By Tonya Malinowski
Congressman Christopher Murphy came to CCSU Friday to discuss the Fiscal Aid and Responsibility Act passed by the House of Representatives this week.
The bill allocates $87 billion over ten years in federal funding for higher education and an increase for Pell grants and is the largest investment in student aid in the history of the United States.
“As a Connecticut resident who is currently paying back student loans, my wife and I both understand the burden of student loans on young families,” said Murphy, representative of Connecticut’s fifth district.
The bill removes subsidy programs through private lenders and instead allows student loans to go directly through the government. Because the government no longer has to pay these subsidies, the savings go directly back into higher education.
“It’s done through absolutely no cost to the taxpayers of this country,” said Murphy. “It also puts the $10 billion left over back into the deficit.”
The Pell Grant, currently capped at $5,350 per student per academic year will be raised to $5,500 next year and nearly $7,000 by 2019. It also indexes the grant to the cost of living, with the maximum rising along with the Consumer Price Index plus an additional one percent.
“We pat the House of Representatives on the back for helping make college more affordable,” said Dennis Williams, associate director of financial aid.
The bill passed by a 253 to 171 vote and is expected to pass through senate rather quickly. All colleges would then be required to have the direct loan program in use by July 1, 2010.
Ten million dollars of the act is reserved exclusively for community college funding, and another $10 billion for early childhood education programs.
Murphy, in his second term as congressman, believes that there need to be even more colleges investing in this program and even more federal funding given to states to help control the price of tuition at public universities.“I don’t think there even is a downside to this,” Murphy said. “I hope with this we can get more students through the doors here at CCSU.”
Subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans are maintained by the act, but the interest rates will become fixed at 3.4 percent.
“I’m amazed at what it’s doing,” Student Government Association President Andrew Froning said. “It will make FAFSA so much easier and help students be able to actually get through it and be able to access that money.”
The bill also has allotments for tuition abatement and scholarships for veterans along with the increase in funding for the Pell Grant, which currently helps over 12,000 students in the state Connecticut.
Murphy said the most important thing is being proactive in getting the bill passed by Senate and getting into action as quickly as possible.
“We will not just keep our fingers crossed that this bill passes,” he said.
This is part of a weekly photo feature. If you would like to submit photos from around the CCSU campus, send high resolution images to our Photo Editor, Edward Gaug at firstname.lastname@example.org and include your name, year in college and a caption for your photo.
By Matt Kiernan
Professor and Dance Program Director Catherine J. Fellows has been awarded the 2009 Distinguished Achievement Award by the Connecticut Dance Alliance for the contributions she’s provided to the art of dancing.
“It’s very interesting to win an award for what you love to do so it was very easy,” said Fellows.
The award of prestigious acclaim is only given to a select number of members in the dance community and has only been awarded to 17 others since the organization’s establishment in 1999.
Much of the dance program at CCSU has been designed by Fellows since she became a full-time faculty member in 1976. She has dedicated herself to choreography and teaching students the different forms of dance while putting together performances.
“What makes me the happiest is being able to go in and work with our students,” she said.
She asserts that art is a necessity and not a luxury and that being able to move around should make all people happy. Being happy and healthy are the two things she feels people need to have a successful life and that by carrying dancing into the world it will bring balance into it.
Fellows is one of the three awardees honored, the other two being prominent members of the field of dance Kathy Borteck Gersten and Olivia Sabulao Llano-Davis. Gersten is the Associate Artistic Director of the Judy Dworin Performance Ensemble in Hartford and Davis is the Artistic Director of Spectrum in Motion Dance Theater Ensemble in Hartford and Stretching for Life Dance Program.
While making attempts at improving the education system, Fellows is on the CT Dance Task Force Committee, which worked for the approval of CT Dance Teacher Certification. CCSU is a school that offers the certification and many of the students who graduate pursue a career in teaching dance in the New England area.
Performances in the CCSU dance works Gratitude and Migrant Mother have included Fellows. Her choreography skills have led her to create her own ballets that include Barefoot and Fullswing.
Bringing outside sources and teachers has been a major part in the contributions that she’s brought to the school. Renowned dancers and choreographers have made appearances at the university that include the Martha Graham Dance Ensemble, Merce Cunningham and Hubbard Street.
Included in the group of past winners of the award are Jennifer Tipton, a renowned master of lighting for theatre stages and Martha Myers who has been a host of the American Dance Festival.
The ceremony was held on Sep. 19 at the Mort and Irma Handle Performing Arts Center in Hartford.
In the early hours of Sept. 10, both Oneillia J. Campbell, 20, and Tameika Davis, 18, were arrested for breach of peace. They were scheduled to appeal in court on Sept. 18.
