Category Archives: Opinion

EDITORIAL

The CSU system announced that there would be a $228 increase in tuition starting in the fall of 2009.

As of Spring 2009, there were 7,233 full-time undergraduate students attending CCSU. This would mean that the university would be approximately taking in an additional $1,649,000 in tuition.

Considering the fact that 500 more applicants have been accepted for the upcoming fall, that amount could potentially rise to $1,763,124 in additional revenue. After compensating for the 4.8 percent funding cut from the state, we ask that the university use its additional income to help improve advising resources for its students.

While the money could be spent towards school promotion in the form of new ads, commercials on TV or sending representatives to college fairs, nothing speaks louder to potential students than a good graduation rate and quick process to move students through the school. With that said, the process needs some attention.

As class registration approaches, students are reminded of the lack of beneficial guidance that they receive. In some cases, advisors do not even meet face to face with students, but simply give them their pin number.

In other cases, advisors direct students to take certain courses to help fulfill a certain requirement, and the students later learn that the course was unnecessary.

Part of the problem may arise from the fact that advisors continue to look at the most current course catalog, when requirements for students will be different depending on the time that they declared a major or started their schooling.

We recognize that the school is making attempts to improve the advising situation with the creation of the Center for Student Success. This center which aims to help new CCSU students, and students with undeclared majors will begin in the fall and contain an advising force of about 15 to 16 people.

According to a report by the CCSU Office of Institutional Research and Assessment, in the fall 2008 semester, there were 636 students with an undeclared major. If these students utilized the new advising center there would be approximately one advisor for every 40 students. That is a lot of students for one person to handle.

It would be difficult for those advisors to be able to impart adequate advice tailored to each individual student’s circumstances. And this does not even include the first year or transfer students that the office would be geared toward helping. Although the university is demonstrating that it understands the need for a higher level of advising, more must be done than to simply recognize the problem and make suggestions for the future.

It would be beneficial for advisors in each department to fully understand the degree requirements and general education requirements that students need to fulfill in order to graduate on time.

Advisors need to become more informed on how to help their students as they plan their schedules. We suggest that each department take action in the form of some kind of training session at the beginning of every year to fully equip professors with the knowledge that they need to impart useful advice to the students that they advise. 

Choosing the right courses is an important decision for students because of the fact that it may affect whether or not they graduate on time, or how much more money they spend on classes that they don’t need to take.

We hope that the university invests as much money as possible into improving the advising system for its students. Advising expertise is crucial in ensuring that students are pursuing the best path for their education.

Letter to the Editor

In their April 8 “letter”, the editors tried to vindicate themselves for the controversial firing of former opinion editor Marissa Blaszko. Four weeks ago, Marissa was locked out of the Recorder’s office for not renouncing her campus activism and membership in Youth for Socialist Action.

The editors confess that Marissa was fired because she wouldn’t “dismiss her political and external activities.” In case readers missed the point, they spell it out: “political beliefs and opinions

that are acted upon in public are not tolerated.” In other words, any student who has ever opposed racism, sexism, homophobia, or war need not apply.

The Recorder fired Marissa for offending its conservative notion of journalism which it copied and pasted from the New York Times. But the Recorder doesn’t answer to stock-holders or journalism professors; it answers to students. Its editors can’t discriminate against student views the way that the corporate media can.

This politically-motivated firing of Marissa Blaszko sets a dangerous precedent for free speech on our campus. It leaves us no option but to publicly oppose your disregard for democratic freedom – and we have reason to believe that the campus will stand with us.

For more: http://freespeechcentral.wordpress.com

Sean Howard, Youth for Socialist Action President

ED: Please see The Recorder’s “Letter from The Recorder’s Editorial Board” in the April 8 issue.

EDITORIAL

The Recorder Editorial Board

On April 3, 2009 the Hartford Courant reported that Democrats in the state legislature have put forth a new budget proposal that would extend the 6 percent sales tax to the purchase of textbooks.

Combined with tuition increases, this would prove to be an added financial burden on students at CCSU and elsewhere.

Politicians everywhere continually stress the importance of a strong education in building the nation’s future. In an attempt to gain revenue, this new tax will be discouraging students from purchasing the necessary materials that they need to learn to the best of their ability.

