Category Archives: News

Can It Be Next Spring Already?

by Angela Fortuna

Being Editor-in-Chief for The Recorder at Central Connecticut State University is a position I have worked year after year to attain. And now, this goal has become a reality.

When I first found out the summer of my freshman year that I would be attending Central, I was not really motivated. I had every intention to go to school at Hofstra University in Long Island, where the journalism school was huge and the department was full of students competing to make their mark. Unfortunately, funds played a big role in which school I would attend, so Central was the better option for me.

Weeks after the fall semester of 2016 started, I had already started writing for The Recorder and becoming involved in other campus media organizations. Little did I know that the school in which I decided to attend really did not make an impact on my ability to get involved in what I love to do.

The tight-knit community of CCSU Journalism definitely played a big role in my ability to excel in and out of the classroom. The experiences I have faced and mistakes I have made along the way have shaped me into the person I am today, and I would not have it any other way.

Looking back at the decision I made the summer before my freshman year, I am very happy that I chose Central and that I made the decision to get involved early on in my college career.

Although I may be young, I know that I can bring a lot to The Recorder. I have been interested in journalism since the eighth grade and have been active in my high school’s newspaper and weekly broadcast production since the beginning of ninth grade. Since I started so early on, I am confident that I know a lot about journalism and can use my experiences and skills to lead others interested in writing for the school newspaper.

Writing for The Recorder and acting as News Editor this semester has provided me with many chances to report on important milestones in CCSU history, such as the re-election of New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart, the progressions through the Connecticut state budget, the Student Government Association, an alleged kidnapping near Central and more.

The Recorder has given me a platform to communicate and report on news essential to readers on campus and around the world.

I have every intention of working to continue to make The Recorder great, to enforce great journalism and to work together.

Reporting isn’t just about relaying information, it’s about understanding what is going on in society today and telling a story to spread awareness of important issues.

I plan to continue to make mistakes and expand my knowledge as a journalist, because that’s what learning is all about.

I am excited to see where this next year takes me, and what opportunities will come my way.

Live, love, the free press.

Dear Media: Stop Grouping all Sexual Harassment Accusations Together

by Kristina Vakhman

I have to start this piece off by saying that there is no excuse for what Harvey Weinstein did. There is also no excuse for what Louis C.K. did. Or for what Charlie Rose did. You get the gist; the list goes on and on.

The #MeToo movement has unmasked these monsters. It is safe to assume that more of them will be revealed in the near future, too. Hiding in plain sight, some of these allegedly perverse beasts were people I considered role models before their horrendous actions were divulged from underneath their televised personas, like Rose, whose journalistic contributions I admired.

It is refreshing to now be in-the-know about those I used to look up to—to now have to rethink whose work I want to emanate when I graduate as a professional journalist. It is immeasurably crucial, especially in this line of work, to be informed. I am thus grateful to those who have spoken up.

However, as amazing as it is to see men and women gather the courage to voice their disturbing accounts, casting aside their fears to take down—with the help of good journalism—the predators who targeted them, one thing continues to bother me. This irksome feeling especially came to fruition when The Washington Post pictured two photos side-by-side: one of Senator Al Franken and the other of Alabama senatorial candidate, Roy Moore.

At the time this opinion was written, four women have come forward alleging Franken groped them without their consent. Again, there are no defenses to be made for this sort of behavior, especially when it comes to a political figure who has participated in drafting legislation to protect victims of sexual assault. The hypocrisy, if these allegations are true, is painfully hysterical.

In Moore’s case, nine women have accused him of sexual harassment. There is a stark difference, though, between Franken’s situation and Moore’s: while Franken’s delinquencies were limited to groping, Moore’s sexual misconduct crossed the line into pedophilic territory.

When he was a district attorney in Alabama, Moore allegedly sexually assaulted teenage girls as young as 14 years old. He went so far as to supposedly tell victim Beverly Young Nelson—who was 16 when Moore purportedly forced himself upon her in his car, grabbing her crotch and trying to force her face between his legs after giving her a ride home—not to speak about what had transpired between them because no one would believe her anyway.

Bias and political affiliation aside, there is a clear distinction in severity of crime between groping an adult woman and pursuing sexual relations with defenseless minors.

When The Washington Post published a side-by-side of these two cases, they executed a false equivalency. When other media outlets issue unnecessary comparisons between the circumstances surrounding the accusations against Franken and Moore, they send a sense of false equivalency as well. Equalizing Franken and Moore tries the crimes in a duplicate manner when they are enormously at variance; while both men’s actions are inexcusable, they are not the same.

It does not matter what the initial intention behind these works is; most readers unfortunately only digest the headline and its corresponding photo(s), not bothering to read the adjacent article that can be accessed with an extra tap or click. Consequently, the fallacious equity then pools in readers’ minds.

