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UPASS Proves Useful For Students

By Danny Contreras

On August 26th, 2013 CCSU began its first year providing students with U-Pass, a CT Transit-valid boarding pass that can be used in every major metropolitan area in Connecticut, including Hartford, New Britain and New Haven.

The U-Pass will not only provide commuters from nearby towns a chance to save money on gas, but also to save money from buying the CT Transit Monthly Pass which is priced at $47. The U-Pass will primarily replace the CCSU Shuttle Bus.

While the Shuttle Bus provided rides to CCSU at certain intervals during the day, U-Pass allows students to travel to CCSU at their convenience, and the experience is by far more enjoyable than waiting for the Shuttle. At times, the Shuttle service becomes unreliable—especially given the intervals at which it stops.

Overall, the U-Pass program is one that will be better integrated in the future as CT Transit builds their CT Fastrak program which will include rail services from Hartford to New Britain; the program offers commuters a chance to bypass traffic on I-84 and local roads.

From a personal experience, the U-Pass is a much needed cost-saver. The service also provides flexibility with my schedule that I could not enjoy with the Shuttle Bus service. In addition to saving me $188 over the course of a semester, it allows me to do any errands before or after my classes. Additionally, it allows me to plan for more activities on campus that the Shuttle Service would otherwise not allow me to reach on time.

It also helps the student with travel expenses outside of CCSU. The CT Transit services that work from Downtown Hartford connects to major hubs in West Farms’ Mall, Manchester, East Hartford, West Hartford and Middletown. It allows students who need part-time work to get jobs in any of the surrounding cities, including New Britain.

U-Pass is a service from CCSU is a welcomed advantage. It connects commuters to CCSU, and residents to major hubs where they can maximize New Britain’s proximity with Hartford, Manchester and West Hartford. It provides students with a chance to explore New Britain’s Art Museum or Hartford’s Wadsworth Athenaeum.

The pass works from when it is issued until the end of the semester. The opportunities offered by the U-Pass are more than just convenience; it is a symbol of connectivity and one that resonates throughout CCSU.

Is it better than the service it replaced? Yes. Can it be improved? Only if it gives us superpowers: the U-Pass is by far one of the best things offered at CCSU this year.

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Elihu Burritt Library Becomes Literary Landmark

CCSU’s Elihu Burritt Library was designated as a “literary landmark,” at a ceremony held last Friday at 3 p.m.

At the event, a plaque was unveiled in honor of the library’s new status. This plaque, located at the entrance of the library, honors the library’s namesake, Elihu Burritt.

Burrit, a New Britain native, was a self-taught scholar who gained knowledge at the library while he worked at the forge.

CCSU’s President Jack Miller spoke about Burrit at the ceremony.

“He is, almost unquestionably, New Britain’s most famous citizen,” said Miller. “Besides being a pretty amazing person in a whole number of ways, he was also one of the beginners of the International Peace Movement, a writer, a distinguished writer, in that area.”

Miller also spoke of Burritt’s relationships to the library.

“[He was] a great believer in breaking down the barriers of communications, and it is particularly appropriate that the library be the place that bears his name and the collection of his works that is housed there,” said Miller.

Burritt was an accomplished linguist, mastering about 50 different languages and eventually becoming the consul in Birmingham, England. He used his knowledge of languages as a base for open communication which he believed would bring world peace.

According to one of his many descendants, Susan Bradley, she and her relatives uphold the teachings and ideals of Burrit.

“If you look at what the members of our family are engaged in, you will see that his ideals are still carried on,” said Bradley.

Carl Antonucci, director of library services, informed the gathering that the Elihu Burrit Library will now join the ranks of many other historic literary sites, including the home of Tennessee Williams and many other libraries.

“The Literary Landmark Association is part of the American Library Association and the Literary Landmark Association was founded in 1986. So today we join over 100 literary landmarks across the United States,” said Antonucci.

In order to become a literary landmark, a group must be found to sponsor the landmark. In the case of Elihu Burrit Library, descendants of Burrit were the ones who sponsored the library.

