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Travel Survival for Students… Inexpensive Travel How-To: Destination: Empire City Casino

By Arianna Cecchini

Connecticut is home to two major casinos, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods. Most of the students on CCSU’s campus are not of age to go to either casino, whose age restriction is 21-plus. But not too far from CCSU is a casino in New York that is actually 18-plus: Empire City Casino in Yonkers, New York, about an hour and a half drive from Central.

It is on the outskirts of Manhattan and makes a fun day trip for students or even a weekend that is not too far away and can pay out well. Empire City Casino is absolutely massive with slot machines as far as the eye can see. It also has a horse racing track, that happens a few times a week, and visitors can bet on horses to win and make money that way also. Empire City Casino is a slot only casino.

It has a roulette table and a crabs table but they are both electronic, which is why the casino is 18 plus. They offer slots that are themed after hit movies and television shows, for example CSI, Sex and the City, the Hangover, Family Guy, and a few others. Its really a fun time and a great way to spend a rainy day doing something different.

But don’t spend too much money, because most people are more likely to lose their money then win it. Being so close to Manhattan, making a weekend trip out of the casino would not be a bad idea. Look at Hotwire or Priceline that day to see if hotels are cheap looking to fill rooms for that night. Those are ways to get good deals fast.

So for the majority of campus who are eagerly awaiting 21, empire city casino offers a nice alternative for those who aren’t. It’s something fun and new and does not need to cost a fortune to do. And hey, maybe one of us will walk out a millionaire.

SGA Offers New Funding Option to Clubs

By Larry Clark

The Student Government Association started out the new semester with some significant changes to the way they fund clubs by introducing a new funding option: the supplemental budget.

This budget is designed for clubs who want to bring new ideas for activities on campus, clubs that didn’t request such funds in their base budget at the end of the previous semester. Supplemental budgeting was born out of the need to bring contingency requests back to strictly funding for an unforeseen event, such as an increase in membership.

“Now we have this supplemental club budget it’s so that clubs can have the chance to come to us, and ask for more money to put on events on campus or to put on trips that are open to campus,” said SGA Treasurer Kory Mills. “We really think that A. It will benefit the club and B. that it will benefit the campus in general.”

In addition to this major change to the senate bylaws and funding processes, the senate also granted the treasurer more power by allowing the treasurer to approve club line item changes that are under $200. After a considerable amount of debate, the senate decided to allow this power under the circumstance that the treasurer sends notice of that change.

“The only reason I was really in favor of this is because last year a lot of clubs would come up to me one day the day before an event or the day before a major trip and say, ‘Hey look, we’re sixty dollars short for our bus and we really need the money. We had an awesome event a couple weeks ago and have a hundred dollars sitting over can we just spend the sixty dollars on that instead?’ and I had to say that you have to talk to the finance committee or the e-board and they can make that decision on your own,” said Treasurer Mills. “Then they had to wait until the following Monday or try to convene all three 2-board members.”

Dr. Stephen Cohen, president of Faculty Senate, also attended the first meeting along with many other guests, to speak about the Transform 2020 initiative as presented by the the Board of Regents. He asked the Student Government Association to get involved with Transform 2020 and some of the initiatives that were set forth by the Board.

Chris Dukes, Director of Student Conduct, spoke to the senate looking for ways to improve campus climate. Duke says that, while there was an increase of students living and staying on campus, there was an issue with students under the age of 21, “My office isn’t about busting students or calling them scumbags, but about educating students and stopping students from doing one stupid thing in college and having it ruin the rest of their lives,” said Dukes.

Transportation Liaison Isamar Rodriguez briefly spoke to the success of the UPass program, which gives students a free CTTransit bus pass so long as you are in possession of your student ID. Rodriguez explains that the UPass will provide access to the new fast track transit system that seeks to connect Hartford, CCSU and New Britain.

Former SGA President and current president of the volleyball club, Brain Choplick, spoke to the Student Senate about current issues with Athletics. Choplick claimed that the department wasn’t honoring their agreement with RECentral and SA/LDD and instead caused club sports to relocate or move their pre-determined practice times, causing major inconveniences.

