Category Archives: Editorials

“Death with Dignity” a Right for All

Instead of fearing death, 29-year-old Brittany Maynard has come closer than most to embracing it.

The terminally ill woman has become a poster-child for the “death with dignity” movement. This initiative allows those who have been diagnosed as terminally ill to receive a medication that will let them choose when or where they wish to die.

Maynard has chosen to die a few days after her husband’s birthday in late October. This comes after she was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in January. She had barely been married to her husband for a year. Even after several surgeries the tumor returned and Maynard was given six months to live.

Maynard and her husband moved to Oregon from California to take advantage of the state’s assisted suicide laws. Oregon is one of three states – joined by Washington and Vermont – that has assisted suicide laws.

“I can’t even tell you the amount of relief that it provides me to know that I don’t have to die the way that it’s been described to me, that my brain tumor would take me on its own,’’ Maynard said in a video posted on YouTube. ‘‘I hope to enjoy however many days I have on this beautiful Earth and spend as much of it outside as I can surrounded by those I love. I hope to pass in peace.’’

Most patients that opt for assisted suicides are over the age of 45. This makes Maynard a rarity, while also a good face for the assisted suicide movement.

“Because (Maynard) is young and vibrant and articulate, she has generated a lot of attention,” said George Eighmey in an interview with CNN. He is a board member of the Death with Dignity National Center, which is an advocate for physician-assisted death for terminally ill patients.

Americans have decided that they support assisted suicide, even when it is phrased as such.

According to a Gallup survey conducted in May, 51 percent of those surveyed said that doctors should be able to “assist the patient to commit suicide” while 70 percent agreed that doctors should be able to “end the patient’s life by some painless means.”

Assisted suicide for terminally ill patients has been a subject in the news in the past, namely due to Dr. Jack Kevorkian, aka Dr. Death, who claims to have assisted more than 130 people with the act.

While assisting those who know death is coming with choosing a peaceful ending is an option that should be made to all American citizens, it does come with some fear.

What if doctor giving the diagnosis got it wrong? What if after assisting a patient with suicide, an autopsy shows they could have been cured?

This, however, is a problem that can be navigated by having multiple doctors opinions. If three doctors give the same diagnosis it would ease the fear that the wrong decision would be made.

It should be the choice of someone with a terminal diagnosis whether to die peacefully or not. Society today seems to interested in the longevity of life rather than its quality.

Brittany Maynard understands that, choosing to give her family and friends a chance to say goodbye without seeing her suffer in pain, something all American’s should be allowed to decide.

 

A New Idea for CCSU’s Early Registration

With midterms behind us and November around the corner, it’s time for CCSU students to start planning their courses for the spring semester.

With that comes the knowledge that some students have already signed up for their classes, limiting the availability of some classes for the general student population, a hurdle the Recorder editorial board knows is necessary.

These students – including honors students, disability students, athletes and, as of the Fall 2015 semester, veterans – all have legitimate reasons to receive priority registration. Honors students have to schedule around their honors classes; athletes around practice time; veterans in order to receive all their benefits.

While a large majority of the student body are unaffected by those registering early, there are always those who fall outside of these four groups who could benefit from access to priority registration.

As a college institution heavily populated by commuter students, it’s inevitable that life outside of school can make scheduling classes difficult. Although CCSU and the CSU system has made an effort to streamline class times, it’s not perfect.

Those benefiting from priority registration should continue to do so. But a separate system should be put into place to account for those who feel they could benefit.

Take, for instance, a student working two jobs to pay for school in order to avoid being burdened by loan debt. While this is an admirable route to take, it requires careful planning, something that is made difficult when classes fill up early.

While the amount of students facing problems like this may be small, they shouldn’t be ignored and lumped with all students.

Central’s leaders should look for other solutions, such as an application system that students can submit to, who think they deserve to register early based on extreme extenuating circumstances.

Take the hypothetical student with two jobs. By submitting an application with proof that they are working to pay for school, which could include work schedules from both jobs along with their financial aid records showing they receive minimal help, they could be approved for early registration.

