by Sarah Willson
by Angela Fortuna
Nearly 400 students and faculty members gathered at Central Connecticut State University to listen to mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, Dr. William Bell, speak on behalf of Birmingham during the civil rights movement.
The civil rights lecture was primarily focused on the “city of Birmingham’s ugly past, its reconciliation and the city’s legacy in promoting civil rights, equality and justice for all,” according to African American studies professor Stephen Balkaran who organized the event that occurred last Tuesday.
“I think Mayor Bell’s perspective on civil rights is remarkable,” said Balkaran. “The fact that he was part of the movement as a teenager in the 1960s brings first-hand knowledge of the struggle for equality in America.”
CCSU president, Dr. Zulma Toro, gave opening remarks at the lecture held in Torp Theatre in Lawrence J. Davidson Hall.
“CCSU takes pride in supporting diversity,” said Toro. “Our [CCSU’s] dedication for justice has been the cornerstone of our success.”
After Toro spoke, Balkaran introduced Bell.
“Our distinguished speaker was involved in the civil rights movement as a 14-year-old in Birmingham, Alabama,” said Balkaran. “His legacy as a civil rights activist continues today as mayor.”
The audience was full of emotion as Bell shared his personal childhood experiences.
“It’s important for CCSU’s faculty, staff, students and our community to have such an icon on campus. His knowledge on the civil rights movement will shape students’ minds for generations to come,” said Balkaran.
Bell recalled hearing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “power of words” and “passion” as a young boy, which inspired him.
As a 14-year-old, Bell acknowledged that he did not experience all of the difficult times his family went through, but he certainly knew something needed to be done about the way they were treated.
During the 1960s, the black community often felt intimidated and victimized by the white community, according to Bell.
During the question-and-answer portion of the lecture, a woman, who claimed to have grown up during the 1980s, said she remembers feeling intimidated by the white community and still sees this fear in her own children. She then asked Bell about his stance on affirmative action, and whether it applies today.
Bell responded that affirmative action needs to be evaluated “time and time again” to see if it is still needed.
At the end of the lecture, many students and faculty asked Bell about civil rights today, in reference to incidents such as Ferguson, Missouri and the Black Lives Matter movement. Many had the same question: what happened to the black community?
Bell said that leadership is needed in the black community today, and that there will always be a “push and pull” situation with human and civil rights.
“That’s just the nature of our society,” said Bell.
by Cindy Pena
Jose Diaz goes through the same struggles as any college student at Central Connecticut State University; manages to keep his grades up, stresses over finals and pays for the increasing cost of tuition.
However, he faces one constant struggle many students cannot relate to: he is undocumented.
Diaz is in the U.S. on a work permit and protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an immigration program that protects people who came into the U.S. as children. 16,000 individuals live under DACA in Connecticut. Only 18 percent have a high school diploma and are enrolled in college.
Although he is protected from deportation, he still fears for other undocumented individuals.
“Many people in CCSU and in the town of New Britain, that I know personally, are scared because all things they are hearing in the news and on the TV. They are afraid on what could happen to them,” said Diaz. “It’s different knowing that all those things that they are saying could happen. Although I am under DACA, it’s still scary.”
He has advocated for the cause of undocumented immigrants on and off campus through his speeches in events, interviews with news outlets and participation in clubs.
His voice on campus has helped many students who feel they can’t disclose their legal status in fear of how people will respond and treat them.
“I want to prove people that we are not the way you think we are. I just want to fight, not only for my family, but other students who feel that they don’t have a voice,” said Diaz. “We just want an opportunity. We just want people to see us the way we are. I don’t want people to judge us because we are undocumented or because we don’t have a piece of paper. That shouldn’t define us.”
However, he doesn’t want to be the only one fighting for this cause.
“I want to be that catalyst, I want to be that first person, but hopefully other people can come out later on,” said Diaz. “They shouldn’t be afraid to speak up, there is a support system here. That way, the school and others can see that there are others as well and it’s not just Jose.”
One support system that Diaz has leaned on is the Social Justice Committee of the Student Government Association.