Board of Regents Hosts Town Hall

By Larry Clark

Involvement was the primary theme as Dr. Gregory Gray, President of the Board of Regents; spoke at the first of many pseudo town meetings including all four Connecticut State Universities and the twelve Connecticut community colleges

Transform 2020 major plans include reconsolidating and reworking of the Board of Regent’s new plans to transform the current CSCU system. Transform 2020 is based off of 36 initiatives that the Board of Regents have designed to improve the state universities and community colleges.

The initiatives of the Board of Regents breaks down into a multitude of 12 over arching “Initiative Groups” that covers the topics of, attracting and recruiting students, student retention, enhancing academic offerings, transfer and articulation, instructional innovation, student services, workforce of tomorrow, transparency, revenue management, efficiency, IT and facilities.

While the turn out at Torp Theater was underwhelming for the campus community, the voices in the room certainly made up for lack of bodies in the seats. A few SGA senators, who attended and asked questions of the Board of Regents representatives and Dr. Gray. The faculty representation was present and vocal as well.

Dr. Jane Fried, English professor at CCSU, spoke about the difference between teaching and learning, or the lack there of. She spoke about how regardless of the tools we use to help teach classes, and how our teachers don’t know the science and methodology behind actually teaching. There is no difference between an e-classroom and the cavemen writing on the walls if we don’t actually know how to teach to learn.

Students were talked about briefly in a few slides about stake holders and “value proposition”, a graph that started with students in the center and radiated out into four categories, one of which was affordability. Even though, even Dr. Gray talked to the “mere” two percent increase that was approved across the CSCU system by the Board of Regents.

“I hope that as we move forward and they have made it very clear that they will add more and more student input, which I hope it’s honored,” said Alex Lee, Student Advisory Committee (SAC) representative for CCSU. “Right now we have made [it] very clear that we don’t feel the student representation isn’t enough.”

Dr. Gray mentioned that there would be even more student surveys and round table discussions in an effort to reach out to more students on the CSCU campuses. However, SAC Representative Lee seemed hesitant on such efforts actually happening and getting out to the CSCU students.

“We hope to get a student on their Executive Steering Committee, which is the very small committee that controls the steering of the entire plan,” said Lee. “We feel that if a faculty member is on the committee is on it then we also should be on it as well.”

Student Center Turns Fifty

By Jacqueline Stoughton

The Student Center celebrated its 50th birthday last Wednesday, a celebration that happened simultaneously during the annual club fair and is just the first of many anniversary celebrations to take place throughout the current academic school year.

Along with remarks from Dr. Richard Judd, the first student center director and Otis Mamed, the current director of the student center, both COLADA and DanCentral came together to perform the evolution of dance in honor of the Student Center’s anniversary.

“Today is the celebration of the Student Center building at CCSU. While the building has been here for 50 years, the idea of the Student Center has been around for much longer,” said Mamed.

“We talk about the Student Center as sort of being the extra curriculum and by that we mean the activities that go on in the Student Center integrate what happens in the classrooms and helps makes them come alive and make them work,” said Judd. “All the organizations actually implement a lot of ideas that your professors never say.”

Judd thanked all the nationally recognized interns for continuing to work on a degree while working with the students who come to the Student Center seeking assistance.

CCSU students danced along to various songs throughout history accompanied by their own famous dances from doing the Macarena to the Dougie. Following the performance, President Jack Miller, with giant scissors in hand cut the blue ribbon in honor of celebrating 50 years of the Student Center.

Waiters passed out cake to the tune of CCSU’s A Cappella group singing “happy birthday,” as students continue to explore all the clubs and organizations CCSU has to offer them.

“Rather than just having a speaking program we wanted to make sure students were showcased with dancing and singing performances,” said Maria Santilli, Director of Events. “Doing this simultaniously with the club fair was intentional to have that wow factor.”

