Category Archives: Columns

Was the Pepsi Commercial Really that Controversial?

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.

Free College Tuition for New York Residents

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.

It’s Still Complicated for Student Athletes

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.

Too Close to Home

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.

Hodgman Resigns From Hartford School System

Jill Cutler Hodgman, Hartford school system’s chief labor and legal officer, has resigned after agreeing to a separation arrangement, according to The Hartford Courant.

This agreement will keep Hodgman on the school system’s payroll until the end of the school year in June, while being considered on “paid leave” until then.

According to The Hartford Courant, the Hartford school system has “been subject to criticism in the aftermath of a state watchdog report that outlined widespread failures in how Hartford schools have handled allegations of suspected child abuse or neglect — particularly when the potential abusers are school employees.” This statement was made in reference to the Eduardo Genao case, which took place in 2016.

“[Genao] resigned in April 2016 after he was accused of sending sexual text messages to a 13-year-old girl from New York whom he had met at a district event,” according to The Hartford Courant. Genao pleaded not guilty to risk of injury of a minor.

Hodgman is one of Hartford’s highest payed employees, earning an annual salary of $183,846, according to The Hartford Courant. From now until June, Hodgman would have made nearly $50,000 based on her annual salary. Although she is not directly working under this agreement, Hodgman is essentially being paid this large amount to resign in June without complication.

Hodgman is said to be serving as a consultant to the superintendent of Hartford schools, but there are no specific tasks provided in the job description.

Hodgman said in a statement on March 15 that she “had the tremendous honor to work with talented and dedicated professionals in the service of the children and families of Hartford.”

“Though I have accepted a new position and will be stepping away from my role in Hartford, I will continue to assist the district through the transition and beyond,” said Hodgman. “I am grateful for the opportunities that I have been given, and I have great hope for the future of Hartford.”

The question then arises — why did the Hartford school system make this deal with Hodgman in the first place?

The mistakes Hodgman made as chief labor and legal officer during the Genao case were enough for the Hartford school system to have her resign and make an agreement with her as far as salary concerns and benefits.

If the actions Hodgman made while working for the Hartford school system were not enough to fire her, why did the school system find it so important to make a deal with her to resign?

If Hodgman is fired “without cause” by the superintendent, she is entitled to her full pay and benefits, including the district’s health insurance coverage, until Aug. 31.

For Hodgman, leaving the Hartford school system will be difficult, and she will do so with a “heavy heart.”

Connecticut Police Show Little Interest In Body Cameras

by Lorenzo Burgio

As a student who has worked multiple retail, labor and customer service jobs throughout college, it’s baffling when police officers oppose the use of body cameras.

It is difficult to remember a job where security cameras were not running around the clock to make certain that employees did their jobs correctly.

Nearly everyone employed in the labor, retail and customer service fields are constantly being monitored to ensure their jobs are performed correctly; it’s trivial to think this does not apply to armed law enforcement.

It’s not a sufficient argument that “no one want to be monitored on the job,” when everyone is except police officers.

Across the nation, many law enforcement agencies have begun issuing body cameras to officers willing to comply, but there has been an alarming number that oppose the idea.

Coming from someone who has spent the last five and a half years being recorded at multiple jobs, only one reason comes to mind when an officer resists: they are not doing their job correctly.

It’s the only reason that lingers each time it is reported that an officer tried to prevent someone from filming them, or covered their badges from being seen.

An Act Concerning Excessive Use of Force was signed by Governor Dannel P. Malloy last October, to encourage the use of body cameras and use-of-force investigations in the state of Connecticut, but has received little response from state law enforcement.

Earlier this month, The Hartford Courant reported 12 out of the over 100 law enforcement agencies in the state have reached out to the Office of Police and Management regarding the act to receive reimbursement for body cameras; a $15 million program.

More interest in this program needs to be showed by law enforcement across the state, particularly to align with the beliefs of officers and the public.

A Pew Research study showed 93 percent of the public and 66 percent of police favor the use of body cameras to record interactions between officers and the public. About six-in-ten Americans said they would likely be more cooperative with officers if they wore body cameras, while only one-third of police agreed.

