Category Archives: New Britain News

Too Little Too Late: How a CCSU Student’s Death Could Have Been Prevented

Caution tape on the ladder near alley where Lavoie’s body was found. Photo Credit: Analisa Novak
Angry Bull will remain closed until March 24. Photo Credit: Analisa Novak
Chief Foley said the streets are full of litter and vomit following Thursday nights. Photo Credit: Analisa Novak

by, Analisa Novak

With midterms fast approaching, most Central Connecticut State University students can be found relieving stress by enjoying nights in downtown Hartford.

Taylor Lavoie, 18, East Granby, was one of those CCSU students as she and her friends packed into the crowded CTfastrak Bus on its way to Hartford this past Thursday night.

Drink specials like the “25 Cents Beer Night” weekly entice hundreds of local college students to the Angry Bull Saloon, where Lavoie and her three friends ended up.

As the evening wore on and the bars began to close, Lavoie and her friends became separated and her friends caught the last ride on the Fastrak out of downtown.

Lavoie did not; as her body was discovered later that evening in a five-foot alleyway between the Angry Bull Saloon and another building. Hartford Police and medical quickly responded to the scene and pronounced her dead.

The cause of death is still under investigation but is being ruled as an accidental fall, according to Deputy Police Chief Brian Foley. “At this time we have no indication that it was a homicide or a suicide, we believe it’s likely to be accidental.”

Investigators are still piecing together how Lavoie got on top of the Angry Bull roof, which is supposed to be closed and off limits to patrons. Lavoie is said to have fallen more than four stories.

According to Angry Bull, to get on the roof “a person must go up a stairwell from the second floor area through a fully blocking curtain, which indicates a blocked/off limits area. The roof access requires someone to go up two floors of abandoned space, continue to a ladder structure, climb it to a hatchway, then enter the roof through a small doorway area.”

Foley said that roof has no ledges and is extremely dangerous. “I went up on the roof, its treacherous, it’s disorientating, especially at night,” said Foley.

The mystery and questioning doesn’t stop there; investigators are working on answering how Lavoie was even allowed in the bar in the first place because, she was only 18 years old, far from the legal drinking age of 21.

Lavoie had an Angry Bull wristband on and a fake ID when her body was found, said investigators.

But CCSU student Sabrea Collins said that Lavoie getting into Angry Bull is no mystery at all. Collins, who is under the age of 21, has also been to Angry Bull Saloon plenty of times and said sometimes patrons don’t even need a fake ID, just an additional 10 dollars.

“If you have a fake ID you just give it to them and if you don’t just give them money,” Collins said.

CCSU Student Abe Caban also said that Angry Bull’s lack of proper identification is what makes it a popular for college students.

“If you paid twenty dollars and you’re sixteen, you can get in for free with a Fake ID. You can see the environment and see that kids are underage there.”

Angry Bull was under a watchful eye from the Hartford Police dating back to November of last year. Foley said that Hartford Police had made multiple complaints to the Liquor Control Commission, the most recent complaint on Feb. 24.

Foley said that The Department of Consumer Protection, who oversees all liquor controls alongside with the Hartford Police, was planning an undercover raid for next week. Staffing and availability from both departments played an important key on why the raid was delayed.

“When they did want to do an operation next week we couldn’t do it because it’s all hands on deck for the St. Patrick’s Day parade and for the basketball tournament and cheerleader competition, so it’s going to be a busy weekend. We were in communication with them this week, they had our documentation, we wished it moved faster in a perfect world but that’s not where we are,” Foley said.

CCSU Senior Mark Mancini said that with a raid or not, it was well known to everyone that alcohol was being served to underage students and something should have been done to prevent this tragedy.

“It’s just a shame that students who are out there looking for a good time, something unfortunate would happen. The amount of underage students that let in is unreal there,” said Mancini.

CCSU Student Government Association President Jahmil Effend said that this could have been easily preventable and it’s unfortunate that CCSU and the family had to lose someone in order for action to be taken.

“The Angry Bull Saloon has had a notorious reputation of allowing underage students to get in. The police in the area have dealt with countless complaints, but nothing has been done. This tragedy could have been avoided had the bar staff and management acted appropriately,” Effend said.

Angry Bull remained quiet most of Friday morning. It released a statement later that night on their Facebook page denying allegations that it serves patrons who are under age.

“We consistently have several members of our security staff outside the entry door of the establishment to ensure all patrons are checked for proper identification stating they are 21 or above.”

In that statement, Angry Bull said it is devastated by the death of Lavoie and that there thoughts and prayers are with her family.

Lavoie, who was a biology major, lived in the Mid Campus Dorms. CCSU President Dr. Zulma Toro released a statement in which she extended her condolences to those who knew Lavoie.

