Category Archives: 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.”

 

A Concern for AmeriCorps Funding

by Lorenzo Burgio

NEW BRITAIN — A concern over possible cuts to AmeriCorps’ funding was expressed to Sen. Richard Blumenthal during a town hall meeting held at Central Connecticut State University in Welte Auditorium on Sunday, Feb. 27.

“There has recently been a potential list of programs that will be cut by the White House and that includes AmeriCorps. This would devastate the programs — it would definitely directly affect Teach For America,” said Christopher Marinelli, Social Justice Chair of the CCSU Student Government Association, to Blumenthal in front of a crowd of several hundred.

“The past four years here [at CCSU], it has always been my expectation that upon graduation I will enter public service,” said Marinelli, who added he begins a job with Teach For America in the fall.

AmeriCorps funds Teach For America, the Peace Corp and United Way. ”All these organizations are under the umbrella of the AmeriCorps grant,” Marinelli said to The Recorder. This would impact about 800 Teach For America participants in Connecticut alone.

“What expectations are there right now between the Democratic and Republican members of Congress to uphold this program amongst the cuts that are kind of being floated around? And is there anything that we should do besides just calling and getting involved in the local political process to kind of make sure these programs are maintained?” Marinelli asked Blumenthal.

“We all are involved in public life because of role models we had, and because of examples of leadership that we follow. And the Peace Corp and Teach for America… give people a way to make a difference and to begin careers in public service and civic engagement,” said Blumenthal.

“I am going to continue fighting for them because they make a difference to the young people who are taught, to people abroad who see Americans and that’s the way they regard this country, as the way they see those young Americans who are idealistic and caring and generous,” added the senator. “They are essential to our fighting as a democracy.”

“It was great to hear him [Blumenthal] on recorder saying he will uphold these organizations,” said Marinelli after the meeting.

Building Future Women Leaders

by Cindy Pena

Elect Her held a training session on campus on Feb. 24, to encourage the women of Central Connecticut State University to run for leadership positions both on and off campus.

Elect Her is a national program that helps build skills through a four-hour session that teaches the importance of networking, creating an elevator speech and building confidence. With the help of the Ruthe Boyea Women Center, CCSU was selected to host the event by the American Association of University Women and Running Start last Friday.

This year’s turnout was a success according to Jacqueline Cobbina-Boivin, director of the Women’s Center.

“Turnout was very good because of the number of students that showed up and the diversity, not just with majors and class standing, but also with race and interest of each young woman,” said Cobbina-Boivin. “So, from what we get from the national Washington D.C. office, it appears that they are pleased with us.”

“The outcome is apparent in this room with all these women who are speaking to each other, trading contacts and making new friends,” said Lauren Foligno, intern and program adviser at Student Activities and Leadership Department.

Kate Farrar, the facilitator of the event, accentuated that the goal was to inspire and motivate more collegiate women to see themselves as leaders and to learn more about being a political leader. She said that, with the success of the event, they achieved their goal.

“We had incredible women in the room who were open to learning from one another and learning that they can make a difference by being involved,” said Farrar, executive director of the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund.  “When you look at the things at the end of the conference, what the women really did learn, they did not only learn about themselves and their strengths, but how in campus they can make a difference.”

New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart made an appearance that inspired many students. Radeana Hastings, an international studies student participating in Elect Her, was one of them.

“I knew nothing about the mayor, but when I came in here and heard her speak, I felt more confident and felt like just because I don’t know someone who has a political stance like her, I don’t have to do things alone. I can always get help,” said Hastings.

One of the many hands-on activities they participated in was creating an outline for an elevator speech. An elevator speech is a clear and brief introduction about yourself. Afterwards, they shared their speeches with other participants and received feedback on how to improve it. Hastings said that these activities were helpful.

“The group dynamics stuff where it was like sharing our ideas was good because even though we are just writing something down I didn’t think we were going to share it. Sharing it also made me able to hear what other people are thinking,” said Hastings.

