Category Archives: News

Stipend Controversy Deepens: SGA Refused ‘Treasurer’ Stipend

By Colette Gallcher / Copy Editor

Recent disputes within the Student Government Association led to internal and external pressure on several senators to rescind or a motion that prevents the SGA’s finance committee chairperson and acting treasurer from being paid this semester.

Arguments against the full $1,000 stipend for Senator and finance committee chair Christina Liudvinaitis and her duties this semester include the fact that she is a part-time student, and does not pay activity fees herself and has not fully completed the responsibilities of an SGA treasurer.

A special meeting was been called of the stipend review committee, which is responsible for overseeing the granting of stipends each semester, for Tuesday, March 31.

According to sources within the SGA, it was expected that the meeting was called in order to reverse the decision and to pressure certain senators to grant Liudvinaitis the full stipend.

According to one senator, the Student Activities and Leadership Development Office and the Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs, who has the power to reverse Senate decisions, would both like the Senate to reverse their decision.

In the process where all senators who are full-time students are eligible to receive a stipend each semester, varying between $400 and $1400, Liudvinaitis had petitioned the Senate to grant her the full treasurer stipend of $1,000 per semester.

As of the March 18 SGA meeting, Liudvinaitis was denied the full stipend by the SGA stipend review committee and the full Senate, but the Senate said that she would be eligible for the $400. The SGA cited her standing as a part-time student and her duties as finance committee chair as the reasons.

The debate over whether Liudvinaitis should receive a stipend for her duties stemmed from the Dec. 10 meeting of the SGA at which she was appointed to finance committee chair by President Alexander Estrom and then voted in by a simple majority of the Senate.

Following the appointment of Liudvinaitis, questions arose regarding her stipend payment, to which SGA President Alexander Estrom responded that it would be at the discretion of the SGA stipend review committee.

In an open letter to the Senate, asking that she be granted the full stipend, Liudvinaitis claimed she has fulfilled the duties of both an SGA Treasurer and senator, which means chairing the finance committee meetings, maintaining the financial responsibilities of the SGA and consistently served five office hours a week.

According to the SGA’s constitution, as the document that defines membership and eligibility, only full-time students qualify to be a senator and to receive a stipend. But SGA senators have said that Liudvinaitis was elected through a loophole as an at-large senator without clear restrictions on eligibility.
Restrictions on treasurer also dictate that, “the Student Treasurer of Central Connecticut State University shall be a fulltime undergraduate student at Central Connecticut State University.”

SGA Senator, Peter Krol believes that senator Liudvinaitis was merely “elected as chair of finance committee, nowhere does it say she’s treasurer.

“We voted her in as chair of finance committee; in no way did we vote her treasurer,” he said.

Liudvinaitis said that she fulfilled the responsibilities of the treasurer position and should be granted the money.

“The $1000 is what I deserve, given the jobs and tasks which I have completed and am completing,” said Liudvinaitis. “If you are doing the job, you should get the money regardless of the title.”

SALD’s Associate Director Susan Sweeney believes that the CCSU university administration was happy to accept Liudvinaitis as the treasurer, despite her part-time status.

She said the university allowed latitude by allowing her to be a part of the Senate. Sweeney added that the university felt it was making a responsible decision by following the SGA lead, which appeared to be to appoint senator Liudvinaitis as acting interim treasurer.

Sweeney felt that the senators are going back on their word if they deny Liudvinaitis her full stipend, as they passed the motion to appoint her acting interim treasurer and also passed the minutes to approve the motion.

Financial Aid Limitied: TEACH Grant Not Offered

By Tonya Malinowski / News Editor

Education students looking for new options in federal grant assistance this year will find themselves out of luck at CCSU.

The campus is not participating in the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education program, which grants up to $4,000 per year to students who intend to teach in a public or private elementary or secondary school that serves students from low-income families.

“We just don’t feel it’s in the best interest of the students,” Assistant Director of Financial Aid Keri Lupachino said.