The SJC organized a lobbying effort to push for the Afford to Dream Act and a rally in support of immigrants. Diaz and members of the SJC collaborated in both these efforts.
“I think that the SGA and the Social Justice Committee has helped a lot and they will continue to help even more. I think that they always have done everything that they can to support,” said Diaz. “We work together to come up with different ways that can help the undocumented students and help them succeed in school as well.”
The SJC and Diaz’ goal by organizing these efforts is to educate the CCSU community and change the common misconceptions people have on undocumented individuals.
“I think that most of the time that people are against immigration or the issue of undocumented immigrants is because they don’t know what’s going on. They are misinformed,” said Diaz. “People think they don’t pay taxes, that they are criminals, that they are bringing drugs and that’s not true. So, one of the things that I am doing is showing people that I am undocumented, but I am not a criminal. I am in school, I am trying to do my best to contribute to the community and help others. I am not a burden.”
CCSU and its many programs to protect undocumented students have created a safe place for Diaz and others; something he is truly grateful for.
“I think that CCSU is one of the schools that I personally feel safe, mainly because the way they have been reacting to all the things that’s been going on,” said Diaz. “All the things I have done here on campus, they have reacted positively. They always look to me and ask if I need anything else or if they needed my help to do something or needed my opinion. I feel like that actually matters because other universities will not take the initiative.”
by Lauren Lustgarten
About 50 teams consisting of over 200 players and volunteers from around the state gathered on Main Street in New Britain on Saturday with one common goal in mind: to end homelessness.
In the fifth annual Hoops for Homeless tournament, Main Street got shut down, handmade basketball courts were created with chalk, portable basketball hoops were set up and the young and the old came together to play for a cause.
“I wish we could do it in every town in Connecticut, but at least we started the idea here in New Britain,” said event co-chair, researcher at the Institute of Municipal Policy and Research and Central Connecticut State University assistant professor of teacher education, Jacob Werblow.
“This is the city where our university is, so we’re grateful for the CCSU athletics being involved and the men and women’s basketball players being the referees and being there all day. It is a wonderful event,” said Werblow.
While the specific number is not yet available for how much was made at this years’ event, about $50,000 has been raised since the event started five years ago, according to Werblow.
“We had some of our volunteers, who are students at CCSU, know family and friends who are at risk of losing their homes. I mean, even during the event, there was counseling and some sort of advising going on between some of the providers in the community,” said Werblow.
Werblow explained that citizens have to be honest in realizing that they create and live in these stigmas, in saying one town is worse than another or one town is better.
“This is sort of inherent in our communities from being a child and I think, unfortunately, many students spend four years at CCSU, graduate and never really have spent time downtown, so they just carry those biases with them,” said Werblow. “So, if nothing else, just bringing people with them to our side of the community and to our city can be a very transformative experience, even though it is a very simple thing.”
The local programs that are supported by this year’s Hoops for Homeless tournament are The Boys and Girls Club of New Britain, the Consolidated School District of New Britain, The Friendship Service Center of New Britain and Prudence Crandall Center.
“Not only is the goal of this event to raise money, but it is also humanize the issue of homelessness and to raise awareness,” said Werblow. “It influences more people than many of us think.”
by Diondra Clements
In light of the incident that took place in early March at the Angry Bull Saloon in Downtown Hartford, underage drinking has a topic of conversation on many occasions.
Central Connecticut State University freshman Taylor Lavoie fell to her death from the roof of the Angry Bull early on March 3. The aftermath has caused bars in the area, students and the school itself to be on close watch of what is going on.
Following the tragic incident, many students have become weary and more careful of what they do. Several bars in the area have said they have always taken serious measures to ensure no one is coming in that is underage or using fake identification.
A popular bar with CCSU students is Elmer’s Place, right down the road from campus. Many students frequently go to Elmer’s because it is easy to get to from their dorms or off-campus houses. It also has a reputation of being “easy” to get into for underage students.