According to the Center for American Women and Politics, nationally women make up 19.4 percent of the 535 seats in Congress and 21 percent of the 100 seats in the Senate. In Connecticut, the number rises to 27.3 percent of women making up the state legislature.

Elect Her hopes to change these statistics.

“By making young women aware that they have what it takes to be a politician, they can start running for student government, they can also start by being elected officials at their clubs and organizations,” said Cobbina-Boivin. “But not just stop there, to go on to the next level to be on the school board, be elected to the local government. They have a voice and their voices should be heard.”

Trump’s New National Security Advisor

Image result for H R McMaster

by Sarah Willson

There should be no concern over new White House National Security Adviser, Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, according to Jerold Arquette, a political science professor at Central Connecticut State University.

“There’s nothing in this guy’s background that should make us worry about that, he is a very bright, intellectually engaged person,” said Arquette. “That’s why he has such a good reputation across the political spectrum.”

McMaster was selected for the position last Monday, Feb. 20.

“He is highly respected by everyone in the military, and we’re very honored to have him,” said President Donald Trump.

Many agree with Trump’s statement, including Arquette, a professor of 17 years at CCSU. He noted McMaster’s excellent reputation, despite the fact that his personal politics differ greatly from the president’s.

McMaster, who is currently still serving as a member of the United States Army, served in the Persian Gulf War and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

When asked about combating terrorism from the Middle East, Arquette said he believed that McMaster’s experience overseas would most likely benefit the United States.

“I think it will [benefit the U.S.],” said Arquette. “These are positions of civilian leadership, so the idea that he is a current general does cause some consternation.”

“There are some folks who worry that generals give a certain kind of advice, and that they might be less inclined towards diplomacy, but I’m not sure that’s so true,” said Arquette, believing that McMaster will ultimately do more good for the U.S. than bad.

Arquette also stated that McMaster was a “vast improvement” over Trump’s previous security adviser, Michael Flynn.

Flynn originally held the position and resigned after it was believed that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Press Secretary Sean Spicer about conversations that took place with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, which caused three repeated public falsehoods.

McMaster differs from Trump and Flynn in the sense that he does not support a friendship with Russia, a country Trump believes is vital when it comes to helping combat terrorism in the Middle East.

At one point in time, McMaster called Russia “a growing threat to the West,” believing that it poses a substantial threat to U.S. national security.

Concerned about Trump and McMaster’s opposing views, Arquette said that he hopes he will “provide a necessary perspective to a president who doesn’t have much perspective.”

“The president’s posture towards Russia isn’t based on policy,” said Arquette. “It’s based on politics.”

More than anything, Arquette said he hopes McMaster will be able to guide and educate Trump about foreign policy.

“I’m pleased that he now has a national security adviser who is both respected across the aisle and clearly a substantive thinking intellectual person,” said Arquette. “I don’t think you have to be a liberal to admit that Trump doesn’t know anything about foreign policy.”

Arquette added that he wanted McMaster to be “a source of wisdom, objectivity and professionalism for his boss.”

When McMaster was announced as the national security adviser, he said he is grateful to Trump for the opportunity, and he looks forward to joining the national security team. McMaster said that he will do everything he can to protect the interests of the American people.

Why CCSU Police Department is Accredited

by  Cyrus dos Santos

The Central Connecticut State University Police Department is setting the standard for community policing.

In November 2016, CCSUPD received re-accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. “It’s a group that measures high excellence in law enforcement,” said Sgt. Jerry Erwin.

For Erwin, this means a determination of excellence for the CCSU community. Had they failed in re-certification, he believes it would be “letting down the community.”

The department has been accredited since 2004, when they first applied to CALEA. Initial acceptance is based on successful compliance with 464 standards set by CALEA. The certification lasts four years. Re-certification culminates in a three-day, on-site inspection of all general orders and practices, where they must meet 188 standards.

