Category Archives: Editorials

There is Little Proof Citizens are a Concern

by Lorenzo Burgio

 

It’s Discrimination

A Virginia male transgender student is seeking to use a school bathroom that associates with his gender identity. However, the Supreme Court has sent his case back to the lower courts, delaying his search for justice.

Gavin Grimm, the 17-year-old student in the middle of the national debate, is wondering what the huge issue is regarding him using the bathroom that aligns with his male identity.

“People expect me to say that using the boys’ bathroom was super magical and just the best time of my life,” Grimm said in an interview with CNN. “But I was just using the bathroom. I went in and left.”

Grimm wanted to feel comfortable using the boys’ bathroom, but he couldn’t feel further from that at this point.

The decision by the Supreme Court to send the case back down means it will go back to a court of appeals. Then likely removing the chance that the Supreme Court will hear it this term.

Initially, the federal appeals court ruled in favor of Grimm, citing the Obama administration’s support of Title IX as it pertains to transgender rights. However, the Trump administration has since revoked the support of this protection.

In an interview with CNN, Grimm’s attorney, Joshua Block, said of the setback, “This is a detour, not the end of the road, and we’ll continue to fight for Gavin and other transgender people to ensure that they are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

The issue is not only about Grimm – it is about giving people who are transgender the rights that they deserve without question.

In situations like Grimm’s, policies should play a supportive role in accommodating the needs of transgender individuals. Across the country, there are people just like Grimm that feel insecure after hearing issues like this.

“Last April, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of Grimm, who fought a school board policy that denied him access to the boys’ bathroom but allowed him the use of recently constructed single-stall unisex restrooms,” reported CNN.

A person who is transgender should not be restricted from using their bathroom that they feel most comfortable in, or only single-stall unisex restrooms. Limiting where people who are transgender can use the restroom is discriminative and simply unethical.

Discriminatory acts seem to be a reoccurring theme in this country, except the victims are always changing. One would think, limiting a particular demographics access to public restrooms is simply bigotry and should not be tolerated in a democratic society.

The sex a person is classified under should be the defining factor of where an individual should be allowed to use the restroom. All transgender individuals should be allowed to use public accommodations as they see fit for themselves, and no individuals or government power should restrict, limit or have a say in the matter.

The steps back the presidential administration has taken in regards to transgender rights is discriminatory. People who are transgender should be able to feel comfortable with their sex classification at home and in public, and incidents like Grimm’s highlight how the country has regressed.

We Need the Truth

The New York Times ran a television ad for the first time since 2010 during the 89th Academy Awards Ceremony on ABC., firing back at President Donald Trump and emphasizing the importance of a free press. 

During the commercial block, a white screen appeared, with the words “The truth is, our nation is more divided than ever.” As the 30-second advert continued, the words “The truth is” remained on screen, with a variety of different messages following. As voices of reporters grew louder in the background, the advertisement ended with the words, “The truth is more important now more than ever.”

Although the advertisement does not directly call out the 45th president, it is clear by its message and tone that the statements provided target the travel ban and illicit ties to Russia.

In response to the commercial, Trump jumped on his favorite social media platform to share his thoughts. “For first time the failing @nytimes will take an ad (a bad one) to help save its failing reputation. Try reporting accurately & fairly,” Trump tweeted.

Even as Trump continues to claim The New York Times is failing, the statement appears to be false. In reality, the Times actually added 132,000 paid subscriptions since Election Day, which is ten times the newspaper’s growth during the same period a year earlier.

The commercial was very upfront with its message. There is no footage or images that appear on screen. Instead, all that appears is a simple black text on a white screen. The Times advert is clear, direct and frank.

“The ad’s mission is to tap into national dialogue going on right now about facts and the truth and what that means in today’s world,” according to The New York Times branding executive David Rubin.

“The idea is to be a part of that discussion about what does it mean to find the truth,” said Rubin. “What does that mean in a world of ‘fake news?’ What is the role of journalism and journalists in that process and what is the role of the reader in supporting that journalism?”

