by Sarah Willson
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.
by Lorenzo Burgio and Kimberly Pena
Letters to the editor have always been submitted to newspapers as a way to incorporate the public’s perspective.
“The letters to the editor section is the prime forum of democracy in a newspaper, the place where the little guy gets to have his say,” explained poynter.org.
The option to submit a letter to the editor serves as a bulletin board for the public to share opinions or information they feel is necessary for other members of the public to know.
It’s a way for citizens to express their concerns publicly and in their own words and has historically played this role.
“Letters to the editor can be effective in influencing public opinion and legislators’ views. The ‘Letter to the Editor’ section is one of the most widely read parts of most newspapers, offering a chance to reach a broad audience. Letters to the editor can provide readers with insights on issues with which they may be unfamiliar, and can also inspire readers to take action,” explained the National Education Association.
In the late 1700s into the early 1800s, lawyer and legislator John Dickinson wrote a series of essays titled “Letters from a farmer in Pennsylvania,” that were periodically published in various newspapers throughout the 13 colonies.
The essays argued that the colonies were sovereign in their internal affairs, and Dickinson argued that taxes were being paid by the colonies in order to raise revenue for Parliament, versus through regulated trade, which he felt was unconstitutional.
The twelve letters submitted by Dickinson helped unite the colonists against the British Empire and highlighted the importance of letters to the editor.
Something that seems to be overlooked in regards to letters to the editor, is the fact that is was written by someone who is not a member of the newspaper’s staff or editorial board.
The work submitted then does not constitute as an article, but a letter to the editor, and its content is not that of the newspaper, but of the public or person who submitted the article.
The purpose of letters to the editor are to tell the newspaper what they are doing wrong, filling holes in stories they published and for citizens to simply explain perception of certain issues to the public.
“In a letter to the editor or opinion piece, you can bring up information not addressed in a news article, and can create the impression of widespread support or opposition to an issue,” explained the National Council of Teachers of English.
Therefore it will be considered unethical for any staff member of the newspaper to change the writing and the meaning of the letters to the editor. Its purpose is to provide a perspective from outside of the newspaper organization that is untouched by the paper.
For a staff member to change the meaning of the piece, is committing an injustice to the public. It is not expressing the authentic meaning of the letter and it does not provide the most detailed insight of members of the community.
“There’s some value in providing readers with a notion of what people in their community are saying and thinking… We do our best to maintain a kind of a coarse filter and err on the side of publishing something rather than not publishing it.”
However, this does not obligate the paper to publish every letter sent to the editor, it is based on the editor’s discretion on what they think is for the best interest to the paper and its readership.
by Kimberly Pena
Pepsi and Kendall Jenner have been under attack after the release of a new commercial which some viewers felt was a mockery of the marches and protests happening around the country, specifically the Black Lives Matter movement.
The roughly two-and-a-half minute commercial begins with Jenner doing a photo shoot while a protest is occurring in the street next to her. As the commercial progresses, Jenner decides to ditch the photo shoot and join the march. She then approaches a police officer and hands him a Pepsi drink and everyone ends up cheering and applauding.
Activist DeRay McKesson tweeted out, “If I had carried Pepsi I guess I never would’ve gotten arrested. Who knew?” Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., also tweeted “If only Daddy would have known about the power of #Pepsi.”
Due to the negative backlash, Pepsi has retracted the commercial and issued an apology. “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding,” the company said last Wednesday in a statement. “Clearly, we missed the mark, and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.”
Although it is clear why the commercial has been viewed as offensive and insensitive, it seems very unlikely that was the message Pepsi was trying to market. The video demonstrated human beings from all different backgrounds coming together for one common cause; harmony.
The handing off of the Pepsi drink to the officer and the cheering on afterwards was also controversial, but the way I saw it, it was an opportunity for Pepsi to advertise their drink and use it as a moment to symbolize peace — not that a Pepsi can solve everyone’s problems as some people are trying to put it.
However, it must be noted that people do come from different backgrounds and perceive things in different ways, so all views should be respected, especially to those who may have been offended.
Although seen as controversial by some, it should be noted that the ad did continue the ongoing conversation of the social injustices and movements going on around the country today. It did unite the internet and in a way made everyone speak about Pepsi; just maybe not the way that the company had hoped for.
If there should be any positive takeaway from the approximately three-minute video, people from different ethnic, cultural, religious or whatever backgrounds can come together and fight for whatever they may believe in, even if it means to come together against a Pepsi commercial.
