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Regents’ Subpar Strategy Will Ostracize Connecticut Residents

The Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education was scheduled to vote yesterday on whether or not to approve a 5.1 percent tuition increase for in-state students and a decrease for out-of-state students by 2.6 percent. When this publication went out for print (Monday), our editorial staff was not aware if this proposal was approved or not. Nonetheless, the fact that this was considered did not sit well with our staff.

The idea that in-state residents, who pay taxes to the state, will have to pay more to attend a state school is disappointing. Most students in high school in Connecticut have been in this state for most of their lives. Their parents have paid taxes year in and year out. A chunk of every paycheck that they earned was taken away before they ever got their hands on it. Part of that money went towards education and now it’s not going to benefit them at all.

Regardless of what happened at the Regents’ meeting Tuesday, state school tuition will still cost less for in-state residents, as it should, but decreasing the cost for those who don’t contribute to the state while increasing the price for those that do cannot be expected to be taken well.

Under this proposal, loyalty is the last thing that comes to mind. If the state is dealing with declining enrollment then the last thing it should do is ask its residents to pay more for a college education. In-state students are the CSU system’s bread and butter. Most people that attend state schools do so with the inkling that it costs less to do so.

Not only is the tuition cheaper than private schools, but a lot of students commute from home to save on room-and-board costs. The amount of money that students can save is the main reason why they stay in state. To be quite frank, there’s not much that draws students from other states into the CSU system.

But that is exactly what the board voted on; a second-rate strategy that attempts to lure students from out-of-state into Connecticut. The message that is being sent to prospective Connecticut college students doesn’t exhibit any allegiance whatsoever.

People should feel like their state is behind them, but this proposal throws Connecticut residents to the side for the potential market that is out-of-state students. It’s just like when a company offers new customers a slew of benefits while ignoring the faithful ones that have been with it through thick and thin.

If this proposal was approved Tuesday, as many expect it to be, it will do nothing more to the declining enrollment issue that the state faces than to blindly throw a lousy solution at one of the many problems that Connecticut must deal with in the future.

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University Finds Solution To Enrollment Issues

Declined enrollment has been a hot topic as of late in Connecticut. The state schools are seeing fewer and fewer students, undergraduates and graduates. CCSU President Jack Miller has said that of the four CSU schools, Central has been affected the least by this. Still though, University officials have admitted that they are facing a problem and they are exploring ways to handle it.

Carl Lovitt, provost and vice president of academic affairs, said in a recent article featured in the Hartford Courant that the current trajectory that higher education is on isn’t sustainable. He addressed the recent news that a statewide tuition increase is inevitable and certainly won’t help the enrollment situation.

“That’s the model that is unsustainable,” Lovitt said, according to the courant. “At some point our market will not be able to bear the increase. Who’s to say we aren’t losing students because tuition has gone up beyond their means?”

It is clear that CCSU, as well as the other state schools, aren’t exactly sure how to handle this issue. Anyone with even half a brain knows that if something isn’t selling (college enrollment in this case) the last thing you should do is raise the price of it. However, given the state’s economic crisis, as addressed in last week’s Recorder editorial, there really is no way around a tuition hike.

That leaves a very tricky situation for state officials. On one hand, the cost of running a college certainly isn’t going down, but on the other, raising the price of an education isn’t going to give high school graduates any motivation to come to a state school.

To the University’s credit, it has somewhat admitted that it doesn’t have the answers to this conundrum. As a result, the school has decided to hire an expert. Vincent Tinto, a professor at Syracuse University, specializes in student attainment. The SGA recently allocated $6,500 for the purpose of funding Tinto’s $10,000 fee. President Eric Bergenn says that the University has agreed to pay the rest.

Some have questioned whether or not the school should keep this as an in-house process citing the student success team as a reason not to bring in Tinto. One of the team’s primary responsibilities is student attainment. But as several SGA senators pointed out at its last meeting, the team even acknowledges that Tinto is the University’s best option.

Arguments against hiring an expert are extremely short-sided. Desperate times call for desperate measures and CCSU recognizes that this is indeed a desperate time for higher education. It takes a lot to confess that you don’t have a solution to your own problem. Before things get any worse, University officials have decided to take the bull by the horns and fix this crisis.

$10,000 is a small price to pay to repair an issue as big as declined enrollment. In the long run this investment could pay dividends and provide the school with something worth much more than $10,000.

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Editor’s Column: West Side Story: Remembering Old Passions

By Kassondra Granata

From the age of ten until my senior year of high school, musical theatre was my absolute passion. The moment I stepped on stage for my first production, I was hooked. The lights and the delighted faces in the crowd bewitched me. I took pleasure in performing, whether it was making them laugh or cry. If I touched their lives in any way, I was content.

