Category Archives: News

The War on Drugs Will Never Work; Decriminalization Will

by Kristina Vakhman

In 1971, President Richard Nixon waged a “war on drugs” in an effort to curtail drug use among American youth. Since then, the United States has resorted to prohibition, believing that aggressive drug bans will reduce and prevent drug-related crime, addiction, incarceration, death and disease. Yet, the opposite has occurred.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, 46.3 percent of inmates are currently imprisoned because of drug offenses. The National Institute on Drug Abuse approximates that more than 50,000 individuals died from drug overdoses in 2015 alone, and states that diseases such as hepatitis and HIV continue to rage, spreading through unhygienic methods like unsterilized needles.

Michael Botticelli, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, told Scott Pelley on CBS’s “60 Minutes” that the United States’ war on drugs led to “failed policies and failed practices.” Considering the costly results of these efforts, the federal government should look for an alternative approach in combatting drug use.

That alternative is the decriminalization and legalization of all illicit drugs. This may seem like a disastrous choice. However, in Portugal, it has worked.

In 2001, Portugal’s government decriminalized and legalized all drugs, no matter the classification, in response to a growing heroin problem. Instead of a being criminally charged, those caught with less than a 10-day supply of hard drugs are taken before a special court of legal experts, psychologists and social workers. In the place of incarceration, a small fine or community service, as well as rehabilitation and treatment is provided.

Today, Portugal has one of the lowest drug-usage rates in all of Europe. The British Journal of Criminology found a significant reduction in the imprisonment of alleged drug dealers, from 14,000 in 2000 to 5,000 in 2010, as well as a decrease in the imprisonment of addicts, which fell from 41 percent in 1999 to 21 percent in 2008.

The Washington Post reported that “there are three drug overdose deaths for every 1,000,000 citizens” in Portugal; as a comparison, 44.6 per million die in the United Kingdom. Drug-related diseases, like HIV, have decreased, “while the dramatic rise in use feared by some has failed to materialize,” as stated by the Transform Drug Policy Institute.

By focusing on treatment rather than punishment, Portugal has given its citizens the opportunity to rehabilitate and contribute as functioning members of society. Consequently, the demand for drugs falls as the number of users declines.

In the U.S., certain states are moving towards reformation instead of incarceration. The New York Times reported Mayor Bill de Blasio’s efforts to combat the wild opioid epidemic in New York City, where $38 million a year would go to programs including “expanded methadone and buprenorphine treatment for addicts” and “a focus at city hospitals on dealing with addiction and overdoses.”

That is what the U.S. needs. The current system is a complete failure; the concept of the war on drugs is ridiculously ineffective. It’s time to look for an alternative model, and Portugal has proven that its model works.

Hernandez To Seek Appeal

by Brennah Dallaire

Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, was acquitted of first degree murder charges on Friday, in the killings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado. While Hernandez’ attorneys work on a case for appeal of his 2015 conviction, speculation about his future circulate.

Abreu, 29, and Furtado, 28, were gunned down outside of the Boston nightclub, Cure. The shooting was in response to a supposed altercation inside the nightclub after Abreu bumped into Hernandez on the dance floor, spilling his drink.

The prosecutor’s explained that Hernandez and friend Alexander Bradley left the club, followed the victims by car, pulled up next to them at a stop light and opened fire on Abreu, Furtado and three other men. One other man in the vehicle sustained an injury but survived.

After making an immunity deal with the Suffolk District Attorneys Office, Bradley went on to testify that Hernandez had in fact shot and killed the victims. Bradley is serving time in prison in Connecticut for involvement in a Hartford nightclub shooting. Bradley believes Hernandez is involved in a shooting in Miami in 2013, that left Bradley blind in one eye.

However, jurors found that the burden of proof was not met. Hernandez was found not guilty on the first degree murder charge, but was convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm.

Judge Jeffrey Locke sentenced him to four to five years in prison on top of his life sentence without parole, at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center for the murder of Odin Lloyd in 2013.

Surveillance video and texts messaged show Hernandez and two friends pick Lloyd up from his home the night of his murder. Texts messages between Lloyd and his sister showed Lloyd wanted her to know who he was with referring to Hernandez as “nfl.” Other surveillance footage from that night show Hernandez with a gun at his North Attleboro, Massachusetts home. Lloyd was shot and killed in an industrial park a half mile away from Hernandez’ home.