Public colleges and universities in New York will grant free tuition to middle-class residents beginning in fall 2017; a significant step in the right direction to benefit upcoming generations.
In order to qualify for free tuition, students must be full-time and average 30 credits a year, or 15 a semester, which can include summer and winter-break classes.
Although there is no grade point average requirement set for eligibility, students need to ensure their grades are enough to pass each class and stay on track with the number of credits for graduation.
Under New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s new plan, families who make less than $100,000 per year are eligible for free tuition at state colleges, universities and two-year colleges for the fall 2017 semester.
Every year, the annual household income requirement to receive free tuition will increase. It will rise to $110,000 in fall of 2018 and to $125,000 in 2019.
Free tuition at state colleges and universities is every student’s dream. Higher education should not only be accessible to students who are fortunate enough to receive help from their family.
Cuomo is also trying to work with state colleges and universities in hopes of lowering tuition costs overall, which seems logical if they will see an influx of enrollment. Currently, tuition at New York’s state colleges and universities totals $6,470.
The plan proposed by Cuomo estimates that the plan will cost $163 million in its first year.
Cuomo proposed the plan in January, in hopes of setting an example to other states to decrease college costs.
It is estimated that when the plan is fully phased, 940,000 people would qualify for the program at New York’s 64 state colleges and universities. New York has the largest public college system in the U.S., totaling over 443,000 enrolled students, according to USA Today.
With so many students eligible to receive free college tuition, many may wonder how this is possible. However, when attending a university, there are many other expenses, such as room and board, that need to be taken into consideration.
The State University of New York said the costs on top of tuition total $20,700 a year. Also, students are responsible for paying for textbooks and providing transportation to and from school.
Free tuition could also be a plan in the near future for Connecticut students. As of April 4, Chris Murphy and Bernie Sanders backed the free tuition bill introduced by Senator Richard Blumenthal the day before at a Senate meeting, according to the Stamford Advocate.
“The $1.3 trillion in student debt is a disgrace and so is the fact that the U.S. government is profiting from student debt,” Blumenthal said at the Senate meeting.
“The legislation’s sponsors, which include 14 Democrats who introduced a version in the House of Representatives, estimate that $600 billion can be raised over a decade by a 0.5 percent tax on stock trades, a 0.1 percent fee on bonds and a 0.005 [percent] fee on derivatives,” according to the Stamford Advocate.
Although it may take Connecticut a while to put free tuition into action, it would clearly be beneficial to the state and a step in the right direction to make higher education accessible to the entire population.
by Stephen Dew
Finance Committee Vice-Chair
Student Government Association
A few months ago, the Student Government Association at Central Connecticut Sate University decided to embrace the advocacy of social justice issues on this campus, on behalf of the students, through the creation of the Social Justice Committee.
Nobody denies that as a campus we must confront issues like racism, sexism and homophobia. As a homosexual man, I want to see a campus that is welcoming to all, but SJC has done far more harm than good.
It has alienated minority communities, such as the veterans on campus, who only a few weeks ago were not invited to attend a panel organized by the committee to discuss veterans issues. While the panel may have helped some, it has thrown open divisions between not only the Student Veterans Organization and the SGA, but also divisions inside the government itself.
To feel more a part of the campus, SVO requested shirts and sweatshirts to promote themselves, which the SGA approved by a majority. But because of this, members of the SJC have pushed other organizations to request shirts to feel more included. I ask, why did SVO feel alienated? Why did members of the committee vote no on the request made by SVO? And why do they now push for more organizations to request promotional items?
It’s extremely clear to me the student government has been hijacked — for personal and moral gain — by a bunch of loony lefties who wish to impose their will on others who do not want it.
The average student does not want to be lectured on making the campus more open and compassionate. They want and need help with the cost of living that every student faces, from tuition fees to the price of textbooks.
How can the student government or senators claim the moral high ground, when not enough is done on these matters, because we as senators have to bicker and argue against those who are intolerant of those who do not think in their way.
An open and compassionate campus cannot be created if those students who struggle with their day-to-day living have to be tossed aside simply because they cannot afford to come to CCSU; that would be the biggest injustice to impose on our students.
by Brennah Dallaire
Do you like cookies? The members of Hartford’s comedy group History of the Future definitely do. Cookies were the topic of the sketch and improvised comedy routines the group put on at New Britain’s Hole in the Wall Theater last Saturday.
Hole in the Wall Theater bears similarities t
o dimly-lit coffee shops riddled with hipsters on their MacBooks writing novels or photo-shopping their artsy photos; but not as cliché.