“Beyond the grief that we feel, tragedies such as this remind us how important it is for us as a community to cherish and support each other,” Dr. Toro said.

Counseling services are currently being offered by the Wellness Center for any students who wish to seek it. John Campbell, of the Campus Ministry is also available to speak to students. There is no word at the moment of a planned memorial for Lavoie.

The doors of Angry Bull remained shut Friday evening and will remain closed for the next couple of weeks. Angry Bull voluntarily suspended their liquor permit on Friday.

“The Angry Bull Saloon voluntarily met with and agreed to suspend its liquor permit out of respect for the family of the deceased in this difficult time.”

According to Foley it will remain suspended until March 24.

Angry Bull will be using its suspension time to “review procedures and the incident with the Hartford Police Department and Department of Consumer Protection.”

Foley has not indicated if this is a permanent suspension.

The bar permittee is listed as Stephen White. He is said to be cooperating with investigators.

The investigation is ongoing and anybody who has information on this is urged to call the Hartford Police.

If Angry Bull reopens its doors, some CCSU students, like Caban, will not be returning. “I just went there for the first time and I’ll probably never go back to be honest.”

 

Confusion Amidst Latest Sexual Assault

by Analisa Novak/ Jackson Rioux

Central Connecticut State University is backtracking on an alleged sexual assault that happened near campus.

Last Thursday, CCSU students and faculty were notified of a sexual assault that occurred on campus via a string of emails. The university sent out three separate emails, each email contradicted the previous one before it.

“It was a little confusing because I’m still not sure what even happened,” said student Fabian Fonseca. “I don’t even know if they know what happened.”

The confusion originally started after a sexual assault was reported to CCSU police. The alleged assault was said to have occurred on the early morning of Oct. 8th.

The victim originally said it happened in the Willard and Diloreto parking lot. University police, then, complied with the Cleary Act and sent out an email informing the campus of the attack, causing a media frenzy and panic within the CCSU community.

“It was overwhelming to receive all those emails, but it was a story that was not fully uncovered yet,” said student Lindsay Grant. “Hopefully police figure out what happened.”

The incident continued to bring more confusion as the night progressed. CCSU Associate Vice President Marketing & Communications Mark McLaughlin sent out two update emails stating not only did the incident not happen on campus, but also the victim was not a CCSU student.

“Since this went out earlier, I’ve learned that the person reporting the assault is not a CCSU student,” McLaughlin wrote.

The second one stated, “Thru further investigation CCSU Police have now determined that the reported sexual assault did not occur on CCSU’s campus.”

Since the string of emails last Thursday, the school has officially sent no further updates. No description of the alleged attacker was ever released.

McLaughlin did provide an update to The Recorder on Oct. 14th.

“After CCSU Police determined that the reported incident did not take place at CCSU, they closed their investigation and advised the person who reported it to contact the New Britain Police Department,” he said.

But with two sexual assaults allegedly happening within three weeks of each other, many students on campus are questioning if they are truly safe on campus.

“I don’t feel safe, especially because I have a lot of night classes,” said student Chelsea Scribner. “I’m definitely going to get some pepper spray.”

CCSU Police declined to comment further on what they are doing to ensure campus safety. In the generic email that was originally sent campus wide, CCSU police said they “Will provide additional patrol coverage to this area, but people are advised to use caution nonetheless.”

According to the 2013-2015 Cleary Report emailed out earlier this month, forcible sex offenses have increased within the last year at CCSU. In 2014 one forcible sex act was reported and documented. By 2015 that number tripled to four.

CCSU took some heat earlier this semester when students and faculty were not immediately notified of a sexual assault on campus. The assault, which occurred in James Hall, was determined to be an isolated incident by CCSU Police. The department deemed there was no threat to the rest of campus.

Cracks in the System: How a Sex Offender Was Able to Go Undetected

 

 

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by: Analisa Novak

Cracks in the system Central Connecticut State University uses to monitor sex offenders allows registered sex offenders to attend school undetected. The flaws came to light this past summer after it was revealed that a student on the registry had attended for a year without state police or university knowledge.

CCSU is the only Connecticut State University that does not list the names of sex offenders on the campus website.

Federal law only requires the school to make the information accessible for those on campus.

CCSU does this by providing a link to the Connecticut Sex Offender Registry, the minimum to comply with the Campus Sex Crime Prevention Act.

“It’s a judgment call,” said Mark McLaughlin, Associate Vice President, Marketing & Communications.

That’s the same federal law that Southern, Eastern and Western Connecticut state universities also have to follow.

The three schools, like CCSU, also provide that generic link but they go further and provide the names of the student sex offender and registry numbers on their website.