Present at the event were Susan Bradley and Rod Skinner, who were responsible not only for the honoring of the library, but also the presentation of a scholarship named in honor of Burrit.

The scholarship will be given to a full-time student who is engaged in a research project that  requires the use of the Elihu Burrit Library and specifically show that Elihu Burrit is central to the assignment.

The scholarship is supported by the Skinner, Cargill and Bradley families, descendants of Burrit.

Students can view the plaque displayed on the outside entrance of the Elihu Burrit library.

SGA And Faculty Senate Relationship A Priority For Bergenn

By Kassondra Granata

Student Government Association President Eric Bergenn said he hopes that senators will take on bigger roles this year after four senators stepped down last semester.

While he is hoping for more involvement from others, Bergenn has made the decision to step down from the finance committee. He will appoint a senator in his place.

“It says nothing in the bylaws that a president is required to be a part of a committee, whereas for a senator, it is required,” said Bergenn.

Bergenn said he plans on spending most of his time this semester at Faculty Senate. He is hoping that the two groups will eventually be able to work together, something he’s struggled with thus far after his initial efforts last semester.

Originally, Bergenn had proposed the idea to have eleven student voting members on the Faculty Senate back in October in order to make sure that the student voice is heard on important issues at CCSU.

He presented a printed report to the senate, noting the sections of each constitution that structured his proposal.

At that time, Faculty Senate President Candice Barrington put Bergenn’s recommendation straight to the Committee on Constitution and Bylaws, but it still has not been addressed.

“It has been a clear and present goal of mine for the two groups to work more hand-in-hand together,” said Bergenn. “I think that a lot of the decisions that are made through Faculty Senate would really benefit when they get student input. In the last few years, it has been lacking.”

Bergenn said that the only way to persuade Faculty Senate of his goal is to have a presence there.

“That’s where I think I will be spending most of my time,” said Bergenn. “And because of those changes, we are going to need senators to take on a bigger role. Hopefully with that there will be a residual effect that if you are working harder at something you will follow through more because your time is concentrated there.”

President Bergenn is still unsure about what direction it will go, but he is hoping to figure that out at the first meeting.

“I think that it is beneficial that I take on this role,” said Bergenn. “I would like to set a precedent to have the President at their meetings and hopefully work that into our bylaws in the future.”

The weekend before classes started, SGA senators went to Camp Woodstock in Woodstock, Conn. for their annual retreat from Friday to Sunday.

Bernard Franklin, a well-known and influential speaker, spoke to the senate and expressed his feedback on how their senate is run. Franklin was the first elected African American student government president at Kansas State University. Currently, he is a role model to others nationwide and brings knowledge and experience to his lectures.

Senator Ryan Sheehan says he was very satisfied with their weekend retreat and the lecture from Franklin.

“It was really great, what he said is going to help us get more on track and more goal orientated,” said Sheehan.”A lot of times we get stuck in a rut arguing on allocations to clubs where we can be doing better things.”

Franklin talked to SGA about restructuring their constitution and how to avoid just being a bank for clubs. He also said that looking at their constitution, it was similar to what he would see in a high school student government.

“He guessed how our meetings were fairly accurately,” said Sheehan. “He is a student government guy, he was one of the best speakers we have ever had. The whole retreat was better handled than any year previous. Franklin was leading us off in a direction that will help the SGA in years to come.”

On Saturday the senate worked separately in their committees, each discussing their goals and working on their structure for the next semester. President Bergenn supplied the committees with make-shift calendars so they could be more organized.

This year’s retreat was the fourth retreat that Bergenn has attended, the second one that he has put on as president. Bergenn said he was very content on how it went.

“I think that this was very productive in terms of getting everyone on the same page,” said Bergenn. “I think that the group got to a perspective at not looking at arguing over smaller things, but more looking into the bigger picture. We really had the opportunity to get together and talk [to one another] and get to know each other. I think we are at a better point now than we have ever been since I have been on senate.”

Shankar’s Case Protected Against Public Access

By Justin Muszynski

Associate Professor of English Ravi Shankar’s file in relation to the motor vehicle charges he faces has been statutorily sealed by the Meriden Superior Court.

