, which could lead to opportunities organized by the university to help guide students to a smoke-free life. Although as of now, there are no such official plans.

“There needs to be more education about the effects of secondhand smoke,” said Diamond, who believes that if CVS, one of the biggest pharmacy chains in the U.S., has stopped selling tobacco in their stores by October 1st, anyone can do the same.

“I think it would be so cool if we had a smoke-free campus through voluntary wellness activities and health improvements and with consideration and understanding of others,” said Diamond. “If we looked at others rights instead of our own first, and the wellness of others before our own, it’d be a pretty amazing thing.”

Drink Something a Little Different This Year

By Matthew Knox

Students who have turned 21 in the past seven months might remember getting a card from the Office of Wellness Education wishing them a fun and safe 21st birthday.

“We want students to know we care about their well-being,” said Matt Ouimet, the Interim Coordinator for the Office of Wellness Education.

The cards were part of a pilot program called Initiative 21 that Ouimet was able to put together with a mini-grant from the Connecticut Healthy Campus Initiative or CHCI.

Ouimet said that he wanted to focus on something new.

“College students on their 21st birthday are a high-risk group.  They do things like 21 drinks for 21 and they can get hurt,” said Ouimet.

The purpose of the program was to encourage students on their 21st birthday to celebrate safely and responsibly, said Ouimet.  According to Ouimet, binge drinking means four drinks for women in one sitting and five drinks for men.

Each card included a smaller card with a list of taxi services, local restaurants that deliver and five signs of alcohol poisoning.  Also included was a $5 Dunkin Donuts gift card.  In all, 646 cards will have been sent when the program ends in April.   Ouimet will be calling some of the students that received cards and asking them to participate in a short survey.

As a pilot program, it is important to gauge the response and impact of the cards.  With the money from the mini-grant used, a continuation of the program in the future would require funds from another source or the school itself.

“They should keep doing it.  I was really happy when I got it,” said Katia Shortt, a CCSU student who received a card earlier this year.

According to Ouimet, 14 percent of students at CCSU don’t drink at all, and of those that do drink, 48 percent have two drinks or fewer per occasion.

“The majority of Central students are practicing low-risk drinking,” said Ouimet.

This information comes from a CORE drug and alcohol survey conducted in 2012.  The survey is conducted every two years, and the results for 2014 have not yet been released. The survey was created by the CORE institute, which is a department within the Southern Illinois University Carbondale Student Health Center.  The CORE institute works to inform and direct student programming efforts throughout the United States.

Mary Bromucci, a member of CCSU Natural Helpers, an organization that works with the Office of Counseling and Wellness, also received a card for her birthday.  She knew about the cards beforehand, but was still surprised when it showed up in her mailbox.

“I think most students were happy to get the card.  I saw posts on social media saying things like ‘thanks CCSU,’ ” said Bomucci.

Hot Button Issues Spark Great Debate

By: Jacqueline Stoughton

The Central Connecticut State University College Democrats and Republicans held their Spring 2014 Great Debate, tackling hot button issues including U.S. foreign policy, environmental policy and minimum wage were discussed.

This semester’s college Democratic team consisted of Wyatt Bosworth, Edward Corey and Bobby Berriault, while the college’s Republican team was made up of Albert Iacolino, Brian Pryon and James Moreno.

The debate began proposing the question should it be the role of the United States government to intervene in global conflicts; and will this benefit American government or not.

“For a very long time the United States has been the dominate world power, so it’s imperative as the world dominate power and one of the premier western democracies in the world that we act to insure that not only the interest of our citizens abroad and domestically are protected but also that we insure those states that may not be able to stand on their own are helped,” said Corey.

Corey explains how he feels that intervening in situations abroad would ultimately help all of us and would provide not only an economic benefit with increased wages but also would benefit citizens of other countries by providing them with protection and security. The other party disagreed.

“It depends on the situation, but overall intervening does not benefit us,” said Moreno.  “Our use of force makes us seem like bullies to other countries.”

“President Obama has drawn down the war in Iraq and stabilized the situation in Afghanistan,” said Corey.  “We need to make sure everyone is protected and that tax dollars and American lives are not wasted on complex wars.”

Corey proposed the question that the biggest concern is always if we deploy forces into foreign countries, will they come back at us?  He explains how protecting the lives of our soldiers must always be the number one priority before anything financially.

The panel then moved onto the next debate topic that proposed the question of whether the United States should adopt a stricter or looser environmental policy?

“Good intentions often create disasters,” said Pryon.  “Using sources such as corn fuel as an alternative to gasoline only drives the cost of fuel up and causes people to starve.”

“Under President Obama we’ve been less reliant on foreign oil,” said Berriault.  “The president has acted to reduce and to insure that clean energy is produced here.”

The final debate topic asked for teams to defend their stance on either being for or against raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.  Whether they were for or against it, and how they would think it would benefit or not benefit the United States economy.