“We do this because the CT sex offender list is always changing, there are some offenders that still list SCSUs address on the official registry, that don’t go here. By making sure our campus list is accurate and up to date, we can better provide the information,” SCSU Campus Detective Cynthia Torres said.

The state also provides the CSUs with a list of sexual offenders on the database so they can cross-reference applicants and existing students as well.

This secondary check, if done, could also catch any offenders who are failing to disclose. This is done at the request of the university.

“They check our list (statewide registry list) against their list (campus list), to see if there is anyone going to school who is on the registry. If they notice that there is someone on there, who they have questions about, and contact us and ask if a particular student is listed being at the university on the registry and we say no, now we know there’s a violation and that’s a felony,” CT State Police Sergeant Matthew Garcia said.

The CT state registry list states that seven offenders use CCSU as their school address.

According to the most up-to-date list, which only the CCSU police have, only four offenders currently attend CCSU.

CCSU Police has listed a student who is a registered offender by the wrong name. His first and last name were mixed up on their hardcopy list and if students were to search for him on the state registry, using the name provided by the CCSU police, the name wouldn’t appear

“I think it’s important for the safety of our campus that the sex offender list is easily accessible by students and the more transparency on issues around sexual violence, the better,” said Sarah Dodd, CCSU Victim Advocacy and Violence Prevention Specialist.

According to Gregory Sneed, CCSU Chief of Police and Director of Public Safety, there is an interview process that registered sex offenders go through before they become a student on campus.

“Sex offenders are required to register where they reside and where they are going to school. So by virtue of that, they notify the state, the state then notifies us. We then call them in and to just have a conversation with them.”

Prospective students choose to do the Common Application or the CCSU College Net application.

Both these applications ask prospective students to disclose any misdemeanors or felonies.

Applicants cannot go forward with the online application without selecting either yes or no.

If yes is selected, admissions forward the information to campus police, who will then speak to the applicant if needed.

Campus police are not responsible for selecting who gets admitted into CCSU even if they are sex offenders.

 

Sex Offenders are required by federal law to select yes and to not only inform the university, but also the state police.

“Failure to notify would then constitute a class D felony which is punishable up to five years (CGS § 54-256),” according to Sergeant Garcia.

The campus police cannot issue this particular felony violation, only the state police can.

Nathan George Cheatham, 28, failed to inform the university or the state police of his enrollment at CCSU.

By doing so he went undetected among students and faculty for an entire school year.

Cheatham was required to register to the police under CT 54-253, which deals with individuals who have been convicted out of state and are now living in Connecticut.

Cheatham was 18 when he was arrested in Michigan in 2005 for a sexual act with a 14-year-old girl.

 “It should be noted that it is believed that she was actually 13 years of age when this (act) had transpired,” according to police reports obtained by The Recorder through a Freedom of Information request with the Leelanau County Sheriff’s Office.

Another incident with an additional 14-year-old girl was also investigated.

Cheatham later admitted to the two separate sexual encounters with the minors, according to the police transcripts.

Cheatham was charged with Gross Indecency Between Male And Female (Michigan statue 750.338b). He has been listed a sex offender since 2006.

Out- of- state sexual offenders are required to notify police whenever they want to attend any Connecticut State University or college.

“If they’re moving into Connecticut they have to let us know where they are going to school. If they committed a sexual assault in (i.e.) MA and now they are coming here and going to CCSU, they have to notify us without undo or delay, “said Sergeant Garcia .

Cheatham’s sex offender status was not known to the university or police until after the CCSU Society of Professional Journalists received an anonymous tip.

CCSU SPJ is a chapter of the national SPJ professional organization for students and working journalists and protects journalism by fighting for ethics, training and their First Amendment.

Cheatham was to be the president for the 2016-2017 academic year.

The group was preparing for a trip to the national SPJ convention in New Orleans when members got the tip.

When originally questioned by the E-Board of SPJ, Cheatham was defiant and refused to speak on the issue.

Later he met with the vice president of the group. In an interview last week, she said, Cheatham told her that he is on the registry for “fooling around” with a then- sixteen-year-old girlfriend.

Cheatham also told her that it was optional for him to inform on his status.

Upon further investigation by the group, it was discovered that both of these statements were false. Cheatham was then asked to resign as president.

“As a student leader he should be compliant with the school. If he’s not following the rules of the school he shouldn’t be in the office”, said CCSU SPJ Vice President Lisa Massicotte.

After Cheatham’s offender status was discovered, the CCSU campus police were notified and the CT state police temporarily listed him as a non-compliant sex offender on the registry. Cheatham was also a Student Government Association Senator. He was elected earlier this year and was set to be involved in the finance committee. He had participated on a retreat with SGA members during the time where it was not known of his offender status.