The theater is cozy and filled with people in a good mood and excited for some alternate entertainment. Hole in the Wall is located on Main Street in downtown New Britain across from the police station.
It’s a smaller theater, where guests can get comfortable and everyone gets a great view of the stage. The theater, although small, is equipped with all of the lighting, sound equipment and set space needed to put on professional show.
Hole in the Wall offers a concession stand in the lobby where you can purchase baked goods and beverages including Avery’s Soda, a local brand.
This is History of the Future’s introduction to the Hole in the Wall theater. Long-form improvised comedy is their specialty. The comedy troupe typically performs at the Sea Tea Comedy Theater in Hartford, but strays to perform at special events and festivals. With the help of Hole in the Wall Theater Board President Mary Roane, the comedy group ended up performing there for a three week-stint.
The first act of the show was a typical sketch comedy where cast members Kevin Sullivan, Kevin Panko, Ed Richters, Sarah Babski, Sean Morrissey and Crystal Bezzini performed 12 five-minute skits.
Some stories felt as if they were trying too hard, but others, like “Blackmail Brownie,” were completely on point. Tammy the Girl Scout was selling cookies outside the grocery store. When her usual customers declined to purchase cookies, she would blackmail them with their secrets. Mr. Gorley had salami nipples and showed them off at the beach (there was photo evidence) and Ms. Turner wore cheap K-Mart brand jeans that made her butt look weird.
“Biscuit Beast’s Lament” was another hysterical skit about a Cookie Monster look-a-like named “Biscuit Beast,” who was in the process of being sued for putting on public shows while eating and singing about cookies.
“Inspired Dishes” was a spoof on the Food Network show, “Chopped.” Contests told sappy stories about how they created gourmet dishes of macaroni and cheese. One judge said it needed ketchup as he proceeded to take it from his pocket and squirt it into the dish. The contestant responded, “Thank you, chef,” and proceeded to cry into another judges arms because the dish was inspired by the father her son never met.
The plots of these skits were unhinged and the comedians were extremely dedicated to the characters and stories. What came after intermission was a new kind of comedy.
“History of the Future Makes a Baby” was a unique experience, representing the fact that the performance is unique to them and the audience watching it.
It started with the audience helping to name a character. That character was May Dragonbird, a 42-year-old woman who loved to skateboard and dreamt of meeting Tony Hawk, having his baby and “finally having health insurance!”
This portion of the show was completely improvised and led down many hilarious, perverse and surreal storylines that included emergency room doctors harvesting body parts and telling patients “if only they had made it sooner;” after fourteen-hour wait times.
May Dragonbird reached her goals; she married Tony Hawk and finally got health insurance. The comedians never abandoned the character, only creating new characters and furthering the crazy story.
The History of the Future’s visit to Hole in the Wall Theater was a welcome change in line-up. The comedy troupe continues their visit through April 15. For more information on ticket prices, show times and directions, visit hitw.org.
by Lorenzo Burgio
College graduates that work and live in the same state as the institution upon graduation are undeniably beneficial to that state’s economy.
Connecticut lawmakers, particularly House Democrats, have recently noticed this and are proposing a tax break that would apply to students who graduate after January 2018.
Students who obtain a job and live in the state after graduation will receive the tax break for five consecutive years. If the graduate attends an out-of-state school, they are still eligible as long as they return and begin working within two years of graduation.
The amount of the tax breaks would vary per graduate and be based on income. An estimated 50,000 to 60,000 graduates would be eligible and the first-year cost of the plan would be $6 million, according to the Hartford Courant.
Two highly debated issues are tackled by this bill; making higher education more appealing to upcoming generations and improving the state’s economy.
A study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that individuals born after 1980 with a college education have lower unemployment and poverty rates than those without one. They are also more likely to rent or own their own home and not be living with their parents; factors that benefit the economy.
“Since the 1970s, education increasingly tends to demarcate the more economically successful from the less economically successful,” PRC stated in the study.
Arizona State University also conducted a study that gauged the societal benefits from a college-educated population.
“Social benefits of a workforce with greater educational attainment and skills can be traced to the enhanced worker productivity associated with greater educational attainment. These productivity gains translate into higher output and incomes for the economy,” the ASU study concluded.
The enhanced productivity then starts a chain reaction that improves not only the state’s economy, but the country’s as well, explained the ASU study.
“Higher education influences economic well-being in three ways,” the ASU study stated. “First, the direct expenditures by the institutions, their employees and their students impact the local economy. This spending multiplies through the local economy until the monies are used to purchase goods and services from outside the local area.”
