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.”