“We’ve always done aggressive carding. When we card, we also video record it to a machine that blows it up and saves it on a hard drive, so this way the guys at the door when they put it in the machine it blows it up on a screen even the customer can see it blown up that way we look for imperfections on if they tried to change the date or anything,” said “Butch,” a manager at Elmer’s Place who wished to remain anonymous.
“When we do have someone with a knowingly fake ID, we pretty much confiscate them and turn them into the police department,” the manager said.
Another bar popular with CCSU students is Los Imperios Restaurant and Lounge in West Hartford. The bar had its liquor license suspended back in September after a shooting incident. The liquor license was reinstated one month later.
“What we do is, we have a scanner to determine and it will tell you if it’s a fake ID or not,” said the manager of Los Imperios, who did not want to be identified.
Some students agree that the bars near the Angry Bull Saloon have taken higher security measures, while bars further away have not changed their practices.
“I would say all bars in Downtown Hartford are a lot more strict. Before the Angry Bull incident, with the right fake, you could definitely get into some of the bars,” said one 20-year-old CCSU student. “However, after the incident, I don’t believe any bars are willing to take the chance and are not allowing anyone knowingly underage in. Although, I think this is mostly due to the proximity because I haven’t had problems with bars elsewhere. Other bars have not changed their ‘quick look and go’ technique. I recently went to Los Imperios and had no problem getting in.”
When it comes to the question of if CCSU students are encouraged more to drink on campus and in their dorm rooms, some students believe nothing has really changed.
21-year-old CCSU student, Kristina Frederick believes that, regardless of the recent situation, CCSU is a dry campus and it will remain that way.
“Drinking isn’t allowed in the dorms anyway, so I think the Resident Assistants follow the rules if they have any suspicions with drinking in the dorms,” said Frederick.
However, Frederick does feel as though bars have tightened up on carding. “They’ve started using a scanning system, where they scan cards and even take pictures for their records,” she said.
Some CCSU students do not believe much has changed in light of the recent situation, and that bars that used to card aggressively still do.
“Nothing has changed at all honestly. There will always be drinking in the dorms and that hasn’t changed at all,” said 20-year-old CCSU student, Victoria Minervino. “Angry Bull was the only bar that didn’t card aggressively. Every other bar I know of still cards heavily, even if you are of age.”
by Angela Fortuna and Christie Stelly
Students and professors at Central Connecticut State University rallied against a proposal to consolidate services at colleges across the state that will likely impact students and faculty.
The rally was held during a town hall meeting on the CCSU campus on April 25, where Board of Regents President Mark Ojakian was speaking.
The plan to “centralize and back office functions” proposed by Ojakian has received criticism from both students and faculty.
The proposal consists of consolidating operations such as Information Technology, Human Resources, purchasing and contracts, facilities and other “back office” functions in all four state universities, according to Ojakian.
The proposal suggests combining the 12 Connecticut community colleges to have one universal president. In his proposal, Ojakian calls for “operational and administrative consolidation.”
During the town hall meeting in Alumni Hall in the Student Center, protestors holding signs gathered in front of Welte Hall and made their way into the meeting.
Students stood in the back of the auditorium holding signs that said things such things as “Board of Regents has failed” and “Stop the BOR.”
Students and staff are upset that there were no specific details given in the proposal, sociology professor John O’Connor and history professor Louise Williams said.
The proposal, nicknamed “Students First,” has been seen as cynical because students were not informed about it in the first place, explained O’Connor.
Ojakian said students and faculty will not be impacted with the proposal. However, O’Connor believes they will. The proposal could “really change experiences students have,” said O’Connor.
Ojakian plans on cutting more than $40 million out of school budgets. According to Williams, 80 percent of costs in running state universities are in personnel.
In his plan, Ojakian aims to save $41 million over the next several years. There is no way in knowing how this goal will affect faculty and the student body, although O’Connor believes it could lead to job cuts.
Faculty members are concerned because cutting funds ultimately means cutting resources from some part of the school. It is unclear, due to lack of specific details, whether that means eliminating staff members or other resources, O’Connor explained.
Williams believes the proposal should be a “policy of growth to improve education, not cut it.”
O’Connor said the proposal consists of “a lot of talk and very few details.”