Students already try to buy only the absolute minimum amount of textbooks due to their high costs and go out of their way to seek out used or relatively inexpensive copies from friends and online booksellers. When an additional cost is added on, many students will probably just refrain from buying textbooks even if their teachers recommend them or make them required texts. 

Unfortunately, it seems as though the faculty does not help their students’ financial situation to the best of their abilities when it comes to textbooks. Many professors insist that students buy the newest edition of the texts that they assign because it’s more convenient and the publisher already provides them with a free copy. This prevents students from buying used books and older editions, which are always less expensive.

It also prevents students from being able to sell back their books at the end of the semester since the professors will be assigning a newer edition for the next semester or school year.

Professors should not upgrade to the newest edition until the material in the book is totally outdated. Typically, versions of textbooks that are one or two editions apart contain little or no difference, other than relatively insignificant information.

Another suggestion would be to reduce the overall assigned books. Professors could help their students by only assigning textbooks that students will use. There are countless instances where a professor will assign numerous textbooks and the students will only need to use very few, or none of them at all.

And everyone knows, once students peel back the plastic seal of a brand new edition, the value automatically goes down or they are totally unable to return or sell back the book.

We hope that professors make a serious effort to selectively choose appropriate textbooks, and that they reuse them every semester for as long as possible or avoid assigning hardcovers.

There are other effective and inexpensive ways to teach besides out of a book. The Internet and the databases on the library Web site have many useful resources that students could use as class material. Some professors simply assign online articles, which only forces students to pay a smaller printing fee to use them in class.

The new tax that is being proposed on textbooks will be detrimental to students so we hope that CCSU professors and the administration do their best to lessen the burden that will be placed upon their students.

Letter from The Recorder’s Editorial Board

While we are often reluctant to comment on ourselves as members of The Recorder, especially so for matters that we regard as internal issues, it is no longer acceptable for us to remain silent.

We are under the impression that some or part of the campus community may be misled by rumors circulating via email that the former Opinion editor of The Recorder was fired under false circumstances. This is not the case and we seek to comment upon the matter, regardless of whether those individuals want to listen or not. 

In the most direct language we can assemble to address the former Opinion editor of The Recorder, we must emphasize that she was not fired for her personal beliefs, values, political leanings or otherwise. Likewise, this is not a free speech issue, nor was the Opinion Editor’s removal from office an attempt to quiet an individual. 

The facts are these: The Recorder, as a newspaper with an accepted code of ethics – one that we use daily as a guide to steer us away from potential conflicts of interest and harmful decisions – abides by such a code and we enforced it the day we chose to remove the former Opinion editor from office. As a position that must guide and direct individual opinions and the editorial stance of the paper, it is not acceptable for that editor to act on any political leanings, lest it create a real or perceived conflict of interest.

Much like professional journalism outlets, The Recorder subscribes to the idea that as an editor of a newspaper, whose function is to report on and provide commentary for issues of relevance to CCSU, they should labor to make himself or herself transparent and thoughtful, as well as work to eliminate all conflicts of interest.

As The Recorder strives for objectivity, something that all journalists should work towards, the former Opinion editor thought objectivity as an idea below the position and the editorial board decided to remove her for such reasons. When a member of the paper, an editor no less, represents herself or himself as such in public – from rallies or protests to political events or panels – it creates the opportunity for all viewers and readers to believe that the paper has a certain leaning.

We also encountered problems on a weekly basis with the former Opinion editor’s performance in terms of completing work relevant to CCSU. We firmly believe that if she had strictly covered CCSU events, something we repeatedly ask all editors to do, then many of the issues we have recently discussed would not be problems today. We also came to the unanimous consensus that certain op-eds needed to be scaled back and made relevant to CCSU.

It was time for a change in the direction of relevant, meaningful and well-written op-eds, and we believe that removing the Opinion editor was a part of achieving those goals.  

Several times the Opinion editor signed her name as such on petitions and for protests that The Recorder was not aware of, which, we believe, is absolutely grounds for firing. It was a clear violation of the code of ethics, which she had been given months to read, review and ask questions about.