The grant, offered for the first time this academic year, requires recipients to meet specific conditions, including teaching in a high-need field for four years within eight calendar years of completing their field of study.

If the student doesn’t meet the requirements, the grant turns into an unsubsidized Stafford Loan. Many students are upset about the university’s refusal to participate in the program, including graduate student Sarah MacKiernan.

“They kept telling me to call back and finally said they weren’t participating,” MacKiernan, a secondary English education major said. “They are making the decision for the whole student body instead of giving us the choice.”

Thirty-nine percent of master’s degrees and 12 percent of bachelor’s degrees awarded by CCSU in 2008 were in the education field, according to the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment.

“The problem is we would give this TEACH grant to students, then two years later they may change their mind and be stuck with an unsubsidized loan, which accrues interest from the day the grant was given,” Lupachino said.

The grant is available through FAFSA and requires students already be enrolled in an education program as well as maintain a 3.25 GPA throughout the year.

Undergraduate elementary education major Nicole Flanagan said she has only recently heard of the grant program.

“I can understand some of the reasons why Central won’t participate in the program,” she said, “but ultimately I think it should be up to the student to decide.”

Flanagan, one of 464 undergraduates currently in the school of education, said the university should give student the option but with fair warning of the conditions.

Students who change majors or fail to meet the requirements will be responsible to pay back the grant with interest charged from the date it was issued.

“I don’t feel they need to protect us from it,” MacKiernan said. “It makes me question if they’ve really taken the student body’s opinion into account.”

Feminist Icon Gloria Steinem Visits CCSU

By Tonya Malinowski / News Editor

American feminist icon Gloria Steinem spoke to a packed Torp Theatre in Davidson Hall about her involvement in the social movements of the past 40 years.

Steinem, the founder of Ms. magazine and author of four bestsellers, helped establish some of the most pivotal organizations and alliances of the women’s rights movement.

The self-proclaimed “hopeaholic” discussed the state of contemporary American feminism and social equality to an audience of almost 400 on March 19.

“It’s important to remember how recently men of color and all women were owned, like tables and chairs,” Steinem said. “Now, together, we are in a second wave and striving for legal, social and political equality.”

Steinem stated that feminism, “the longest revolution”, is 40 years in to its second 100-year wave. She believes the next step is domestic equality as well, citing that no popular television shows depict a stay-at-home father.

“Young women on campuses are still saying, ‘how can I combine career and family?’ and I’ve yet to see a man who worries about that,” she said. “We have been convinced women can do what men can do, but we are yet to be convinced that a man can do what a woman can.”

One of the spotlighted topics of Steinem’s discussion was domestic violence, a term she said makes the issue seem small and is working to change to “original violence”.

Among attendees at the lecture was Shepaug Valley High School senior Arielle Johnson-Leahy, who is working on a yearlong project with the Susan B. Anthony Project on raising awareness about violence in the home.

“It is such an honor to be in the presence of someone who has been such a role model to me,” Johnson-Leahy said. “You feel like you’re part of the bigger issue just being in the same room.”

During the open forum portion of the lecture, Johnson-Leahy asked Steinem for advice on accessing larger platforms and was applauded for her commitment to the cause.

“We are still at the point where we’re on the river plucking out people who are drowning,” Steinem answered. “We are just beginning to go to the head of the river and keep women from falling in.”

The lecture, sponsored by The Ruthe Boyea Women’s Center and several others, included a book signing after the open forum.

Steinem also discussed her current projects, which includes work on helping stop the sex trafficking industry and creation of the Women’s Media Center, which focuses on making women a more powerful part of the media.

Using her signature wit and humor, Steinem charmed audiences while simultaneously encouraging them to actively participate in the continual fight for equality.

“We should not be afraid of this energy that comes from friction and from us being our real selves,” she said. “I’m going to make a button that says ‘The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.’”

