Category Archives: SGA

What the SGA Has In Store for the Fall Semester

by Shaina Blakesley

Summer is washing away and autumn is falling upon campus, leading into the fall semester at Central Connecticut State University.

There are many clubs working together to make this year at CCSU enjoyable, and one of those dedicated clubs is the Student Government Association.

The idea of a student government might be new to some students, but the SGA is simply a student-run senate that aids clubs and organizations, while also striving to help students stand on their own two feet.

Chair of the Student Life Committee, Damar Britto, desires to “increase scholarship amounts for our students, and increase our wellness events and impacts on the student body.”

Britto isn’t the only one trying to improve the livelihood of CCSU students.

SGA Vice President Marissa Cusano strives to build the foundation of the SGA by “standing in solidarity for students.” She aims to do this by aiding students in any way that she can; Cusano is determined to open the channel of communication between clubs and students through the liaison program.

Christopher Cappiello, treasurer of the SGA, is on board with Cusano in building a better bridge between campus clubs. Cappiello hones in on club budgets to be decided by the SGA.

Currently, clubs have to submit a hard copy of their budget requests and try to gather all the signatures necessary to complete the requirements, but Cappiello wants to curate an online system, via the Collegiate Link, where instant budgets can be made and sent to the SGA efficiently and hassle-free.

The SGA has begun meeting regarding scholarship awards for students during the fall and spring semesters.

The SGA is broken down into four main committees and several smaller subcommittees to better ensure all aspects of student agendas at CCSU are being addressed.

The Student Life Committee is co-sponsoring a suicide vigil, named the National Day of Prayer for Faith, Hope and Life Vigil, on Sept. 10 at 7:30 p.m. in the Student Center Circle.

The Finance Committee will meet on Sept. 11 to review all financial requests from clubs and other organizations, and pass recommendations onto the senate for final approval. The Finance Committee is also working to digitalize the funding processes, via Collegiate Link, with a tentative deadline of the Spring 2018 semester.

The Public Affairs Committee is hosting a handful of events advertising upcoming elections, along with other events scheduled by the senate. Public Affairs is interested in putting together SGA-funded leadership conferences open to the student body to attend.

The Academic Affairs committee is stressing the importance of finding new alternatives to high-priced textbooks with the implementation of open educational resources.

Meanwhile, External Affairs, SGA’s newest committee, is working at the state and local levels to explore ways CCSU can fight the rising cost of tuition annually.

The SGA is comprised of many undergraduate student-elected senators. The group encourages students to have their voices heard and their concerns settled by stopping by a senate meeting. Senate meetings are held every Wednesday at 3:05 p.m. in Bellin A and B in the Student Center.

There are currently 10 open senate seats, six of which are available for freshman and transfers, two are reserved for Resident Senators, and the last two are to be filled by one commuter and one At-Large Senator.

The At-Large Senate seat is the only seat that can be occupied by either a part-time or full-time student. The other seats are exclusively for full-time students.

Election week starts Sept. 25 and ends on Sept. 27. Elections are kicked off with the Fall Candidate Gallery at noon in the Student Center Circle.

The final decision of the election will be determined and released at 5 p.m. on Sept. 28.

2017-2018 SGA Senators: What Do You Plan To Accomplish Next Year?

by Angela Fortuna

At-Large Senators:

Victor Constanza: “I want to keep my promises in what I said when I was running. First, I want the “Paper-Boy Initiative” to be passed. This will create a personal connection to students when we give out information about events and what is going on with the school. This will require senators to actually go into public and go up to students one-on-one. Second, I would like to reform the liaison program. We have to actually go to club meetings, so the SGA knows what these clubs are about, what they are doing exactly, and help them with whatever they need. Lastly, we need to improve upon community engagement. We have to participate with all clubs to help the students of New Britain, since the town does not have a high graduation rate. We should take it upon ourselves to help.”

Stephen Dew: “My re-election to senate will focus on three focal points. First, we must join with the other schools in the CSCU system to coordinate our efforts to challenge the state legislature and system office when it comes to tuition [and] fees. Second, we must introduce a student alternative to the bookstore, to help lower the cost of textbooks. And third, we must really do more to lower the barriers to club funding, to give every organization and student the best possible chance to succeed and meet their potential.”

Damar Britto: “For those who don’t know, I have a four-point platform, dubbed the STAR Platform. It stands for scholarships, tuition grants (for undocumented students), active senate and finally relationships with organizations. I plan to have these ideas pushed, especially scholarships and tuition grants, by becoming the chair of the Student Life Committee within the SGA, as one of its focuses is scholarships.”