Student Activities was made aware of Cheatham’s failing to notify the police and the university of his sex offender status around the time the information came to light.

But even as they were aware of this information, administrators in student activities continued to allow Cheatham to be an SGA Senator.

Although what Cheatham did is considered a felony in Connecticut, CCSU did not see it necessary to remove him from SGA.

According to the CCSU student handbook, any full-time student “in good academic standing and not under disciplinary sanction may participate in clubs and other co-curricular activities.”

When Director of Student Activities Scott Hazan was asked for comment, he forwarded all interview questions to Mark McLaughlin.

When McLaughlin was asked why CCSU allowed Cheatham to continue to be on SGA even after officials knew he was a non-compliant sex offender, McLaughlin said that federal Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) prevents him from responding directly to any question. He did say, “When we (CCSU) become aware of students or employees on the sexual offense registry our normal procedure is to conduct a thorough review.”

Cheatham was never suspended or expelled.  He was never put on any sort of a probation period by the university. Due to FERPA no information of a conduct review was given. It is not known if the school will ever seek any disciplinary actions.

At no time was any student member of student government informed by the university of Chatham’s non-compliance status.

When asked for comment, SGA president Jahmil Effend said, “We have to trust the university as we do with everything else.”

Cheatham never responded to multiple requests for an interview. As of now he is not registered in any classes for the fall semester.

Had Cheatham notified the CT state police of his status, the New Britain police would then have been notified.

“This whole thing comes down to the offender even notifying the state in the first place. You get on the registry because you’ve been convicted of a sex offense, you did time and you are being released into the community, you have to register. You do not have a choice. You are in the system. It is their responsibility to physically register with us and keep us informed,” Sgt. Garcia said.

The majority of sex offenders are compliant with the registry and the terms that come with their release, according to Sergeant Garcia.

“If they are going to be attending a university it is incumbent on them to tell us; if they don’t then now they are facing felonies,” Sergeant Garcia said.

If any students know of any offenders who are choosing to not disclose and meet the requirements of their sentence, police advise them to search the offender on the database, select submit a tip (located at the bottom of the offenders photo), and let the CT police know.

Informants remain anonymous

The Office of Victim Advocacy and Violence Prevention provides services to assist and support individuals affiliated with Central Connecticut State University who have been impacted by sexual assault, relationship violence, and/or stalking. Students who need these services should contact Sarah Dodd at the office of Victim Advocacy and Violence, located in Carroll Hall, Room 248.

Editor’s Note: The Recorder strives to provide the university with the most accurate information possible. It is for this reason that no individual whether faculty or student found guilty of any offense against the state, university or any student, will be shielded or protected through anonymity. There were no aliases used in this story. The only names that will ever be protected in The Recorder are those of anonymous sources and victims of any crimes.

An Open Letter to Mayor Erin Stewart

New Britain Mayor and Central Connecticut alumna Erin Stewart has somewhat insidiously played some immature moves such as blocking CCSU alumnus Bobby Berriault, CCSU student Wyatt Bosworth who is running for New Britain City council and The Recorder’s Assistant News Editor Christopher Marinelli.

The 28-year-old has been able to enjoy a career as mayor young in her professional life, as well as crafting a campaign New Britain residents may find appealing without looking deeper into the other candidates or digging up more information. She is young, likable and relatable especially to the younger voters who are prominent in this city because of CCSU. However, by blocking students as well as campaigners such as Bosworth, it has become clear Stewart is not open to debate or conversation with politicians with opposing viewpoints or competition.

A statement to The Recorder by Bosworth addresses these political contentions as well as the immaturity of blocking students and campaigners on social media:

“She blocked me a little bit after I was nominated by the party. The last and only thing I tweeted to her was about the $36,000 Christmas tree. I tweeted at her sometime in June ‘why is the city spending $36,000 on a tree when we have the fourth highest unemployment in Connecticut and 20,000 residents on food stamps?’ She also said last December she’s in favor of CCSU taking away financial aid for off-campus troubles.”

The Recorder’s assistant news editor was blocked shortly after tweeting, “Politics are a platform for constructive debate on opposing views. Does blocking on twitter help you deconstruct contention?”