BOT Announces System-wide Cutbacks: CSUs to Reduce Staff, Freeze Salaries to Comply With State Requests

By Tonya Malinowski / Staff Writer

The Connecticut State University System Board of Trustees announced a freeze on managerial salaries and merits and a 10 percent personnel reduction during Thursday’s meeting at CCSU.

The salary freeze is expected to save $1.2 million and help close the budget gap created by diminishing state funds. The reduction in management and confidential personnel at the system office and all four universities passed by a nine-to-one vote and will be completed no later than July 1, 2010.

“All of us on the Board of Trustees will fight with every breath to ensure our system stays open,” Board of Trustees Chairman Lawrence D. McHugh said.

“We are the engine for economic growth in the state of Connecticut.” Although the possibility of faculty layoffs was not discussed, many expressed concern on the matter during the open forum portion of the meeting. According to American Association of University Professors CSUS Chapter President David Walsh, the state is asking for $600 million in savings over the course of the next two fiscal years.

“We are willing to make agreements to help meet the $300 million in savings the state is asking for, but we want job security in return,” Walsh said in regards to this year. “It’s reaching a critical stage.” Walsh said the AAUP is focusing on protecting job security for untenured professors as well as negotiating proposed retirement incentives.

“When you hire someone to a faculty position, they usually have to uproot themselves and make a huge commitment to the university,” Walsh said.

“To cut those young scholars would be devastating to them.” The coming tuition hike was among unresolved issues discussed during the faculty and student forum. Although CSUS Chancellor David G. Carter testified to the Connecticut General Assembly on Feb. 13 that the tuition increase would not reach double-digits, an exact number is still not set.

“We are going to wait until the last minute on the tuition issue because we don’t want to deal with that until it becomes necessary,” Carter said.

“We live in a world in which everyday there are questions about the next moment. We need to keep this in perspective.” The University of Connecticut announced a 6 percent tuition increase on March 11, downsized from the original 8.67 percent originally supported by the university president.

The increase raises cost of attendance by $1,150 for in-state students. Central currently has the lowest cost of tuition of all Connecticut public universities. “What people fear more than bad news is uncertainty, and that’s all we have right now,” CCSU Student Government Association President Alex Estrom said.

“Once we have some answers, we can finally start planning.” Uncertainty seemed to be the reoccurring theme of the meeting and forum, with discussion of faculty layoffs, tuition, and course availability curtailed. In 2008, CSUS awarded a record 6,870 degrees and certificates, and total enrollment is at its highest level in six years.

With an increase in enrollment, and no new faculty hires, classroom size could rise. English Department Chair Gilbert Gigliotti worries that CCSU could see the same 45-student classrooms as UConn.

“As soon as you say, ‘OK, let’s let in a few more students,’ with the same number or less faculty, you might as well have a classroom of 400 and give multiple-choice tests,” Gigliotti said. “It’s unacceptable.” AAUP is currently negotiating proposals of retirement incentive packages for professors, which could help curb the need for layoffs for the time being.

McHugh and the Board of Trustees agree that 2009 will be the most financially challenging they have ever seen. Concern from professors and students alike is still growing as long as questions about tuition and job security remain unanswered.

“This is not good for anyone, because we as teachers carry this worry in our gut into the classroom,” management professor David Fearon said. “If we all lose that electricity and excitement for learning because we’re so worried about finances, it will be hell to be in that classroom for 16 weeks.”

Dating Violence Common on College Campuses

By Terence Stewart / Staff Writer

The alleged assault incident involving pop stars Chris Brown and Rihanna has shocked many across the nation, including the couple’s family and friends.

However, relationship experts aren’t surprised and say dating violence is common among young adults, especially college students. In fact, more than 50 percent of college students report emotional, physical or sexual abuse by a previous or current dating partner, according to the National Center for Victims of Crime.

Experts say more students experience dating violence but don’t report it to police or campus public safety officials.