One guideline is the Prisoner Transport Standard, which aligns with CCSUPD’s Double-Locking Policy. During an arrest, police must double-lock handcuffs to prevent the bracelets from tightening, which can cut off blood circulation, cause nerve injury or even break the wrist. Following that, they must pat down the suspect to assure there is nothing that can cause the arresting officer or the detainee harm, such as weapons or drugs.

“You then put the subject in the car,” said Erwin. The officer must verify the back seat is free from anything that can cause harm, or “anything in the car that would place blame on them when, really, they didn’t have anything to do with it.” This must be followed by securing the suspect with a safety belt and safely transporting them back to the station for processing.

“Being thorough is the most important part of the job,” said Erwin.

CALEA requires departments to have an established Preparedness Program. CCSU is included within the city of New Britain as a critical triage site in the instance of a natural disaster. In the event of an emergency, first responders would make use of the Bubble, Memorial Hall and other such facilities. “We’re the biggest place with alternative power,” said Erwin.

One benefit of accreditation is legal defense in situations of civil litigation or any other instance where the department may face legal action. “By us following the accreditation standards and our policies, CALEA will send a team of lawyers to assist us,” said Erwin.

The department is monitored by yearly, electronic progress reports that tracks their progress. Accreditation and software costs CCSUPD approximately $8,000 annually.

Plane Crash in East Haven Creates Talk Across Connecticut

Image result for east haven plane crash

by Sarah Willson

When it was revealed that the planes involved in the crashes in East Haven last Wednesday and in East Hartford last October were owned by the same man, Central Connecticut State University senior Julia DiSapio felt uneasy and confused.

“I think that he should have gone through most tests and regulations,” said DiSapio, referring to the aircraft owner, emphasizing that the Federal Aviation Administration should have done more to investigate the former situation before putting a plane back in the air.

According to East Haven police officials, after a plane went down last Wednesday, Feb. 22, one man was killed and another was critically injured.

DiSapio expressed her concern over the fact that this has been both the aircraft owner’s and the Connecticut Flight Academy’s second crash within the past four months.

According to family members and the East Haven Police Department, the man killed in the crash was 31-year-old Pablo Campos Isona, East Haven resident and flight student.

The person in critical condition has been identified as Rafayel Hany Wasser, a 20-year-old resident of New Haven and a known flight instructor at Connecticut Flight Academy. Wasser is currently being treated at Yale New Haven Hospital.

It is believed that both people involved in the crash were the only two people on board when the Piper PA-38 Tomahawk went down.

According to senior air safety investigator Robert Gretz, from the National Transportation Safety Board, the pilot and student involved in the crash were doing practice take-offs and landings, known as “touch and go’s,” when an unidentified emergency was reported.

“They reported a generic emergency, a mayday, but they weren’t specific, and in trying to get back to the airport, the aircraft nosed down into a swamp area,” said Gretz.

It is unsure as to who was controlling the aircraft when the crash took place.

Due to the fact that it was a dual-controlled aircraft, it is possible that both pilots could have been simultaneously controlling the plane.

Officials plan to look into who was piloting the aircraft when it went down as part of the investigation.

The demolished aircraft, which crashed into swampy waters outside of airport property, was found 25 yards south of Runway 2.

A recovery company from Delaware paid a visit to East Haven on Thursday, Feb. 23, to remove the plane from the swamp and has shipped it over to Delaware in order to further investigate what could have gone wrong during the final moments before the crash.

The NTSB stated that their “preliminary report” could be released as soon as March 3, but their final report could take up to a year.

According to meteorologists, there were no known weather problems that could have played into the crash.

According to WTNH Connecticut, only 12 percent of fatal airplane crashes are weather related. 53 percent are due to total pilot error.

Officials said that muddy, icy conditions, tall grass and up to two feet of water made it difficult for fire crews to locate the aircraft.

It has been roughly four years since East Haven has seen a plane crash, when a small aircraft crashed into two homes, leaving four dead.