This malpractice is a symptom of sensationalism: these serious instances of sexual misconduct are overhyped as different outlets compete to outdo each other in viewership and subscriptions. The news is a business; there is the constant pressure to be the first organization to publish a story and to be the one with the most customers. The truth is manipulated along the way, either by the published works themselves or by the consumers who twist the facts and give the lies lives of their own.

Sensationalism will not stop in the news media, not even if it means people’s abilities to differentiate the austerity of two separate cases will be distorted or that pedophilia is placed on the same level as groping—the latter, by the way, is incredibly dangerous, as it trivializes how seriously demented pursuing sexual encounters with minors is.

You can put Weinstein and C.K. and Rose in the same basket. However, Franken does not compare to them, nor does he come close to Moore and his pedophilic promiscuity. The media needs to stop making it seem like Franken—and those like him—are the same.

What Franken did was wrong, but not a disrobing-and-kissing-and-fondling-a-14-year-old level of wrong.

Zirin Speaks On The Parallels Between Sports and Politics

by Patrick Gustavson

“Keep politics out of sports:” a phrase so often uttered by sports fans in the United States

But for Dave Zirin, the current editor of The Nation and the host of the “Edge of Sports” podcast, the mixing of the two has helped him make a living. And, according to Zirin, sports and politics have always mixed.

“I would say that sports are political, whether we choose them to be or not. There’s an old expression that you don’t have to believe in gravity to fall out of an airplane. And sports are political, so what I try to do is illuminate that and make these political connections and try to point out what’s already there,” Zirin said.

Zirin stated he believed it started as early as the 1968 Summer Olympics when runners Tommy Smith and John Carlos raised their fists during the National Anthem at the podium ceremony in an effort to protest racial segregation in the U.S.

The issue was brought back into the limelight in the 1990s when NBA player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf refused to leave the locker room for the National Anthem, once again citing the treatment of colored people in the U.S.

However, what makes the issue as relevant as it is today is the protests sweeping the National Football League, which started when Colin Kaepernick, then of the San Francisco 49ers, sat for the National Anthem, citing racial injustice and police brutality as his reasons.

“This is the bedrock of what makes free speech matter,” Zirin said. “He was trying to bring this discussion into spaces where it was not happening. He imposed that discussion on people and made them uncomfortable. And his courage was contagious.”

However, there was a mixed response to his protest.

“There has been a shocking response to their effort to exercise their First Amendment rights, an incursion on their First Amendment rights, to chill that speech,” Zirin said. “And that incursion has been led by NFL owners themselves, the President of the United States, by the police and by the deification of the armed forces in this country.”

President Donald Trump, who “poured gasoline all over the fire” by calling the protesting players “sons of bitches,” is among the many attempting to shift the narratives of the protests in an effort to make it about disrespecting the military and country rather than racial injustice.

“Since Donald Trump’s Huntsville, Alabama speech, more people identify that the protests are about police brutality and racial justice than before. But knowing what it’s about doesn’t mean being for it,” Zirin said. “I am very hopeful that the message will re-center around that because the people fighting are fighting to re-center it and people are hearing that.”

However, Zirin said he believed Trump is not the biggest threat to the free speech of these players, but rather the deification of the military is, pointing out that the tradition of players standing for the National Anthem goes back only to 2009, or, as he put it, “the third Fast and Furious movie.”

It is an agreement between the NFL and the Department of Defense that initiated this “tradition.” Zirin pointed to the recent celebration of Veteran’s Day. “Patriotism was for sale,” he said. He also referred to Martin Luther King’s three evils, which includes militarism and the NFL.

For both this specific issue, as well as the mixing of political sports, Zirin said he felt there is no end in sight, saying “I think these ripples last forever.”

As for Colin Kaepernick, Zirin believed he will be looked upon fondly, saying that “NFL owners wanted Colin Kaepernick to be a warning shot, a ghost story, a cautionary tale. But instead of becoming a ghost story, he became a martyr.”

“If history will be a guide to us, he [Kaepernick] will always have his haters but he will be viewed as a hero because he sacrificed and stood up for what he believes in, and people who do that tend to be looked upon fondly by history,” Zirin continued. “And as Dr. King said, ‘the art of history bends towards justice.’”

How The Sugar Industry Lied To Consumers For Decades

by Kristina Vakhman

Over the course of thousands of years, sugar has become so prevalent in cuisine that it is practically unheard of for a meal to end without the inclusion of dessert.

For an ingredient to be that pervasive and that commonly ingested by millions of people in the United States, it is alarming how understated sugar’s harmful effects are towards the public. Now, with the help of documents recently unearthed by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, it is easy to see why these sickly sweet consequences have been so downplayed.