“You seldom find victims reporting dating violence because they’re afraid of the perpetrator, they don’t want to get the abuser in trouble or they blame themselves for what is taking place,” said Jacqueline Cobbina-Boivin, coordinator of Women’s Programs at CCSU. In addition, authorities say some victims don’t report dating violence because they believe it’s not important or could be typical in a relationship. “You see young men engaging in fights with women in popular television shows,” said Cobbina-Boivin.

“Although it’s not defined as dating violence, it is looked at as a normal relationship. Popular music lyrics that portray women as objects and not as human beings also make abusive behavior seem normal.” Advocates say parents, educators, and community leaders are responsible for educating young people about dating violence and healthy, loving relationships. “Love doesn’t hurt,” said Cobbina-Boivin.

“When the abuser starts out by wanting to know where his girlfriend is at every moment, she believes he cares for her so much that he worries if he doesn’t know where she is. But that’s not love. That’s a form of control.” The National Center for Victims of Crime estimates that 39 to 54 percent of dating violence victims remain in physically abusive relationships.

Most victims endure multiple episodes of abuse before they decide to give up on the relationship. Since dating violence can have serious consequences such as depression, suicide and drug abusethe Connecticut Coalition Against Dating Violence says college students should closely examine their relationships to prevent becoming a victim.

According to CCADV, the warning signs that a partner might become abusive include: extreme jealousy, controlling behavior, threats of violence, and he/she isolates his partener from family and friends.

Because dating violence is underreported, experts say family, friends, and educators should also pay attention to red flags. If an individual is afraid of his/her partner, has unexplained bruises, or is constantly criticized by his/her partner, this person might be a victim.

CCSU offers services such as counseling, support groups and medical assistance for victims of dating violence.

Students can contact the Counseling and Wellness Center (860-832-1945), Ruthe Boyea Women’s Center (860-832-1655), or University Health Services (860-832-1925) to receive information on a individual basis. In addition, campus police or the university’s judicial system may provide sanctions for on-campus violations. The national sexual assault hotline is 1-888-999-5544.

Open Forum Considers Possible Changes Next Semester

By Matt Kiernan / News Editor

An open forum was held to last Tuesday to discuss how the financial plans for the fall 2009 semester will affect students and faculty, and also to answering questions people may have had.

“We don’t know how much we will have to cut from the university budget,” said Miller to a group of faculty and members of the community gathered in the Connecticut Room in Memorial Hall.

“What we have to do is plan for a whole range of possibilities,” said Miller. He said that the CCSU administration doesn’t know what the tuition will be for next year and that salary increase discussions for faculty are being conducted throughout the year.

Miller said that the priority of the school is to protect classes but noted that the usual campus happenings won’t be running as well with less money. Students who would have normally been accepted during less harsh economic times are now going to be put on a waiting list for acceptance because there’s not enough money being given to the school. 

“We’ve had 700 more applications than we’ve had last year,” said Miller. He said that there have been 500 more acceptances this year than there were for the 2007-08 year and that the enrollment management committee will be conducting a meeting to see which students are accepted.

Provost Carl Lovitt said the new advising center that is due to be running during the fall 2009 semester will organize students by their level of college sompletion.

The advising center will have an initial intake facility, career-based center and center for general education. The new center, which is meant to handle freshmen advising will help transfer student from preliminary advising to advisors within departments.

The administration will be working with the current advising center to see where the responsibilities will be distributed to get the center working. Lovitt said that the administration is going to help build relationships between people working at the school. The position of the head director for the new advising center is yet to be filled.

Miller said that the school isn’t ready to keep searching for faculty positions at a rapid rate due to time and money issues.

“Who knows how long we’ll have to go down this path,” said Miller.

He said that he hopes to see the university out of the budget cycle in two years but that the school will have to remain with the current restraints.

“I think the average person on campus will continue on without seeing major differences.”

Author Encourages Networking, Looking Ahead Beyond College

By Matt Kiernan / News Editor

Lindsey Pollack, best-selling author of the college advice book, “Getting from College to Career”, came to discuss her book and consult students on her top seven favorite things a student should do before they graduate.