Hernandez’s attorneys felt that they have a strong case for appeal. Hernandez’s defense attorney, Jose Baez told ESPN “I wish he’d called me [for the first trial].”

“I think there are plenty of flaws in that (Lloyd) conviction. If they are exposed properly, he certainly can and should get a new trial,” Baez said.

Not all parties are happy to hear that Hernandez may have a shot at getting out of prison. Although he was found not guilty on the most recent murder charges, the families of the victims found comfort in the verdict knowing that Hernandez would stay in prison.

“At least he’s not walking out the door today,” is what Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley told ESPN family members of the victims said.

The appeals process can take years. Hernandez’s defense team would have to prove that Judge Susan Garsh made mistakes in the Odin Loyd case, that impacted his receipt of a fair trial.

According to Sports Illustrated, those injustices could not adequately explain to the jury the definition of extreme atrocity and cruelty in the first degree murder convictions. The jury came to the conclusion that the murder was not premeditated, but was of a cruel nature warranting first degree murder.

There is a possibility that the court will hear his appeal in the Lloyd murder case. However, Hernandez would still serve four to five years for the unlawful possession of firearms conviction; unless this charge is appealed and vacated as well.

Retired NFL Hall of Fame player Cris Carter, told TMZ Sports that he does not think Hernandez will ever play in the NFL again, even with a successful appeal.

“I doubt he would ever play again in the NFL…if he was in any other industry besides the rap industry he wouldn’t be able to get work,” said Carter.

In 2013, the Patriots released Hernandez less than two hours after his arrest. The team quickly distanced themselves from the investigation and Hernandez who had no previous behavioral or criminal issues.

A prison record doesn’t necessarily mean athletes can’t return to play in professional sports. Michael Vick served 18 months in prison after being convicted of conspiracy to operate a dog fighting ring.

Shortly after, Vick was reinstated to the NFL and began playing with the Philadelphia Eagles, then went on to play for the New York Jets and the Pittsburgh Steelers before retiring.

 

US and Syria Update

by Sarah Willson

The United States has dropped more bombs and killed more civilians in Iraq and Syria this March than any other month on record, according to an independent monitoring group. 

In Iraq 268 strikes were carried out, while 434 were carried out in Syria within the month of March, killing as many as 3,471 people.

This statistic involves data from the U.S. airstrike on Syria’s Shayrat airbase, launched on April 7, which destroyed 20 percent of the Syrian government’s operational aircraft and killed six people.

Although some may be satisfied with the fact that President Donald Trump is keeping his campaign promise to target ISIS, one Central Connecticut State University student is not so sure this is the best option.

“I’m for and against [the U.S. airstrike],” said Andrea Sanchez, a student majoring in international studies with a concentration in the Middle East. “I don’t agree with over-involvement by the United States because it seems that we always make things worse.”

“From a humanitarian standpoint, I think it’s a good thing not just because it was that the U.S. got involved, but because international intervention needs to happen in Syria because there is a huge humanitarian crisis on its civilians,” said Sanchez. 

Tensions between the U.S. and Russia have also been on the rise since the airstrike. In a recent statement, Trump said that U.S. relations with Russia may be at an “all-time low.”

“I think they already kind of did [impact the U.S. and Russia relationship],” said Sanchez about the airstrike. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin called off a meeting last week with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. 

“I think it’s kind of interesting that he didn’t meet with him,” said  Sanchez. ”I think that already speaks volumes.”

When asked about the Syrian people, Sanchez stated that the only way to bring them peace would be “if there was some international coalition to stop Bashar,” because “he will do anything to stay in power.”

Sanchez also believes that the U.S. should accept Syrian refugees. 

“We’re bombing a country for killing civilians but we don’t want to take the civilians from the country that’s being bombed,” said Sanchez. “It doesn’t make any sense why we would not accept them, especially if we’re bombing their airfield.”

“Taking in civilians would help the cause because it would send a message to the the whole world to join together instead of turning them away,” said Sanchez.

Along with this, the U.S. is also struggling to decide who to take out first— ISIS or Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. 

“I think the most imminent danger is Assad at the moment,” said Sanchez. “It’s not that one is less evil than the other, I think they’re both equally as bad; I just think that Assad has more means to create a more catastrophic effect on its people.”

For the U.S., this problem ultimately leads to the question of whether or not the U.S. should continue to enforce military actions against Syria.

