Category Archives: Editorials

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.