Jailene Nazario: “Next year, I want to keep a strong relationship with students and faculty, so I can focus on open resource textbooks and on the issues that students come to me with.”

Joseph Carangui: “I am delighted to be representing the student body at CCSU once again. I believe I got re-elected because my platform connected with students. Therefore, I intend to make the positive impact that I campaigned for, which is to continue to have this organization host wellness events and increase the amount of money in SGA scholarships that [are] available to all undergraduate students.”

Brianna Rose: “I plan to raise awareness of the barriers CCSU students face while trying to attain an education to better their quality of life. Research shows that most colleges are unequipped to service vulnerable students. This is a deterrent in the college success of students who come from difficult backgrounds such as first-generations, immigrants, foster care or homelessness. As a senator, I will use my power to be an advocate for myself and others like me, whose pathway to college was not simply just a journey, but a fight.”

Flavja Muka: “I am excited to represent the student body as a new voice on the senate. I plan to encourage students to become more involved in the SGA and CCSU community. It is important to have each student feel heard and empowered. Therefore, I plan to have a positive connection with the clubs and organizations on campus. I believe the senate can make a powerful impact on student life, so I will do my best to represent all students.”

Jessica Aguilar: “I’m very thankful to have received the opportunity to represent the student body at CCSU. As an SGA member, I want to create better communication between students and organizations on campus. Also, I’ll strive to have an open mind in students’ concerns and ensure that students’ needs are met on campus.”

Resident Senators:

Amanda Gorman: “I am excited to be serving the students for another year. I plan to assist in changing scholarships to make them more accessible and larger in both quantity and quality.”

John Coleman: “My plan for this coming year is to work with the Academic Affairs Committee to provide a high-quality educational experience to all CCSU students. The one thing that all students have in common is education, so addressing academic issues benefits everyone. In particular, I’d like to address two issues: college affordability and the advising process. I want the senate to be strong advocates and earn the trust of the student body.”

Kelly Hernandez: “One of my main goals is to be a voice to cultural-based clubs as well as other clubs on campus that are often overlooked. As a member of [the] Latin American Student Organization, the Ebony Chorale Ensemble and a host of other clubs, I know what issues seem to hurt clubs across the board and I wish to stop it. Another goal of mine is to help represent student athletes. The student athlete population is another group that is severely underrepresented in student government and I hope to change that.”

Akai Long: “As a senator of the Student Government Association, I plan to create a better connected campus. To create a better connected campus, I have come up with a two-part plan: the first part is to better connect the SGA with state and local governments. As is stands, the SGA has put the minimum amount of effort to advocate on behalf of students. The second part is better connecting the SGA to CCSU students. I plan to go to as many hall councils as I can because as a resident senator, I want to hear as much feedback from residents as I can.”

James Angelopoulos: “My mission is to improve the environment of the university. If we can improve the environment and culture to show off the talented and big members of our campus, I believe we can get more students to come to CCSU and slow down the tuition growth. I also want the hard-working clubs on campus, who make a point of getting involved, to receive more funding to promote a stronger environment on campus.”

Jacquelyn Daniels: “As resident senator, I will encourage more communication between the student body and the SGA, so that every student receives the representation they deserve. I plan to collaborate with clubs and organizations to increase involvement and promote more events. I also hope to extend dining hall hours through a petition, if students continue to express interest in this plan. I will advocate for the SGA to increase scholarship funding, to give more students greater chances and a wider variety of scholarships.”

Thomas Mitchell: I ran for the SGA to do one simple thing: finish what I have started. In order to do such, it is my mission to acquire a golf cart for the student government in order to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of events on campus. Many initiatives can come from this golf cart, such as the SGA Designated Driver as well as the SGA Meals on Wheels. Aside from that, I want to promote an open source textbook platform as well as advancing the academic technologies within majors to create a generation of future experts coming from CCSU.”

Jared Sales: “While on SGA, I want to make sure that all resident senators are going to their hall councils at least once a month and asking their constituents what they want SGA to do for them. Personally, with senator Akai Long and any other senators who join me in the future, will go to every hall council at least once a month. I will join the Student Life Committee and dedicate myself to working on mental health and other aspects of the committee.”

Commuter Senators:

Dajana Sejdiraj: “I want us, as SGA individuals, to work with different clubs and to create amazing things on campus that can benefit everyone. For example, I would want to work with all the science- and technology-related clubs to create a single solar panel umbrella that students can use to charge their laptops and study outside. I would want to start with just one and see how successful it would become before expanding upon it. I want to work with the LGBTQ [community] and create gender-neutral bathrooms on campus. I want to work with CAN and create fun promo items such as free ponchos for everyone to use on a rainy day when walking to classes.”