Let us explain further that it is not a single or set of personal beliefs, values, religious attitudes (or lack thereof), race, gender, sexual orientation or any other labeling factor that determines whether or not a person can become a part of The Recorder. However, we would be remiss if we did not point out that as an editor, political beliefs and leanings that are acted upon in public are not tolerated. In the past, other Recorder editors have been forced to choose between organizations such as the Student Government Association and the College Republicans, and have chosen The Recorder because their eyes were open to the perceived or real conflicts of interest.

 In an attempt to be fair and open about the situation, executive editors of The Recorder gave the former Opinion editor the opportunity to dismiss her political and external activities and focus on her position at The Recorder and covering and commenting upon local events, as the position entails. She left us no choice, after no response, but to terminate her.

On a side note, we are aware that the terms “fire” or “firing” can be confusing and misleading, since these are not paid jobs in the strictest sense, but we would like to take the opportunity to clarify the language. The Editor-in-Chief fired the former Opinion editor, which was supported by the entire editorial board. We use the term “fire” because we feel that no other word accurately describes what happened: it was not a forced or willing resignation; the former Opinion editor was not “let go”; and “removal from office” is a close second, but there is room to interpret that the events happened amicably, which they did not.

Furthermore, The Recorder gave the former Opinion editor fair warning in the form of several discussions that her external activities were not welcome or acceptable while holding a position with The Recorder.

While we also understand that our response or explanation will be refused by some, The Recorder will not abandon its stance and the former Opinion editor will remain as such. As a member of the CCSU community, she is eligible to submit op-eds, articles, photos or any other form of content to The Recorder, and is welcome to.

More Students on Campus May Not Be Beneficial

Shauna Simeone / Opinion Editor

At an open forum that occurred in March, President Jack Miller addressed that CCSU had received 700 more applicants than the previous year.

A previous Recorder article reported that President Miller said 500 more applicants had been accepted for the next year compared with the 2007-2008 school year. More students at the university may become a hindrance to the student body as a whole. 

One issue that should be considered is the available facilities. While the student enrollment may expand rapidly, the physical space and buildings on campus are not. 

According to the College Board, 22 percent of CCSU students live on campus. This means that the majority of students commute to school. As a commuter myself, I know that on some days and at certain times I have a very hard time finding a parking space. Parking is especially full on Tuesdays and Thursdays around the middle of the day.

Many times I won’t be able to find a spot in either of the student parking garages and I am forced to park near the football field. I’m concerned about the overcrowding of parking areas when more students are attending the school. This is an issue that would affect a large portion of the student community. 

Also, residence halls may be faced with the same issues. Many students, freshman especially, may not get a bid for on-campus housing. Commuting is unrealistic for students who live far away from campus and the unavailability of housing could create a huge inconvenience for those students. 

Besides living and transportation, academics may face difficulties with an increase in the student body population. Class sizes are most likely already going to increase due to the lower number of available classes because of economic hardships the school is facing.

With more students, the demand for classes could increase even more and students will have less of a chance of getting into the classes that they want. One part of CCSU that proves we are already at a reasonable size is the fact that class sizes are reasonably small and students can have personal contact with all of their professors. It would be unfortunate for this personal environment to decrease due to a greater number of students.

CCSU should also be mindful of the fact that graduation rates are sluggish and may not provide much room for new students. The added weight of new students under the already burdensome graduation rates is something that I hope the administration is taking into account.

Funding is another serious issue that will arise when more students enter the school. We cannot expect more funding help from the state due to budget cuts and due to the fact that other the other CSU’s have accepted more students as well. Less aid money may be available to students and fewer services will be offered for each student.

CCSU is a great school and I have always felt like services and help were readily available. I hope that this does not change as more students are accepted to the university considering that funding is becoming tight. I urge that the university try to do all that it can to keep CCSU an accessible and helpful school for all of its students.

Student Volunteer Service Should Be Exactly That: Voluntary

Shauna Simeone / Opinion Editor

Barack Obama and his administration have emphasized the importance of service and giving back to the community. Ideas for new laws and mandates have been proposed that could have a large impact on the lives of college students and a large portion of school-aged children. 