The study also showed two-thirds of the public and half of officers believe police are more likely to act appropriately when wearing a body camera.

It appears the actions taken by law enforcement agencies across the state regarding the use of body cameras do not match the beliefs of the public, or the majority of officers.

It is difficult to comprehend how nearly every employee in the retail, administration, labor and customer service industries are constantly monitored, but this does not apply to armed law enforcement, when statistics clearly show the public and many police feel body cameras will help protect and serve.

Farewell: My Turn to Say Goodbye

by Jacqueline Stoughton

I’ve always known that being a journalist is what I’m meant to do in my life. I had been active on my high school paper, further assuring me that I was making the right choice of what I wanted to study in college. When I arrived at Central Connecticut as a freshman, getting involved with The Recorder was a top priority.

I will never forget sending an email to Kassondra Granata, who was Editor-in-Chief at the time and is now one of my best friends, inquiring about getting involved as a staff writer. I was nervous, but knew if I was serious about journalism and wanted to be successful in the field, this was something I had to be overly involved in.

Under Granata, I wrote opinions and covered various events for the Arts & Entertainment section. With her guidance, I was able to develop my writing style as a reporter, eventually discovering my true passion for news writing.

My sophomore year under Amanda Webster, I continued to write news. She trained and prepared me for when I was promoted to assistant news editor the following semester, where I worked closely with Acadia Otlowski as she ran the news section. Together we were the “journalism dream team.” Under Otlowski, I took over as news editor.

My senior year I was elected Editor-in-Chief. This was an experience I grew from as a journalist and as a leader. I faced many challenges this year and experienced for the first time the major disrespect that frequently comes with being a woman leader. Overall this paper has grown and is on a path towards developing into a true multimedia publication. A lot of great initiatives were started this year, such as paying staff writers for their hard work and bringing video packages onto our newly renovated website. These are projects I’m confident my staff will continue to work on following my departure from this paper.

When I think about how far I’ve come not only as a journalist, but as a person, I’ve grown and matured and am now ready to be a full-fledged adult taking on the real world. It’s inspiring to think about how much I was able to accomplish in four short years – imagine what’s possible throughout the rest of my career.

I want to thank my amazing and inspiring mother, my insanely comical sister, my father and all my other family and friends who have stuck by my side throughout the past four years. Thank you to Kassondra for being an incredible best friend, who has not only guided me and provided me with advice throughout my four years as I worked my way up to Editor-in-Chief, but also for just being there to listen to me vent, paper related or otherwise. Thank you to Acadia and Sean Begin for preparing me to take on this role, as well as being there to provide guidance throughout the year when I needed it. Thank you to Sean Ferris for coming back and helping me when I needed it most and for always making Monday nights an enjoyable yet slightly annoying and loud experience.

Most importantly thank you to all the professors in the CCSU Department of Journalism. Everyone of you has had a hand in molding me to be the journalist I am today. Specifically, thank you to Dr. Vivian Martin for always being available to provide professional advice whether with the paper, internships or just to chit-chat. CCSU journalism has given me the experiences and contacts needed in order to receive opportunities I don’t believe I would’ve gotten elsewhere. Because of this department, I was able to partake on three incredible adventures abroad. These are all opportunities that contributed to my growth as a journalist and are memories I’ll carry with me forever.

Thank you to my staff writers; you’re all incredible, hard workers and there would be no paper without you. Thank you to my news editors Nick Leahey and Analisa Novak for stepping up and taking over the section when it needed you most. You two brought this section to the best state it has been in for a long time, I’m incredibly proud of you both and am confident you both will go far in this field. Thank you to my copy editors, Lorenzo Burgio and Nicole Gagnon for helping me with the tedious task of editing. The quality of this paper wouldn’t have reached the level it’s at without both of your hard work.

The Recorder has put out a consistent product that is something to be proud of. Good luck to my staff next year as they carry on and continue to make The Recorder a high quality and professional publication. Thank you so much for not only this year, but also for the amazing experiences and adventures I’ve had with this paper all four years.