The 15-page proposal was sent to faculty members on April 3, and the following Thursday, the plan was passed, allowing for no deliberation or discussion, according to O’Connor.
Ojakian claimed that the consolidation proposal is an effective way for the state to handle budget issues. “We need to invest more money in higher education and we need to do it in a way to prioritize our students and doesn’t continue to put a large burden on them and their families,” said Ojakian.
The only definitive part of Ojakian’s proposal is to increase tuition, O’Connor said.
“There doesn’t seem to be an end to increasing tuition,” Williams said. “I hope Ojakian thinks about the long-term effects and students think about the effects of paying increased tuition every year.”
Increased tuition has grown to be accepted by many students, even though it puts them further into debt, Williams said.
Tuition continues to rise because states continue to reduce funding for higher education. Williams, along with other faculty members, believes states should invest in higher education rather than cut its funding.
According to Ojakian, “[Connecticut] state funding has declined by 12.4 percent since 2015.”
“It has become abundantly clear that our operational costs are outpacing our revenues, creating a true structural deficit,” Ojakian said in an email sent to state faculty members.
Audience members were invited to come forward and ask questions directly to the BOR president during the town hall meeting. Students and staff members took the opportunity to confront Ojakian about his plans.
Akai Long, student senator of the SGA, was concerned that students and staff members were not consulted during the process of the proposal. “Why weren’t more students reached out to when you were doing this plan?” Long asked in the town hall meeting.
“I have been all over the state meeting with students,” responded Ojakian. He suggested that there might need to be better communication between student leaders and the student body.
Students have not had the chance to voice their concerns with the proposal, causing many of them to protest at the town hall meeting, O’Connor and Williams said.
“I stand with those students and will continue to do so,” said O’Connor.
“I hope the concern we are expressing will affect Ojakian’s strategy,” said Williams.
Matt Warshauer, a history professor at CCSU, said that he has long believed Ojakian is the “perfect” leader for the student body at state schools.
“I believed we needed somebody with your kind of legislative background, the connections that you have, the understanding of government and budgets,” Warshauer said to Ojakian. “But what we don’t need is a systems office that micromanages us. This seems to be a top-down decision that is going to be implemented on us, not with us,” said Warshauer.
Warshauer agrees that the university system has serious budget issues, but he does not believe that Ojakian will be successful with his consolidation plan.
The proposal could also affect the plans and leadership of new CCSU president, Dr. Zulma Toro, according to O’Connor and Williams. State school presidents will have less freedom, making it harder for them to expand.
Williams hopes Ojakian does studies to see how similar plans have worked in colleges and universities across the country. Currently, no research has been done.
A faculty senate no confidence vote during an emergency meeting on April 17 voted 39-10 against the proposal, although it will most likely have no effect on the outcome of Ojakian’s plan, O’Connor said.
by Kristina Vakhman
While cruising through ones Central Connecticut State University email and a message pops up titled ‘final warning’ in all uppercase letters, one would not hesitate to open and read the content.
Once the user opened the email, a message popped up saying their account was about to be shut down and that they must click the provided link to save it. Once the link was opened, the window asked the user to enter their email account’s username and password. That user then just became a victim of a phishing email.
Over 600 CCSU students fell for phishing emails since April 4. This incident is the biggest one that Amy Kullgren and Sean McNickle of the university’s Information Technology Department said they have seen thus far, beating out last summer’s situation where 400 students were affected.
“They got an email, they clicked on the link in the email and they put in their username and password,” McNickle said of the students. “So, it’s not just clicking on the link and opening up a page. The page actually asks for your username and password, and they entered it.”
“If I can get across one thing from IT’s point of view: we will never, ever, ask for a user’s password. That’s one of the keys. Most legitimate places will never ask you to enter in your password,” said McNickle.
Kullgren agreed, stating that anytime a link asks for an user’s password, it is a big indication to stop and immediately disregard and delete the email. Those who did not know of this red flag and gave the phishers their credentials, she said, should instantly change their password.
“If you change your email password, then the credentials you gave the spammer or phisher are gone,” said Kullgren.