Pollack said that students shouldn’t be afraid all the time and that they should take chances instead of playing it safe and doing nothing.

“Avoid making the biggest mistake in job hunting and career prep,” said Pollack to a crowd of students in Alumni Hall last Wednesday.

She recalled a time at a conference where she asked a CEO of a company what their biggest regret was when they first started preparing for their future career – they replied that they regretted not applying to the business schools and jobs they wanted to. The CEO said he was too afraid of getting rejected from them to take the risk of applying.

Pollack advised that students take the next step of becoming a very organized person and think of themselves less as students and more like a professional.

She suggested that students gather all of their information into one place for easy access and to professionalize their contact methods by creating a formal e-mail address as one form of contact.

“You want to think of something easy to contact you by and something that is appropriate,” said Pollack.

She said that one way of making contacts with people is by making business cards to pass out to other people you may meet so they’ll have all of your information available. She said that students need to become expert researchers by subscribing to “must-read” publications that report on topics related to the student’s career such as the Wall Street Journal if the student was a finance major and to set up Google alerts to tell them when something important to the topic is posted.

“You need to walk into a job fair or interview and know as much about them as possible.” Pollack said that students looking for jobs need to clean up their online presence to make themselves look respectable because companies looking to hire may see a student’s party photos online and decide not to employ that student.

“Your Facebook profile is essentially an easy background check,” she said and also recommended using LinkedIn.com as a way to network with others looking to hire. Networking with people you already know such as professors or family is one way she mentioned of getting connections with people who either may be hiring or know someone who is.

“Networking is just talking with people you already know and asking them for referrals,” she said.

She told students that persistence can lead to a job because as long as they keep themselves in the minds of the people looking to hire them, they’ll have a much higher rate of success. A call to follow-up on how your application and interview is coming along in the hiring process helps your chances. “So many jobs right now are going to the first person to follow-up,” she said.

Pollack finished her list by having her seventh step be to remember the three unbreakable rules for career success.

She asked student not to forget to take action, keep building contacts and to not go through the hiring process alone.

“The person that shows up with a smile on their face that is the person who will get the position.”

Suspected Hate Crime on Campus Under Investigation

By Melissa Traynor

A letter from the University President Jack Miller was sent out yesterday, March 13, that indicated a suspected bias crime was committed March 6. 

According to a campus announcement email that was sent out via CCSU’s office of marketing and communications to all students, Miller wrote that a male Latino student was assaulted in the campus mall between Elihu Burritt Library and Copernicus Hall on March 6 around 2:30 a.m. 

“The assailants are described as ‘college-age white males’ who appeared to be intoxicated,” Miller wrote.

The letter also indicated that CCSU police are looking into the incident along with the campus office of diversity and equity and that a bias crime report has been filed.

“While this is as yet a suspected bias crime,” Miller wrote yesterday, “I want to say in the strongest terms that acts of racial and ethnic intolerance have no place on our campus, and this incident is being thoroughly investigated.”

Anyone with relevant information is encouraged to report it to the CCSU police (860.832.2375).

Career Services Office Remains Optimistic Despite Economic Downturn

By Matthew D’Annolfo / Special to The Recorder

Although the attitude of the Career Services office at CCSU remains very optimistic, the department cannot ignore the lingering effects of America’s struggling economy.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate has risen from 7.2 to 7.6 percent in the month January, placing the number of unemployed persons at 11.6 million.

Economic downturn and shocking unemployment statistics are concepts familiar to Patricia Deloy, the Director of Career Services & Cooperative Education at the university.

“It was frightening,” said Deloy. “We could feel it coming.”

Deloy explained how the struggling economy does far more than simply limit jobs for graduating seniors.

“I’ve lost very valuable contacts,” Deloy said. “My best resource at United Technologies was let go.” Along with the loss of contacts, the amount of alumni looking for job placement assistance is at an all-time high.

“This May will make twenty-five years for me (at CCSU),” said Deloy. “I’ve been surprised by the number of alumni coming back. I have one or two on my calendar every day.”