The Curse of Leading

by Jacqueline Stoughton

Over the past year I’ve had experiences in my personal life that I never imagined I would find myself having to endure. Those experiences inspired me to try and become a more ‘positive thinker.’ Every genuinely happy person I know in my life always advises positive thinking; that one positive thought in the morning can make such an impact on your entire day if you start it out on a good note.

I gave positive thinking a solid effort. I downloaded all the positive affirmation memes and even changed my cell phone background to say “focus on the good.” I found that the people who surround you really have an influence on how well positive thinking works. Being around negative people has much more of an effect on your attitude and outlook than many may realize.

This year especially, my positive outlook was tested being in the position I am in. Being in the Editor-in-Chief position, I receive emails criticizing my writing, I have people who call me a “bitch” just for doing my job and I have people who work for me who don’t respect me as a leader because I’m also a peer of the same age and still a student – they don’t respect my position and the decisions I have to make daily.

As a woman, I hadn’t experienced the disrespect, and at times cruelty, that men extend to women in powerful leadership positions until I became Editor-in-Chief. Sadly, I expected to experience this at some point in my career and doubt this will be the last time. What was especially sad was I was experiencing this same treatment from women on my staff as well. Just because I do my job as expected, give direction and hold my editors to high standards shouldn’t be a legitimate reason to classify me as a “bitch.”

Especially as women, we should be building each other up instead of going out of our way to knock each other down with hateful language. Men and women in a field as competitive as journalism should be supporting and encouraging each other to set ambitious goals. Competition doesn’t give you an excuse to be a hateful, cruel and negative person to others.

As someone who spent the majority of my young life with the “shy girl” as my identifier, college was the new environment I needed to pull myself out of my shell and gave me the confidence to be myself – someone who isn’t shy.

It’s unfortunate for people like me, who built themselves up from being a shy and vulnerable person who people used to walk all over, to someone that’s confident, has opinions and is strong, assertive and knows how I want to lead, is then knocked down by people misinterpreting my strongest qualities as being bitchy, unapproachable, bossy and aggressive. If I were a man in the same position, I wouldn’t be treated the way I have been as a woman leader.

Cosmopolitan Magazine stated studies confirm women have a tendency to avoid leadership positions out of fear of being labeled as bossy. As more success comes to a woman climbing the corporate ladder, other men and women like her less. Their negative language towards her changes the perception everyone else has of her.

This is similar to what I’ve been experiencing. Just because some may be jealous of my success, they feel inclined to refer to me as a bitch to everyone else in the office, now establishing that as my office identifier. I definitely didn’t work tirelessly for three year to get this position, just to be mislabeled as a bitch.

Going out of my way to tear someone down and break their confidence never makes me feel better about myself, and it certainly doesn’t feel good being on the other end of that. We should all practice supporting other instead of using hurtful language to try and set them up for failure.

Not everyone you meet will like you, just as you won’t like everyone you meet either, and that’s okay. We all need to work on respecting those in leadership positions, men and women, regardless of what our personal feelings towards them may be. Words hurt, we need to be more aware of our word choices about others because you never know what kind of battle that person is fighting.

Women are just as capable of being leaders as men are; fueling the stereotype with degrading language choices isn’t solving any of our societal problems or perception of women leaders. Change can only be made when everyone realizes that even what they say behind others backs has an effect.

Hopefully this message comes across to those who have inflicted this negative treatment on me all year. This type of treatment isn’t going to get you anywhere in life once you leave the college environment. Starting now, we need to be more aware of the effect our words have and start appreciating and recognizing the hard work people like myself, in leadership positions go through daily, instead of doing whatever you can to bring that person down. Does inflicting such negativity on others really make you feel better about yourself? I’m guessing not so much.

Mississippi Needs to Move Back into the 21st Century

by Jacqueline Stoughton

Despite the fact it’s now 2016, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) signed a bill last week allowing businesses to refuse their services to gay couples based on their religious beliefs and objections.