A new bill entitled the “Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act”, or simply the “GIVE Act” passed the house two weeks ago. The bills aim is to “reauthorize and reform the national service laws”. An amendment in the bill that mandated service for children was removed, but the idea of mandatory service has not been completely forgotten. 

On the White House Web site, the President’s goals for service reform are listed. The integration of service into education was greatly emphasized. He hopes to require 100 hours per year of service for college students in exchange for a $4,000 tax credit. Another goal of his is that “all middle and high school students complete 50 hours of community service a year”.   

It seems that mandating service diminishes the purpose of it in the first place, which is for people to willingly donate their time to help others and the community. CCSU student Katherine Bossardet agrees with this statement.

“When students are forced to take part in service some of the students will inevitably hate it and become troublesome,” she said. “Service would be more productive with students who genuinely want to volunteer.” 

It is also important to consider the view that students will have of service after they were forced to take part in it. Giving back to the community will become a chore. Another CCSU student Kevin Tiernan believes that mandatory service would change students’ ideas about volunteering and they would be less apt to take part in it in the future.

Many college kids may find this mandatory obligation is a severe burden to them and it may even affect their education. Anthony Marceau is a CCSU athlete and explained that his schedule is extremely busy already.

“Athletes already have eight hours a week of mandatory study hall. In the mornings I have lifting, then classes, practice and homework. I also have meets on the weekends,” Marceau said.

He doesn’t think it would be reasonable to force college students to complete 100 hours of service even with the tax credit. Many college students hold down jobs as well to pay for their living expenses. How can we expect them to give up their time when they are already struggling to pay off their own finances and expenses?

As for high school and middle school students, I believe the same problems arise. In high school many students take advanced placement classes and partake in sports year round.

CCSU student Ben Lazarus thinks that 50 hours is excessive. He generally likes the idea of service but thinks that the service may have to exclude middle school students, for example, because they are less likely to have their own source of transportation.

This is a valid point because many students have both of their parents working and rely on the school bus to get them home. Transportation would become a big issue for them and also put added stress on their parents. 

Freshman Harrison Katz has a different view on the subject. He thinks that mandatory service is a good opportunity.

“It keeps kids out of trouble and teaches them the idea of giving back to the community,” he said.
“The fact that college students get a tax credit makes it more like a part time job and teaches them about responsibility and time management”. 

Service is a beneficial part of our community, but mandating it is still a worrisome idea.

“Students should spend their time learning and studying. If they want to do it on their own time that is great, but they shouldn’t be forced into it,” Marceau added.

Our country would not be what it is today without the countless volunteers and citizens who provide services to our country. The beauty of volunteering is that people do it because they want to. It would be unfair to expect students to donate their valuable time without compensation. 

Mandating service for students would be a huge violation of our freedoms as Americans. College students in particular have extremely busy lives. Our priorities may lay elsewhere and the government should not be allowed to tell us what we are required to spend our time doing.

AIG Deserves Something, but Not Bonuses

By Charles Desrochers / Asst. Lifestyles Editor

The House of Representatives passed a 90 percent tax on bonuses given to employees of companies receiving more than five billion dollars in government bailouts.

The tax, which was passed by vote of 328 to 93, only applies to employees who made more than $250,000 a year.

The main argument against this tax is that it singles out a small and specific group of people as well as their families.

Alan Johnson, a managing director of the compensations consulting firm Johnson Associates told the New York Times, “it’ll impact tens of thousands or maybe hundreds of thousands of people,” and that, “if you’re a receptionist and your husband is a doctor, your $5,000 bonus just vaporized. It’s not just the C.E.O.’s.”

Now that view may seem fair if this weren’t in reference to a company like AIG who has been financially hemorrhaging, despite being given well over 300 billion dollars. That’s billion, with a B.

To that I say, “you’re still making $250,000!”

The government does have a right to say whether or not these employees deserve these bonuses.  The government owns an 80 percent share of AIG, so it’s probably best to think of this tax as the boss’ stamp of approval.

These workers are lucky they get to keep 10 percent of their bonuses; the fact that these traders got to keep any of their bonuses is amazing.

The company’s excuse for handing out $165 million in bonuses was that they were trying to provide incentive to keep the employees that were doing a good job.

