SGA President Looks Forward to More Money for Clubs, Events
By Tonya Malinowski
Student Government Association President Andrew Froning has a list of goals hanging above his desk, with each one earning a checkmark as it is accomplished.
The list is long, forecasting an ambitious semester for Froning’s first semester as president, but he is confident.
“We are going to get rid of this ‘suitcase college’ thing and really make students feel like they can hang out here,” Froning said. “We have substantially more money this year to give to clubs and sponsor events.”
The new surplus of capital for the SGA comes from an increased enrollment at Central this year, with most of the funds being distributed to clubs.
In addition to larger funds for clubs, the SGA scholarship fund has doubled. According to Froning, the fund has now allocated for almost $20,000 in scholarship money. The scholarships are awarded based on academic merit and leadership experience.
The budget allocations for clubs has already been set, with the South Asian Students Association and Ice Hockey club receiving the largest amount at $11,500 each. They are followed closely by the Central Organization of Latin American Dance and Habitat for Humanity at $10,950 and $10,850 respectively.
“We have this huge new chunk of money now, so we look favorably on requests for weekend events and club events,” Froning said.
Froning admits that checking up on how the clubs have spent that money is something that has “fallen by the wayside” and hopes to change that this semester.
“I want to be a more active president than I feel some were in the past,” Froning said. “I want to keep it business and get rid of some of the bickering problems we’ve had.”
Javier Fernandez, chair of SGA promotions, said he is also looking forward to a number of new events to keep students on campus over the weekends.
“The pep rally needs to be a lot bigger than it has been,” Fernandez said. “SGA can help cosponsor a lot of new events hopefully and make kids actually want to hang out here.”
The SGA is also taking part in a new social networking Web site, collegiatelink.net, which allows clubs to budget online, reach each other, schedule events and recruit new members.
The site, which Froning says is “like Facebook for clubs,” will take six to eight weeks to be fully implemented.
Another of Froning’s main focuses is the current advising system. He wants students of all backgrounds to have accessible and effective advising.
“Some of our students haven’t been in school for 10 years or so, and it’s time for our advising to step up and help these people figure out how to finish their education,” he said.
The list of goals, a couple already checked off, is daunting. For Froning and his senators, however, it is worth the challenge.
“We just want people to know who we are, know our faces,” he said. “We just want to be the strongest SGA yet.”
The Recorder asked CCSU students if they had experienced any difficulties in paying for tuition or books. For them, footing college bills means less luxury items.
Celebration Includes Panel with First Openly Gay Massachusetts State Senator
By Matt Kiernan
An establishment long time coming, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender center opened last Wednesday in the student center in hopes to create resources for these students and their promotion into a more accepting campus.
The purpose of the LGBT center, which will be located on the third floor of the Student Center, is to provide support for students whether it’s for social problems or with their academics. The center is planned to create an outreach for the community outside the campus and to show an example of acceptance for people of all different backgrounds.
The opening of center was welcomed by guest speaker and former Massachusetts Senator Cheryl Jacques along with a panel discussion of faculty ,and leaders of the campus.
A point Jacques emphasized during her speech at Alumni Hall was that, although, social progress has been made over the years, there are still barriers that need to be knocked down before total acceptance of people of any minority group can be achieved.
“Change will come quicker when people speak their views on equality,” said Jacques in the hope that supporters will be more open to explaining their opinions on gay rights to others.
The panel discussion was held by Interim Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Laura Tordenti, Director of Diversity and Equity Dr. Moises Salinas, associate professor of psychology Dr. Joanne DiPlacido and CCSU student Kasey Gordon who was a leader in bringing the center together.
The panel discussed with Jacques the formation of the center and the difficulties members of the gay community face as well as answered questions from the audience.
A problem that many gay couples must deal with is how the government doesn’t give them the tax breaks that heterosexual couples receive.
“In the eyes of the federal government, we are not married,” said DiPlacido while talking about the marriage she has with her partner.
Homosexuals who get married must pay taxes as if they live indepenently and can also be excluded from benefits such as Social Security.
Jacques cited that over half of the Fortune 500 companies provide domestic partnership benefits. This is because the companies realize that in order to have the brightest employees they must be accepting of all groups.
Discrimination against LGBT students and other minority populations on campus can be seen through occurrences that corresponds with dorm assignments.
Tordenti said some parents use Facebook as a tool for seeing their child’s roommate assignment and call ResLife to have their roommate changed if they “look gay” or are of a minority group.
Jacques pointed out that throughout history, the country has dealt with social injustices that has spanned through all different groups. Problems such as women not being able to serve as jurors up until the 1970s as well as racism that continuing to this day are things many people have struggled with.
The center doesn’t yet have a full-time employee, but plans to have student assistants and possibly a full-time university employee. CCSU is the first of the universities in the CSU system to have a LGBT center.