Many have expressed opposition due to concerns that this could effect the success of their businesses and distort future potential economic opportunities for the state – which is a genuine concern, but what about the concern that this bill is infringing upon basic human rights?

This new Mississippi state law says it is to “sincerely help religious beliefs or moral convictions.” This includes defining marriage as to be only between a man and a woman and that sexual relations should be reserved for marriage only. The new law, set to go into effect on July 1st of this year, goes on to define gender as being “determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.” Giving the right to businesses to determine who can have access to bathrooms, dressing and locker rooms.

“This bill does not limit any constitutionally protected rights or actions of any citizens of this state under federal or state laws,” said Bryant to the Washington Post. “The legislation is designed in the most targeted manner possible to prevent government interference in the lives of the people from which all power to the state is derived.”

Last year we finally saw the Supreme Court rule marriage equality in all 50 states, with growing acceptance as a new generation takes over. It’s sad to think we still live in a world where people have to use their religion to mask their inhuman prejudices, and use as a loophole to take away basic human rights from others.

“This is a sad day for the state of Mississippi and for the thousands of Mississippians who can now be turned away from businesses, refused marriage licenses, or denied housing, essential services and needed care based on who they are,” said Jennifer Riley-Collins, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi, in a statement to The Washington Post. “This bill flies in the face of the basic American principles of fairness, justice and equality and will not protect anyone’s religious liberty.”

This goes against the separation of church and state. We should never involve this much religion as a basis for creating a law that will only effect others. Forcing a religion on someone, that not everyone follows is beyond wrong. When it comes to LGBTQ and basic human rights in general, this country has come a long way – but Mississippi is seriously disrupting that progress.

This is similar to the Supreme Court ruling in 2014 that gave justice to Hobby Lobby and other family owned companies to opt out of the Affordable Care Act provision that covers prescription contraception, on the grounds of religious objections and freedom. This put many women’s health at risk – because believe it or not, women go on birth control for many other reason than to have pre-marital sex.

It’s time for governments to stop using religion as an excuse for creating audacious laws. Preventing women from getting contraceptions they need, or denying basic human needs based on who someone else loves, is nothing any state or national government should be proud of.

New Security Bill to Give Internet Abusers a Lesson in Online Etiquette

by Jacqueline Stoughton

Online privacy and security has been a political issue for some time now, but it seems Congress is finally beginning to make some move on a bill requiring a search warrant from a judge before law enforcements are allowed to freely search through a persons email, photos and other online documents.

The internet, while it’s advanced and innovative capabilities has surged Americans into the great technological era, has proved to be just as dangerous when used irresponsibly. Americans have definitely taken the powers of the internet for granted and most of the time, abuse them.

The hope is maybe this bill will act as a reality check for some abusive Americans who take advantage of what the internet has to offer and teach them how to use it in a responsible manner.

The older version of this bill passed in 1986 under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act required government agents to obtain a search warrant to search through emails on servers such as Yahoo and Google. The warrant would only allow them to search messages less than 180 days old, messages older than that would require issuing subpoenas to technology companies.

This updated bill, introduced by Kevin Yoder (R-KS.) in the House now has 300 co-sponsors, making it very likely to pass. The bill requires a warrant for all online information of any type of file regardless of how old it is. There’s also an exception clause in the legislation that allows civil enforcement agencies to obtain subpoena messages sent by employees on their companies or corporate computers.

Although at the time it made sense for the original version of this law to have it the way it was, it’s definitely overdue for some improvements. So many shady deals go down on the internet – something that was supposed to technologically advance us and be used as a helpful tool in everyday life, is being abused beyond belief by irresponsible users.

It’s rare for me to agree with a bill proposed by a Republican – but this is something that is an absolute necessity in today’s society. It’s a seamless process for law enforcement to obtain such search warrants, according to most legal experts it’s a very rare occasion where a judge denies a warrant as long as probable cause is clearly displayed.

Hopefully this provides internet abusers with the lesson so desperately needed, not everything can be hidden on the internet. Once it’s posted, it’s out there forever and can’t be taken back regardless of how advanced your security measures are.