The New York Times is one of many news outlets, including CNN, to be banned from a Friday casual press conference with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

It seems the Times is making a point, a very concise one, that says they will find a way to inform the public and decided to make that undeniably clear during one of the largest entertainment shows of the year.

They know how fundamental a free press is to a democracy and agree with Walter Lippmann that “there can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and to shame the devil.” 

A Concern for Medicaid

Republicans in Congress and President Donald Trump are making an effort to alter the Medicaid program by issuing block grants, or per capita enrollment, to states.

This would differ drastically from how the funding is currently. “Medicaid now operates as either a negotiated fee-for-service system or a monthly rate per Medicaid enrollee. The federal government pays a portion of the expenses, and state government pays the other portion,” wrote usnews.com.

Ultimately the federal government pays for the needs of its beneficiaries. This results in the federal government covering about 57 percent of the states’ Medicaid costs, according to The Fiscal Times.

A block grant is a specifically structured federal funding with a set sum of money that will be given to the states in a designated period of time.

Under a per capita enrollment, the federal government would only reimburse the states for a specific amount per enrollee.

Whether states are issued block grants or per capita enrollment, Medicaid benefits are going to be impacted and will affect many elderly and disabled individuals. This would also impact children and adults who were unfortunate enough to be born with a disease, such as cystic fibrosis or kidney disease, that prevents them from working.

The change in Medicaid funding is part of Trump’s effort to save the federal government money, which he believes will leave more power in the hands of the state.

Medicaid is a federal program that provides healthcare funds for nearly 70 million Americans, according to the Chicago Tribune.

This raises concern in Connecticut because there are more than 765,000 Connecticut residents who receive Medicaid and $2 million at stake with the proposed cuts, according to the New Haven Register.

“Eliminating the federal dollars for experimenting with payment methods and care delivery structures would cost Connecticut billions,” said Lieutenant Nancy Wyman, co-chair of the Access Health CT board of directors to the New Haven Registrer.

The funds states are receiving for Medicaid should not be tampered with. They are used to help immense numbers of elderly and disabled individuals nationwide. Tampering with the funding to save the federal government money would impact the largest insurer in the country and the 73 million people they currently cover, two-thirds of which are in nursing homes.

There needs to be more caution taken when it comes to altering the dynamics of Medicaid and who that will impact. There seems to be an unwritten obligation that needs to be upheld in which Medicaid is maintained, or even improved in order to ensure all who rely on it are properly receive the care they need.

New Education Funding Formula

On Monday, Governor Dannel Malloy released his new plan to redistribute educational funding in the state with a formula that is more transparent and fair.

The new plan is meant “to address disparities in funding the state’s education system, stressing that waiting for further judicial action on the matter will only result in wasted time and wasted opportunity on behalf of students in Connecticut,” said Malloy.

Malloy’s plan would overhaul the current Education Cost Sharing grant formula because it alters how student poverty is measured in each school district.

By doing so, it creates “a grant pool of roughly $575 million to help towns pay for special education,” according to the CT Mirror.

This pool would then redistribute the funds to impoverished school districts that need funding most.

“For the first time in more than a decade, the proposed new formula will count current enrollment, and it recognizes shifting demographics of small towns and growing cities,” said patch.com. “To better ensure support is directed to communities with higher concentrations of poverty, it will use a more accurate measure of poverty by replacing the free and reduced price lunch measure with HUSKY A data.”

“Under the proposal, a new Special Education Grant will be created and funds allocated on an adjusting scale based on a municipality’s relative wealth,” stated a press release on the proposal.

Changes to the way educational funds are distributed in the state are needed. There are constantly drastic social and economic changes in the demographics that make up school districts throughout the entire state.

This directly impacts the needs of the students in these districts and in turn, the funds received. It seems counterproductive to allocate the same amount of funds to all school districts statewide, when the needs of some are far greater than others. The focus should be on the quality of education the districts are producing.

All school districts in the state should have the resources to maintain a certain high quality of education. To do so, each district must be closely examined to ensure they receive funding for what they need.