There are no official plans for events by the center, although PRIDE, the campus LGBT organization, will be putting on a masquerade ball for drag queens and kings.
By Matt Kiernan
CCSU participated in Suicide Prevention Day for the first time last Thursday- an international event that seeks to spread awareness of signs of depression and suicidal tendencies in themselves and others.
CCSU hopes the event will catch on at the other CSU schools.
“We’re looking for the warning signs of depression and suicidal thoughts so we can provide students ways for getting help,” said Associate Director of the Counseling and Wellness Center Victoria Ginter.
Students who wanted to analyze their own behavior last Thursday were given questionnaires that touched upon subjects ranging from if their moods changed quickly from day to day to whether they felt consistently depressed.
The Counseling and Wellness Center tabled last Thursday outside Memorial Hall to condust tests with students.
If the analysis shows that there are signs of depression or suicidal thoughts, students are asked if they’d like to seek additional information for treatment.
“The test is given from the Question Persuade Refer Institute and is used to learn the signs a student may have of depression,” said Meagan Wentz, wellness program administrator.
The day, which was put together by the Natural Helpers and Director of the Counseling and Wellness Center Timothy Corbitt, was held on campus in coordination with World Suicide Prevention Day. The analysis materials were paid for by a suicide prevention grant the university received.
Establishment of the Suicide Prevention Day was planned to be a piloted outreach into the rest of the CSU system. The day is a relatively new idea in addition to depression screenings.
Students who may have issues with depression or feel they need treatment can visit the Counseling and Wellness Center to meet with counselors who can listen to what they have to say and go on from there if treatment is necessary.
Depression in college students may be caused by being away from home or adjusting to new surrounding, among a variety of other college-specific causes.
If students know someone who may be suicidal, they are urged to seek help and avoid leaving them alone. Some risk factors of suicide may be a family history, family violence or depression, among other things.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the use of a psychotherapy called cognitive therapy has reduced the chances of repeated suicide attempts by 50 percent. People vary with illnesses and may have different types of depression, which dictates the type of treatment.
The Counseling and Wellness Center is located in Marcus White and is open to all students seeking help for themselves or for others.
By Terence Stewart
After two years in the making, the Counseling and Wellness Center has finally published “Helping Students in Distress,” its first guide that teaches faculty and staff how to respond to troubled students who pose a safety threat to themselves and other people.
The 33-page guide also provides information on more than 20 types of emotionally and psychologically distressed students, including depressed, suicidal or violent students, and step-by-step instructions on how to assist each type before their condition worsens.
According to Timothy Corbitt, the director of the Counseling and Wellness Center and the driving force behind the book, the idea to create “Helping Students in Distress” was sparked by the deadly shootings that occurred at Virginia Tech in2007.
Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech student responsible for killing 32 students and wounding many others, had a history of severe emotional and mental disorders.
“When [the Virginia Tech shooting] happened,” said Corbitt, “that caused campuses across the country to evaluate what we were doing and how we could better understand students and the warnings signs, and put together processes that would help to intervene early before a catastrophe or tragedy happens.”
Corbitt said the intervention process must include faculty and staff because they’re often the first individuals to get a glimpse of a troubled student. In addition, faculty and staff are often the first people distressed students reach out to for help.
Corbitt stressed that it’s important for faculty and staff to pay attention to the red flags.
According to Lucinda Roy, the former chair of Virginia Tech’s English department and Cho’s former tutor, the Virginia Tech massacre could have been prevented if administrators did not overlook the warning signs and the severity of Cho’s illnesses.
Although CCSU has not experienced anything similar to the Virgina Tech shooting, there have been high profile incidents in which professors responded to what they thought were warning signs of a troubled student.
Last year, Paula Anderson, a communication professor at CCSU, indirectly informed campus police after a student gave a supposedly unsettling presentation on why students and professors should be allowed to carry concealed firearms on campus.
Anderson told The Recorder it was her responsibility as a teacher to protect the well-being of students and the campus community at all times.
Students’ reaction to “Helping Students in Distress” has been positive so far.
“I think it’s a good idea that the school is taking proactive steps to help and protect students,” said Gabby Hanson, CCSU ‘13. “It shows that the university actually cares about them.”
Other students said they feel safe on campus and aren’t concerned about violence in or outside the classroom.
According to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education, CCSU maintains a safe campus by the numbers. There were no incidents of murder, manslaughter or aggravated assault at CCSU from 2005 to 2007.
Corbitt said the university is considering implementing a formal training session that teaches faculty and staff how to handle distressed students.
Copies of “Helping Students in Distress” will be distributed to all faculty and staff members in the next few weeks. There’s also an online version available on the Counseling and Wellness Center’s Web site.
Students Try Out Alternatives to Hardcopy Textbooks
By Matt Kiernan
The rise of the electronic book sales industry provides an alternative for students looking to save money, but raises questions as to whether money and convenience can compete with text in the hardcopy format.