So, the same people who lost $61.7 billion in one quarter are the same people that deserve a raise? Even though $165 million is only a drop in the bucket when compared to the money given to them by the federal reserve, it still comes off as irresponsible.

To put $61.7 billion in perspective, AIG has lost 197,124,601 brand new Ferraris.

Edward M. Liddy, Chief Executive of AIG, suggested on March 18 that all employees who have a salary of 100,000 or more should give back half of their bonuses. But even this is ridiculous.

A bonus implies that the employee did their job up to or beyond expectations. If that logic is put into place then what was AIG’s goals for 2008? Did they expect to loose $600 billion? A roaring applause is deserved if they managed to dodge that bullet.

The sad thing is that the government has targeted a specific group of people. It may seem like a good idea now in the wake of the outrage but all it really amounts to is a majority’s decision to discriminate against a few.

The bonuses were handed out without seeking permission from the party signing the checks. It wasn’t AIG’s money to give. And that’s the one redeeming fact about the whole situation. It’s an employer reducing its employees’ bonuses after reassessing their success, a bonus it didn’t know it gave.

EDITORIAL: Targeting AIG Alone is Unconstitutional

Recently there has been an outrage by the public and by Congress because of the fact that insurance giant AIG was handing out huge bonuses after receiving money from the stimulus bill. A law was proposed and passed by the House of Representatives last Thursday that would tax the bonuses given to AIG employees by 90 percent as an attempt to recover the money paid out.

The idea by Congress to tax AIG employees at such a high rate is unconstitutional. Article I, Section III of the US Constitution clearly sates that “No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed”. Taxing AIG bonuses falls into this category.

A bill of attainder is a law that punishes or fines a specific individual or group. By singling out AIG employees who received bonuses Congress is targeting a specific group, and they are fining them in the form of taxes.

Broadening this idea to involve all companies who took stimulus money, it does not make sense for Congress to tax bonuses from those employees. The first problem that arises is the fact that the stimulus bill has already been passed, and legislators cannot continue to make rules and stipulations after the stimulus bill has already been passed.

A company may accept stimulus money based on the conditions outlined in the original bill, but may disagree with a provision that is added later. As an example, AIG may not have accepted stimulus money in the first place if they knew that bonuses were going to be taxed or rescinded. But thanks to Sen. Christopher Dodd, contracts that employees had with their employers (including bonuses) were guaranteed to stay intact because of an amendment added into the stimulus bill before it was signed into law.

Now Congress is deciding after the fact that bonuses are not acceptable. Changing rules as time goes on like this will deter companies who are severely in need to stimulus money from accepting it in the future. Companies will not risk taking money from the government when they fear that the government may add on additional rules and policy initiatives after they have already accepted money. By that point, companies who accept stimulus money will already be at the mercy of the government.

Another problem with the government taxing bonuses on companies that received bailout money is that we are deterring the brightest minds from joining or remaining at companies who need the best help that they can get right now. The most brilliant and intelligent businessmen will not enter companies in which they know there is no possibility of gaining bonuses. They will expend their energies at companies where there is a greater potential for them to earn money.

We originally gave aid to companies because we believed that they were so significant to our nation’s economy that we could not afford for them to fail. If this is the case, then we need to make sure that we continue to recruit and give incentives for the most talented workers to join these companies.

Actions taken by the government such as taxing bonuses at enormous rates will not ensure that these struggling companies will thrive in the future.

Administration Must Be More Open to Students

By Shauna Simeone / Opinion Editor

On March 11, trustees from the University of Connecticut announced that UConn students would be facing a 6 percent tuition hike for the 2009-2010 school year. This came as a surprise seeing as most students, as well as the University President supported an 8.67 percent increase. 

The trustees at UConn planned to set the tuition a month ago, but Governor Jodi Rell persuaded them to wait until there was a clearer picture of what the budget was going to look like for next year. I commend the trustees at UConn for being upfront about the tuition increase, and for announcing it in a timely manner.

Many students at Central are concerned about what tuition will look like for the upcoming academic year. CCSU President Jack Miller confirmed to The Recorder in the past that there will be a tuition hike, but the amount is unknown. 

As of a recent Connecticut State University System board of trustees meeting held on March 12, the tuition increase had still not been announced. 