A small board made up of the student’s advisor, department head, school dean and one or two impartial school officials could sit with these students on a case by case basis and determine if they deserve to benefit from early registration.

As Paul Pettersen, chair of the honors program, says in an article in this issue, there is no perfect system. But CCSU officials need to consider that some students fall outside the broad generalizations of priority students who deserve those benefits as well.

 

 

Vargas Visit Sparks Immigration Conversation

Immigration has been a major issue the past few years and a heavy aspect of campaign debates. Yet many college students know very little about the issue of immigration and the daily struggle undocumented Americans face.

Over the years, the number of immigrants living undocumented in this country has only gone up, currently somewhere near 12 million people. These undocumented immigrants who have a homes and jobs here in America live in constant fear of being deported, despite contributing to society by paying taxes. This becomes especially concerning to the four million of those who have U.S. born children.

This week, Jose Antonio Vargas came to Central Connecticut to inform students on the issue of immigration. Vargas is an undocumented immigrant and was arrested in Texas after trying to visit with the children who had entered the country illegally after fleeing the drug gangs of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

Vargas feels that most white and black people do not think that immigration is their battle. They tend to believe that it is something that affects other people. But what they do not realize is that these undocumented people are living amongst us, working legitimate jobs and paying taxes.

There is a peculiar attitude towards these people who are streaming across the border in great numbers. Earlier this year, it was discovered that children were coming across the border and waiting to get arrested, rather than attempt to sneak further into the country.

These children are called “illegal aliens,” which is not only inaccurate in many cases, it is also being substituted for a word that is more accurate.

A better term for these children would be “refugees.” What else would you call anyone driven from their war-torn towns by brutal violence? But this term would make the American public less sensitive to the children’s plight.

Vargas likened the undocumented immigrant issue to the LGBT movement, saying that it needs to start off in the personal lives of people before it moves on to become a political issue.

He started the conversation here at CCSU. Because of his lecture, two students stood up and announced their undocumented status, continuing the employ the method Vargas has taken to give a personal face to the immigration crisis, starting with his when he came out in New York Times Sunday Magazine article in 2011.

Now that Central has opened the conversation on immigration by bringing Vargas here to educate students, it would be well served to continue the movement, especially in a town like New Britain that is heavily populated by families that can trace their roots to immigration, from the nearly quarter Polish population to the growing number of people who claim a Puerto Rican ancestry.

By working closely with the Latin American Student Organization on campus, who co-sponsored Vargas’s visit, as well as other student groups, Central has a chance to educate it’s student population even further on an issue that concerns them all, whether they realize it or not.

CSCU Plan Rightly Under Fire

Faculty members at Central Connecticut as well as the other three state universities have raised their voices in protest against the Board of Regents for Higher Education and President Gregory Gray’s Transform CSCU 2020 initiative.  The plan lays out approximately 30 “roadmaps” or goals which all Connecticut State Universities and Charter schools are to adopt as their own.

The central office of CSCU, which oversees a student body of over 90,000, has released these road maps for universities and colleges to review. Among them is the goal of integration and an increase of online-based classes and a registration portal for general education classes across universities.

Professors from several Connecticut universities have protested the road maps, specifically the ones which would push schools to substitute online teaching for classroom settings. Gray recently wrote that “education pundits” suggest the teacher is no longer as relevant to learning as in past times, but rather students are now learning more from each other.

Perhaps instead of relying solely on what supposed experts have to say, Gray and CSCU as a whole should be more willing to listen to the teachers who have dedicated their lives to their profession and are familiar with the way in which students learn.  Are these teachers not pundits as well?

What Gray seems to be ignoring is that an important aspect of higher education is the human interaction. While it is possible for some classes to be taught online, many require the face-to-face interactions between students and professors. It is for this reason that we have physical universities instead of just watching videos online to obtain an education.