Bosworth’s tweet, along with those from other students attempting to spark a civilized political debate, was reason for blocking them from following the mayor’s official Twitter account. It would be one thing if these tweets were offensive or threatening and if this was Stewart’s personal account. But it is her professional account and the tweets towards her were in no way offensive or threatening. Berriault, a New Britain resident, was also blocked and gave a statement to The Recorder:

“I don’t know why she blocked me. I found out she was on Twitter [after] I found out I’ve been blocked, I never tweeted at her — I guess because I’m a Democrat who opposes her politically. Those who govern should be open, transparent and accessible to all and not just the people who share one particular political ideology,” said Berriault. “Public officials should not be using public resources including the city’s social media sites as a platform to target and exclude fellow residents, especially as a means of political retaliation. Mayor Stewart has proved that she is incapable of acting as a leader because of her immaturity.”

The world would make little strides in furthering society or living conditions if we were able to block every negative or opposing view. In the real world, it is necessary to discuss controversial subjects such as unemployment in New Britain, the relationship of the city’s residents and CCSU students as well as other economic policies. A mayor unable to hear criticism should not be in an office where coalition and conversation is the platform for change.

In 2013, The Recorder endorsed Stewart for mayor. With her re-election around the corner, our editorial staff has changed their view of Stewart. We no longer endorse her for mayor or any other candidate running for the position.

Although she ran a successful campaign two years ago, after experiencing her as mayor we feel New Britain is in need of someone mature and considerate to those who wish to express their views to their mayor whether it’s on social media or in person. Her young age and friendships with many young residents in New Britain turned the mayor election in 2013 into a popularity contest, making it an easy win for her.

This time around she’s going to have to prove that she’s capable of acting like a mature and transparent mayor should and actually listen to grievances from residents. This time around, CCSU students are not happy with her; a re-election is unlikely to happen for Stewart unless she conducts a major attitude adjustment.

From the Basement of ITBD Comes Compassion on Wheels

N.A.S.

by Sean Begin

The work that takes place in the basement of the Institute of Technology and Business Development building on Main Street in New Britain didn’t start there. It didn’t even technically start in its original space in Room 101 in Copernicus Hall.

The dozens of wheelchairs in that basement, all in differing states of repair, or, in some cases, disrepair, soon to be fixed and outfitted and sent off to Haiti or other locations, started when Michele Dischino was just an undergrad at Manhattan College.

“I worked on a call bell project as a student with a professor who had a relationship with [an] assisted living [home],” explained Dischino in the workshop, amid the spare parts and partially repaired chairs.

Dischino explained how she and her classmates designed a call bell that was activated by breathing on it, rather than having to press or pull something, an act that could be difficult for a bed-ridden patient.

The experience stayed with Dischino until around 2012 when she attended a workshop for Central faculty interested in finding a way to integrate community service into course work. Remembering her time at Manhattan, Dischino approached Andrew Clark, who put on the workshop, about doing something with her Intro to Engineering students.

Clark, who is the director of the Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy (IMRP) at ITBD, mentioned some abandoned wheelchairs he had seen, and why couldn’t Dischino’s students fix those up for people who needed them?

The idea stuck and thus was born CCSU C.A.R.E.S. (Collaboration for Assistive Resources, Equipment and Services), an organization built entirely by Central students volunteering their time.

But an idea and volunteers weren’t enough. Dischino used a large network of contacts, along with the volunteers, to get things off the ground.

The program was able to take off with the support of ITBD’s director Rick Mullins. In addition, Dischino is aided by Tony Goncalves, a Central student and the Program Manager for CCSU C.A.R.E.S., in getting the word out about the program.

Dischino also learned about Chariots of Hope, a Bloomfield company that finds people in need of wheelchairs, the perfect outlet for the work Dischino and her students are doing.

Dischino’s engineering class do most of the work but other students on work-study have also spent time on the project, with anywhere from 20 to 25 working on it at one time. Dischino is hoping to apply for grants that would allow her to pay students for their time.

The program has had enough success that the Student Government Association donated 20 wheelchairs last year, with a dozen having been given out already, including as far as Haiti, where Renaud Joseph has regained his independence thanks to the program.

Joseph became paraplegic after an auto accident. After three months of rehab, he was able to use his chair to return to his wife and children with some measure of mobility and a sense of dignity returned.

Dischino is already looking for ways to advance the program beyond just wheelchairs. She’s looked into the “Go, Baby, Go” program based out of the University of Delaware, which she saw one evening on the Nightly News.

That program repurposes drivable toy cars into mobile chairs for children under three. The University of Delaware will be coming to New Britain on April 10 for a workshop where they will modify several of the toy cars to teach people how to do it themselves. After the workshop, the cars will be donated to young children being treated at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.

Recorder Backs Recent CCSU Alumna

The mayoral election for the city of  New Britain is coming up on Nov. 5  and the students of CCSU need to pay attention. The two candidates for this upcoming mayoral race are current New Britain Mayor, Tim O’Brien, and Former CCSU Graduate, Erin Stewart.

