Category Archives: News

Diversity A Constant Work in Progress

Diversity and issues of prejudice still remain prevalent at Central Connecticut State University, despite the July publication of a recommendation report by the Blue Ribbon Commission on Diversity.

The commission, formed in direct response to two controversial publications by The Recorder, identified the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community on campus as the most marginalized group due to lack of counseling and support programs and prejudice by other students.

“We still need to make some changes in how we take care of students,” said Dr. Antonio Garcia- Lozada, university ombudsperson. “I believe [GLBT students] still feel isolated and disconnected here.” The One-In-Ten Committee, formed by members of the PRIDE club to work more closely with administration, published a goals andmission statement in September.

The list of goals includea floor specifically for GLBT students that include gender- neutral bathrooms.

“The past couple of years, we have really been fighting for a lot of things,” said Melissa Cordner, president of PRIDE. “We need a place to go and just be ourselves.”

“Lack of coordination has resulted in a series of activities and responses that are not sustainable and have no real way of impacting a longer term solution,” the Blue Ribbon Commission’s report stated. In an effort to coordinate a higher-profile activity, CCSU is discussing the prospect of a Lavender Graduation, a commencement reception specifically honoring GLBT graduates.

“Any constituent group that has an identity and wants to celebrate it is great,” said Dr. Laura Tordenti, Vice- President of Student Affairs. “They have worked really hard for this.” The issue of diversity on campus runs deeper than the GLBT community, however.

The Blue Ribbon Report also identified African- American and Latino isolation on campus, and recommended the Provost review allocation of all faculty assignments to ensure equity in race, ethnicity, and gender. The Commission also suggested that CCSU look for opportunities of community outreach to help extend the university to diverse surrounding areas, such as New Britain and Hartford.

About 6 percent of Central’s 9,700 undergraduates are Latino. In Diversity A Constant Work in Progress the surrounding city of New Britain, 27 percent of its 71,500 residents are Hispanic.

“This University needs to create a stronger connection with the outside community,” said Garcia- Lozada, “but I don’t think President Miller asked me to do this because I am Latino.”

In addition to bigotry from the student body, many students have faced discrimination from faculty as well.

One-In-Ten’s goal statement expressed the need for a GLBT Center, set to open soon, because the Counseling and Wellness Center does not have adequate information on sexuality and coming out. Cordner said the addition of the GLBT Center is a huge victory for PRIDE, who has been pushing for its creation for several years.

“To have that taken off our shoulders is huge,” she said. “We can actually just be students again.”

Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Moises Salinas, with cooperation from Garcia-Lozada, has created nine specific task forces to assess diversity and acceptance of different groups on campus. They are to publish their findings at the end of the spring semester.

Although Central has made some improvement toward acceptance and diversity, both Garcia- Lozada and Tordenti admit there is still a long way to go in order to be seen as a truly diversified campus.

“I’m not sure when we will know we have arrived,” said Tordenti. “It is something we need to continually work on.”




TONYA MALiNOwSKi Staff writer

Ned Lamont Discusses Financial Threats, War

In a discussion surrounding President Barack Obama’s first 30 days in office and ties between war and looming threats an economic depression, Ned Lamont examined these issue on a local scale.

Last Wednesday, Lamont, a lecturer at CCSU and a businessman who unsuccessfully ran against Joseph Lieberman for the U.S. Senate seat in 2006, spoke to a large crowd packed inside Marcus White Hall’s living room.

“We don’t want police and teachers laidoff,” said Lamont. Lamont expressed the importance of how people are being affected, especially those needed to maintain a structured society.

He also cautioned against a slippery slope, in which spending or cutting funds should be approached carefully and added that he was disappointed in Governor Jodi Rell’s announced budget plan. Lamont spoke about how Connecticut was once classified as a very wealthy state.

Although, the state may be suffering less than others, Lamont pointed out that there is a lack of new jobs. When asked why it is important for CCSU students to be aware of Obama’s administration, budget changes and their education, Lamont said that it will come back to CCSU students.

“It’s about how the budget will impact your tuition, how it will impact if your professor would be there or not next year,” he said. “It is important to know what is going on with the Obama administration,” said

Erika Dawson, 34, who is a CCSU senior and political science and social work major. As a proud Obama supporter, she feels the need to be aware of changes in the country and how it impacts her. Laid-off from work approximately two years ago, Dawson returned to school in hope of a better future.

“It’s hard – real hard,” added Dawson who is a mother of a 10- and 3-year-old. Dawson talked about cutbacks she has had to make in groceries and other expenses.