Connecticut is known for its extremely high education and wage gap.  Hopefully this funding further helps the progression in some of Connecticut’s towns and cities that are in need of the proper amount of funding.  Connecticut is consistently one of the top states in the nation academically; this redistribution plan should continue to improve that.

Malloy will be presenting his new budget formula today, at the Connecticut General Assembly while he presents his full state budget proposal.

Trump’s Muslim Ban Hurts More Than Helps

Over the weekend, President Donald Trump issued his seventh executive order in as many days.

His executive order banned refugees from entering the United States for 120 days and citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya Sudan, Syria, Somalia and Yemen for 90 days.

All seven nations are predominately Muslim, yet not a single person has been killed in the U.S. since 9/11 from an extremist from those seven nations.

On top of that, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates – the four nations that the 9/11 terrorists were from – were oddly left off of the list.  Those are also countries that Trump either has, or attempted to do business with.

The ban completely bypasses the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which banned all discrimination against immigrants on the basis of their national origin.

It is beyond a cliche at this point but the U.S. was founded on immigrants.  We have hundreds of years worth of history proving this exact statement.  Yet this executive order essentially throws all of that away.

Apart from ignoring the history of the U.S., the executive order also is a major threat to our nation’s safety and will yield consequences.

For the past year the power that ISIS holds has been dramatically reduced, and for the past several months the Iraqi military has been fighting ISIS in Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq and the last major stronghold being held by ISIS in the nation.  Every day Iraq gets closer to freeing the city, which could break the spine of ISIS.

ISIS uses propaganda and fear to recruit and while they were extremely successful in the past, luckily that is no longer the case. Yet this ban will simply give ISIS unlimited ammo for thousands of now forgotten about Middle Eastern young adults.  Which could reverse all of the hard work which has been done over the past year.

Over the past year we have stepped on the throat of the ISIS, yet this ban could very well have just picked them up, dusted off their shoulders and let them go.

In addition to putting more power in the hands of terrorist groups over seas, the executive order is simply inhumane. It denies entry to this country to continue a safe life. A quality this country was founded on, and prides itself over, stripped away for a reason that seems personal to President Trump.

The executive order seems to yield consequences that will hurt the U.S. and refugees seeking a safe haven, solely to benefit President Trump’s agenda which disregards the fact that no one in the U.S. has been killed by an extremist from those seven countries since 9/11.

North Carolina and Mississippi Did This to Themselves

North Carolina and Mississippi have been facing a tremendous amount of backlash from celebrities, politicians and businesses around the country, after the governors signed a bill discriminating against the LGBTQ community.

The first to take action was Bruce Springsteen. He cancelled his show in Greensboro, North Carolina in order to protest these anti-LGBTQ laws. Other celebrities such as Ringo Starr, the former Beatles member, cancelled his show in Cary, North Carolina that was planned for June 18th.

Jimmy Buffet did not cancel any shows there, but let the state knows he opposed their actions on his blog.

As for Mississippi, Sharon Stone has cancelled her plans to film a movie there and the Canadian music singer Bryan Adams cancelled his concert that was planned for April, 14th.

Pop stars Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas announced Monday they will be canceling their shows in Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina that were apart of their highly anticipated collaboration tour, Honda Civic Tour: Future Now.

“North Carolina’s discriminatory HB2 law is extremely disappointing, and it takes away some of the LGBT community’s most basic rights and protections. But we will not allow this to stop us from continuing to make progress for equality and acceptance,” said Lovato and Jonas in a joint statement.

Multiple companies have also taken action to show they do not agree with the states actions and at the same time put pressure on the state government to change this grotesque and antiquated.

Deutsche Bank responded to the state law by freezing their plan that was inaction to create 250 new jobs in Cary, North Carolina.

PayPal has also cancelled its plans to build a global operations center in Charlotte, North Carolina. This would have provided 400 jobs for the city.