She reminded students not to panic, as the phishing and scam emails are hard to spot if they are not looked out for, and to simply follow IT’s advice to recover their account.
“They’re getting more and more sophisticated. Sometimes they’ve actually had our CCSU logo in them. It looks like it’s coming from somebody that’s part of Central,” said Kullgren. “Unless you’re really reading them critically, it’s easy to fall victim.”
Protecting your account will not only keep you safe, but help IT. Though there are many security systems put into place that filter out third-party threats, compromised CCSU email accounts are more difficult to catch. Phishers use robots to send out thousands of messages through a victim’s account to other students who, seeing a fellow CCSU email, put their trust into the content and fall for the scam as well.
“They [phishers] have a script that goes out and starts sending a different email hundreds or thousands of times,” said McNickle. “Just one person compromised can send off five hundred emails and two more people get compromised and they send out another five hundred. It just goes [on and on]. That’s kind of what happened to us in a very short order.”
IT is working to detect compromised email accounts, as well as to educate students on how to spot and avoid phishing emails. If you receive an email asking you to click a link:
- Check who the sender is by hovering over the address with your mouse. If it is an email outside of the CCSU network, there is a high chance that it is a phishing attempt.
- Look out for typos and unusual phrasing; if the email addresses you as ‘Dear Customer,’ it is most likely a scam.
- If the email is from the CCSU domain, you click on the link, and are asked for your username and password, DO NOT enter them. Delete the email.
- If you do end up entering your username and password, IMMEDIATELY CHANGE YOUR PASSWORD.
- NEVER GO BACK TO AN OLD PASSWORD. Returning to the password that has been given to the scammer will only return their access to your account.
For more information on how to protect yourself from phishing and scammers, visit the IT department in Henry Barnard Hall, Room 019, or look for the poster-guides on the walls of every CCSU building.
In addition, IT will be hosting an ice cream social about the topic on Thursday, April 27.
by Analisa Novak
In a defying motion against Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System Board Of Regents, the faculty senate of Central Connecticut State University voted for the no confidence resolution during an emergency meeting this past Monday.
The no confidence vote was made during a secret ballot out of fear of retaliation, and passed in an overwhelming 39-10 vote. Although CCSU voted no confidence, it did vote to participate in the proposed implementation plan with 65 in favor and two opposed.
“CCSU will participate in the implementation of the plan in order to advocate for and assert that our rights as faculty [AAUP and SUOF-AFSCME,] the rights of students, and the institutional identity are respected and to offer the needed expertise of faculty on the CCSU campus, even though we oppose the proposed plan as unfounded, nontransparent and undemocratic, and consider the plan an assault on the integrity and autonomy of the institution of higher education forced to be part of CSCU,” said the faculty senate.
The faculty senate is openly resisting BOR President Mark Ojakian proposed Student First plan that is looking to remove student services for all four CSCU Universities and consolidate them to one central one.
“This will eliminate redundancies across our campuses, leverage the expertise of our talented staff and allow better coordination and consistency of non-student facing activities,” Ojakian said in a statement released on April 3.
The proposed measure would save an estimated $13 million in administrative cost. Another proposed action from the BOR under the Student First plan, would be to centralize all 12 community college operations into one. The measures are estimated to save an estimated $41 million, according to Ojakian.
The faculty senate felt as if this counterbalances the Student First title and would actually hurt students.
“Centralization of functions will remove needed staff from campuses, beginning with human resources, and potentially affecting other departments and even faculty in later phases, preventing them from working directly with students, faculty and campus administrators,” said the faculty senate.
“This isn’t Student First, this is putting the Governor first,” said David Blitz when opening the “no confidence” debate.
If the proposed Student First Plan passes, each CSCU university would lose student services such as human resources and information technology on their campuses, & would have to travel to a central location for administrative services.
CCSU faculty senate found out about these measures when the general public did earlier this month. The faculty senate was not offered an explanation or breakdown of how these savings would be applied, having to resort to a presentation that was attached to the statement to see how the BOR decided this plan.