“You’re almost one and done” said Sanchez, regarding the airstrike. “It didn’t really help anything.”

The U.S. has proposed no further military action on Syria, but Press Secretary Sean Spicer says it is not off the table. 

For now, the White House says its priority above all is defeating ISIS, contrasting the UN Ambassador to the U.S. Nikki Haley, who claims there cannot be peace in Syria until Assad is defeated. 

US Drops Most Powerful Non-Nuclear Bomb on ISIS

by Angela Fortuna

In an attempt to send a message, the United States military dropped the most powerful non-nuclear bomb on ISIS targets in Afghanistan on April 13.

Afghan officials originally reported 36 deaths near the Pakistani border, but later confirmed at least 94 Islamic State fighters were killed, including four commanders, according to CNN.

The U.S. military estimated that 600 to 800 active ISIS fighters were in the area at the time of the attack, at 7:32 p.m. local time.

The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb, or MOAB, nicknamed the “mother of all bombs,” weighed 21,600 pounds and stretched 30 feet long, according to U.S. military officials. The GPS-guided bomb was dropped by an MC-130 aircraft controlled by the Air Force Special Operations Command.

The MOAB is capable of destroying an area equivalent to nine city blocks, according to CNN.

The MOAB proved to be successful in targeting an ISIS cave and tunnel complex, along with military personnel. The bomb destroyed three underground tunnels, weapons and ammunition, without civilian casualties, according to CNN. Intense surveillance had been conducted to prevent any civilian deaths before the dropping of the MOAB.

President Donald Trump described the attack as a “another very, very successful mission.”

This attack has caused many to contemplate the repercussions of the incident for the U.S. Tensions between the U.S. and other countries, particularly North Korea, have grown since the attack.

The North Korean military threatened the U.S. on April 14, stating plans to carry out an attack on a major American military base in South Korea, according to the New York Times.

Shortly after, North Korea launched a missile test that failed within seconds. This outcome means the U.S. has no reason to respond to the incident, according to Vice President Mike Pence. If the missile test in North Korea proved to be successful, there is no way of knowing what kind of damage it could have caused, or if the U.S. would have been directly affected.

Since the missile test in North Korea did not involve nuclear weapons, the U.S. felt no need to take notable action.

The dropping of the MOAB has certainly drawn attention to the rising conflict between the U.S. and ISIS. Potential retaliation by ISIS is currently unpredictable.

The Future of the Social Justice Committee

by Angela Fortuna

Whether the Social Justice Committee of the Student Government Association at Central Connecticut State University will exist next academic year has been debated after mistakes made with the Student Veterans Organization on campus.

“We’ve been looking into different options as far as whether we want this committee to exist on SGA, exist as a commission, kind of like CAN, or stay as it is right now,” said SJC Chair Christopher Marinelli.

The SJC was formed by current SGA President Jahmil Effend to act as a group predominately focused on social justice and related issues.

Senators Marinelli and Sawera Hussan were elected to chair the committee that has been involved in many events and has spread awareness of various social justice issues.

“I think our committee has genuinely made a difference this year. We’ve been active with so many groups, and have heard really good feedback from the students and faculty, such as ‘The Laramie Project,’” said Marinelli.

Director of “The Laramie Project” Thom Delventhal spoke on behalf of the SJC on April 5.

“I have to thank the SJC and I want to echo other people’s sentiments, they don’t want to see this committee go away,” said Delventhal.

“There’s a scene which calls for a march, and the play is all about [the] community coming together after a hate crime took place in which a gay college student was killed,” said Marinelli.

The SJC organized the event Tea Against Bigotry, rallies, diversity week, passed resolutions and held a veterans panel.

Tea Against Bigotry was an event “which brought a group of people together from different ideologies and beliefs and gave everyone an opportunity to share parts of their life,” said Marinelli.

The SJC also organized a rally to stand up for undocumented students and Muslim students “in light of the travel ban, in order to show solidarity with immigrants,” said Marinelli.

Two important resolutions were passed by the SJC in their first year as a committee — the Social Sciences Hall will have its name changed to Ebenezer Bassett Hall and students on campus protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals are now supported by the committee.

Bassett was “the first African-American to graduate from CCSU and was the first African-American diplomat,” said Marinelli.

Whatever the outcome of the SJC, Marinelli remains proud of all the committee has accomplished in such a short period of time.