The documents—described in a report by the Public Library of Science (PLOS) Biology published on Tuesday, Nov. 21—detail how, in 1968, the plug was pulled on a research endeavour titled “Project 259.” The sugar industry, which had long claimed that there was no connection between sugar and heart health, funded the undertaking to have evidence to support the industry’s stance. Lab rats were accordingly fed a high-sucrose diet.

However, when the research began to show sugar was indeed the culprit, with the rats’ triglyceride levels found to have skyrocketed—in humans, high triglyceride levels raise the potential for heart attacks and strokes—as well as with the discovery that there was a possible link between sugar consumption and an enzyme related to bladder cancer, the industry scrapped “Project 259” and buried the results.

The alleged cover-up was not just to hide the fact that sugar could cause cardiovascular complications. “Project 259” and its findings disappeared in the middle of a 1960s debate over whether sugar or fat was the root of other health crises like obesity and other types of cancers.

The sugar industry scrambled to fund research projects with end results that pointed the finger at fat, including one led by industry-paid Harvard University scientists that concluded there was “no doubt” reducing cholesterol and saturated fat would improve the country’s health, according to a 2016 investigation published by the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine.

What followed were aggressively misleading marketing campaigns. Foods low in fat and high in sugars rose in popularity and the findings of scientists like John Yudkin, who warned the public about sugar in books like “Pure White and Deadly,” were subdued and denounced.

Rather than combating obesity, the rise in sugar welcomed the disease’s rampancy. Today, “more than one in three adults and one in six children [ages 2-19] are obese,” as written in an annual The State of Obesity report by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Additionally, a PLOS Medicine 2015 exploration found that when the National Institute of Dental Research launched a study into what caused the country’s widespread issue with tooth decay in 1966, the sugar industry intervened, sharply turning the research into the direction of finding a method for treating dental plaque and interfering with federal guidelines for oral care.

Also, when the National Caries Program attempted to audit sugar’s involvement with tooth decay in the 1970s, the industry prevented it; the PLOS report states that “the NCP was a missed opportunity to develop a scientific understanding of how to restrict sugar consumption to prevent tooth decay.”

Presently, tooth decay “is the single most common chronic childhood disease” because of exposure to sugary liquids like formula and fruit juice,” according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

Though the sugar industry vehemently denies any sort of manipulation, evidence suggests otherwise. Campaign after campaign and study after study have been pushed at consumers to delude the perception of sugar’s harmful effects, courtesy of it’s parent industry.

To this day, Americans count calories and fat intake instead of looking at how many grams of sugar are in the food they eat on a regular basis.

Sodexo Fights Battle for Health Care Once Again

by Cindy Pena

Pins reading “hands off our healthcare” decorated the uniforms of the UNITE HERE Local 217 Union members who work in Sodexo at the dining halls and cafes at Central Connecticut State University.  Sodexo workers are on their second year of fighting for a fair contract with the billion-dollar company.

“The company (Sodexo) is trying to increase profits by cutting the benefits that we had all these years and we are just fighting to keep the benefits, not increase them, not decrease them, just keep them the same,” Sodexo worker Samantha Cedeno said.

After an unsuccessful attempt in their first year to reach a fair negotiation, the Sodexo employees switched their approach from solely pushing the company to do the right thing, to now broadening their support system and getting CCSU students and faculty to support their cause. So far, they have been accomplishing just that, according to Cedeno.

“So now our strategy is really to get the students and faculty involved because if the students and faculty push the university to support us, then we can have the support of the students, the faculty, and the university behind us and it’s not just us fighting by ourselves,” Cedeno said. “We had a meeting with the CHANGE group on campus and they have complete support with us. It’s been amazing the amount of support we have been getting from the students and the faculty as well because I have been emailing back and forth with the faculty on campus and their support has been great.”

Through petitions, protests and demonstrations around campus, they are hoping to raise awareness and inform the students and faculty about the issues they have been fighting to settle.  Benefits like affordable health insurance, fair wages, and paid sick leave that Cedeno and others have had for 30 years, are all on the line.

“People have seen us do rallies, but not everyone knows the issues, not everyone knows why we are rallying and what we are fighting for,” Cedeno said. “So, our main goal, by these demonstrations, is to keep everybody aware of what the company is doing. They are trying to be very quiet about slowly taking our benefits away and we are trying our best to not let that happen.”

UNITED HERE Local 217 also consist of union members in seven other college campuses. Cedeno states that this fight is not only for employees working in the dining halls at CCSU, but also for those other employees in those seven campuses.

“A lot of people need to understand is that if we fall, there are other colleges that will fall with us,” Cedeno said. “Of course, I am fighting for myself and my family. Of course I am fighting for my son to keep his health insurance, but we are fighting for everybody else. It’s a bigger fight then just CCSU.”

Cedeno and others hope that by building a support system with CCSU students, faculty and the union members at CCSU and in the seven other colleges, they can ultimately reach a fair contract.