CSCU’s Protocol on Immigration Enforcement

by Lorenzo Burgio

The Connecticut States Colleges and Universities system will not enforce federal immigration laws unless legally mandated, and has installed a protocol regarding immigration enforcement, according to a statement by CSCU President Mark Ojakian.

“It is the intention of the CSCU to comply with legally mandated disclosure, orders and judicial subpoenas, but beyond those legal mandates, it shall not further engage in the enforcement of federal immigration laws,” wrote Ojakian in the statement. “The purpose of this protocol is to provide guidance to the 17 Connecticut State Colleges and Universities.”

“The Presidential Executive Order ‘Enhancing Public Safety in The Interior of the United States’ will be treated with the utmost respect, dignity and care within the confines of CSCU obligations,” added Ojakian.

This is the protocol laid out in the statement.

If an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent is seeking information on a CSCU campus about student, faculty or staff, they must be referred directly to the president of the institution, or their designee. It should always be reported if an agent is present.

The president will then ask why they are visiting, for a subpoena, and whether the sensitive locations policy has been followed. This policy ensures specific locations, such as churches and schools, are targeted.

The president then contacts the CSCU Legal Counsel. No information or contact with the person in questions will be taken before this point.

If the ICE agent presents a warrant, this needs to be provided to the CSCU Legal Counsel for verification. If verified, only the CSCU Legal Counsel is allowed to provide any information to the ICE agents.

This is protocol for campus security personnel, laid out in the statement.

Police officer and security personnel will not inquire about an individual’s immigration status, or the status of crime victims, witnesses or others who approach security personnel seeking this information.

No one will be detained on the basis of immigration. And CSCU police forces will not arrest or remove any individual based on warrants issued by ICE of other federal agencies. This includes immigration warrants and deportation orders.

However, CSCU does not declare “sanctuary,” explaining that the meaning is too broad. “CSCU does not have the power or ability to declare any ‘sanctuary’ that is exempt from federal or state law,” wrote Ojakian in the statement.

“Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, however, is considered to be a ‘sensitive location’ as described in the 2011 U.S. Immigration and Customs (ICE) policy. As a sensitive location, the grounds of our campuses should not be the focus of enforcement actions, however, as public spaces are open to the general public, CSCU does not have the authority to bar federal enforcement officers from CSCU public space,” added Ojakian.

‘It is extremely counterproductive’

by Kristina Vakhman

The choice by the Trump administration to revoke federal guidelines that allowed transgender students to use bathrooms of their choice was ill-informed and misguided, according to Crystal Nieves, university assistant at Central Connecticut State University’s LGBT Center.

“It is extremely counterproductive to ensuring that transgender students have an equal opportunity to succeed in reaching their educational goals and surviving their educational environment,” said Nieves.

A key point in the federal guidelines was allowing transgender students to use the bathroom that corresponded with their gender identity. Overturning this element, Nieves said, is extremely dangerous.

“There are serious health risks of not having safe access to restrooms,” said Nieves. “Think about the pain, discomfort and health issues associated with holding in your restroom needs for an entire day because, you are away from the privacy of your own home bathroom. Imagine having to experience that every day over your entire educational career, because your privacy, your safety and your life may be at risk otherwise. It’s unacceptable.”

“Even more concerning is the risk of injury and death that transgender people face when forced to use a restroom based on their assigned sex at birth if it is in-congruent with their gender expression. This act outs transgender people against their will to strangers and puts them at extraordinary risk for violence,” said Nieves.

The revocation came after the Justice Department and the Education Department informed the Supreme Court in a joint letter that they “have decided to withdraw and rescind the guidance documents,” and “will not rely on the views expressed within them.”

Multiple Republican sources told The New York Times that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos “initially resisted” the repeal. However, Attorney General Jeff Sessions — who has long opposed LGBT rights and needed DeVos’ consent to proceed — brought the case to the White House, where President Donald Trump pressured DeVos to relent.

With the federal guidelines annulled, it is up to individual schools to decide whether to let transgender students use the bathrooms of their choice. In addition, the United States Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case of Gavin Grimm, a Virginian transgender student who sued the School Board of Gloucester County in 2015 for barring him from using the boy’s bathroom at his high school.