The fact that a college-educated population is beneficial to both the educated citizens and the economy where they live and work, is the most important aspect of the ASU study.
“The benefit stream contains the private benefits that accrue to the individual plus the social benefits that the employment of the individual generates for the rest of the economy,” the ASU study stated.
This means the entire state benefits when tax breaks are used as incentives to increase the size of the college-educated population that remains in Connecticut upon graduation; as the the proposed bill aims to do.
The tax break will make higher education more appealing for upcoming generations and these studies are reason enough for it to be enacted, so Connecticut residents — whether students or not — can benefit from the economical boost that will follow.
by Kimberly Pena
The question of whether college athletes should be paid is highly debated in the world of sports and beyond. These college athletes spend many hours training, working out, studying films and on top of that, they are students.
It is not easy to be a college athlete because of all the accompanying responsibilities and the pressure to succeed. Simply being a student can be tough on a person.
However, there are many other factors that contribute to whether a student should be paid to play a sport. These students know what they were getting into when playing a sport at a university and must understand that it will be their responsibility to manage a job if it is necessary to sustain themselves.
There are those who believe that athletes must learn how to take the highs with the lows of being a student athlete. It is tough, but that is what these students signed up for.
With that being said, there must be some form of sympathy for these players because they simply love the game too much and it means too much to them to just give it up and only be a student.
But, there are solutions for those student athletes who find it difficult to manage a job in their busy schedules. Their own school may offer part-time jobs to their students that accommodate their schedule.
Many university jobs understand a student’s busy schedule and will work with them to meet their needs, while providing the student with extra cash to spend.
Until there is a system that pays student athletes fairly and thoroughly, there isn’t much universities can do to resolve this debated issue. The complications grow when factors such as who is paid and how much they should be paid are taken into consideration.
Universities already provide several of their athletes scholarships and grants that amount to some or all of their tuition. There are also tutoring and other academic programs to help student athletes keep up with their academics.
Then there is the side of those students who work full-time and are excellent students and still cannot afford to pay their tuition. There is no sympathy for those students in how they can settle their financial restrictions.
No one said being a college student was going to be easy and sometimes going through a little financial hardship makes a person grow and better appreciate the little things in life.
Sports are essential in a university. It teaches students many skills such as working as a team, responsibility, socialization skills and work ethic, among other values.
However, student athletes should not get paid until there is a system that works and complies with the needs of every student athlete.
Three people were shot and injured in New Britain near the Central Connecticut State University campus last Wednesday around 7 a.m.
The three people were a woman and her 12-year-old and 17-year-old kids, who were all transported to local hospitals and are said to make a full recovery.
The shooting occurred on Newington Avenue, close to East Street, two and a half miles away and a short seven-minute drive away from CCSU; which is too close.
CCSU did not go into lockdown due to the incident. Since the shooting happened so close to campus and past events that caused campus to close down, it was a surprise CCSU was not.
Students at Central did not receive any notification about the event, not even through email as they usually are. Many students are still in the dark about the event, and have no idea it happened or what happened. Incidents such as this should be highlighted so students can take necessary precautions as New Britain residents.
With a shooting so close to campus, it is unacceptable that students were not at least notified of the event when it happened. There was no way for students to know where the shooter was going or what his possible intentions are unless they followed the news.
With the suspect’s intention being unclear and unpredictable, CCSU should have taken necessary precautions to ensure that the faculty and student body were informed of the event and were safe. Safety of students should be top priority for CCSU. If something were to happen, students would be unaware the event even occurred, putting many students in a dangerous situation.
The incident occurred after the suspect and a boy got into a dispute related to school, according to Eyewitness News.
The suspect has been identified as 36-year-old Jermaine Tywane Scott. Police officials are still looking for Scott, who is said to be “armed and dangerous,” and to have a criminal history that includes violence, according to police officials.
According to Eyewitness News, the shooting sent two nearby schools on lock down, Chamberlain Elementary School and CCMC School. St. Francis Hospital’s emergency department in Hartford did the same when the suspect was thought to be there.
Police officials believe Scott had both a relationship and lived with the women who was shot.
On the first of the month, authorities searched the home of another women Scott previously had relations with in New Haven on Thompson Street, where there was a large police presence.
Many nearby towns, specifically New Haven, are being watched by police in hopes of finding Scott and taking him into custody for several charges, including attempted murder, criminal possession, use of a firearm and criminal possession of a high capacity magazine, according to Eyewitness News.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact the New Britain Police Department at 860-826-3000.