Our editorial staff feels that a fresh, new perspective on local issues is just what the student body needs, and that Erin Stewart fits the bill.

This time last year, the New Britain City Council passed some ordinances that have had a direct effect on students living on and around campus. The ordinances focused on the landlords that own properties in the Belvedere neighborhood near campus, which is home to many CCSU students. One ordinance placed an annual fee of $150 to landlords that live outside of the area, which could potentially put an increase on residents’ rent. The second ordinance, called the “hot-spot” ordinance, states that individuals who call 911 10 or more times a year will be fined $500. 

Many of the nuisance calls made in New Britain are made in concern to off-campus students who are considered too loud to some permanent New Britain residents. The ordinances brought much attention to the students who live around the Central, however the attention was very one sided. Only about a handful of students showed up to the council to protest or voice their opinions about the then proposed ordinances, even though their presence in the community was a catalyst to the making and passing of the laws.

Being informed and educated about what goes on in our local New Britain community is key to making the most out of your time residing in New Britain. It would be foolish to think that these policies and decisions do not affect us. 

What many students seem to be unaware of is that they can have a say in the government of our city. If students live on campus or off campus in New Britain, they have the ability to register to vote in the mayoral elections.

Erin Stewart is looking to make students more involved in the local community with opportunities including internships, co-ops and partnering with businesses. This is a stark difference from incumbent Tim O’Brien, who seems to make the issue of off-campus students a way to increase city revenue without turning too many heads.

In an interview with a Recorder staff member, O’Brien stated he hopes to encourage more residential CCSU students to live in the downtown New Britain area. But with a multi-million dollar plan for Centrals campus to receive a brand new dorm, library extensions, fitness building, magnet school, arts building and upgrades to old facilities, O’Brien’s plan doesn’t seem to play into the grand scheme of things.

 

26-year-old Stewart is fresh out of college, so fresh that she could still be paying off college loans. She is exactly the kind of candidate that CCSU students need to support because she has their best interests in mind. If students at Central want to have more control in what the city of New Britain has to offer them then they need to start paying more attention to who wants to represent them and vote them into office.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Competition For A Cause

By Rachael Bentley

Students on campus may have noticed a new addition to the Student Center circle this past week: an empty storage pod covered in posters that promote a new campus initiative called Competition For A Cause.

The project is only in its second year and was started by SGA Senator Simms Sonet last fall. Last year, the group of volunteers were able to raise enough donations to keep the Spanish Speaking Center in New Britain from having empty shelves during Thanksgiving.

The first time winners of Competition For A Cause were the Bimolecular Science Department, the CFO office and the Psychology Club.

Unlike last year, the competition is not focused on pitting the different departments and groups on campus against each other.

“We aren’t doing the inter-university competition like we did last year where it’s administration vs. faculty vs. students,” Sonet explained. “We’re just doing CCSU on a whole versus New Britain.  We’re competing against each other, using that rivalry and tension that has grown around the Belvedere neighborhood, hoping to put all of that energy into doing something good for the community.” 

“The city’s fire departments, police departments, the mayoral office, YMCA, Community Central, local businesses, they all participate,” Sonet added. 

The massive pod placed in the middle of campus is Sonets’ way of making sure that students can’t push the idea of hunger out of their minds during this holiday season. With posters covering the pod from top-t0-bottom and decorated recycle bins placed all over campus, Sonet believes it will be impossible for students to ignore. 

Various groups on campus are getting involved with the competition, including the CFO office, the math department, the nursing department and many other clubs on campus.

“There are a lot of other drives going on on-campus for things like clothing and toiletries, so we are letting them use our pod and bins to store the donations as well. Everything is welcome,” Sonet said.

The volunteers had a rough start to their campaign last year when a blizzard pushed back their schedule, leaving them with only six or seven days to physically collect all of the donations. However, despite the bad weather, the group was able to raise almost 1,500 on campus and 2,000 in the city of New Britain, which was much more than Sonet and his group had ever wished for.

With more time and more publicity, those involved believe they will be able to raise over 4,000 donation for this year to be distributed to local New Britain shelters and donation centers. According to Sonet, the food will be given to the local shelters most in need, as decided by city officials.

Sonet hopes that these efforts will send a direct message to the neighboring community. “We want to show that it is a very small percentage of students that knock over trashcans, piss on lawns, and that the majority of CCSU students are actually very giving,” he said. “That’s why we called this called ‘Competition for a Cause’. We may lose, we may win, but in the end we’re benefiting a good cause.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mayor O’Brien Hopes To Integrate University With Downtown Area

By Jacqueline Stoughton

New Britain mayor Tim O’Brien presented a vision of an integrated university and city as part of his campaign to be re-elected.