The reasons for the file’s sealing have not been disclosed. The only thing the clerk’s office is allowed to say when asked anything in regards to why it was sealed is, “We have no public information about this.”

No one from the court or the arresting agency is allowed to speculate why the file has been hidden from the public. Before the file was sealed, the charges included: illegally operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, evading responsibility, failure to drive in the proper lane and illegally operating a motor vehicle without minimum insurance.

It’s unknown whether or not these charges have stayed the same.

According to Connecticut’s Judicial Branch Website, there are four reasons why a court’s clerk’s office would say they have no public information.

The first being if the defendant was granted a nolle more than 13 months ago which, based on Shankar’s arrest date, is not possible.

The second reason is if the defendant is acquitted, proven not guilty or if their charges were dismissed. In Shankar’s case, a not guilty finding is highly unlikely because he would have had to have gone through an entire trial already. However, it is possible that the charges were dismissed or he was acquitted.

The third reason why the clerk’s office would have to say they have no public information is if the file is sealed because it was court ordered to be or if the defendant was granted absolute pardon.

The final possibility is if the case involves a juvenile or youthful offender however, also seems very unlikely considering Shankar was born in 1975 and no other persons involved in the accident have been charged with anything as of yet.

According to the accident information summary, Shankar was traveling eastbound on Route 40 and was in the shoulder of two lanes when he struck a car in the rear. He then fled the scene and was later found by the police, who conducted a K9 track in the woods near the accident scene.

Shankar, who was arrested twice last semester on separate charges, still faces fraud charges in which he allegedly purchased over $20,000 worth of tickets to a soccer game in New Jersey with his Discover credit card and then claimed the purchase was fraudulent. According to the arrest warrant, he claimed he only bought four tickets to the game, totaling $342.40. However, Shankar later admitted to police that he did purchase all the tickets that were charged to his card, but took a loss when trying to sell them.

Mark McLaughlin, Associate Vice President of Marketing and Communications, was not aware that the file had been sealed and declined to comment on the issue.

Shankar is scheduled to appear in New Britain Superior Court on March 9 in relation to the fraud charges.

Committee Ready To Submit Gen Ed Changes

By Justin Muszynski

The long-awaited general education reform may finally come to a conclusion this semester as the Faculty Senate Ad Hoc Committee will be making their final changes to their plans and submitting them to the Senate and Curriculum committee.

“The Faculty Senate asked us to hold another open meeting for those who could not attend on Dec. 8,” said Robert Wolff, chair of the Ad Hoc Committee. “Afterward our recommendations will be sent by the Senate to standing committees like curriculum. They will be charged with producing the actual implementation of the general education revisions.”

After a survey was conducted in the spring of 2011, the Senate concluded that there was a strong desire on campus to change the current system. The Ad Hoc Committee then held several open meetings to get the campus community’s input on the matter and even started a blog devoted entirely to the topic.

Wolff says one of the biggest challenges was getting everyone’s opinion, but thinks most will favor the system the committee will submit for approval.

“There have been some bumps in the road, it’s difficult to find ways to reach faculty, staff, and students,” said Wolff. “We committed to an open process and it seems to be working.”

Thomas Burkholder, who also serves on the Ad Hoc Committee, elaborates on the difficulties of addressing all the concerns the campus community had.

“We believe so far, the biggest concerns were about the lack of flexibility in the current system and this proposal addresses those,” said Burkholder. “The other concerns were that writing, critical thinking and quantitative reasoning skills be incorporated into gen ed and we believe we have done so.”

Foreign language requirements have been a major source of debate when discussions were held in regards to what the new system should look like. Burkholder says the committee will need more information before being able to make their final recommendation on this matter.

“The issue of foreign language proficiency is addressed by agreeing to study it. In effect we are kicking that issue down the road while collecting information that will help us decide how to proceed in the future,” said Burkholder. “We also had to balance the strong desire for flexibility and simplicity in the program against the desire to have depth in a discipline of the student’s choosing.  We came down on the side of flexibility and left the issue of depth alone for now.”