At CCSU and other Connecticut institutions, “transgender students will continue to have their fundamental civil rights protected, regardless of what Washington says,” according to a written statement by Mark Ojakian, president of Connecticut State Colleges and Universities.

“Our focus is on developing successful, engaged citizens and to do that we must provide a learning environment that welcomes and encourages personal growth for all students,” said Ojakian in the statement. “We will continue to make sure that all of our students feel valued, visible, protected and empowered to pursue their education.”

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy also responded, immediately signing an executive order that strengthened protections for transgender students and urged school superintendents to “honor a transgender student’s choice of [bathroom] facility.”

Trump’s siding with Sessions goes against his campaign promises to defend the LGBT community. In an interview with “The Today Show” last year, the president expressed support, even going so far as to say Caitlyn Jenner would be free to use the bathroom of her choice if she walked into Trump Tower. At one point, he tweeted that he “will fight” for the LGBT “while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten its freedoms and beliefs.”

Nationwide protests are demanding that Trump stay true to his word, arguing that he has gone too far. A CCSU transgender student, who asked to remain anonymous, agreed.

“I can’t stand that he’s taking the most vulnerable demographic, the demographic with the highest suicide rate, and throwing them under the bus,” the student said. “This presidential administration has crossed the line and the American people must demand accountability.”

New Britain Hosts Its First Annual Snow Day

by Cindy Pena

Sledding, hot chocolate, music, a bonfire and more all contributed to the success of the first annual Snow Day in New Britain.

The city of New Britain’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services department and Mayor Erin Stewart hosted the free event last Friday at Walnut Hill Park from 4 to 8 p.m.

Snow Day was created and founded in the ideas of the annual Winter Fest which was held previously at Stanley Quarter Park. Erik Barbieri, director of the Parks department, told the New Britain Herald that its inconvenient location and unexpected warm weather led for them to reinvent the festival to Snow Day at Walnut Hill Park.

The big hills in Walnut Hill and the two snow storms the prior weeks made it an ideal location for sledding.

Wendell Mckenney, a student at a local public school, says he enjoyed the sledding the most out of all the activities.

“My mom really likes to go to fun activities, so we thought maybe this would be a good place to go to, to have fun. We actually invited some other people to come here, too,” said Mckenney. “The sledding is very fun.”

A popular attraction at the event was the ice sculptures carved by professional sculptor, Kurt Sato. He says that he enjoys giving back to the community through his art.

“I’ve been donating time to the city of New Britain for 20 years. I do this every year for them like I did in the Winter Fest. I make different things from them, it’s fun and I enjoy it,” said Sato, who took three and a half hours to complete the sculpture.

The goal was to bring families from New Britain and neighboring towns to get out and enjoy the snow. Ronald Black, a physical education major at CCSU and staff member at the Parks and Rec Department, said the city of New Britain accomplished that goal using social media to connect to the people.

Mayor Erin Stewart posted the event on her Facebook page, which got 254 shares, 256 reactions, and 51 comments. The New Britain Parks and Recreation Department also posted the event and got 287 reactions and 327 shares.

“In the past years, we had something called Winter Fest and we didn’t always have the best turnout. Through social media, it’s been a pretty good turnout,” said Black, who has been working with the Parks and Rec Department for 13 years since, he was 16 years old. “Lots of New Britain people and I heard people from Berlin had been coming, and Newington. So, a lot of surrounding areas been coming to something that’s pretty simple.”

Black emphasized that, because there was something for everyone and the overall turnout was high, the event was a success.

“There is sledding for the kids, hot chocolate and a DJ. It’s pretty awesome,” said Black.

For further information on events in New Britain, you can visit the New Britain Parks and Recreation website at www.newbritainct.gov or visit them on their Facebook page.