Ramono M. Cancel, 47, was charged with operating an unregistered vehicle, improper use of marker/license/registration, no insurance and operating without a license on Sept. 16.
On Sept. 13, Daniel J. Galvin, 18, was charged with creating a public disturbance. At press time, a court date has not been set.
Chaunte Green, 21, was arrested on Sept. 12 for breach of peace. She was schedule to appear on Sept. 18.
Nana O. Korankye, 22, was charged with operating an unregistered vehicle, misuse of plates, no insurance and operating under suspension on Sept. 14.
On Sept. 13, Daniel Joseph Rossley, 20, was arrested for breach of peace and interfering with an officer. He was scheduled to appear on Sept. 21.
Asia L. Smith, 20, was arrested on Sept. 13 for assault in the third degree. Smith was scheduled to appear Sept. 21.
By Tonya Malinowski and Melissa Traynor
A former CCSU cross country athlete has filed a lawsuit against the university, seeking at least $15,000 in damages after his coach allegedly made him drink blood and, along with teammates, harassed him on several other occasions from 2005 to 2008.
Charles Ngetich, a Kenyan student studying in the United States on a student visa, was attending Central on full NCAA scholarship. He was withdrawn from the university in the beginning of this academic semester due to outstanding loans after he was removed from the track team and lost his scholarship in fall 2007.
According to a source close to the matter, who only agreed to speak to The Recorder on condition of anonymity, Ngetich approached the CCSU Office of Diversity and Equity in January 2009 due to financial stress. The source said Ngetich originally went to the office because he was afraid he could not pay for tuition without a scholarship.
The CCSU office of Diversity is a program for monitoring affirmative action procedures on campus. Dr. Moises Salinas, CCSU’s chief diversity officer, refused to comment.
When the Office of Diversity’s staff became concerned and decided to press the issue further for investigation, Ngetich opened up and reported that he was harassed by former track and cross country coach George Kawecki. The coach, who retired this past summer after a 23-year career with track and field and cross country at CCSU, is listed as another defendant in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit, which was filed on Sept. 14 in the New Britain Superior Court, details a series of interactions between Ngetich, Kawecki and other cross country team members from 2005 to 2007, when Ngetich was kicked off the cross country team.
Ngetich’s attorney Josephine Miller could not be reached for comment.
According to the lawsuit, around October or November of 2005, Kawecki told Ngetich that he saw a documentary where an ethnic group in Kenya drank blood as a tribal ritual and would like to see him drink blood. Ngetich refused, and two weeks later Kawecki produced a cup of blood at a team meeting, telling Ngetich to drink it because he was “too thin [and] needed calcium.”
Feeling he had no other option, Ngetich drank the blood in the presence of Kawecki and approximately 10 other team members. In the following weeks, Kawecki gave Ngetich additional bottles of blood to take home and drink, but Ngetich affirms that he only discarded the bottles.
The lawsuit also states that Kawecki continued to harass or publicly embarrass Ngetich and outlined specific incidents that reach beyond December 2006. At a team practice, a former female teammate had a puppy on a leash. Kawecki allegedly pointed to the puppy and asked Ngetich, “How many people can you feed with this?”
Also cited in the suit is an incident that occurred at a cross country team barbecue at Kawecki’s home in New Britain, where a hot dog was dropped on the ground and a member of the team said “he’s from Africa – Charles can eat that.”
The source close to Ngetich’s case stated that Ngetich’s bouts of depression and declining performance in academics and on the cross country team is a direct result of the two and a half years of abuse and embarrassment by Kawecki.
When the athletics department became concerned, they removed Ngetich from the cross country team through Kawecki in the fall of 2007. The source said that when they had reason enough to kick him off the team, it became convenient for the department to “throw him away like a piece of garbage.”
With the exception of directing inquiries to university spokesperson Mark McLaughlin, administrative officials, including the office of Student Affairs and those surrounding, have been instructed not to speak to press regarding the issue.
CCSU’s marketing and communications office released a statement saying that because CCSU is committed to diversity, they are “especially pained” that they cannot comment on the matter and have redirected the issue to the Attorney General’s office.
“The University and its employees are bound by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, and we cannot and should not violate the student’s right to privacy,” McLaughlin’s email read. “…We welcome this process through which all of the facts of the case will come out.”
The suit was served on the Attorney General’s Office Sept. 4, the same day that Ngetich was withdrawn from all of his classes.
Though the lawsuit made its way to Blumenthal’s office earlier, the Attorney General said last Friday that his office had not yet committed to looking into it.
“We haven’t yet become involved or reviewed the legal papers, ” Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said. “We have no plans to make a statement.”
The lawsuit states that Ngetich has an East Hartford address. If he was not withdrawn from the university this semester, Ngetich would have been on course to graduate in May 2010.
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.