I would spend my days putting a show together accompanied with jazz squares, songs, dances, etc.  to plunging into different musicals at home, learning different songs and singing throughout the night. My life was theater.

I participated in over twelve productions. Les Miserables, Fame, The Boyfriend, Grease, Oliver!, and Carousel were just a few that I remember off hand. Participating in these plays was beyond rewarding. I acquired a great amount of confidence, self discipline and leadership qualities, as well as independence. Being involved in something so pivotal in my hometown was very beneficial.

When I graduated high school, I found a new passion in journalism. I grew up enjoying writing, but never had the real opportunity to work on my writing skills, plus, I was engrossed in theatre. Early freshman year, I decided that musical theatre would be my “extreme hobby”, and it has been.

This weekend, I had the privilege to attend West Side Story with my significant other and his family at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, CT. I will openly admit that for being such a theater buff I never attended a Broadway production or any show of that standing. This was phenomenal.

West Side Story is based off of a book written by Arthur Laurents. It’s music is written by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. It also happens to be a film, which is where I first discovered the play.

Set in the Upper West Side in New York City in the mid-1950s, West Side Story tells a tale of a rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds. The Sharks, a group from Puerto Rico, and the Jets, a group from the Polish-American working class, antagonize each other throughout the play and their animosity result in a rumble, resulting in the death of the group’s two leaders. Tony, one of the Jets, falls in love with Maria, the sister of Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks. Because of their racial differences along with the rivalry, all trouble breaks loose. It’s very Romeo and Juliet-esque, except more modern.

The moment I stepped into the theater I was mesmerized. The beauty of the inside of the theater was overwhelming. The ceiling was absolutely breathtaking, with contrasting patterns and colors with chandeliers hanging down sending a sparkling light flickering on the floors. The Palace interior also accommodated to the approaching holiday season with wreaths, lights, and a gigantic christmas tree above the lobby entrance.

Many distinct themes were presented in West Side Story. Gang violence, racial differences, and social classes were addressed throughout the play. The mixing of Spanish in the lyrics as well as the dialogue was intriguing, and added a different excitement to the play. The cast was excellent and the choreography was phenomenal. It was fascinating to see a play from a viewers point of view, for I always was on stage looking at the audience. It is a different feeling. Knowing all of the hard work that is put into a production, it was gratifying to see that from the other end.

Seeing West Side Story at the Palace Theater made me miss doing theater. I love journalism, and I know I will continue to sing and have an interest in theater. Hopefully I can make a trip this winter to New York City for my first broadway show.

Editorial: It’s Time To Make Your General Education Concerns Heard

There’s a lot of hoopla surrounding the general education program in the CSU system. Faculty members are up in arms about what programs to cut and which to keep. They’re mulling over different proposals to try to figure out what works best for the school and are hard at work doing so. They want to get this done in time to make changes for the next fall semester.

SGA President Eric Bergenn is now trying to get himself, and the student body he represents, involved in the process. Beyond voting at last week’s SGA meeting whether or not to approve his proposal to the Faculty Senate, he’s had little to no support. That’s baffling.

One of the biggest things that students complain about here at CCSU are the requirements for general education. It contributes to students having to stay longer, study longer and pay more tuition. The fact that no one is lining up to help the SGA try to get student input into the discussion is a sign of weakness on behalf of us all.

It’s frustrating that we can complain to our friends that a biology lab is keeping us from graduating, but when the opportunity is presented for us to say something to the faculty who will be making an overhaul of the system, we’re silent. Student turn-out at all of the General Education open forums has been poor at best.

There was a time when a college campus was a soapbox to stand on for issues to be challenged. Now we hide behind our Twitter handles and complain about #CCSU, but we don’t have the gall to say it out loud. Have we become weak? No, it goes beyond that.

If you peruse the social networks and look at comments about this University, we have no shortage of opinions. Unfortunately, these are not making their way to any administrators in any fashion that holds a speck of validity.

The problem lies in what our generation views as acceptable forms of communication. At this publication, we stress the importance of the well-crafted and edited written word. We have an obvious outlet to do so where some do not, but our opinions can only enter this editorial box on a given week.

As students, we have great power. Our opinions should be prevalent instead of hidden. Whether or not the administrators here would ever admit it, they work for us. We pay for our education and we are employing them to teach us. Without completely throwing aside the respect we should have for all of them, we should remember that we have numbers on our side.

We’re not advocating a riot here in any way, but if we’re not expressing to the faculty and administration what our desires are, then we are wasting time. At no point in our working careers should we be quiet and go with the flow if we don’t agree with what’s happening around us.

College should be a proving ground for the rest of our lives. This is no place to be apathetic. If something is worth complaining about, then it is worth changing. By showing the administration that we care about decisions they are making, we will also demonstrate to them that we take ourselves and our futures seriously.