While many students may feel the program is too in-depth, some also think it’s too big as a whole. There isn’t much the committee can do about that because of the state’s mandates. It is stipulated in Connecticut that the general education system must be at least one third of the total credits a student accumulates. Any new system would require at least 43 general education credits to be completed.  In other words, the committee cannot stray too far from the current system, which was implemented in 1998 and requires a minimum of 44-46 credits.

Wolff says it’s probable that the submission made by the Ad Hoc Committee will neither be rejected nor approved.

“There are multiple parts to this proposal, some recommendations are likely to be approved and some not approved,” said Wolff. “There is willingness on the part of the faculty to effect some changes in gen ed so it’s unlikely to be wholly rejected.”

Should changes be approved, it’s expected they wouldn’t go into effect until the fall of 2014. The next open meeting will take place this semester but has not been scheduled at this point.

Registration System Crash Addressed at Forum

By Kassondra Granata

A problem with the online registration system last week led to questions about how CCSU can avoid another crash and make registering for classes smoother for students.

On Tuesday of last week, the system had temporarily shut down on freshmen scheduled to register that day, causing mayhem in the registration process.

At last Wednesday’s Open Forum with CCSU’s administration, a faculty member brought up the crash and questioned the IT about methods they can take to prevent this from happening again.

“All hell just broke loose,” said the faculty member. “Just looking at the freshmen Facebook page and what was posted and the anger directed at this University, things I will not say in public, the students were incredibly unhappy about this and I understand their frustration.”

The faculty member asked if there was a way to portion out the students whether it is by last name or divided into different schools.

James Estrada, Chief Information Officer stated that the volume of students was not an issue.

“We instituted a major upgrade in spring 2010, and for reasons that are unclear, we didn’t do a load test to make sure that the volume could be handled for registration purposes,” said Estrada.

The number of programs being run by different faculty members and the change in systems caused it to shut down.

“What we do need to address is the issue of collaboration on campus,” said Estrada. “We found what we think is the solution but we need an outside vendor to validate it. We don’t think the issue is the number of students registering at the same time.”

Certain programs are routinely checked and IT sends out emails to the departments with the registration times to ensure that they do not run their programs at those times.

“We need to make sure staff isn’t running these big programs when students are scheduled to register.”

Michaela Rafferty, a freshman, was one of many who had trouble registering during the crash.

“I logged on at 1:30 at my scheduled time and I put in all of my CRN’s in but after 10 minutes I knew something was wrong,” said Rafferty. “My CRN’s started to work randomly. I got one class at 4:30 and the other until 6:30. I was just staring at the computer screen from 1:30-4:30 and then I eventually just gave up. I made three different schedules because I figured something like this would happen, but I still didn’t get all of my first choices.”

Freshman Maggie Hazard ended up losing out when the system went back online.

“I tried to log in and then it logged me out and I contacted a few people and they told me about the problems they were having and I just gave up. Now, I only am registered for three classes,” said Hazard.

Hazard hopes to meet with her advisor by the end of the month to figure out her schedule for next semester.

An email has been sent out by President Jack Miller and Provost Carl Lovitt which was put on the “Special Announcements” section on the Central Pipeline website a week after the registration incident occurred that stated, “We expect that all of recommended changes will be in place by December 7, in time for the start of the next registration period. Please accept our sincere apologies for this inconvenience.”

Note: CIO James Estrada was contacted to provide further statement on the issue, but was not able to before this is issue was printed. For an updated version of the story, please go to www.centralrecorder.com.

Students Pledge To Forget The “R Word”

By Kassondra Granata

Vance Hall Resident Assistants Brittany Mahoney and Alex Kanopf hosted a program on Monday to prevent the use of the “r-word” in order to avoid hurting those with special needs.

At a table in the student center, students were able to sign a plaque with the saying “Spread the word to end the word.”

“We put on a program to promote diversity,” said Mahoney. “It’s different and we thought it was important. We got $800 from the IRC Budget Committee and we’re just really hoping for a good turnout.”

Mahoney and Kanopf live on the Living Learning Community floor in Vance Hall, a place where students of the same age group live together.