“In Mississippi, companies such as Tyson Foods, MGM Resorts International, Nissan and Toyota, all major employers in the state, have raised objections to the law signed by Gov. Phil Bryant,” wrote the New York Times.

In addition, Washington State, Vermont and New York’s governors have issued and executive order banning travel to Mississippi.

Technology giants such as Facebook, Apple and Google have all signed a letter to the governor of North Carolina asking to repeal the law because it [the laws] are, “bad for our employees and bad for business.” Bank of America also signed this letter, their main headquarters is located in Charlotte.

“We are deeply concerned that this discriminatory law runs counter to our guiding principles of equality and mutual respect and do not yet know what impact it will have on our ability to successfully host the 2017 All-Star Games in Charlotte,” said the NBA in a statement to the state’s officials.

According to The New York Times, “Braeburn Pharmaceuticals said it was ‘extremely disappointed’ and was reconsidering plans to expand a plant in the state that would bring an investment of nearly $20 million and 52 new jobs.”

The reaction by businesses, governors and celebrities is highly necessary and justified. The idea that this is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in this country, or in the year 2016, needs to be publicized and understood. North Carolina and Mississippi are the cause of their own turmoil. Now both state economies and their residents have to suffer because of these discriminatory laws.

Standing up to Sexual Assault, Continues to be on us

This month we recognize sexual assault awareness month and the Central Connecticut campus is holding events to bring light to the difficult subject.

Beginning in the 1970s, women began the Take Back the Night marches, where they protested against violence frequently encountered late at night while walking the streets.

Forty-six years later that tradition continues throughout the country, especially on college campuses – including CCSU. Sexual assault has gone from a topic that was once hushed and suppressed, to becoming a staple conversation in all college campuses and work places.

The mission is to bring voices to victims and empower them to know that they are not alone now and will never be. Through the work of countless organizations including No More, RAAIN (rape, abuse and incest national network) and locally, Stand Up CCSU, the message of making unity and prevention against sexual assault has been made clear. We, under no circumstances will stand for it. We will do everything to prevent it and will do everything to assure the victims that we will look after them. Now more than ever are we working towards prosecuting those predators that prey on the innocent.

Daniel Ken Holtzclaw, a Oklahoma police officer was found guilty of the 18 out of the 36 counts of sexual assaults he faced. He preyed on defenseless black women and used his authority to get them to preform sexual acts to avoid jail time. It’s becoming a topic within politicians as one gets set to be the future president, all eyes are on how incoming politicians will handle this issue.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden recently started The White House campaign “It’s On Us,” to continue the conversation of sexual assault on college campuses – making sure it doesn’t leave as he prepares to depart the White House.

The movie “The Hunting Ground” has exposed the holes within major universities reporting of sexual assaults. This movie has pinpointed how many universities refuse to publicly address sexual assault incidents in fear of it hurting enrollments on campus. Ivy Leagues are even among the accused of doing this, showing how it doesn’t matter if you are in the best schools of the nation – this can happen to you.

Beyond college campuses, there has been a new conversation about sexual assault brought on through our television screens. We witnessed Lady Gaga preform her nominated song “Till It Happens To You” alongside other sexual assault victims during the 2016 Oscar ceremony. Among the ranks of survivors that were a part of that performance stood a CEO, one who was also a survivor and an advocate.

It’s important for us to continue to hold such events on college campuses, such as Take Back the Night, and continue to give a voice to those who feel like they don’t have one. We must provide the safe space for victims to come to and feel comfortable in, and inspire more assault victims to come forward and report what the horrors that have happened to them. Only together can we continue to give this movement more momentum and institute change in this world and within our own communities.

Tuition Increases Potentially Effecting Quality of Higher Education

Exiting high school and stepping into the college realm, many students chose Central Connecticut for two main reasons: It is affordable and you get a good education close to home.

Good education at a good price. Short and simple.

But is it still that way?

Not as of March 29th.

According to an article from CT Mirror, the Board of Regents (BOR) for Higher Education approved 3.5 to five percent tuition increases for the 17 schools in the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) system. Only one dissenting vote was cast.