“I’m honestly proud of all my committee members for everything we’ve accomplished this year together,” said Marinelli. “We’re a new committee and this was a learning opportunity for everyone involved, and it’s been a wonderful experience.”

‘Love Wins: Finish The Race’

 

Each student got a backpack filled with a water bottle, an energy drink and a wristband, along with a new pair of athletic shoes donated by Fleet Feet of West Hartford.

by Lauren Lustgarten

In order for children to believe that high school does not have to be the end of the road, initiative needed to be taken. Nelba Márquez-Greene teamed up with Central Connecticut State University and started to pave the way.

Organized by The Ana Grace Project, Márquez-Greene, a family therapist and a former faculty member at CCSU, founded the project to honor her daughter, Ana, who was killed during the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.

This past Monday, approximately 400 students from the Consolidated School District of New Britain spent the day at CCSU to get a taste of college. During the event, “Love Wins: Finish the Race,” the Northend, Chamberlain and Smith Schools sent their fifth graders and DiLoreto Magnet School sent their fifth and eighth graders.

“The idea is that these young children will get a taste of college from CCSU students and will leave the campus with the belief that, after high school, there is a world of possibilities awaiting them,” said Márquez-Greene in a press release.

With the help of administrative assistant to the president Courtney McDavid and other CCSU members, the day at CCSU was organized.

“Nelba Márquez-Greene came up with the idea as a way to inspire young, elementary school students to look beyond the end of high school to pursuing a college degree,” said McDavid.

“Motivated in part to commemorate her daughter, Ana Grace, Nelba wanted to use forces of love, community and connection to help make these young people’s lives richer and more fulfilling and to provide them with an opportunity to ‘finish the race’ with a college degree,” McDavid added.

After hearing from a New Britain teacher who believed his young students needed to learn empathy, compassion and kindness and be reminded of life past high school, Márquez-Greene got the idea for “Love Wins: Finish the Race.”

“We are extremely pleased to partner with The Ana Grace Project on this critical initiative,” said CCSU President, Dr. Zelma Toro in a press release. “We couldn’t be more supportive of its mission to promote love and build community and connection for every child and to impart the message that education is the path to a successful future.”

CCSU teamed up with the Ana Grace Project to make this event possible.

375 volunteers on campus helped make the event possible. The day started with the CCSU Radio Station playing music and greeting the students as they got off the buses and headed into Welte for a welcome reception where Toro along with Mayor Erin Stewart and the superintendent spoke.

Engineering students demonstrated the properties of liquid nitrogen and used it to make ice cream. Later, with the help of the athletic department, 250 CCSU student athletes and 75 coaches escorted the students to the athletic fields where the students engaged in a variety of field activities including football, soccer, lacrosse, baseball and more.

Connecticut National Guard volunteers even helped out and ran a hydration station on the field for the students.

“Our athletics program is honored to play a role in the ‘Finish the Race’ activities. Consistent with the CCSU mission, we place great emphasis on community engagement as a core component of the overall educational experience of our student athletes,” said athletic director Paul Schlickmann.

Working with Márquez-Greene and ‘Love Wins: Finish the Race’ has been humbling and inspirational, explained Schlickmann.

“Nelba’s strength and vision to create such a transformative program from an unspeakable tragedy is remarkable,” said Schlickmann. “The motivation for our student athletes is to serve as positive role models and contribute to the theme of the movement; to expose and excite the youth of our city to the possibility and value of a college education. In doing so, they will hopefully expose them to some athletic activities that can be integral to their continued physical and personal development and self-esteem.”

On top of all that the students got to experience, they were also given a new pair of athletic shoes and a backpack stuffed with a sports drink, a water bottle and an Ana Grace Project wristband.

Fleet Feet of West Hartford not only donated the shoes, but the staff also visited the schools last month and measured each child for their correct shoe sizes.

The event was made possible by sponsorships by Farmington Bank and additional support from the CCSU Alumni Association, Achieve Financial Credit Union, Barnes & Noble, Pratt & Whitney, Coca Cola and several other private donors.

This was the second year CCSU has hosted the event, however last year only Chamberlain came to campus.

“We look forward to this being an annual event,” said McDavid. “Planning this event was definitely a team effort.”

SGA Confronts Communication Issues

by Angela Fortuna

A recent request made by the Student Veterans Organization sparked a debate in the Student Government Association at Central Connecticut State University over logical decision-making and open communication between clubs and the student government.