This birthday celebration is only just the beginning. This is the kick off event to a yearlong celebration, explains Tiffany Simpson, Assistant Director of the Student Center. She says this is a wonderful event for students to be able to appreciate all that we do for them and the entire campus.

“This is an opportunity to network and a place to study, listen to the campus radio, read the newspaper and just hang out and have some fun,” said Simpson. “We are so honored that people came out and think of us; and with Dr. Judd here, it makes it that much more special.”

“All of this is for you to become apart of a teaching and learning community,” said Mamed.

Mamed explains how 60 percent of all college learning takes place outside the classroom. Much of that learning, says Mamed, is provided right here in the Student Center.

He says the Student Center has always been a place to learn about being a good citizen in this community, a place to meet the diversity of the world, to learn to work together, to resolve differences and to make changes.

The first event to take place following the last Wednesday’s ribbon cutting ceremony is the Alumni Pub Night in October. Details of this event and more throughout the year are still not final, but will be released soon.

“Students are at the center of out mission of teaching and learning,” said Mamed. “Today is not about the building. It’s about you, the students. We are celebrating you today.”

 

Scholarship Aims to Lift Disadvantaged Students to New Heights

by Ruth Bruno

The Computer Science, Mathematics and Physics (CSMP) scholarship program is making a difference in the lives of many CCSU Graduate students. By removing the financial burden of attending grad school, to providing them with additional benefits, the National Science Foundation (NSF) will be offering approximately 20-25 students up to $5,400 per year through this scholarship.

For CCSU student Melissa Mulcahy, deciding on a major was not a challenging decision. After being introduced to the world of computer science through a high school class, Mulcahy realized she would like to continue in her new-found area of study. “I immediately fell in love with programming. When I was applying to colleges, I did not doubt that I wanted to go into the Computer Science field.”

What was more difficult for Mulcahy, however, was finding the funds to alleviate the “financial burden” that would be placed upon her in the form of a college tuition. It was at this point in her life that the CSMP Scholarship Program stepped in to help. Mulcahy won the scholarship during her freshman year at CCSU.

The scholarship, whose program was established back in 2006, can be renewed upon review of the academic performance of scholars. The NSF says it’s main purpose is to “attract and retain academically talented and underrepresented students from low-income and disadvantaged families to achieve degrees in Computer Science, Mathematics and Physics.”

According to Dr. Stan Kurkovsky, program director and Chair of the Computer Science Department, the scholarship is given to students who can demonstrate high academic potential as well as a need for the funds.

“The hopes are that [the students] are going to continue, either being employed, or ideally attending graduate school in their respected disciplines,” said Kurkovsky.

Though Mulcahy was helped financially by the scholarship program, she says the benefits did not end there. Mulcahy attended several conferences in game development and research as well as computers in education with other members of the program.  She says that due to the program’s student-faculty relationship, she has been able to do two research projects with Kurkovsky.

“The program has opened me up to opportunities that I would never had had before,” says Mulcahy.  “If I had to pick the major benefit of the CSMP Program, it would be the experience it provided.”

Mulcahy plans to move on from CCSU to get a Masters degree in software engineering. She encourages other students to apply.

“The opportunities presented by the program should not be passed up,” she says, “Without the aid of this scholarship, I am not sure if I would be where I am.”

For some students, the scholarship program’s most helpful attribute was not monetary, or even tangible.

“It gave me a shot of confidence that someone had reviewed my information and thought that my future was worth supporting,” said Hannah Hocutt, who won the scholarship during her freshman year and applied it towards a degree in Physics.  “Physics appeals to me because it is so obvious in everyday life. It’s the study of the basic clockwork of the universe, and it is so, so beautiful in its simple elegance,” said Hocutt.

According to Dr. Ivan Gotchev, professor of mathematics and faculty member of the CSMP program, dedication to a CSMP discipline, as Hocutt has exemplified, is a main factor in deciding which students become part of the program, helping to assist the scholarship program in meeting its goals.

“Our program has been very successful,” said Gotchev.  “We have been able to help many minorities, female, and first-generation students in financial need to come to study at CCSU and to graduate within four years.”