“He has not told us how, he has told us to guess how these numbers will be reached,” said faculty senate member Dr. Sue Holt. “It was not even a written plan, the board did not even ask one question about a massive cut to the system.”
Although last week the support for the no confidence plan seemed unanimous, the conversation on whether or not to table the motion was raised.
Some faculty members argued to get support of other CSCU universities and to inform more students of how this proposed plan would affect them.
Faculty senate members said that voting no confidence would show the BOR that they are ready to fight on behalf of all that would be affected.
“We have been cut to the bone, look at the years and years where we have been funded less and have had students bear the burden,”said Holt when voting for the resolution.
CCSU is the first university in the BOR to stand against Ojakian.
“This vote here is about leadership,” said faculty senate member John O’Connor. “Someone has to take leadership and vote with conscious.”
by Lauren Lustgarten
The beginning of a mission to prove to children that a college degree is worth it and high school does not have to be the end was a success.
On April 17 at Central Connecticut State University, 400 students from the Consolidated School District of New Britain came to campus to get a taste of college. The event, “Love Wins: Finish the Race,” was organized by administrative assistant to the president Courtney McDavid in conjunction with Nelba Márquez-Greene and The Ana Grace Project.
Márquez-Greene, a former CCSU faculty member, founded The Ana Grace project in honor of her daughter, Ana, who was killed during the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.
“Everything went so well. We were a little concerned with how we were going to handle going from the 80 kids that we had on campus last year to 400 kids this year,” said McDavid. “We also had eighth graders this year, while last year we only had fifth graders, so I was curious to see how it would work out because they were older, but they ended up having just as much fun as the fifth graders.”
The event has been in the works since September when they had their first planning committee meeting.
“A planning committee was something new this year. It was very helpful because it brought a lot of new ideas to this years event,” said McDavid.
There are about 20 people on the planning committee, which consists of a wide variety of people, including community members, administrators, faculty and administration.
“Planning committee member, Tina Rivera from the Information Technology Department, had a great idea to give these cards to each of the students. So, each of the students got a lanyard with a card in it that had their picture and their name and an inspirational message on the back,” said McDavid. “That is just one example of the ideas that were shared and how we were all able to work together as a team. It was really a team effort and we couldn’t have done it without all of the volunteers.”
They were made aware of a student from Chamberlain who was in a wheelchair, so Physical Education and Human Performance Chair Kimberly Kostelis worked with some of the members and students from the department and had everything planned out for the student so he would not feel excluded.
“In every picture I saw of the student, he was all smiles, so I was happy that it all worked out and really all the kids had such an amazing time,” said McDavid. “I’ve been hearing so many stories from people who had little things that stuck out throughout the day to them and I really think that not only did the children enjoy the day, but CCSU students and members who volunteered also had an amazing time.”
In addition to the planning committee, the presence of a small fundraising committee also made a significant difference.
“We started fundraising in January and went into full-drive in late February, early March,” said McDavid. “We ended up raising over $50,000 and it was announced at the event that we raised enough to create an endowed scholarship. We now have the Ana Grace Marquez-Greene Endowed Scholarship, which will be for a New Britain student.”
McDavid says they are going to work to increase funds so they can continue to make the event successful in the future. McDavid noted that much of this would not be possible without the help and generous donations from the owner of Fleet Feet in West Hartford, Stephanie Blozy.
“Fleet Feet is amazing. They went out into the schools and measured the children’s feet. They provided all the students with their own new pair of athletic shoes. She was here the day of the event with tons of other sizes and she set up a whole station,” said McDavid. “She also provided shoes for all the teachers as well and I think they felt really excited about that. We’re extremely lucky to be working with Stephanie.”
As McDavid hopes to make this an annual event at CCSU, discussion of plans for next year have already begun. They hope to include more schools in the event. After the event ended, the superintendent of New Britain schools said that next year, she hopes CCSU will be able to host about 700 students.
The four schools that attended this year, Chamberlain, Northend, Smith and DiLoreto, all have the “Love Wins” curriculum and that is how they were selected.