“I think they’re great in the beginning because they’re cheaper, but in the long-run not so much because students don’t realize they can’t return electronic books and money is something most college students need to save for the next semester,” said bookstore employee Kristyne Hall, CCSU ‘11.
E-books have seen a major increase in popularity rising consistently since 2006, with wholesale revenues of $37.6 million for the second quarter of 2009 in the U.S. alone, according to the International Digital Publishing Forum. IDPF keeps track of revenues for e-books quarterly.
“Books are easier to read, but books online or on the computer can be great because they’re right there in front of you for when you’re sitting at your computer so it has the benefit of being convenient,” said Jacqueline Amburn, CCSU ‘11.
Local book sellers that sell textbooks are seeing the demand from students for e-books. Although students can’t return e-books for their money back, the format is a way for students to save money, it also creates other problems, such as convenience of note-taking.
“I always liked the hardcopy versions because you can make notes in the margins, plus e-chapters make it necessary for someone to have a computer,” said freshman Zack Heidorn, an employee of Another Bookstore near the CCSU campus.
Some online applications and devices such as Amazon.com’s Kindle are a new format for downloading books to student’s computers and having the ability to make notes on each page. There have been some problems with the application, though, such as when a 17-year-old high school student sued amazon.com this year for deleting the book 1984 from their book archives, causing the student to lose all of his notes.
A way to counterbalance the need to buy books in hardcopy or electronic format is by using Web sites such as chegg.com that allow students to rent textbooks over the internet at around half the price and to return them in the mail.
While there are benefits of convenience for students buying e-books, the negatives can cause their fair share of problems. Some students may find reading a book on their computer can be uncomfortable and cause pain in their eyes from staring at a screen.
The CCSU and Another Bookstore will be selling textbooks in both formats to please customers of different preferences.
By Matt Kiernan
Alumni Hall held an almost full-capacity crowd when President Jack Miller presented his opening speech for the new school year, which focused on community outreach and highlighting major changes over the years.
Miller was eager to congratulate the university on the progress it has made in the past few years since he arrived at the school. He spent much of his address reviewing the differences that have come about in that span of time and reinforcing the fact that the university still has much to do in the way of improving.
“When I first arrived I saw a campus with great strengths, great potential and weaknesses,” said Miller.
Miller said he moved to a school that had the characteristics of a soon-to-be outstanding school, but needed improvements such as renovations of buildings and graduation rate increases. He described CCSU as having wonderful faculty and excellent programs but with a campus that needed a good polishing and system that needed changes for various subject matters.
“If you put it all together, there was a vision and plans,” said Miller.
New Britain Mayor Timothy Stewart spent some of his time at the lecturn discussing the strong improvements that the university has made with its “Town/Gown” relations with the city of New Britain. Many of the problems that were straining relations between the two entities had to do with underage drinking and loud partying by students living in the area surrounding the campus.
While evidence of improving relations between the university and the surrounding neighborhoods is mainly anecdotal, Miller used statistics to detail the changes between 2009 and years past.
He said that there was $27 million worth of improvements used for the physical plant and infrastructure of the campus; an increase of six-year graduation rates from the ’05-’06 year’s 40 percent to the ’08-’09 year’s 46 percent and external funding grants being increased from $2,433,000 to $4,300,000 in that same time frame.
A main topic of concern continues to be financial aid, but that has also seen improvement with greater funding. Miller reassured those who think there isn’t enough financial aid for students by saying the funding rose from $52.7 million to $67.2 million and that there’s still money to be given for scholarships and loans.
New Britain Superintendent of Schools Doris Kurtz brought forward the issue of students not graduating on time, a main concern for the university. She emphasized that when students graduate from high school; they need to have been given the skills necessary to prepare them for college.
“Part of the reason they don’t graduate is because they’re not well prepared enough and have to take remedial classes,” said Kurtz.
The deputy director of the New Britain Museum of American Art Maura O’Shea and communications professor and director of the University Museum Collaborative Karen Ritzenhoff discussed past experiences they have had with the university and the NBMAA working together to hold exhibits. O’Shea even presented Provost Carl Lovitt with a dress made of canvas bags that a student made.
President Miller presented the Distinguished Service Award to Associate Vice President of Institutional Advancement Nick Pettinico in honor of the services he’s provided to the university over the 25 years he’s spent there. Although Mr. Pettinico couldn’t be at the meeting to accept the award, he was thanked for going out of his way to improve the university by doing such things as organizing the Vance Lecture series, Honorary Doctorates and CSU professor ceremonies.
While the budget for CCSU is always a topic of discussion on the campus and at meetings, the President chose not to cover the topic in length at this particular meeting.
President Miller ended the meeting by expressing his belief that he’s convinced CCSU will be an outstanding university in the years to come.