Editorial: Is General Education A Scapegoat?

There’s been a lot of debate over what the University should do to fix our general education system. Some parties are saying that we should eliminate various courses that seem unnecessary to further a student’s education.

The SGA President at this University has presented his ideas to the general education ad hoc committee. He seems to think that it needs to be broadened to give students more options. That is the opposite of most of the drafts from the committee itself. They seem to agree on the fact that the system should be reduced slightly to keep students moving through their education and out into the real world.

It seems that the major talking point for a system overhaul is the graduation rate. The concern makes sense. We should be pushing for students to get through the University in four years. Instead, some of us are struggling to get out of here in six. Adding two years of student loans to the pile of debt that a graduate has already accumulated is nothing to take lightly, but we might not be looking at the whole picture.

Is the general education program really to blame? Have we settled on that as a definitive cause or is that our scapegoat? The system might need a small tweak, but only if we are addressing the closely related issues, which assist in holding back students, as well.

Take, for example, our advising system. Too many students have no idea what they should be taking when the add/drop period rolls around. This isn’t due to the fact that they haven’t had a meeting with their advisor, but it seems that some of those doing the guidance might not have all the answers either.

The degree evaluation system is too screwy. It’s complicated enough to figure out that you’re supposed to be taking a course when you are, but telling whether or not you’ve fulfilled an entire study area is another. Then what happens when the advisor is correct in their suggestions, but the student cannot get into the desired class?

Block scheduling. This was supposed to happen a long time ago, but we’re still stuck. For some reason, people cannot get what they want when it comes time for them to register. Where that problem stems from is irrelevant; it needs to be fixed. Students still have courses during the “university hour”and classes are over booked. With a fix to an online system that controls scheduling, this could easily be avoided.

Even with all the systems in place, the students should be held responsible completely. It’s their education and if they want to get out of here, it would behoove them to research what it takes to do so.

General education has opened a lot of doors for many students at this University and a scalping of the system would certainly take away from the exposure that someone gets to a new major. It’s a program that can turn a communication major into a business major. Letting a student experience a new discipline should always be a priority.

A well-rounded education is what differentiates a college from a trade school. Before we are quick to point the finger at general education, and subsequently wait to see if its reform changes anything, let’s make sure that we tackle any other existing issues as well. When the committees meet to decide what our programs should be, we hope that they take into account all sides. We should not just do what makes more sense financially, or somehow visually, for our university.

Editorial: Worth The Price Of Admission

Last week the Connecticut Board of Regents approved a tution hike of almost four percent for the CSU Schools, which includes our university, as well as the 12 community colleges in the state. The increase may currently seem like a hassle for some students, but our institution can only benefit from these changes.

If you take a look at our campus, you can already see where the money is going. With a new academic building on the way for 2013 as well as future plans for a new residence hall, cafeteria and police station, it is evident that our money is being put to good use. It is not being spent in ways that will not benefit the entire student body or being funneled to a certain department.

Some may argue that they will not be here to set foot into any of these new buildings, but one must remember the welfare of this university will follow you after graduation. When asked what university you attended in the near future, one should feel a sense of pride that you graduated from CCSU. That pride can grow over the years as you continue to see CCSU prosper. If one were to discuss the state that this university was in 30 years ago, you would be astonished to see the improvements that  have been made. Alumni continue to come back to take part in the CCSU community and events because they are proud of the accomplishments the university has made.

Taking a look at other universities in Connecticut that do not fall under the CSU schools’ jusrisdiction, the amount that students have to pay in order to receive an education is well above what the average student here has to pay. A commuter student at Quinnipiac University pays $36,000 per year, where at CCSU an in-state resident pays approximately $18,000. The difference between the two is significant, and should be enough to convince CSU students that an extra $600-700 is really nothing in comparison.

UConn will raise its tuition by six percent for the fall semester and in-state undergraduates will pay $22,430, while also facing a steady climb to an almost seven percent increase by 2016. These hikes were unanimously approved in December and also adds to the fact that our tuition could be more expensive if the Board was to use UConn as a benchmark.

Students at CCSU enjoy looking down on this university for countless reasons, but they need to realize that the fact the university is making an effort to improve itself and its facilities is commendable. Education is an industry in the U.S., unlike most other countries, and we should all feel priveleged and want to contribute towards improvment. Thinking about all that a student can do with their time at CCSU, it seems like a 3.7 percent increase is a small sacrifice when looking at the big picture.

Our university has a plethora of clubs, committees and sponsored events that students can take advantage of and, even though there are many that do not jump at these opportunities, that is no reason to say that one should not want to pay a small increase in tuition. There are many at this school that want to take full advantage of what the university has to offer, and we should not forfeit that because of a lack of state funding.