This cut to universities may take from the quality of sports, classroom technology, campus building structures, dining halls and much more. The Hartford Courant reported that, at the system’s four regional state universities, Ojakian said, academic support services have been “drastically cut or reduced,” library hours have been cut and dozens of staff positions have been eliminated. Tutoring, academic advisement and psychological counseling have been drastically cut, he said.

While it has become normal, even if unpleasant, to see an annual tuition increase, this year is different because it comes on top of a a roughly 20 percent increase over the past three years.

To make matters worse, the BOR is facing budget cuts from the state, which can already be seen in the form of a hiring freeze.

So what does this mean for students?

The Hartford Courant reported in February that UConn President Susan Herbst told members of the legislature’s appropriations committee that the $19.5 million cut for the university would mean that students have “larger classes and fewer of them. It would mean sections filling up so students get locked out of courses they need. It means students possibly not graduating on time, increasing the cost of their education and their debt.”

The case is similar for CCSU.

The goal of a government is to provide for its citizens. But in the wake of all budget cuts, the government, or the State of Connecticut in this case, arguably is not providing for its students of higher education, and not investing in the future of Connecticut.

President of the BOR and the CSCU system Mark Ojakian, told legislators that the governor’s proposed $26 million cut in his budget, or about seven percent, “May have profound long-term implications.”

Even though it is fiscally responsible, cutting funding for higher education in Connecticut  is not necessarily the right choice to benefit the suture of your community. Sometimes investing in the future of your state takes precedence, in order to promote future economical growth.

 

 

Malloy’s Budget Needs Revision

Board of Regents (BOR) President Mark Ojakian, believes a reassessment of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s recent budget recommendation is necessary, before further action is taken.

 “We’re going to have to assess the impact institution by institution and the system as a whole. Clearly, if the budget was enacted, as it was proposed today, it would create some issues around access and affordability and quality at our institutions,” said Ojakian to the Hartford Courant.

Ojakian oversees all 17-institutions under the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities (CSCU) system. At no point should budget alterations impact the credibility of this state’s institutions or the degrees issued – regardless the reasoning.

Gov. Malloy’s proposed $26 million budget recommendations and its repercussions, must be dissected and analyzed on every level. Ojakian explained to the Hartford Courant, the state’s university systems along with its students should be a top priority for legislation.

The idea these funds could be restored from elsewhere, such as increased tuition and fees, was proposed. Ojakian stated to the Hartford Courant that if to happen, institutions under the CSCU system would become unaffordable. “We have a different demographic make-up than other higher education institutions,” consisting largely of middle to lower-income students.

These budget cuts are simply unacceptable – these recommendations need to be revised with colleges and universities in mind.

The recommendations were initially planned to impact workers’ healthcare, retirement and benefits state-wide. According to The CT Mirror, the target recently changed to colleges and universities.

In a statement to The CT Mirror, the governor’s budget chief Ben Barnes said, “An amount based on the judgment of the legislature, not an amount that has some basis in the cost of their employees.”

The state’s colleges and universities’ fate should not depend on legislation, this will inevitably be disastrous. Legislatures aren’t familiar with the institutions, their tuitions and fees, or the funds needed to maintain credibility and a progressing establishment.

At the same time the budget recommendations were proposed, Gov. Malloy offered institutions under the CSCU system $2.3 million incentives, if they promote the state’s efforts to increase enrollment of low-income students.

This is simply adding insult to injury. Institutions under the CSCU system, with the proposed recommendations, will not be able to increase enrollment of low-income students – or any students for that matter.

Representative Roberta Willis (D-Salisbury), said to the Hartford Courant, “Higher education always gets cut, it’s the whipping boy it seems.”

We at The Recorder firmly agree with Ojakian that a reassessment of Gov. Malloy’s budget recommendations is needed. The fate of colleges, universities, their credibility and ability to provide affordable and proper education, should not be compromised or left in the hands of legislation.  It is time to stop using higher education as “the whipping boy,” and start treating it as the priority it is.