Fake News, Real Consequences

by Sarah Willson

Fake news can fill in the spaces of people’s knowledge with misleading information and is being spread through the modern-day media model of developing a target audience for advertisers to pay to reach, according to Craig Silverman the Media Editor at BuzzFeed.

Fallacies are increasingly being spread as individuals, particularly teenagers from Macedonia, use the modern-day media model for profit, explained Silverman.

They create a fake news site, write articles that satisfy the opinions of individuals, make multiple fake social media accounts and share the article to imitate traffic on the website. These “purely partisan and purely emotionally driven sites” are then able to make money from advertisers without them knowing it is a fake site.

“The headline [of news stories] often grabs people, but it’s often what is misleading people,” said Silverman. “Fake news sometimes fills in the gaps of people’s knowledge,” said the Toronto native to a crowd of about 110 people, Thursday night Feb. 16, at a presentation run by the Central Connecticut State University’s Department of Journalism about the current surge of fake news online.

Silverman explained how certain biased, untruthful and fake news sites are misinforming and confusing many Americans, and being spread through social media and fake news sites. Emotionally driven articles receive more of a reaction and in turn, more traffic, “because it makes an argument they want to push forward,” said Silverman.

The major factors that ultimately drive misinformation and misperceptions into the public eye. These include propaganda, hoaxes, un-credible news websites and fake news.

Fake news can come about within a society, emphasizing the fact that it often arises due to strong emotions and beliefs, according to Silverman, who is also the author of “Regret the Error,” where he reported on the issues and trends regarding the accuracy of the media.

“Rumors emerge in situations of uncertainty, fear or lack information,” said Silverman. “There’s never been a communication platform with that many people in history,” said Silverman, referring to social media, which he believes ultimately makes the public more susceptible to fake news.

Facebook, in particular, was notorious for spreading fake news during the 2016 election. The algorithmic filtering and lack of differentiating on social media account puts avid social media users in a “partisan echo-chamber,” said Silverman. This gives misleading and emotionally driven fake news sites an environment to thrive in.

According to a study done by Silverman, between February and Election Day, the total number of shares, reactions and comments for a piece of content on a Facebook source, soared from three million to 8.7 million.

Silverman believes this is due to a battle for attention; saying that it is fiercer than ever before, as social media has “achieved a scale unheard of in the history of human communication.”

One CCSU student had a lot to say about the epidemic of fake news like Silverman emphasizing how it’s taking a toll on the American people.

“If I want to stay informed about anything that is going on, I should probably come and see someone that’s speaking about it that has actual background in the media,” said freshman Amanda Rotch.

More than anything, Rotch was particularly concerned with President Donald Trump’s take on the media.

“I think it’s his way of dodging facts that he decides aren’t putting him in a good light,” said Rotch, referring to Trump’s comments about the media. “He’s finding a way to warp it so that the people who are reporting the facts about him are the ones that are at fault.”

“I think that he’s a businessman” said Rotch. “They’re very good at mincing their words.”

When asked about how to combat fake news, Rotch said she believed informing the public about it was the best way to stop it.

“Even stuff like having someone come here, who’s in the industry, and give a talk on fake news and his opinion and everything, I think is a way to help inform people and help them feel like they know what’s going on,” said Rotch.

Silverman also gave his opinion on the best way to not only stop fake news, but also how to regain the trust of journalists, who often bear the brunt of dealing with misinformation.

Silverman argued that ground rules need to be established when it comes to regaining the trust of journalists.

“The price for mistakes is greater,” said Silverman, believing that some journalists need to “slow down” in order to make sure they get the facts right before they are presented.

As for combating fake news, Silverman says the best way to do it is by informing others that what they are often seeing, reading and sharing is not always accurate.

“Don’t attack the person who shares the fake news, and don’t be confrontational,” said Silverman. “Listen to what they have to say, have a human conversation.”

Silverman also recommended showing the person trustworthy news sites.

For further information about fake news and how to combat it, Silverman recommended visiting thenewsliteracyproject.org, which informs and educates young people about journalistic integrity and the difference between facts and fiction.