If all state universities and community colleges are required to interconnect through these road maps, these institutions will no longer be allowed to stand independent of each other. The universities should work together, but should not give up their strengths in the process. Each of these institutions have individual needs, wants and goals, something that Gray seems to be ignoring.

Special meetings have been organized at Eastern and Western Connecticut State Universities to protest the Board of Regents and Transform 2020 as discontent is expressed by faculty of both the universities and colleges in Connecticut.

Last Saturday the Congress of Connecticut Community Colleges met and passed a resolution which states that the Transform CSCU 2020 plan “lacks focus on academic excellence, consolidates our distinct missions, is so vague as to be meaningless and removes autonomy from local institutions in a manner that has enormous and negative consequences for the educational experiences of our students.”

While serving as Chancellor of Riverside Community College District in California, Gray announced that $45 million had been cut in the district budget over the course of three years, while at least 650 classes were eliminated in a single year. In May of 2013, Gray was elected president of the CSCU system.

During an open forum last year, professors expressed concerns that department consolidations would occur, similar to what Gray did in the SUNY system. By consolidating the whole Gray will weaken the individual: both the institutions and those who attend them.

C.H.A.N.G.E. Comes to Central

In the early morning hours of the Tuesday before Thanksgiving break, fire alarms in four of the Central Connecticut resident halls were pulled, prompting hundreds of students to head into the chilly night air.

There they found a group of protestors who had been marching since midnight in support of Ferguson, following the St. Louis County grand jury’s decision to not indict Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot Michael Brown, an black, unarmed 18-year-old on August 9.

While who pulled the alarms remains unclear, the conversation that began among Central students that night spilled over into Tuesday afternoon, when Senator Chris Murphy visited campus to talk to students regarding what Connecticut was doing to address some of the issues that arose following the events in Ferguson.

Murphy and New Jersey Senator Corey Booker have drafted a bill aimed at racial disparities for children within the criminal justice system.

The campus protests were led by a newly formed group on Central’s campus: Carrying Humanity as New Generations Emerge or C.H.A.N.G.E.

According to their website, the purpose of C.H.A.N.G.E is to promote support and leadership within students across collegiate and secondary education campuses, further not only personal achievements but also to create opportunities that will further both individual, group and community success and encourage, unity, class, achievement, respect and leadership skills in young individuals for the present into the coming future.

The effort taken by C.H.A.N.G.E. to bring the issues of Ferguson to light here at Central should be commended. It can often be easy from so far away to look with a critical eye on the events in Missouri and say things should be changed. It’s another to take an active step toward facilitating that change.

On Tuesday C.H.A.N.G.E. met with other students and members of the Student Government Association, to discuss  holding a town hall at the start of the Spring 2015 semester to discuss the issue of racial profiling in Connecticut.

A report issued in September showed the black drivers in Connecticut were nearly twice as likely to be pulled over by police than white drivers and twice as likely to have their vehicles searched. This, despite the fact that barely more than 11 percent of Connecticut’s population is black.

The emergence of C.H.A.N.G.E. on Central’s campus is just further indication of CCSU students willing to discuss social issues in an honest and open manner.

Susan Campbell, a communications professor at Central, echoed those thought in an op-ed published in the Courant on Monday. In it, she details her students willingness to discuss Ferguson in the context of wealth and income inequality in America.

It’s the hope of this editorial board that C.H.A.N.G.E. and other members of the Central community continue to push the conversation in Connecticut and at CCSU on what can be done to fix the broken system we’re living in.

Wesleyan Co-Educates On-Campus Fraternities

The Greek life on campus at Wesleyan University is in for a major change from the traditional fraternity/sorority system, after university president Michael Roth announced to the campus that the three residential fraternities must begin the process of becoming co-educational organizations within the next three years.

