Category Archives: Opinion

Bookmark It!: The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer

By Joe Suszczynski

If there was ever an award to be given to the best American author of all time, that award would go to Samuel Clemens, better known by his pen name, Mark Twain. Twain has published many books, short stories and essays that have captivated the minds of readers. Perhaps one of his best works other than The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn would be The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

The novel is absolutely wonderful. This story is exciting along with being insightful as it details certain issues of life that can be applied universally.

The story is about a young boy named Tom Sawyer who lives in the fictional Missouri town of St. Petersburg. He’s a free-spirited and wily boy who always looks for adventures to go on despite his rambunctious behavior that always seems to get him into trouble. All of the adventures Tom goes on and manages to intertwine with one another. Twain does hop around from sub plot to sub plot, but because of the way he writes, it is totally forgivable.

I like this story because of the connections I have with it. Like Tom,  I went on adventures with my friends and when I would read the things Tom did it took me back to my childhood;  I got to relive some moments that I have not thought about in many years or may have forgotten at that time. I cannot help but smile when I read about the predicaments that Tom gets into. And even though I have never had to deal with some of the conflicts he went through in the book I feel like I am right there beside him wondering what we were going to do next.

This book is an American classic. I highly recommend this book if you are a fan of Mark Twain or as a starter book if you decide to start reading Twain’s works. And if you are a parent I would recommend reading this to your child because it is a decent kid’s story addressing issues that kids go through when they are coming of age.

We Can Manage Our Own Time

By Justin Muszynski

The biggest difference between college and high school is the freedom of choice. Under the law, we’re all required to attend school until we’re 16. At that point we can drop out with our parents’ permission. When we turn 18 and legally become an adult, the choice is up to us whether or not we continue our education.

There’s nothing in the law books that stipulates that a person must attend a higher education institution. In general, it is highly recommended that we continue our education beyond high school, but it’s a choice that we all make.

Because of this, and the fact that we pay a hefty bill to go to college, we’re responsible for ourselves in college. There aren’t many professors willing to hunt you down to tell you if you’re not performing well in their class. Everything is up to you.

Given this set of circumstances, it doesn’t make much sense to count attendance at the college level towards a student’s grade. We receive the syllabus and we know what each course entails, coming to class, for the most part, should be optional. Everybody learns in a different fashion. If it benefits a student more to read the class textbook and teach themselves the material, then why should they be expected to listen to a lecture every week that may not assist their learning needs at all?

By the time we reach college we are old enough to know what the most effective technique is by which we learn. The goal of any class, and professor for that matter, should be to test a student’s knowledge of the particular subject matter that the course focused on. There is no guarantee that being present in class will assist in a student’s ability to pass an examination on the course material.

At CCSU, there are a number of professors that understand this idea and don’t require regular attendance; however there are also plenty of instructors who hold it against your final grade if you miss multiple classes. To their defense, the student handbook clearly states that a student needs a medical excuse should they miss more than five classes during a given semester. You can’t blame any professor for enforcing the policy drafted by their employer.

In most cases though, professors have the freedom of discretion in regards to their own attendance policies. There are some that will tell their class the first day of school that they frankly don’t care if you are in class or not and that they won’t be offended should you find something more productive to do with your time. With adulthood comes additional responsibilities. Students can manage their own time. It should be left up to the individual to determine whether or not they have something more important to take care of than listening to a lecture.

Poor class attendance doesn’t always translate to poor academic performance. The CCSU administration should recognize this and strike the part about class attendance from the Student Handbook.  It’s up to us at this point how we designate our time. The need for handholding is clearly nonexistent.

Column: Pollution In A Health Conscious Nation

By Acadia Otlowski

We stand on the Great Wall, having climbed a piece of it, overlooking the surrounding mountains. But something feels off. It is as if there is a veil over the surrounding landscape, keeping it from being truly real. That veil is the smog that encases the northern part of the country, pollution that causes health issues for more than a million people across the country.