“You have to think twice before getting in that car and where you are going,” said Dawson. Lamont also discussed the foreign policy issue that President Obama has inherited and the hope to reduce violence in Iraq, while balancing America’s financial problems.

As an example of this hope, Lamont pointed out the peaceful election in which Iraqis voted for provincial councils and that they are taking part in the transformation. Lamont shared that Obama is sending 17,000 troops to Afghanistan, but raised the question of how to approach the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. He volunteered his opinion that Obama’s intentions are to protect Kabul and keep al Qaeda out.

“Obama is ready, committed to take on war,” said Lamont. “It will be his war, Obama’s war.


– Ariana Valentin,  Asst. News

On Average, Residents Maintain Higher GPAs Than Commuters

The difference between a dorm full of friends and a comfortable home can alter CCSU students’ grade point averages drastically.

Braden Hosch, Director of Institutional Research and Assessment at CCSU, determined which group was responsible for recording higher GPAs on average between on-campus students and commuters.

With the most recent study of GPA comparisons, on-campus students excel on paper slightly more in terms of their average GPAs.

“Part-time students are excluded, since they’re not supposed to live in housing,” Hosch said. “And parttime students tend to be older (older students earn higher grades).”

First-year students with zero to 25 credits who lived on-campus in Fall 2008 had an average GPA of 2.73, where first-year commuters had an average GPA of 2.51.

The trend continues with upperclassmen as well, though, in contrast, seniors who lived on-campus averaged a 3.06 GPA, where commuters maintained a 3.08. A variable in this comparison lies in the ratio of residents to commuter. There were 2,037 students living on campus last semester and  5,248 students that lived offcampus.

“It is only possible to say that higher GPAs are associated with campus housing, not that the campus housing causes the higher grades,” Hosch said.

He explained that the cause of the higher GPAs for underclassmen residents could depend on the type of student.

“Students who live in campus housing tend to want a more traditional college experience… and students who live off-campus tend to work more hours,” he said.

Kara LaBissoniere, 19, and an elementary education major, commutes to CCSU. A second semester sophomore, she has worked throughout her entire college career so far, and has managed to maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.7.

“Right now, I’m just a waitress at Rick’s on 5 in Wallingford; however, at one time I did have three jobs.” She doesn’t work every day at Rick’s, but when she had the three jobs as a second-semester freshman, she struggled to juggle her work hours with time for homework.

“I’m too close to school already; there’s no need to live at school if I only have to drive a few minutes to get here,” she replied, when asked if she would ever live on campus.

Katrina Joerg, 20 and an elementary education math major, is an on-campus student who enjoys living in her dorm.

“My parents told me I had to live on campus the first semester and if I didn’t like it, then I could commute. I’m glad I lived here,” she went on to say. With an average GPA of 2.9, she works every night on her homework.

“I had a rough first semester trying to get comfortable with the college setting,” Joerg said. Most first year students do have trouble when coping with being away from home, but she continued through it.

Joerg works at Lego in Enfield, Conn. on Sundays and sometimes gets extra hours from coworkers.

Hosch mentioned that “it is quite possible that when CCSU does build more housing, we will also see grades increase slightly.”


-Micahel Torelli, Special to The Recorder

Shepard’s Mother Encourages Awareness

Judy Shepard Advocates for Openness of Mind and Civil Rights

Judy Shepard of the Matthew Shepard Foundation gave a speech to discuss gay rights while relating it to the death of her son and advised people who aren’t sure how to open up about being gay.

The Alumni hall was packed with people who came to see Matthew Shepard’s mother tell her story, which was put on by CCSU along with President Miller and P.R.I.DE.

“You must tell your stories or else people will go back to the stereotypes,” Shepard warned. Shepard said that the word “gay” can be used as a derogatory word, yet people usually get away with it without repercussions.

“This is a civil rights issue, plain and simple,” said Shepard.

Matthew Shepard, who died at the age of 21, was tortured and beaten by Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney, who both later received life sentences in prison. Shepard met the two one night in October, 1998 in
a bar in Laramie, Wyo. and was kidnapped. Shepard was beaten into a coma and tied to a fence to die. After he was discovered 18 hours later, he laid in a hospital bed for days where he died after receiving life support.

Judy Shepard described the sight of her son lying in a hospital bed with bandages all over him and tubes running throughout his body. She told of the hours spent by Matthew’s bedside and the pain that Matthew’s younger brother Logan was going through seeing his brother struggling to live.

Shepard encouraged the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer members of the audience to tell friends and family or they run the risk of outing by someone else. She said if she and her husband Dennis weretold Matthew was gay the day of the incident, it would have killed them because they would have known that Matthew didn’t feel he could open up to his family.