By Melissa Traynor
In his first letter to students as the university’s new Health Service Director, Christopher R. Diamond, M.D. directly addressed plans to handle H1N1 virus, or swine flu, and urged students to exercise common sanitary measures.
“We’re hyper vigilant, but we’re also rational,” said Diamond, who began his position during the summer. “We’re not going to overreact or under react.”
CCSU has also added a new page to the university’s Health Service Web site outlining suggested precautions for avoiding spread of the flu, including encouraging students to stay home if they come down with a fever or experience other flu-like symptoms.
“All flu types are potentially dangerous; we just don’t know how this one is going to react,” he said.
Diamond said that this season will see the usual symptoms, but headaches, stomach pains and sore throat may also accompany the H1N1 flu.
The Web page also notes that the university will distribute two types of flu vaccinations as they become available, expected in September.
“The main thing about this is influenza doesn’t have a great treatment. The medicines we have reduce length of illness by a couple of days,” Diamond said. “We save those for people moderately or severely ill, in the hospital or are heading to hospital or people who have other illnesses, such as asthma.”
In the email to students, he said that university Health Service is training residence hall staff to be prepared for H1N1 and that individual hand sanitizers will be distributed as well as installed in buildings on campus. By the first day of class, the Student Center dispensers were installed on walls near main doors.
He also noted in the email that the university has “established temporary housing apart from residence halls for student who are ill and unable to return home conveniently, principally our international students and those whose homes are in other states,” which, in effect, may serve as a quarantined area.
Diamond said the Health Service office will become a place for ill students to stay if they are being picked up. Including himself, Diamond said they have three full-time staff and they are looking into assistance after-hours or whether regular hours will be expanded should the situation call for it.
“Working hard to have telephone triage,” he said.
The Health Service Director explained that the university’s aim is to prevent the all types of the flu, not to single out or only treat H1N1. In terms of treating students who become ill with the H1N1 strain, performing a test to confirm the case will not aid recovery and results may take a week to determine.
It is suggested that students who experience flu-like symptoms contact university Health Service and schedule the next available appointment if they cannot be seen by a health professional that day or at the least leave message with the office concerning their condition. Diamond said he and his staff are working to help students wait until the later appointment.
While treating all students with flu-like symptoms and keeping a steady watch on the situation at CCSU, Diamond was confident.
“The importance is on people taking care of themselves,” he said.
By Matt Kiernan
With progress made over the summer, the Center for Advising and Career Exploration will be fully operational for the fall semester to advise first-time students and those who are unsure of what they’d like to pursue.
“Our plan is to give all entering first-time students and those changing their major advisement and to figure out why they’re changing and what are the factors involved,” said newly appointed to the position Director Kenneth Poppe of the advisement center.
There will be an online test given to all first-time students called the Sigi 3 that will highlight what the student’s possible interests are and the fields that they may be interested in. The test will be required and will be used to give students a clearer idea of job positions they could see themselves working in earlier on in their time at CCSU.
“We’re going to review that assessment and once we have worked with the students and have met, we’ll hand them to their department and school-based advising center,” said Poppe.
The new center will be a combination of the former advising center and career services and will have eight advisers to help students with deciding their possible career paths along with questions they may have. The students who will need to spend time at the center will include first-time, transfer and continuing students who are undeclared.
“We’re trying to adapt the academics and continue to do the co-ops to help their careers while maintaining job listings and career fairs,” said Provost Carl Lovitt.
The ad-hoc committee that was in place to help monitor the beginning processes of the new center was a formation of faculty members but will now with the hopes of the university be replaced by a university council that will include employees, SGA and faculty to monitor the center.
Over the summer, Poppe attended the orientation days to inform new students of the formation of the new advising center and give them an idea of what the system is in place for. According to the provost, a personal pride of the university is that it insures all students have a 15-credit schedule to make sure they’re on their way to graduating on time.
A factor involved in creation of the Center for Advising was time constraints because it was required to be fully operational by the fall semester.
“Right now I think it’s taken them longer to get this up and running than I thought they would,” said associate professor of English Dr. Barrington.
While there are expected to be approximately 1,300 first-time students as well as transfer and continuing students, the center for advisement remains positive that they can handle the load.
“We will do it. This is our charge,” said Poppe.
Even though the center will be functional for the fall semester, there are expected to be some problems along the way. Members of the advising center will be looking at problems and changes that may need to be made to improve the center.
“We’re trying the best we can to get it right the first time but inevitably there will be some problems,” said Lovitt.
The school will be encouraging students in addition to the search for jobs and academic schooling to have interest in internships or possible voluntary work. While learning about jobs through academic classes is important, the application of the academics in real-life instances can be equally valuable.
The Internet system Central Connections will still be used to list job postings and internships.
The Center for Advising and Career Exploration will be renovated at its Willard 100 location.