The Democrats were for raising the minimum wage, each member explaining how it will boost the economy by creating more spending, and allow for middle class families and families living in poverty to climb out of that allowing them to more easily support their families.

The Republicans challenged their stance, raising concerns for inflation within the federal economy.  They explain how in the end, raising the minimum wage would just end up hurting the smaller businesses since they would no longer be able to afford to pay their employee.  This would force small business owners to raise the consumer prices on their products; so raising the minimum wage would make no difference in the economic lives of middle class Americans.

CCSU Takes Back the Night

By Ruth Bruno

“Yeah… people suck,” cried a young woman sitting in the audience.

The woman, a student at CCSU, had just left the platform and sat down after sharing her story with the crowd gathered at CCSU’s annual Take Back the Night event. Identifying herself simply as Emma, before telling the audience that she had been raped at the age of 11 by two boys in her neighborhood. She told listeners that the sexual assault continued over the course of a few weeks until her brother went to the neighbor’s house and found one of the boys with a hand down her shirt. She returned home and found her father crying.  Her mother would not press charges against the boys because she did not want to “make waves” and disrupt their small town.

“She doesn’t acknowledge that it happened, but it did and it’s not fair and if anyone tells you that it didn’t happen then they [expletive] suck,” Emma told a crowd full of survivors like herself.

Emma also said that, not only does her mother not recognize that the two boys abused her, but she recently wrote one of them a letter of recommendation and the other frequently house-sits for the family.  “I’m angry that 11 years of my life have kind of gone to [expletive] because nobody let me deal with what I needed to deal with.”

Take Back the Night is intended to provide victims and survivors of sexual and violent assault with a place and the resources to “deal with” the trauma they face. The event also provided advocates of assault awareness to speak about their experiences.

Jennifer Jenkins, who has been working with sex offenders for approximately two years and committed herself to preventing sexual and violent assault, shared her story. She met a man on Match.com in 2005, and says she saw signs of his erratic nature, but ignored them, thinking “he was the one.” It was not until after he had brutally raped her and dropped her off at the hospital that Jenkins decided to end the relationship.

Jenkins said that 16 percent of women and three percent of men are victims of attempted or completed rape.

“We need to show policy makers that these numbers may sound low, but they are only considered low by those who haven’t been attacked,” said Jenkins.

She went on to say that 60 percent of rape cases are not reported, and 95 percent of rape cases that occur on a college campus will never be reported.

Though many of the stories addressed sexual assault, Odalys Padron talked about the importance of fighting against violent assaults. Padron told of her niece, Christina, who was shot by her boyfriend after she told him she was leaving him.

Padron warned that violence can happen to anybody in any relationship, and said that people should pay attention to any warning signs.

“Abuse does not care how old you are, how educated you are, about your political inclinations…it happens in all relationships gay, lesbian, straight and otherwise. As brilliant, sophisticated and educated as you think you are, you just don’t know what you need to know because you probably think right now, it can’t happen to you,” said Padron.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal appeared at the event, and stressed that in order to stop sexual assault, the cultural changes will have to come about.

“There are laws, but for support and reporting there need to be more resources — better services on campus. What is needed is support, counseling and prevention,” said Blumental.

Blumenthal went on to say that those who are aware that another person is in danger of sexual assault should try to prevent it from happening. “As long as people are passive bystanders we won’t solve the problem,” he said.

A CCSU student came to the platform to explain the confusion she felt at her first college party when nobody spoke up while a man she was dancing with forcefully pressed her against a wall and held her there while he proceeded to kiss her.

“I really didn’t know what to do at all. It really amazed me how there were so many people around, and it was such a normal thing to see, and nobody did anything to stop it,” she said.

After several more students had come up to share their experiences, a woman who identified herself as Cynthia addressed the woman who had talked about her first college party. Cynthia revealed that she was at that party and had watched as the woman was assaulted.

“When I saw this girl making out with this guy and he was grabbing her, I thought, ‘This is what they do at college. And now that you say [your story], I feel guilty because I was there and I watched it happen and I didn’t do anything because I thought it was normal,’ ” said Cynthia.

Nick Streifel, a CCSU student who attended the event was surprised at the number of people in the crowd who had stories to share.

“I’ve never experienced this. ‘Wow’ is really all I can say. You see the statistics, but you don’t believe it until you see all of them walk up,” said Streifel, referring to the survivors who went up to the platform at the front of the room.

Mural Causes Controversy in Willard

By: Jacqueline Stoughton

English professors at Central Connecticut State University are in uproar over a new student mural being created in the corridors of Willard hall that depicts the humanization of soldiers in a war scene, all holding guns and assault rifles.  To which many English faculty members are finding quite disturbing.

The controversial mural will be located on the third floor of Willard hall.  The mural takes up the entire wall next to the faculty women’s restroom, and wraps around to extend onto the same wall as the women’s bathroom doors.  The painting depicts every day people dressed as a ballerina, chef, and football player holding various military weaponry in the midst of a battle scene.  These figures are meant to resemble soldiers in their every day life back home, and humanize them.