“That’s the way you make change, by educating people on what you don’t have,” said Shepard.

She encouraged each LGBTQ person to educate others and become a spokesperson for the LGBTQ community on every level – at home, school, or the office.

Shepard said that Matthew at first said he would have taken a pill so he didn’t have to be different, but later decided it wasn’t true and that he loved his life the way it was.

“That’s the best thing you can do is be you,” said Shepard.

Shepard told the LGBTQ members of the audience that they needed to remind their families that they’re gay because friends and family may tend to forget. She told them to expose themselves for who they truly were to their friends and family and use that awareness to push for civil rights.

Matthew was a student at the University of Wyoming and majored in political science after having years of interest in current events and politics. Shepard’s mother said this started when he was a child and was described as a bright individual who was accepting of everyone.

“He knew that judging and stereotyping was a loss of an opportunity,” said Shepard.

“What makes us individuals is how we live our lives,” said Shepard.

Shepard also said that same-sex couples should have the right to get married and that it’s no different from any other marriage.

Shepard said that she didn’t blame Henderson and McKinney for the death of her son, but blamed society for making people think it was fine to commit such crimes.

-Matthew Kiernan, News Editor:

Finkelstein Discusses Israel’s Motives

The tragedies in Gaza have been impossible not to notice in the past few years.

Norman Finkelstein spoke in front of a full house in Founders Hall on the CCSU campus last Thursday about state terrorism in the Middle East, including the recent massacre in Gaza, as Finkelstein referred to the these events.

In addition to clarifying what happened during that “awful day”, the well-known American political scientist, who specializes in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, also detailed the history of the conflict and events leading up to where things are

“The Palestinians have a stronger case than Israel to resort to selfdefense,” Finkelstein said to an eager crowd in reference to Israel’s “self defense” explanation of their December attack in Gaza. “That’s common sense.”

Finkelstein, who is known for his anti-Israeli viewpoints, claimed that what happened to Gaza was the inevitable aftermath of what happened in Lebanon in 2006.

“It had nothing to do with elections,” Finkelstein said.

Finkelstein likened the recent conflict to something as unfair as “a Sherman tank rolling through a schoolyard and blowtorching the kids.”

When asked about what Israel’s end goal could be, Finkelstein offered up the difference between the Israeli’s ideal and practical solutions.

“Ideal is that the Arabs just vanish. Practical is probably, among several possibilities, to keep pounding them enough to abject submission,” said Finkelstein.

Other possibilities Finkelstein mentioned as Israel’s goals included making conditions intolerable enough that over time the Palestinians gradually leave.

Finkelstein didn’t hold back on criticism of other voices on the situation. He criticized columnist Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, who referred to Israel’s actions in 2006 as “educating Hamas”.

“That’s called terrorism,” said Finkelstein.

The controversial speaker wasn’t without his combatants. Dniety Schachar Siman-Tov, who claimed to be a former professor at the University of Haifa in Israel, spoke up during the early portions of Finkelstein’s lecture, raising the tensions in the room. When Siman-Tov received the chance to speak during the question and answer portion of the event, she was met with a restless crowd who eventually drowned her out.

Siman-Tov was upset with the way Finkelstein portrayed Israelis as “monsters”.

Finkelstein touched on issues closer to home when he brought up the new Obama administration. He said that the recent statements made by President Obama concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were “very discouraging.” According to Finkelstein, President Obama says they will always defend Israel’s right to defend themselves against legitimate threats.

“Don’t Palestinians have the right to defend themselves from people who steal their land?” Finkelstein questioned. “Should we disarm Hamas so next time the kill/death ratio is 1,300 to 0?” asked Finkelstein.

Kaylin Brennan, a senior at Bacon Academy in Colchester, went to the lecture on her own after a teacher suggested the event to her class.

“I really feel uneducated sometimes,” Brennan said of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “I wanted to learn about what’s going on.”

Dr. Evelyn Newman Phillips, director of international studies and anthropology at CCSU, was one of the professors responsible for bringing Finkelstein to campus as part of the continuing state terrorism lecture series. Phillips cited Finkelstein’s experience and reputation as why they brought him here.

“His research is very in-depth and thorough,” said Phillips.

Author Mark Perry, foreign policy analyst and Co-Director of Conflicts Forum of Washington D.C. and Beirut, Lebanon, will be the next speaker to talk about the issue in Gaza with a program entitled “After Gaza: The Catastrophic Status of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict on Monday, February 23 at 4 p.m. in Founders Hall.

-Michael Walsh, Asst. Entertainment Editor