“We decided as a group that we wanted to do a program to benefit other people,” said Kanopf. “I have two brothers with a disability, and a sister with the same disability, and other people here are strongly against using the ‘r-word’. It’s been big in my family and I figured it would be great to bring to the community.”

Robyn Hicock, a supporter of the program and also a committed participant in the Special Olympics, believed that this is a very important cause and everyone should understand it.

“I have a sister with special needs and I’ve been involved with Special Olympics my whole life,” said Hicock. “I’m always telling people to stop using it. It’s not that people say it on purpose it’s just that they don’t realize that it’s hurtful. This program is to get people to understand that it’s hurting people even if they do not think so.”

The campaign for the “r-word” is national, but the group wanted to get a “Central version” out there before the big day comes.

Larry Clark, a pledge and also an RA in Vance Hall found the rally very inspirational.

“I really never thought about it before, but I now realize that it is something important. If I was a person with special needs and heard someone say it, even though it’s meant to say ‘that’s stupid,’ it would bother me,” said Clark. “I don’t use it a lot, I just don’t like the word. In middle school it was used a lot, but there’s not enough education about it and a bunch of people have pledged today and were still getting more.”

Alyssa Prince is also an RA and pledge in Vance who finds that “r word” intolerable.

“Personally I have a family member with down syndrome so I find it offensive,” said Prince. “It’s a new word for ‘you’re stupid,’ it’s a place holder now and it’s not acceptable.”

Katelynn Bento, a pledge, felt moved by the program and encouraged others to pledge.

“I don’t like it. I know people who have been offended by it,” said Bento. “Where I’m from, our high school had a whole seminar on it and the whole school pledged not to say it and we all feel very strong about it.”

By the end of the program, the program received 150 pledges and special education teacher Dr. Nicholson told Mahoney and Kanopf to bring the plaque to the classrooms to gain more pledges.

“Our goal was 100 and we were just hoping for people to understand it better more than the actual number of signatures,” said Mahoney. “It’s good to see that people are more understanding and conscientious about it.”

To learn more about the “r-word” pledge, you can visit www.r-word.org and “Spread the Word to End the Word.”

CCSU Police Officer Nabs Suspect

By Jonathan Stankiewicz

CCSU Police Officer Phillip Billings pulled over a suspect alleged to be responsible for armed robberies in Hartford and West Hartford.

Billings heard that the West Hartford Police were looking for a taxi cab that was believed to have a firearm in the vehicle. He was patrolling on campus and spotted a taxi cab, with the same cab number as the one reported, pulling into the BP gas station off campus on the corner of Manafort Drive and Stanley Street.

Seeing the Glock 9mm handgun, he called for backup.

New Britain, West Hartford and Hartford Police Departments responded, said Billings.

Hartford Police took the driver into custody and charged him with possession of a stolen firearm, said Billings. He added that there are additional charges pending. The passenger was released.

The driver of the taxi cab is from New Britain, said Billings.

Dispatchers at the campus police department are made aware of potential suspects and emergencies that could affect campus safety.

Stay tuned for a police report on the case.

What Happened To The Campus University Hour?

By Kassondra Granata

Even though CCSU changed the schedule for this semester, the new campus “University Hour” is still not being utilized to its full potential.

Carl Lovitt, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs since May 2006, recognizes this and plans on emphasizing its importance to the Registrar’s office for the spring semester.

“There has always been an hour that we set aside where clubs can meet or we can schedule events that the university can attend,” said Lovitt. “Somehow, it got dropped.”

Just this semester Lovitt had redone the calendar and the schedule blocks due to its disorganization. Some class ending and starting times overlapped one another leading to the university not having enough classrooms for courses.

For this academic year, the “University Hour” was intended for Tuesday and Thursday from 3:05-4:20, but departments have disregarded the new calendar and scheduled classes at that time.

While turning in the schedule block for the spring semester, Lovitt made it clear that the time slot for the University Hour will not have classes scheduled at that time.

“Hopefully in the future, we will not have classes scheduled at this time and we can really utilize the University Hour,” said Lovitt. “It would really be beneficial for on-campus involvement and for clubs. We are still working on what it can actually be used for.”