The mayor’s opponent, Erin Stewart, is campaigning to help CCSU students to be more involved with the New Britain community, in the form of creating more internships and co-ops.  O’Brien says he wants to do this as well, but in the form of a more advanced plan.

“CCSU could really take advantage of the busway going in right now to grow into downtown New Britain like it never has before,” says O’Brien.  “There is already a CCSU presence in downtown New Britain, but it’s now going to be practical with the bus way.”

“What the city’s ambition for that future is seeing increased classroom space in the downtown, and to have entire academic departments located downtown,” says O’Brien.  “We’re also very interested in bringing student residences downtown.  This would be a really good opportunity for CCSU students and for our cities economic growth.”

With CCSU being so isolated from most of the city, O’Brien says moving a part of the campus footprint downtown, including residences, will allow students to be able to have the full college experience, something that is somewhat limited to them now.

“A lot of what we’ve been talking about doing have been very serious topics, but we’ve also spent a lot of time and energy in making our community life fun.  That’s a serious part of our work,” says O’Brien.  He wants to create new festivals and improve the existing in the downtown area, and making all the fun aspects of the city available and more accessible to CCSU students.  “There are a lot of things to do, a lot of things to see, a lot of things to be apart of.  I would like CCSU students now and in the future to be apart of that,” said O’Brien.

A primary concern to O’Brien, as a state legislator, has been that Connecticut’s state money is unfairly distributed between the state universities.

“UConn is a great source of pride for the state, so politically it tends to get the emphasis when funding time comes,” said O’Brien.  “I’m right there in agreement that CCSU and the other state universities and community colleges are sometimes not given the emphasis that they should be.”

These institutions are about the education of average people, explained O’Brien. He believes that they should be supported as an important part of our states future.

Along with improving opportunities for CCSU students, one of the main points Stewart has campaigned for is lowering the city’s taxes.  This is a task O’Brien has already been consistently working on throughout his first term as city mayor.

“The truth is I have not increased city taxes,” said O’Brien.  “The best way to moderate the city’s taxes is to find ways to grow our economy.”  O’Brien explained that citizens as voters need to clarify with politicians what services will be cut when they decrease the city’s revenue.

“I have been supporting quality education, paving city roads, hiring police officers, fixing our city parks and doing investments such as street scape improvements, all of which have been enabling our cities economy to grow into the future,” said O’Brien.

Another issue the mayor will continue to address are the city ordinances that he enacted last year.

“People need to understand there are residential neighborhoods in many areas of the city,” said O’Brien.  “I think that we need to realize that there’s a sense of respectfulness about your fellow human beings that shouldn’t require city ordinances, but sometimes do.”

O’Brien explained that there needs to be opportunities where students can live that are more conducive to the lifestyle they prefer.  “This is why having student residences downtown is a much better idea,” said O’Brien

“A certain amount of a party environment is bad in a single family neighborhood but would make an urban city very vibrant and a pleasant place to be,” said O’Brien.  “This is about good city planning, and is something we can work to accomplish together.”

Having grown up in New Britain, and graduated from Central Connecticut State University, O’Brien is hoping to continue the efforts he has made in the past two years to assist in the growth and advancements of New Britain.

“Mayor O’Brien has met the challenges of being left with a large deficit and a city in disrepair,” said Rick Melita, the O’Brien Campaign Spokesman.  “He’s met those challenges with strong leadership, and deserves a second term.”

Beginning as a city alderman in 1997, O’Brien later won a seat on the City Council, where he advocated for various workers rights and representing neighborhoods.  By 2002, the Connecticut state reapportionment merged two New Britain districts together, leaving an open seat in the House of Representatives, which O’Brien successfully won.

As a state legislature, O’Brien worked for nine years on issues such as property tax return and health care reform.  He also continued his efforts for workers rights, fixing equity issues at the state level, and gaining state aid for the city.

“Even though I was very excited about my work as a state legislature, there were a lot of things back home in New Britain that I felt were important to address,” said O’Brien.  “Such as having a strong organized economic development policy so we could move New Britain into a strong economy; which the people of New Britain really deserve.”

If reelected as the Mayor of New Britain, O’Brien says the first things on his to-do list include building the economy and creating jobs for the future, focusing on the cities industrial development and building up the city’s downtown area, and continuing to invest in education.

“We need to have an organized, coherent plan to make New Britain a great place to live for everyone,” said O’Brien.

Local Apartment Gets New Lease On Life

By Rachael Bentley

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Residents and visitors of  local New Britain apartment complex Campus View will soon be noticing some major changes to the property in the upcoming year, if they haven’t started to notice them already.