“I just wanted to do something for my friends, who instead of going to college, went to war,” said Aurora Matraku, CCSU art student and creator of the new mural in Willard.  “I just wanted to remember them, and remind people that those are someone’s friends, family and community members out there, and not just soldiers.”

Along with the demonstration of guns, many faculty members are mostly concerned with a specific part of the mural in which a figure of a chef is holding a gun, pointing it directly at the head of whoever enters the women’s faculty bathroom.

“The most central objection seems to be the positioning of one of the weapons that’s pointing directly at the head of anyone who enters the women’s faculty bathroom,” said Stephen Cohen, Chair of the English Department.  “There are a number of women who use that bathroom everyday who feel troubled, disturbed and threatened by having to walk through that door.”

Cohen explains the content and the placement of the mural tend to be the main issues.  He explains how there are people who spend their entire workweek on the third floor of Willard who aren’t happy about having to look at a mural that contains automatic weapons being pointed at people.

Christine Doyle, CCSU English professor, agrees that the positioning of the gun facing the women’s faculty bathroom is what is most disturbing about this mural.

“I drew the drawing not planning to be a bathroom there,” said Matraku.  “I didn’t intentionally pick this wall it just fit well, a lot better than a lot of the other walls, and I was limited.”

“My objection is it being put in my workspace in a manner where I can’t avoid seeing it day in and day out every time I come to work,” said Doyle.  “I should have some right to see it or not see it as I choose.”

“These are university buildings they’re all public space,” said Mike Alewitz, CCSU art professor, who runs the mural program on campus.  “The fact that you work here doesn’t mean this is your workspace.  You pass it on the way to your workplace.”

“I think it shows a certain amount of callousness,” said Stuart Barnett, English professor at CCSU.  “Why is the university going to defend freedom of speech in this way?  Why here?”

Barnett describes an additional mural, also located on the third floor of Willard, right down the hall from his office, as depicting torture and bombing in Iraq.

“We have the Iraqi torture mural and now the automatic gun mural.  I challenge you to find any place on campus that shows stuff like this; certainly not in any building with administrators in them,” said Barnett.

“Some people have referred to it as about Iraq, and there are some references, but it’s more complex than that,” said Alewitz.  He explains the artists were interested in women, and included reproductions of Michelangelo’s faces from the Renaissance; this was counter posed with images of Muslim women trapped in war, which is another issue that the artist was interested in and passionate about.

“We’re in a state of permanent war, this is a reality of peoples lives.  There’s no more in Willard than anywhere else,” said Alewitz.  “These murals are unique to the campus, and are a tremendous gift.  You don’t have to like them all, I don’t like them all and I teach the course, everybody has their preferences.”

“Willard is seen as a dead zone.  It can’t be a coincidence that there are two violent themed murals here,” said Barnett.  Many faculty members also feel as though Willard is the building the university uses to, in a sense, hide the more violent and controversial murals painted by students.

Alewitz explains how this accusation has no truth to it at all, and there are two possible ways of determining where a student’s mural will be placed on campus.  If a student works closely with a specific department, they’ll create something relatable to that department, and it’ll be placed in their building.

For individual projects, like Matraku’s, students will walk around campus and pick a wall that they like in whatever building they like.

“The students create a proposal, which then goes to the facilities planning committee, then the president signs off on it,” said Alewitz.  “It tends to be more about the physical nature of the wall, most of these murals can go anywhere.”

“I feel like they’re missing the original point, and I went out of my way to avoid them focusing on something other than what I was trying to say, and that’s exactly what happened,” said Matraku.

“The mural class is unique because in a sense the university is our classroom.  A few people objecting isn’t going to make it come down,” said Alewitz.  “She’s under no obligation to change anything.  She’s been approved and it’s going up as planned.”

SGA 4/16

By Joe Suszczynski

  •  In his report, Student Government Association President Brian Choplick vetoed the motion to grant the graduating SGA students stoles with the condition of paying at least $18 that was passed by the senate on April 9, 2014. Choplick cited negative feedback from student body as a reason.
  • A motion was made to approve a line-item change for the Student Veterans Organization. The request was in regards to moving $95.75 from “speakers” to “supplies” for their veterans’ fundraiser. The motion passed unanimously with one abstention.
  • Senator Connor Fallanca motioned to approve the line-item request for the Latin American Student Organization (LASO). LASO requested a total of $1,000 from the “conferences” line-item to the “other” category with the explanation being that they need supplies for their upcoming event called “A Night in Old San Juan,” when they decided to not go to their conference they originally planned to go to. The motion passed 24 to two with five abstentions. The event will take place on April 30.
  • On open floor, Senator Lauren Hudobenko motioned to insert section D to section 5-2 of the SGA by-laws, which has to do with election times. After being amended, Section D would state in a case of a tie a run-off election would be held over a period of at least 24 hours decided by the Public Affairs Committee. The motion passed 20 to three with one abstention.