The SVO reached out to the SGA in hopes of receiving funds to purchase T-shirts and sweatshirts for the 2017-2018 school year.

The request was approved on April 5, but was later vetoed by SGA President Jahmil Effend because all the necessary information was not present to make a decision, he later explained.

“Senate is composed of about 39 members and many senators were not present to voice their opinions and concerns with the request. There were only 23 members present to make the vote,” said Effend. “We are a governing body, we cannot be emotional. I believe the senate has been making irresponsible decisions as far as taking into account the responsibility necessary to really represent the student body.”

Treasurer Brendan Kruh expressed his opposition to Effend in regards to the SVO contingency request.

“I’m going to vote yes to overturn the veto. A lot of you will be angry with me and that’s okay. I don’t answer to you, I answer to the student body and students,” said Kruh to the SGA. “I have to do what’s right for this senate, what’s right for the year [and] for future senates. At end of the day, this senate has changed since my time.”

On April 12, SVO Vice President Paul Small attended the SGA meeting for the third week in a row after the organization was not asked to participate in a veterans panel held on campus. Small spoke of the senators’ behavior and how he and other members of the SVO feel marginalized.

“SVO feels alienated by the student body, specifically the Social Justice Committee,” said Small. “It’s unnecessary for us to feel so alienated by a group on campus, it’s ridiculous.”

Some SGA members acknowledge the problem of communication between the SGA and clubs on campus.

“I am deeply disturbed with the direction of members of [the] SGA. We no longer seem to have the ability to use logic and reasoning for our decision making,” said Senator Danielle Plaskonka, addressing the SGA.

“We need to listen to what our clubs are saying to us; whether we agree or not, we cannot attack them continuously just because we disagree,” said Senator Eric Ott to the SGA.

During the meeting, discussion began over remarks on Facebook made by Senators Plaskonka and Sawera Hussan in regards to requesting money for clothing items, similar to what the SVO did.

“[Plaskonka and Hussan] prompted all CCSU groups to come to SGA and make a request similar to [SVO’s],” said Small.

Hussan posted, “let’s get sweatshirts fam” on Facebook, tagging the Muslim Student Association at CCSU.

“It didn’t happen on SGA time, people are people and they are allowed their own freedoms to do whatever they want to do in their personal time,” said Effend in response to the Facebook posts.

Small disagreed during the meeting, and felt the SGA should be held responsible for what they say and post on social media.

“It’s a damn shame. It’s a shame there isn’t a way to impeach senators. It makes no sense that senators are allowed to say and do whatever they want and not be held accountable,” said Small to the SGA.

The SGA believes the constructive criticism of outside clubs helps create discussion on the topic at hand.

“Any discussion is good. Having healthy discussion is important for [the SGA],” said Effend. “I think the fact that there are so many opinions in the room and so many voices being heard is a good thing.”

Former SGA Senator Josh Quintana spoke to the SGA as a whole at the senate meeting.

“You guys need to act like adults and take leadership seriously on campus. You are the student government. These arguments about Facebook, who wronged who, is childish and asinine,” said Quintana.

“As unnecessary as it was for the SVO, it was needed for the student government to really take the job seriously going forward,” said Effend. “The biggest role of the student government is to represent the people and [make sure] their voices are heard.”

Increased Enrollment Numbers For Fall Semester Off To A Slow Start

by Diondra Clements

As the end of the spring semester approaches, it is becoming time for high school seniors and college transfer students to decide where they are going to study, come August 2017.

Recently at Central Connecticut State University, there has been an increase in school tours and admitted student days, inviting many students to walk around campus and wonder if CCSU is the right place for them.

Feb. 18 and March 26 were dates of Admitted Student Days and April 8 was the most recent Open House.

Before visiting campus, many see CCSU as an “easy” school that offers few job opportunities following graduation.

However, in the last three years, recognition of CCSU has gone from a school that’s easy to get into, to being recognized for its actual achievements.

“Our advertising has only been getting somewhere the last three years. Additional resources have been added recently. Thanks to President Toro, she has been adding to the additional resources,” said Lawrence Hall, director of admissions.

The application deadline for high school seniors to apply to CCSU is May 1 and the deadline for transfer students is June 1. The current total of students who have sent confirmation of their acceptance as of April 13 is 645 for freshmen. CCSU’s goal is 1,300. For transfer students, 225 have sent acceptance confirmations, with a university goal of 895.