Although the economy has changed, Deloy and the rest of the Career Services office have not lost their passion for helping CCSU students.

“We always reach out,” Deloy said. “We remain active and student traffic is up.” Deloy said that the Career Center will always be busy, in one way or another.

In addition to the career center losing contacts due to massive corporate lay-offs, Deloy says the Career Center has had to become more active in recruiting contacts for job placement.

In the past, the career center never had an issue with its number of contacts. Now, in times of economic crisis, there are far more students seeking employment than recruiters seeking employees.

“In a good economy we find the employers are in need,” Deloy said. “In a poor economy we find the students are the ones in need.”

While Deloy openly admits that some students may have trouble finding certain jobs, she encourages students to remain positive and active.

“Get some experience related to your major while you’re still in school,” Deloy said. “Experience helps you get to know people and sets you aside from the pack.”

In addition to gaining experience, Deloy encouraged students at any age or stage of college education to take risks.

“Try something new,” Deloy said. “Find something you are interested in and break into it.”

While actual job interviews are important, Deloy suggests that students be active and schedule what she calls information interviews.

“Sit down and talk with someone who has the job you want,” Deloy said. “Find out what the job is like.” Deloy said that students should not be scared to schedule information interviews. “People love talking about themselves,” Deloy said jokingly.

Although the Career Services office provides a friendly and helpful atmosphere, Deloy has noticed students hiding behind the comfort and anonymity of online job placement Web sites.

Deloy isn’t sure if this trend is due to America’s economic state, or students furthering dependence of online resources.

In either situation, Deloy feels that in-person job inquiries are the way to go.

“Don’t lock yourself in a room with a computer,” Deloy said. “Use career services please: it’s what we are here for.”

Even in times of economic struggle, Deloy’s message to students seeking employment is a positive one.

“Employers are still hiring college grads,” she said. “Employers are still attending job fairs.”

Deloy feels that a student’s best bet for finding employment is starting their search early, rather than later.

“Your job search starts now,” Deloy said. “I don’t care if you’re a freshman or a senior.”

The Career Services & Cooperative Education office is located in Willard Hall, Room 100.


Conference Aims to Bridge Gap in Teaching Culture, Modern Languages

By Tonya Malinowski / Staff Editor

The Bridging Cultural Identities Conference filled the normally quiet Student Center with a symphony of foreign languages on Saturday.

The third annual conference was held at CCSU and was sponsored by the department of modern languages and the Office of Continuing Education. Together they brought more than 200 modern language teachers and professors from around the state to see 42 registered speakers.

“We are trying to offer professional development that integrates teaching of language and the importance of culture,” said Carmela Pesca, chair of the organization committee.

The event, with sessions offered in seven different languages, strove to educate state language teachers on how to use language and culture as one unit to enlighten students on world civilizations.

“World language is expressed through culture, and culture through language,” Pesca said. “The connection of the two is very important.”

Through a series of sessions on world travel, art, music and project ideas, teachers were encouraged to use innovative teaching techniques in the classroom and help keep modern language a core subject in American schools.

Steven Strange, a Spanish teacher at Rocky Hill High School whose session was on the use of music in the work of Miguel de Cervantes, believes that culture and modern languages need to be more prominent in public education.

“Language teachers need to be more proactive in helping keep language education in schools,” Strange said.

The “Connecticut Plan” for middle and high school reform, passed in November, encourages teachers to seek professional development and calls for staffing for additional sections of modern languages.

“We’ve taken a much more aggressive approach with community outreach and workforce development,” said Richard Cheney, associate director of continuing education. “It’s still just the beginning.”

With some presenters in traditional dress, and all with pictures and stories of travel to share, the conference brought a huge turnout. The registration fee of $25 before Feb. 15 or $40 after prevented the conference from being affected by budget cuts.

“The world is getting smaller all the time,” Strange said. “It’s more imperative than ever that students be able to communicate.”