Property Manager Susan Rumill is determined to make sure that Campus View is seen in a new light. “We are under completely new ownership as of July this year,” she explained, “and the new owners are fabulous. They are so committed to making this a good place to live and they are very concerned about their residents.”

The new owners, a company called Trinity Properties, has commercial real estate in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and now Connecticut.

Rumill has been the property manager for Campus View for over a little over a year, and was also the manager for the previous owners.

Campus View has two apartment building locations in New Britain. One is located on the corner of Paul Manafort Drive and East Street, the other is located half a mile further down East Street.

Rumill explained that with the shift in ownership there will be a lot of changes  for the residents of Campus View–changes that she says were desperately needed.

She estimates that within a year, every apartment in both buildings will have new carpets and laminate flooring. There will be updates and renovations to all of the bathrooms and every kitchen will also come with an above-stove microwave.

“We want to make sure that these kids aren’t living in squalor,” she explained.

Current resident of Campus View are also seeing some other changes in the way the property is run, including the employment of a security officer. New security entrances are also on Rumills’ to-do list for the upcoming year, hoping that it will help deter non-residents from getting in the buildings.  People interested in living at Campus View will also have to pass a criminal background check, which is standard procedure for properties owned by Trinity Properties.

CCSU student and Campus View tenant Ling Tang has lived in his apartment for a little over a month and a half, and has noticed a difference in how the property is run. “The first week I lived here, there was a huge party here with a lot of people outside, and the cops showed up and everything. After that she (Rumill) hired a security guard and ever since then it’s gotten a lot better living here.”

Sitting next to a table stacked with coloring pens and velvet art posters in her office, Rumill explained that it’s the little things that really add up for the residents and make their experience with Campus View a good one.

Pointing to a Zebra-themed velvet art, Rumill said, “Whenever kids come in and I’m busy, I tell them to color in these while they wait. I never expected it to become such a big success, but now we have them all over the office walls. I love my tenants; great people live here.”

 

Taxes, Education Focal Points At First Mayoral Debate

By Taylor Skirvin and Eric Stadalnik

New Britain- Republican Mayoral candidate and CCSU graduate Erin Stewart continued to sell her youth as the right answer for the city during the first debate at Trinity on Main Saturday afternoon.

 

Stressing that the current administration’s tax hikes and wasteful spending was not sustainable for the future, the twenty-six year old GOP nominee asserted that the city needs change and deserves better than incumbent Tim O’Brien.

 

I’m different, I’m not a politician, but I’m sick of seeing our city leaders mismanage our future,” said Stewart. “With Mayor Erin Stewart, you’ll always get straight talk; I’m a New Britain girl.”

 

Stewart, a lifelong New Britain resident, believes that the city government has not been working for the people over the past two years while showing fiscal irresponsibility leading to debt growth.

 

In contrast, Mayor O’Brien feels that the future is bright for New Britain. According to the Democratic nominee, the deficits and social shortcomings left for him when he took office two years ago have been fixed under his administration.

 

There is so much possibility that New Britain has for a better tomorrow. We have accomplished, in my administration, so much in such a short period of time and we have such great possibilities to build in the future,” said O’Brien.

 

A surplus of $2.9 million in the general fund was announced this past week which O’Brien restated at the debate. The extra money was said to come from payroll reductions and department reconfiguration while not raising taxes, although many audience members jeered the Mayor when he made the statement and Stewart brought her car taxes to refute his claim. Along with the surplus, O’Brien proclaimed that he continues to create jobs in the city as well as supporting local businesses.

 

A city partnership with CCSU was also discussed in regards to helping the development of downtown New Britain, from moving programs to the Technology and Business Development facility to being a major stop on the CT Fastrak when it is operational.

 

I have made a very strong effort to make sure that our city’s arts are properly funded, turning around years of underfunding to be able to make sure that our city is going to be able to have the quality education that our kids deserve and that our city economy will need,” said O’Brien.

 

Stewart agreed with her opponent in regards to the importance of education as she has been serving on the New Britain Board of Education shortly after finishing school. She believes that she and her fellow B.O.E. members have made substantial changes to quality of life of students.

 

Although young, Stewart has been around politics much of her life, having been a legislative aide at the Capitol, and growing up with a father in politics. The eight years prior to O’Brien’s term as Mayor, Stewart’s father Tim Stewart was mayor of New Britain.

 

A second Mayoral debate is scheduled for Tuesday, October 1st at 7:00 P.M. at New Britain High School but O’Brien has turned down a third debate sponsored by the Citizen Property Owners Association, a group that has been highly critical of the Mayor’s policies over the last two years.

 

An additional debate is being discussed though, according to the Hartford Courant, which would take place at CCSU, jointly sponsored by campus Republicans and Democrats.