In terms of the new schedule, Lovitt stated that he has received positive feedback, with the only problem being night classes. Lovitt has been getting complaints from faculty and students that the time slot for the 7:20-9:55 class is “too late.”

“Even though its only twenty minutes later than the class used to end, people seem to think it’s a problem,” said Lovitt. “If I hear any more resistance, I will take it to the [faculty]senate and find a solution.”

Before the change to the block scheduling , the university started off the spring 2011 semester with twenty to thirty classes without rooms due to over-scheduling. This semester however, only three did not have a meeting space which CCSU still managed to find space for.

“When we took away the competition, it nearly doubled,” said Lovitt. “We had doubled the amount of evening classes and increased the amount of day classes. This was a huge improvement on paper. We now have enough classes to fit all of the courses in.”

Other than addressing the “University Hour,” Lovitt is working hard to adjust the schedule to ensure that the university can offer all courses that students need in a “timely fashion.”

“If we took advantage of morning classes and Friday classes, we can find more room for students to take courses as well.”

According to Lovitt, the university schedule should not be driven by convenience, but by student need.

“If we as an institution want to make sure students get the courses they need, we can’t act like we only have four days to use our classrooms. Our only way to appeal to the students is to spread out the schedule,” said Lovitt. “If you walk around campus on a Friday, there are more than enough classrooms open for courses.”

Lovitt has brought this to the faculty senate and will continue to fight for it.

“People are fighting me on this, but that’s my stance,” finished Lovitt.

New Fuel Cell for CCSU

By Kassondra Granata

The University, hosting the largest fuel cell project in New England, is beginning a new system that will increase CCSU’s sustainability and set us apart from the other state universities.

“It kind of fell on our lap over the past year and we just went with it,” said Rob Gagne, Plant Facilities Engineer at a press conference Thursday. “This is going to be a very big score for us.”

The goal is to have the project done by the end of December, and so far, it is running smoothly. With an estimated 6 months to complete the project, the workers from the FuelCell Energy will have it completed in 8 weeks.

“The professionalism they threw out here is great,” said Gagne. “It’s great to see how everything is coming together.”

CCSU will be buying energy from the company, based out of Danbury, and will be able to reduce the amount of energy purchased.

It is estimated that there will be around $100,000 in savings a year and the system will reduce energy by 1.4 megawatts.

“What this is going to do for us it is going to generate 1.4 megawatts of power. On a typical day, we’re using 4 megawatts,” said Gagne. “It’s a considerable amount. Based on an annual basis, the waste heat and the water we’re going to use, there are savings for the university.”

Mark McLaughlin, Associate Vice President of Marketing & Communications held the press conference in his office.

“This is going to be one of the critical things that the university does in terms of sustainability,” McLaughlin said. “There is a lot that the university does that other universities don’t do in terms of sustainability efforts.”

In the fuel cell system, there will be three portions: the mechanical balance, the electrical balance and the fuel cell module.

The city water from East Hall will be deionized and  transferred into a heat recovery unit with natural gas, which will go through a tank that will remove the sulfur to purify the gas. Natural gas companies add sulfur to the gas for safety reasons.

While water is going into a humidifier, the natural gas will be chemically combined and the waste heat from the fuel cell module will create steam that will humidify the natural gas.

The natural gas will then go into the fuel cell module and air will go into the side of the module and create DC power, making it a big battery.

DC power will go through the liquid cooler where it will be converted into AC power.

The AC power will go into a step up transformer that will create 480 volts and then transfer it into a switch gear that will increase it to 4,160 volts.

Those 4,160 volts will then be transported by a cable system and will then be electrically distributed throughout the campus.

“We are constantly looking at how we can save money and improve our energy systems,” said Gagne. “We have a lot more control on how we can maintain our time clocks as renovations happen.”

The whole process of the project, once it is completed, will be monitored 24/7 by FuelCell Energy.

Gagne is very excited about the project and he and his team continue to look into more projects.

“It puts us on the map and makes us look really good. Everyone working on this knows the importance of renewable energy and how we need to get on board,” said Gagne. “Anytime we can get saving and we can reduce our greenhouse gases, it’s exciting to all of us professionals that work in the field.”