Though this may seem like a small number, Hall reassured that it was an increase from previous years, also touching upon the fact that this is not an official final count. It will not be until the middle of July that the school will have a finalized count of new students enrolled at CCSU.

Hall explained that sometimes they may not know the official count of the total incoming freshmen and transfer students until the first week of September.

As far as the financial situation goes, Hall also made note that they have already seen an increase in deposits compared to last year at this time. Freshmen deposits are up by 96 and transfers are up by five. Although this is an improvement, there is still more that can be done.

“Even though we’re very visible to the Hartford/New Britain community and its surrounding areas, the bread and butter is we want to be visible to different cities, such as Danbury and Stamford,” said Hall. “Reaching out to students out-of-state and even started to get our feet wet in the international field about three years ago.”

The largest factor in recruiting new students is finding how to attract more people to CCSU with reasons other than it being close to home or knowing someone who attends.

CCSU sophomore Dejhana Sejdiraj’s initial thought when she first got to CCSU was that it felt “homey.”

“My sister was already attending this school, so that helped in  my decision to apply,” said Sejdiraj. “I’m actually glad I got denied at UConn because I absolutely love this school. It honestly feels like a home to me.”

Shattered Trust: CCSU Student That Was Sexually Assaulted By Professor That Resigned And Later Taught At A Women’s College

 

by Analisa Novak

Although room 212 of Willard Hall is no longer in use, the traumatic memory of what occurred there still exists for former Central Connecticut State University student, Shannon Cunningham. This is where she was sexually assaulted by then Adjunct Professor Daniel Gula, according to multiple court documents.

Cunningham said that her attack happened when her guard was down the most and in broad daylight.

“The location was without a doubt safe. It wasn’t in a dark ally, in a dark parking lot or parking garage. It was on a state university campus, around 5 p.m. The sun still out and shinning bright when I walked in. Classes in session all around , students and faculty walking around outside. I can see the students and professors teaching in the rooms; doors are open,” Cunningham said in a victim statement to the court.

Before the assault, Cunningham said she respected Gula after she met him through a chance encounter. They spoke about Italian culture and museums, and had previously met in his office before where they shook hands as she left.

She never expected that weeks after meeting him he would trap her in a room, grab her breast, grind on her buttocks and expose himself to her.

According to the arrest warrant, Cunningham met with Gula on Sept. 15, 2014 to discuss an event she had attended. They conversed in his office and Gula shut the door due to noise.

Once the door was shut, the conversation then shifted with Gula playing with his wedding ring and saying “shinny shinny, pretty pretty.” Cunningham thought this was odd and got ready to leave for class. It was then that Gula asked her for a high-five, instead of the normal handshake they would do.

Shortly after, he asked Cunningham to hug him. As they hugged, it was then that he squeezed her, so tightly that Cunningham heard the professor’s shoulder pop.

“The hug was only a way to restrain me,” Cunningham said in her victims statement.

Cunningham still remembers how she was backed into a small corner of the room, as Gula began to sexually assault her.

“He backed me into a wall between the first desk in the room on the left and book shelves to the right. The area felt small. I felt trapped. I remember feeling like my brain was numb and body was numb all over. I couldn’t think clear…it wasn’t registering what was happening to me….it was as if my brain was on overload and wasn’t connected,” Cunningham said in the victim statement.

Cunningham told police that the more she tried to get away, the more aggressive Gula became.

“I kept trying to pull his arms and hands off my breasts and body. He was untouched by my words to stop. He continued pulling and grabbing at my breasts,” Cunningham said in the victim statement.

Cunningham said the event lasted eight to nine minutes, but felt like it was never ending. She was fearful that if she screamed, Gula would do something else.

“My thinking wasn’t clear, but I was terrified and numb. If I screamed or made any sudden moves, I didn’t know if he would strangle me, to shut me up. His hands had been so close to my neck. I had no idea who this monster was. I had no idea what else he was capable of doing,” said Cunningham in the victims statement.

Cunningham told police that she was unable to yell but she did manage to convince Gula to stop. She then escaped the room and went to class, although she was very late.

Days later with the support of her friends, Cunningham went to the Ruth Boyea Women’s Center and reported the assault. The case was then passed on to the CCSU Office of Diversity and Equity.

According to the arrest warrant, CCSU Police then spoke to Cunningham and she told them about the assault that had occurred.