Although for the past century the chapters of Beta Theta Pi, Delta Kappa Epsilon and Psi Upsilon have been strictly traditional, male-only fraternities, the time has finally come to change this. This in essence puts an end to the traditional gender norms that are typically associated with fraternities

“This change is something that Wesleyan and the fraternities have been contemplating for many years, and now the time has come,” said Roth in an email sent out to Wesleyan students.  “The University looks forward to receiving plans from the residential fraternities to co-educate, after which it will work closely with them to make the transition as smooth as possible.”

Although this co-education won’t apply to nonresidential single-gender societies just yet, making this monumental change to the residential societies is a good first step.  Administrators at Wesleyan University are hopeful that they can continue to make on-campus student groups more inclusive and equitable for all students, thus creating a safer campus for all in the process.

In March, the Psi Upsilon chapter at Wesleyan faced a lawsuit regarding an alleged rape at a pledge party for the fraternity the previous spring semester.  Another rape lawsuit also threatened against the Beta Theta Pi chapter, which was featured on the cover of the Atlantic. All this lead up to students, faculty and alumni of Wesleyan joining together to create a petition asking fraternities to start admitting women into their chapters back in April.

This semester the debate began again following an incident of a female student falling out of a window of the Beta fraternity house; resulting in the University declaring the frat house off limits to students.

The university claims that its decision is not in response to any single incident, but it can be assumed that the change is a result of all of these occurrences.

Wesleyan follows in the footsteps of Trinity College, which changed its policy over a combination of high-profile scandals and a report that found that students in single-sex Greek organizations were more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. Additionally, students in those organizations have lower grades than the average student at Trinity College, where the report was done.

The university explained that it wanted the transition to be gradual, which is why it gave the organizations three years to become fully co-educational, according to Kate Carlisle, university media and public relations manager, in an interview with the Wesley Anargus, the school’s newspaper.

“People pledge and some people graduate, so three years seemed to be an appropriate and optimal amount of time to give the fraternities to develop a coeducation plan with the help of Student Affairs and come up with something that would be a meaningful and qualified response to this,” said Carlisle.

The university’s student government presented the resolutions which enacted the change as a part of a set of policies to end rape culture and prevent sexual assault on the campus. The university is hoping that taking this step will help to create an equitable and safe learning environment on campus.

Urban Outfitters Seeks Attention, Offends Again

Urban Outfitters has outdone themselves, yet again. The clothing company has proven to dramatically and improperly cross the fine line between edgy and tasteless.

The company is once again under fire for its offensive clothing choices, this time for releasing a bloodstained Kent State hoodie, labelled as “vintage” by the company.

For those unaware of Kent State’s history, in 1970, four students were killed and nine others injured when the Ohio State National Guard opened fire on a large Vietnam War protest. The incident sparked national outrage and closed hundreds of universities and colleges as more than four million students went on strike.

This tasteless article of clothing would have set back the twisted buyer $129, a ridiculous sum for any hoodie, never mind something so vile.

The company issued the same sort of response it always does when it offends others. It claims that it didn’t realize that it crossed a line.

“It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970, and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such. The one-of-a-kind item was purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection. There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray,” said the company in a statement.

Perhaps it would be believable if the company didn’t have such a history with creating clothing that causes controversy.

Urban Outfitters was under fire just recently for a shirt emblazoned from top to bottom with the word “Depression.” Before that, there was shirt proudly proclaiming “Eat less.”

This is why it’s hard to believes Urban Outfitters when it says that it had no intention of offending anyone with the bloody hoodie. Other vintage college hoodies are sold by the company, none featuring the bloodstains that were featured on the Kent State hoodie.

Clearly, Urban Outfitters has decided that offending people is a viable business model. Still, the company’s extreme clothing decisions doesn’t deter shoppers.

In fact, the company gets free publicity every time it makes the country angry. The half-hearted apology the company gave will be more than enough for some of the young consumers who frequent the store.

Urban Outfitters makes itself seem edgy, appealing to its consumer base which is more than used to being bombarded with advertisements from every side. It cuts through that cloud by evoking an emotion from the public. Instead of wasting money on heavy advertising, the company gets free publicity at the expense of the sensitive public.

