Tag Archives: News

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.

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.