Later that day, Gula came into the CCSU Police Department to speak to the them. According to the arrest warrant, he was told that he was not under arrest and could leave at anytime.

According to the arrest warrant, Gula adamantly denied any sexual misconduct, only stating that he gave her a hug. CCSU Police then told Gula that Cunningham was not going to be pressing charges, and they were looking to get the truth to close the investigation.

It was then that Gula admitted to the assault and signed a sworn voluntary statement, attesting that what he did to Cunningham was true. After the interview was over, he was allowed to leave the police station, according to the arrest warrant.

Cunningham said in the victim statement that the CCSU Police told her they had took Gula’s badge and keys, and fired him. Cunningham elected to be withdrawn from her courses and was issued a refund.

Months later, according to an investigation report done by Chief Diversity Officer Rosa Rodriguez, the report concluded that Gula violated the Board Of Regents and Connecticut State Colleges and University’s Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Assault and Intimate Partner Violence Policy.

The conclusion of the investigation was that the case was completed and closed, as Gula resigned from his position before the investigation was completed according to the report.

After Gula resigned from CCSU, he then went on to teach at the University of Saint Joseph, a mostly female university.

“Daniel Thomas Gula was an adjunct faculty member here from Aug. 24, 2015 to Sept. 4, 2015,” said University of Saint Joseph marketing director, Diana Sousa.

Almost a year after the assault, Cunningham decided to press charges when she discovered that Gula was never fired from CCSU. Cunningham said she feels betrayed by CCSU because they allowed him to resign, thus allowing him to go teach at other universities.

“I believed he was fired. I believed they took his badge and keys the day he confessed. I believed this would forever stain his teaching record. After all, it was a criminal act, a felony or two and misdemeanor and not just policy violations. I believed that a university had obligations by law to ensure the safety of their campus and other campuses,” Cunningham said in the victim statement.

On Aug. 14, 2015, Cunningham along with CCSU Victim Advocate and Violence Protection Specialist Sarah Dodd, met with CCSU Police where Cunningham then pressed charges. Gula was arrested for third degree sexual assault, second degree unlawful restraint and disorderly conduct.

Gula pleaded no contest and was found guilty of second-degree unlawful restraint and first degree reckless endangerment. He was sentenced to a one‐year suspended jail sentence and two years probation.

According to Cunningham, a judge suppressed Gula’s confession because he confessed under the impression he would not be arrested. Cunningham has currently filed a civil suit against Gula and she is being represented by Nina Pirrotti.

The event took place more than three years ago, but Cunningham is still suffering from post traumatic stress.

“It has affected everything in my life. I would say prior to his crimes against me, I was a strong woman, able to overcome anything. I believed in myself. I could count on myself. Now, I live in this place that is guarded by fear of the unknown. I have never been so scared, humiliated or degraded in my whole life. I have lost my independence,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham still is haunted by what occurred at CCSU and how administrators handled it. She wants students to know of what occurs behind closed doors.

“Students and campuses have a right to know what happens on their campus. That when an institution fails to address the horrible acts of a faculty member or anyone, committing such violations of law, that the criminal court will serve justice and hold the individual accountable. I had no control over the investigation by CCSU Police. I had no idea my life would be changed forever after the crime. CCSU Police had an obligation to process this assault for the crime that it was sexual assault,” Cunningham said in the victim statement.

 

Is SGA Discriminating Against The Student Veterans Organization

by Analisa Novak

The mood at the Student Veterans Organization’s weekly meeting was business as usual, but a looming question thickened the air for its members; do they go for a third time to the Student Government Association and ask for the apparel originally granted to them, but then quickly vetoed the next week?

For current SVO Vice President Paul Small, that is no longer an option.

“I am not going back, I went there, plead my case to them, asked them for money that we pay for students funds and for SGA to cut our budget to $812 dollars last semester. This is okay but you should know if you cut a club’s budget so much, especially an active club and important club that does a lot of campus, SGA should expect us to come and ask for money,” said Small.

The SVO was approved for funds totaling $1,720.01 for sweatshirts and T-shirts on April 4. The majority unanimously approved it originally with 18 senators in favor and four against it.

Small then found out that SGA President Jahmil Effend vetoed the motion hours after the meeting. Small felt hopeless after finding out it was vetoed, as it was the only other option to receive the funds after a dismal budget that was given to them.

The veto prompted the SVO to reach out for the third time to the SGA, only to be called “immature,” and was attacked by SGA senator Danielle Plaskonka.