There is one way to stop whoever has decided that this method is a decent way to run a company: treat it like an annoying advertisement, don’t buy the product. Stop shopping at Urban Outfitters. This is a company that is overpriced, prospering from any manner of attention. It’s time to treat Urban Outfitters like a whiney child and ignore it. Your wallet will thank you.

A Plea for Net Neutrality

Websites across the Internet banded together to make a huge statement to users on Wednesday, by displaying a spinning-wheel icon to demonstrate to Internet users what could potentially happen if the U.S. Federal Communications Commission passes strict net neutrality regulations.

With these net neutrality rules load times of many sites may be slowed down; meaning the internet would be divided into slow and fast lanes. Fast lanes would be for sites that pay broadband providers for a quicker speed and delivery time of that website. Many websites will become virtual slow lanes if they do not pay to have their speeds increased by a broadband company.

Popular websites including Reddit, Mozilla, Imgur, Etsy, Foursquare and WordPress will be participating in the protest. These are in addition to popular porn sites including PornHub and YouPorn and the 25th most popular site in the United States: Netflix, according to Alexa, popular analytical site.

“Consumers, not broadband gatekeepers, should pick the winner and losers on the Internet,” said Netflix spokeswoman Anne Marie Squeo to the National Journal. “Strong net neutrality rules are needed to stop Internet service providers from demanding extra fees or slowing delivery of content to consumers who already have paid for Internet access.”

The main point that these websites are trying to get across to Internet users around the world is that this is what an unfair Internet would look like. Websites that compete with major cable company’s programs could be severely impacted by a lack of net neutrality.

Companies like Netflix, which streams some of the same content that major cable and broadband services provide, could become so slow that they will become virtually impossible to use. Think Netflix is slow now? Think again.

In 2010, the Federal Communications Commission enacted net neutrality regulations to prevent broadband companies from blocking websites and discriminating against any Internet traffic. The federal court struck this proposal down early this year, but the FCC is currently writing a new strategy that would hold up better in court.

This ignited a major response, since this would allow providers such as Comcast to charge certain sites to be in the fast lanes as long as these sites compose payment agreements that are reasonable to the broadband provider.

What is at stake here is Internet freedom. These broadband providers are trading freedom for their own profit, in essence blocking the industries based on the Internet from moving about freely. Advocacy groups including Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, Free Press and Engine Advocacy are all participators in Wednesday’s protest for net neutrality.

“These protests all stand on their own right,” said Davis Segal, the executive director of Demand Progress to the National Journal. “It’s like comparing every rally, every march to the biggest march in history.”

Other Internet protests have yielded positive results, preventing the governments from passing regulations that would limit the sharing of ideas and pictures in the manner Internet users are accustomed to. Hopefully, this week’s slowdown will serve the same purpose, reminding both the government and the people what a great thing the free, open Internet could be.

Journalists Experience Trauma Too

There were many people who went to the 2014 Boston Marathon to heal. For runners and spectators alike, the race was a moment for the population to stand up for itself.

Along with the people who attend and participate in the event, there are those who are not commonly perceived as traumatized by incidents of this magnitude.

Journalists were among those who were on the finish line of last year’s marathon and near the subsequent explosion. Normally the Boston Marathon is a day of exciting photography and storytelling triumph.

Last year, it turned to one of tragedy, when two bombs exploded near the finish line. As the bombs detonated, a man who had just finished the race collapsed due to the shockwave from the blast.

One photo-journalist began snapping pictures as the chaos began. He then took what became an iconic photo: the collapsed older runner with three police officers above him moving swiftly into action.

This photojournalist, John Tlumacki, has been covering the Boston Marathon for 21 years and has been at the finish line for the last six of them.

Tlumacki took approximately 2,000 pictures that day and he regretted it as soon as it was over. About 200 of the photos he took were of the aftermath of the bombing.

“Then I felt horrible. I felt I took advantage of people when they were down. That night was the worst night of my life, just reliving that whole scene over and over and over again,” said Tlumacki in an interview with USA Today.