There will be a wrap-up meeting for the planning committee this week to discuss how the day went and things to change and add to the event in the years to come. At the meeting, McDavid hopes to identify dates for next year. Come the fall semester, planning will start up again.
“It went really well and I think anyone that you talk to on campus would agree,” said McDavid. “People were so excited about it and you could tell the children really appreciated it.”
by Cindy Pena
President Donald Trump’s promise for immigration reform is becoming a reality. Its impact on Connecticut immigrants are grave, according to Joanne Lewis, managing attorney at Connecticut Legal Services.
“For the most part, the immigration orders have created a lot of fear and uncertainty, which is maybe part of what they were designed to do,” said Lewis. “A lot of people are starting to be afraid to leave their houses, a lot of kids are afraid to go to school because they don’t know if mommy and daddy are going to be there when they get home. They don’t know what to do because they are afraid that they are going to become targets.”
The new immigration orders have also impacted students at Central Connecticut State University, both directly and indirectly. Christopher Marinelli, chair of the Social Justice Committee of the Student Government Association, is witnessing the repercussions of it as he works with undocumented students.
“It definitely has a significant impact on the students. When you have this rhetoric coming from the president and the administration and then you actually see actual action take place. People are genuinely afraid to talk out about these issues,” said Marinelli. “It’s actually scary.”
The SJC strives to protect undocumented students on campus. Members of the SJC began a lobbying effort for the Afford to Dream Bill.
The House Bill 7000 and Senate Bill 17 make up the Afford to Dream Bill. This state legislation would allow undocumented “dreamers” to use institutional aid that they already help finance by paying tuition. Undocumented students cannot use this aid because they do not have a social security number that is required to fill out the financial aid application.
Lewis, who has given legal advice to students, is an advocate for the bill.
“I think it’s basic fairness that these students pay into this pool and they are not, unlike other students, eligible for other assistance. So they should be eligible to get money out of this pool,” said Lewis.
Marinelli and other members of the SJC go to the capital building and meet with state legislatures to push for this Senate and House bill.
Shortly after Trump passed Executive Order 13767, “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements,” the SJC organized a rally “to stand in solidarity with undocumented students, those protected by DACA and our fellow Muslim students.” The SJC mentioned the two bills in the rally that was held on Feb. 2.
“The rally was more to get passion and motivation and people charged up and aware,” said Marinelli. “So we had the rally and the objective was to present these two bills.”
Besides the SJC efforts, there are other events hosted at CCSU that educate and provide support for immigrants. The panel held on April 11 with Veronika Mendoza sparked conversations with the community and students on the impact of the Trump administration to Latin American immigrants.
“It’s important in the university and in the young generation that there is a reflection on this xenophobia that’s growing in the world and what this means for humanity,” said Mendoza, leader of the “Nuevo Peru” political party and the presidential candidate for Peru in 2016. “It’s a threat to human rights. We should move forward towards unity, not backwards.”
Her political movement, Nuevo Peru, strives to eradicate human rights violations and discrimination in the undocumented community in Latin America and the United States. Therefore, immigration policy is an important issue for her.
“Being Peruvian, being Latin American, I identify myself with them. I see them as my brothers and sisters. I am worried on what could happen to them so I want to listen and hear from them directly. I want to know what I can do from Peru and from Latin America to help them,” said Mendoza. “It’s important in these moments that not just in the United States, but also in Latin American communities that we stand together in solidarity and support immigrants.”
Eduardo Gonzalez, Consulate General from Peru, also emphasized this mission.
“We are doing all we can to stay in touch with the local authorities of every state and federal government in embassy at Washington D.C.,” said Gonzalez. “You are not alone, we are working very hard for you.”
Ultimately, these events and groups on campus’ main goal is to educate the students. Marinelli emphasized how education can create solidarity in diversity at CCSU.
“A big thing is misinformation. A lot of apathy for undocumented student comes with a lack of knowledge on what it means to be undocumented and to be under DACA. A lot of people don’t understand that there is not a pathway to citizenship for the students, unless you join the military,” said Marinelli. “By raising awareness and having these events, we can get the conversations going so people know the different complexities on this faction of the population.”