Many Central students are already being squeezed to cover their expenses, and the unspecified tuition increase is adding more anxiety to students’ lives. If the percent increase were announced, students would at least be able to prepare for their financial future. But as it is, all students can do is wonder and worry. 

In a Dec. 28 article in the Hartford Courant, it was stated that the CSU Chancellor David Carter proposed waiving the 15 percent cap on tuition increases if the budget were cut by over 10 percent. 

The fact that removing the cap is even being proposed is troubling, especially considering that Rell’s budget will definitely include cuts to the CSU system. 

Students are being left in the dark and have no idea what to prepare for. If there were a significant tuition increase, students would have to apply for more student loans, and the administration cannot expect students to do that at the last minute. 

There is no reason for CCSU to keep the students in the dark. They are obligated to be upfront about the expenses that students will have to bear in the future. 

This lack of directness also applies to budget cuts. The University should tell the faculty and students what they can expect when it comes to job cuts or services that will not be available. Job cuts will greatly affect faculty and students who rely on university jobs as a source of income.

If student jobs and internships are going to be cut, then let the students know. It is hard to find a new job in this environment, and students should be told as soon as possible if their job is threatened so that they can begin the search for a new one. 

The CCSU administration needs to realize that CCSU students are pressed to pay their bills and expenses. The more direct that the University is about budget cuts and tuition hikes, the easier it will be for students to deal with.

We are part of the CCSU community, and deserve the truth. CCSU should follow UConn’s example and let the students know what is going to happen with their school.

EDITORIAL

 The Recorder would be remiss in its responsibilities if it did not defend itself against accusations concerning its integrity. Beyond that, the pressure has now been shifted to the paper to not only defend its practices, but also advocate for a little more openness on campus.

In regards to recent coverage of the story involving John Wahlberg, a student who was questioned by the police after he delivered a presentation for Professor Paula Anderson’s communication class last semester, we stand by our coverage for the simple fact that our reporter wrote what she knew and what could be attributed.

The problem is not that she was appealed to by the student and wrote exactly what he said verbatim, as the communications department has suggested to in a letter to the Editor. If that did in fact happen, when the paper decided to pursue this story, then we would also be remiss in our responsibilities because we’d be negligent in refusing to strive for objectivity and balance.

As we know it, the facts are these: the university officials involved, which include the staff of the communications department where Anderson teaches, have decided to refuse to speak to the paper in all respects and have attempted to draw the attention away from themselves by accusing the paper of shoddy journalism.

The communications department, including chair Serafin Mendez -Mendez and Anderson, can and should defend themselves as they see fit and can take advantage of the opportunity to set the record straight as they see it, so to speak. By refusing to speak to the paper, whether out of personal choice or by perceived restrictions, the department is passively agreeing to the facts as we have printed them in the last two weeks.

It should also be pointed out that The Recorder, as a newspaper serving the CCSU community, has a responsibility to consult all possible sources on a given story.

This cannot be misconstrued as prying into the lives of individuals or seeking to cause discord within CCSU. Not all details surrounding the complaint against Wahlberg have surfaced, such as which university official actually contacted the police or how the procedure was handled by the police department.

We believe that these details can be explained and included in follow-up articles without damaging reputations or causing an individual to receive unwarranted negative attention. Similarly, these details should not harm a student’s reputation, and will most likely aid in clarifying the situation.

The paper is merely trying to gather all facts – in refusing to speak with The Recorder, the communications department is directly interfering with and therefore preventing some parts of our investigation.

If the communications department truly knew the basics of journalism, as they claim to do so in their letter, they would understand that stonewalling the press is an unacceptable response to what they probably consider an unfavorable article.

As for the future, The Recorder would like to make it clear that in pursuing research for an article, our interviews will not stop at the first source.

This isn’t to say that we’re correcting a habit – as we make sure to name sources honestly and openly within every article. Even if we are not granted the opportunity to a source deemed valuable or central to the story, we make a point of covering our tracks.

While we accept and welcome open criticism, we suggest that the communications department rethink their motives before writing a letter that one, asks for a retraction and two, a formal apology when they had the chance to comment and make their impression on the original story.