“They’re using emotional heart string pulling tactics, they’re saying they feeling alienated, which I understand where you’re coming from. I understand you feel Social Justice has not been fair to you, but it was not intentional and I wish you guys could see that. You also mentioned you tried coming for sweatshirts all semester, so why do you keep calling back SJC?” said Plaskonka.

“Is that your one move to get these shirts? I’m very sick of personal attacks, it’s immature and below everyone in this room. If you can’t handle this professionally, then shame on you,” Plaskonka added.

She continued on in a recently deleted Facebook post saying; “Please help me in understanding how both T-Shirts and sweatshirts will assist them in significant issues such as PTSD, suicidal ideation and societal understanding.”

“One of our agendas is raising PTSD stereotypes, but that was never the intent of the reasons to get shirts,” SVO  President Tyler Listro said. “Being able to raise awareness about PTSD is a benefit of having great representation of student veterans on campus, not the reason why we submitted a request for shirt funding,” Listro said.

Small said the request for the shirts was to let over 400 veterans know that there was a club here for them.

“Many veterans don’t participate with our club or know we exist. We have 50 members, 20 of which are active all the time. But we have approximately 500 veterans on this campus, National Guard members, and veterans from active duty that receive benefits to continue their education. Upon approval, when worn by members of our group, this will show others here that there is a club with people like them,” Small said.

Small stated that the request had nothing to do with using emotions to manipulate the system.

“I was told by that particular senator that I was there to manipulate the feelings, manipulate peoples’ decisions. That’s true in the sense that this emotional for me, but it’s not true that I am using what happened with the Social Justice Committee as a catalyst asking for money,” Small said.

This desire for sweatshirts and T-shirts has been actively discussed during the SVO meetings for the entire year. The SVO actively participated in the SGA canned food drive, so they could use the funds to attain apparel. However, due to a decreased budget, they had to use it for their annual Hoffman’s Gun Range trip instead.

“Our club minutes reflect that we have been trying to get this clothing all semester,” Small said.

The veto was held up by a 2/3 vote and the SVO was denied the funds. The same meeting in which the SVO’s contingency request was vetoed, Lunar Exploration Club’s contingency request of $905.76 for space suits was approved.

“They came with a similar request like SVO and they were approved. We were approved, but then vetoed by the SGA president. It seems clear to me that there is a clear case of discrimination,” Small said.

SGA senator Stephen Dew believes by the SGA not overturning the veto that the president ordered, and allowing the Lunar Exploration Club to receive space suits is a clear indication of discrimination happening within the SGA. Dew, who voted for the space suits, says that he has been voting for club requests each time.

“The fact that the veterans got a 18-4 vote the first time they requested, and got a majority the second time, speaks to the facts that senators in the majority want to fund the SVO. However, there is clearly an element on senate that doesn’t feel that way. It is rather disgusting that four people who voted against the SVO to begin with managed to obstruct government, and by obstructing government, a club was not able to get what they were requesting for,” Dew said.

Small has said that a number of senators have stepped in to assist the SVO and even attended their meeting last Thursday.

The SVO then filed another contingency request to the finance committee for $1,174.57 on April 17, for uniformed sweatshirts. The Chair of Finance Committee Treasurer, Brendan Kruh, decided not to hear the contingency request after he felt it was invalid due to the bylaws.

Vice President Christopher Cappiello disagreed with this, and said there seems to be a pattern with the SGA bringing up bylaws when it comes to the SVO.

“I think this is a good motion, they have everything they need to fill the bylaws, in my opinion: there is nothing wrong with this. We don’t have to pay 50 percent of it, we can pay 100 percent of it,” said Cappiello. “I don’t know why the argument is being brought up again when it comes to SVO and bylaws. Its like senate has this gravitational pull with bylaws when SVO walks into the door.”

It was appealed unanimously by the finance committee. The contingency request was approved by the majority of members of the finance committee, and will be heard by the SGA today.

Small already paid out of his own pocket to provide the club with T-Shirts. The shirt designer felt bad that Small had to pay for the SVO shirts after the SGA vetoed their request, and gave him a small military discount of 10 percent.

Active members and members who put out for the food drive will be receiving T-Shirts for free from Small. The SVO is looking into charging new members who would like to have T-Shirts, so that they can no longer go to the SGA for any other requests and are able to sustain themselves.