Sedina Begic: “A few of the things I plan on doing next year as a senator are to implement Wellness Week in the fall, since one is already in the spring. Also, themed months to increase the wellness of students as well as getting the SGA’s name out there. I would like to invest in a career closet. If it’s approved, we can rent out a small area somewhere in the library or student center and provide business casual attire for students who may need to rent it in cases of job interviews or internships, etc. One final thing I plan on doing is just being more accessible to anyone with questions through text, email and in-person meetings.”

Gabriella Bierwirth: “This upcoming year, I have a lot of goals that I would like to accomplish with the SGA. Besides simply making sure that senators get more involved with clubs and their events, I want to try and host more awareness weeks and activities in which different cultures, religions, ethnicities and clubs can host games and activities to raise awareness of who they are as well as address micro-aggressions. I want to eliminate a lot of the tension seen within the SGA and ensure that we are working together as a group to help as many people as we can. I especially want to increase involvement within the entire campus and build a stronger connection with the rest of New Britain.”

Estefania Maya: “Next year, I want to create stronger relationships with the clubs and students. I hope to support the other committees on senate and the new e-board with their future endeavors and by volunteering my time, planning events and communicating with students. I strongly believe that, in order to better represent the students, we must know what issues they face, whether that be funding or academic struggles. This can only be done if we take time to check up on the clubs and students.”

Kassandra Fruin: “I want to help provide our campus with more accessibility to all students, a better sense of campus community and advocate for affordability. My own challenging life experiences have given me a strong desire to want to give back. I pride myself on advocating for a more inclusive and welcoming campus. Identifying with the LGBTQ community, I understand the fear of safety on campus, in our community and country as a whole. I will fight for a strong stand on social justice issues and fight for a safer campus. The Student Government needs to be proactive in ending the stigmas related to mental health and help aid our students into the right direction when it comes to proper funding. Along with accessibility, the cost of attending CCSU is a huge issue that needs to be addressed. We are experiencing a time that tuition is going up four percent and we need student leaders to advocate for an affordable education. I will provide the guidance and experience as a returning senator the SGA needs to be of larger benefit to students.”

Dante Solano: “By the end of the next semester, I look forward to the implementation of an SGA climate survey.  This survey will give students the opportunity to grade the work of the SGA along with making their voices and concerns heard. I await the opportunity to make sure that we, here in the SGA, fund clubs and organizations in both a fair and responsible fashion. I hope to soon meet with some of our administration to discuss the safety of students during the winter and campus policies for emergency weather situations.”

Christopher Theriault: Unreachable for comment at this time.

Jose Diaz: Unreachable for comment at this time.

Sawera Hussan: “I’m honored to be re-elected as a senator for the SGA to continue representing the student body. My initiatives are to increase club funding, advocate for affordable higher education and provide a safe and inclusive environment for everyone at CCSU.”

Sabrina Morin: “I am very pleased to be a re-elected senator here at CCSU.  As a senator next semester, I am hoping to bring better communication to campus, end stigmas and spread mental health awareness as well as resources here on campus.”

Tiffany Aguilera: “I ran for senate this year to hear the voices of students and to make this campus a more inclusive community, especially for those who have disabilities. I have noticed that students, especially those who have disabilities, don’t participate as much in club activities or events that occur on campus. I would like to change that by working closely with Student Disability Services, the Wellness Center and the Women’s Center. Although details aren’t fully worked out yet, I would like [to express] that I plan to dedicate myself to this and to make it my mission for the next academic year.”

Jalal Butt: “I plan to help steer the academic affairs committee in the path it has been directed to over these past two years. This involves the facilitation of CCSU course transitions to open-source resources, expansion of the plan to increase course transparency through online syllabi and an increase in academic mapping reliability.”

Mariano Cardoso: Unreachable for comment at this time.

Natalia Rozio: “I am extremely excited to represent commuter students on campus and be a part of SGA. Next year, I hope to connect SGA with the Transfer Office to make the transferring process for future students smoother and less frustrating. I also plan to make commuters feel more comfortable on campus by introducing commuter-based events throughout the semester.”

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.”

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.”

SGA Election Results

by Angela Fortuna

  • President:
  • Brendan Kruh
  • 362 votes and 43.04 percent of the votes

  • Vice-President:
  • Marissa Cusano
  • 346 votes and 40.99 percent of the votes

  • Treasurer:
  • Christopher Cappiello
  • 332 votes and 39.15 percent of the votes