Tlumacki’s story is a stark reminder of the fact that the media is made up of individuals, or people just as human as those whose lives they document.

He felt horrendous about the photos he had made. Tlumacki said that in the days following the blast he didn’t know if the people had had made pictures of were dead or alive.

But Tlumacki was surprised with the response he received from those who he had photographed. Despite the fact that his photos portrayed these people in the most graphic manner possible, people wanted to meet him.

It was through connections like this that Tlumacki was able to heal from the mental trauma he had incurred during last year’s marathon. He, like the thousands of others who were affected that day, used this year’s marathon as a sort of final piece towards his recovery.

Tlumacki is not the only journalist who was haunted by the horrible events he has covered.

Coolumbia University runs a program called the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. There is also a center in Europe.

“”[They] stay on target, stay on mission and do wonderful, wonderful work and stay balanced for a long time. But you can’t carry on walking a tightrope forever. You need to take some rest and you need to get away from the job,” said Gavin Rees, director of the Dart Centre Europe for Journalism and Trauma, in an interview with Teresa Fitzherbert, a student in the Magazine MA journalism course.

She refers to the trend of journalists who cover stressful events and do not seek treatment or their own personal healing. While most emergency response professions have a system for dealing with trauma, journalism does not have this same safety net. Even though Tlumacki was able to heal on his own, his is a more rare example.   In what is considered the most stressful profession in the world, there needs to be a fall back for journalists who may be suffering from conditions as minor as a little anxiety to as severe as PTSD.

UCONN R.A. Tries to Calm a Crowd; Backfires

In the days leading up to the final match between the two UConn basketball teams, a resident assistant sent a sharply worded to those who live on his floor.

The email, simply signed Derek, informed residents on his floor that any celebration of the games would not be tolerated.

“I’m on duty tonight and it’s going to be stressful, so please don’t push it on our floor,” said Derek. This request was fair enough, but what followed turned from a simple request to downright insulting.

In the end, remember that the only reason you care about the game is:
a.) because they’re wearing a UConn uniform
b.) you want an excuse to go wild

It was getting worse, but it still wasn’t that bad. Then Derek typed this next line.

“If it’s the first one, you’re cheering for laundry,” said Derek in his email.

That is beyond disrespectful, not only to the students he is addressing, but to the university and the athletes.

Derek seems to have forgotten the hours of work these athletes have put into their sport. It’s not just “laundry” to these students. It’s more than a uniform. It is a lifestyle for them.

Whether or not you agree with the hype that surrounds “March Madness,” it is impossible to deny that these students have gone above and beyond simply being student athletes. It is not “laundry” that makes it to the final game of the most talked about college sporting event. It is the blood, sweat and tears of people inside those uniforms.

The RA, Derek, seems to have really had an unfortunate lapse in judgement when he hit the send button on that email sent to all students on his floor – dismissing the UConn team as inferior, compared to whatever status he may hold as an RA. Tonight, UConn men may once again become the national champion mens basketball team in the NCAA tournament. If you have the balls to say that a team of that status is equivalent to laundry, the smidgen of clothing they wear whilst performing, then I don’t even want to delve into what the equivalent of a Residence Hall Assistant is. Derek seems to have forgotten that the UConn team, and their collective of dedicated, hard-working players, who practice ruthlessly daily, are the very same people who have brought tons of attention to Connecticut athletics, championship rings, and much more. The money the team has helped generate for UConn could be some of the same money he receives in his measly RA paychecks. Not to mention the incredible number of players UConn has morphed into star professional NBA basketball players.

Derek’s statements to his residence hall were likely well intended, yet once he deviated from his original request for students to simply not go too crazy over the game, he added a lot of insult to an already sensitive situation. Students wouldn’t take lightly to being demanded to abstain from enjoying the biggest game they may ever experience in their lifetimes, which is why Dereks plan will likely backfire, and bring him the opposite of the result he originally asked for.