In a country where the population seems very health conscious, the pollution is a damper. Gyms with names like “Ozone Fitness” litter the capital city, boasting clean air for the population to work out in.  There is no way that one can go for a run in the capital city; the pollution destroys any health benefits one would obtain.
It is easy to see why no one goes out running in a city like Beijing, or any of the cities in the north.  The same day we hiked the Great Wall, we were given the option to see the Bird’s Nest, the 2008 Olympic Stadium.  We parked far from the stadium and were given 20 minutes to walk to the stadium, take pictures and come back. In any other city this would have not been a problem. But on a day that the U.S. Embassy warned of dangerously high pollution levels, it proved to be a challenge.
We power walked through Olympic Park, ignoring the odd looks we received from the locals (apparently no one moves that quickly in Beijing due to the pollution). We took some pictures, then realized that we only had a few minutes to return to the bus. We practically ran back through Olympic Park, and upon returning to the bus, I could feel my lungs burning. At the end of the day, between the challenge of climbing a particularly steep section of the Great Wall and almost running through Olympic Park, it left the group short of breath and better educated on the real problem in China.
The country is still obsessed with the fact that they hosted the Olympics five years ago. Vestiges of it remain scattered across the entire country.  Faded spray paint on the highways and torn signs encouraging the Chinese cycling team can be seen. Even the labels on bottled water boast the Olympic logo. It’s surprising that the populous hasn’t learned from the cleaning up efforts during the 2008 Olympics. Those efforts, while extreme, managed to make air that was breathable to the entire population.
But the Chinese government has not made any significant efforts to solve the problem since then. In a country where the elderly gather in parks to practice Tai Chi and where even the sizes of soft drinks are smaller, one would think that solving the pollution issue would be a great issue.
But without free press, it is impossible for the people to make any sort of push against the government which seems unconcerned by the pollution. It even goes so far as to lie about the pollution levels, which has been linked to the deaths of 1.2 million people according to Lancet, a British medical journal.
China should be healthier than America; the portions are smaller and salt and sugar are less prevalent in the diets. But pollution seeps into every crevice of life in any major city in China, causing major health concerns that the population is not even aware of. In a place that seems so health conscious, where obesity does not even show as a blip on the radar, it seems that the pollution should be a key problem to be solved.
But for now, it seems that some of the country’s greatest sites will be obscured by a veil of smog, causing health problems for millions of residents, while the government simply attempts to cover the extent of the problem.

 

Too Black Or Not Black Enough: Race, Hollywood, and Nina Simone

By Clement Eneh

 

I’ve been a fan of late jazz singer Nina Simone for quite some time now and when it came to my attention that a film was being made about her life, needless to say, I was excited. That excitement neither rose nor ebbed when I discovered who would be playing Simone, actress Zoe Saldana.
However, my reaction of neutrality did not mirror popular opinion.
According to NPR, The NY Times, Huffington Post, Fox, ABC and a number of music sites and celebrity blogs, many are outraged at Saldana’s lead role.
The question is, why? Why should the talent of such a well known, award-winning actress, who was the lead in one of the highest grossing films of all time, Avatar, be in question? I scrolled endlessly through news articles and comments to gauge the public’s reaction and found an overwhelming theme of race-based worry.  The truth hit me like a Mississippi school bus.
It seems Zoe Saldana isn’t “black enough.”
I felt like I’d stepped back in time. I raised an eyebrow and thought, “Do people still say things like that?” They do.
The outcry stems over the fact that Saldana, who is of black-Dominican and Puerto Rican descent, doesn’t resemble Simone, and many believe a woman of darker shade, with less so-called “Caucasian” features would have been better suited for the role.
I could go so many ways with the counter argument. I could explain African Diaspora and how many Puerto Ricans have black ancestry, or that her father is a black man, or the fact that what separates her from being “appropriate” for the role is a handful of tiny genes that control melanin (as there are dark skinned black/Latina girls), or even ask what “Caucasian” features are, but that wouldn’t hit the root of my point.
Critics proposed the role be given to Viola Davis, India Arie or actress Kimberly Elise. However, Arie, though a talented singer, is not an actress.  Davis or Elise could have been good alternatives. But there is a reason director Cynthia Mort chose Saldana, and it wasn’t based upon complexion.
In truth, singer Mary J Blige, who is of darker shade, was originally intended for the role but turned it down. Zoe Saldana, a longtime Nina fan, jumped at the opportunity.
In a September interview, Mort told the New York Times the movie was not intended to be a biography in the strict sense, but instead “a love story about an artist’s journey unto herself.”
“There’s a difference between telling a story that includes and involves emotion and experiences and doing a biopic — she was born here, she did this, she did that… That’s not what we’re telling in that kind of linear fashion.”
A big part of Nina Simone’s identity was tied in with the fact that she was a darker black woman in the public eye, and during the 1950’s and 60’s no less. She worked to challenge racial stereotypes of black women in the media, which is made clear by her famous protest song “Four Women.”
Four women of different color, with different stories, but all black and misunderstood. Not “one woman” who looked just like her. Unlike these critics, Simone understood the black experience was different for everyone and didn’t belittle the struggle of lighter skinned women while explaining her own.
To say Saldana doesn’t deserve the role is to suggest that she is inherently unworthy and incapable of comprehending a black woman’s struggle and portraying it on film. It is wrong.
However, I do understand where the issues with this come from. I can count on my fingers the number of times I’ve seen a dark brown female in a lead, or supporting role on a hit TV show or movie. Tara from True Blood comes to mind. Colorism exists. The notion that light-skinned black women are easier to handle in dominant culture is still a prevalent idea for some.
Even so, the solution isn’t bashing a movie that has yet to be made, or questioning the “blackness” of a talented actress; it lies in striving to diversify the entertainment industry itself as a whole. According to the Director’s Guild of America, Caucasian directors were responsible for 88 percent of the 2,600 television episodes produced last year. This is problematic. There should be fervor in us all to have more people of African descent, not only on screen but also behind the scenes.
Through it all, it seems, Saldana’s determination to complete the film has not wavered.
“She did do her own singing,” according to co-star David Oyelowo on E-online. “I was blown away.”
“The reality is what keeps me focused, and what kept me from getting stressed or being hurt… I’m doing it for my sisters, I’m doing it for my brothers and I don’t care who tells me that I am not this and [that],” said Saldana. “I know who I am and I know what Nina Simone means to me, so that is my truth and that is what set me free.”
Much like Simone, Saldana will be fighting public criticism when Nina releases later this year.

 

Letter To The Editor: “Keep Calm And Vote Salam”

If you are reading this, then great. I appreciate the fact you’ve taken up your civic duty torch in seeing why I, Salam Measho, aka “Mr.Awesome” around campus should receive your gracious vote for SGA Senator
Personally, I feel there is a disconnect among the 20,000 plus students that attend Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) , the information on events hosted by one of the 110 clubs that are on campus and the 34 student senators that represent such a large audience.
Am I saying that I can reach out and bring together a cohesive plan that can be 100 percent successful? Absolutely not! I am merely saying that I can try my best to reach out to every student on a personal level whether at the Student center, Memorial Hall or just the everyday passerby up the wind-tunnel leading to Copernicus.
I am an outgoing guy. Back in my senior year of high school, I held the office of Class President and resurrected a negative plummeting student budget to an abundant level of student funds. Within seven months I provided numerous student events as a team player with other executive office holders. I have currently been working for three years at my local YMCA back home in Waterbury. I work as part of the courteous Yellow-Shirt team in Event Staff for the Athletic Department’s sporting events. I participated in the Latin dancing club COLODA here on campus and currently participate in round table discussion regarding issues concerning us as students with head academic advisors from Registrar, Admissions & Recruitment, Counseling & Wellness along with fellow students through the Man Enough Support Initiative. I major in Political Science with a minor in Business, and I have been fortunate to discover that I absolutely enjoy meeting new students; call it an extrovert mutant ability.
With that ability, I can try my best to uncover each of your personal improvements about CCSU. My intentions are hopefully that you and I can have an interesting conversation regarding the concerns or issues you feel would improve our University. I would do my best to bring any issue I come across to each one of the other 33 student Senators from there sparking interest leading to fruition of ideas which then would direct into the feasibility of each said idea and by the conclusion of remarks we would ignite a spark leading to the plausible improvements for our great University.
I am just one student, among many, who all deserve to have their individual voices heard and if I can begin to surface the plethora of ideas and concerns our student body have then one of those ideas can become reality.
I’m Salam Measho & I feel if we can begin to scratch the oozing surface of improvements that CCSU students have, then just maybe some of those ideas can become reality _ The 150 character Tweet

~ Salam Measho