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Arts and Sciences Research Conference and Exhibition

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University held its 14th Annual Arts and Sciences Research Conference and Exhibition (ASRCE) on April 12. The event featured oral and visual presentations of student-led scientific research and artwork. More than 50 presentations were delivered by students from a range of academic departments. 

 Mike Manzi, a junior majoring in environmental earth science (EES), presented on shoreline erosion due to weathering along Block Island. "I have enjoyed being a part of every step of the scientific process," said Manzi. "The best part is knowing that the information from my project can be used in the future by others doing research in this field."

 "Students studying environmental earth science have the opportunity to carry out exciting field-based research," said EES Professor William Cunningham. "Last summer undergraduates carried out original and important research in Idaho, Spain and various localities around southern New England. Their findings were presented at Saturday's event."

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At the ASRCE, Mathematics Professor Mizan Khan won the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Mentor Award. He was nominated by one of his students, Richard Magner, who has conducted extensive "number theory" research with Khan. 
 "Students who are interested doing research should ask a faculty member about opportunities in their area of interest," said Psychology Professor Madeleine Fugere. "I am always impressed by the quality of the research presented at this event."

Laura Markley, a junior majoring in EES, presented on population, natural resources and sea level rising in Bangladesh. "My research experience at Eastern has provided me with invaluable hands-on field experience," said Markley. "I'm lucky to be able to present on topics that interest me and address real-world problems."

"This event gives students the chance to experience the 'next step' in the research process: presentation," said Peter Bachiochi, psychology professor and faculty mentor. "It is very motivating for them."

"As a faculty mentor it is very rewarding to see your students present. It represents the culmination of a lot of hard work," said Fugere. "The ASRCE is one of the best academic events all year."

Eastern Hosts 2014 Research and Exhibition Conference

Written by Jordan Sakal


Willimantic, Conn. -  Eastern Connecticut State University will host its annual Arts and Sciences Research Conference & Exhibition on April 12 from 8:30 to 1:30 p.m. This annual event highlights student creative activity undertaken within the 11 departments and 13 majors in the School of Arts and Sciences.

 The conference is a forum for Arts & Sciences students to give oral and poster presentations of research they have conducted while at Eastern.  Students will also be reading poetry, discussing interpretations of literature, and displaying artwork. This exhibition will be the first ever to feature an award presented to faculty mentors for services to their student researchers.
 
 The award is student-nominated, and draws attention to the fact that Eastern students and faculty contribute to scholarly fields of inquiry beyond the classroom. The opening ceremonies of the conference will begin at 9 a.m. in room 104 of the Science Building. There will brief introductory remarks by Professor Nick Parsons, Dean Martin Levin of the School of Arts and Sciences, President Elsa Núñez and Provost Rhona Free.

Warriors Against Violence Rally

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Willimantic, Conn. - On April 1, a crowd of Eastern Connecticut State University students gathered on the Student Center patio for "Warriors Against Violence," a rally to raise awareness of dating violence. The event started with a march around campus and concluded with a speech by author and advocate Susan Omilian.

During the march, students shouted empowering statements of courage and antiviolence, led by a speaker with a megaphone. "Wherever we go, however we dress, no means no and yes means yes!" shouted the crowd of female and male students.

At 2 p.m. on the Student Center patio, Omilian took the podium and told the story of her niece, Maggie Wardle, who was a 19-year-old sophomore in college when she was shot and murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 1999. At the time of this tragedy, there were no on-campus organizations dedicated to awareness, intervention or victim support of dating violence and related issues.

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Since her niece's death, Omilian has spoken across the country on the topic of dating violence. Colleges across the nation, including Eastern, have established on-campus resources to handle these issues, such as Eastern's Sexual Assault Response Team (SART).

"Warriors Against Violence," an event within an ongoing awareness-raising campaign, was organized and sponsored by the Womens' Center, SART and a number of social work students.
 
According to Omilian and other authorities on the topic, warning signs of an unhealthy, abusive relationship can be emotional, physical, psychological, sexual and economic. If they have any concern whatsoever, students are urged to utilize Eastern's support resources.

Chief Justice Rogers and Judge Kahn to Speak at Eastern

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Willimantic, Conn. - Two high-level Connecticut court officials will speak at Eastern Connecticut State University on March 26 for Eastern's University Hour series. At 3 p.m. in the Student Center Theatre, Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers and Superior Court Judge Maria Kahn will speak with the Eastern community about justice and the judicial system in today's world. 

Born and raised in Angola, Africa, Kahn was appointed a Superior Court Judge in 2006 and currently is assigned to hear criminal matters in the Fairfield Judicial District Courthouse. She moved to the United States at 10 years of age, is fluent in three languages and serves on a number state and national Bars. 

Rogers, a Connecticut native, was sworn in as Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court in 2007--the second woman ever to reach this designation in Connecticut. She was also appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the State Justice Institute's Board of Directors. In addition to serving on a number of prestigious Bars and committees, Rogers is also an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law.

"The event is open to the public and will be organized in a question-and-answer format," said Starsheemar Byrum, coordinator of the Women's Center. "Arrive early at the Student Center Theatre to ensure a good seat."

Gambling Awareness Campaign Targets Athletics

Written by Michael Rouleau


Willimantic, Conn. -- Four students in the social work program at Eastern Connecticut State University have been given the task of raising awareness about problem gambling within the athletic community. While this is the sixth annual Gambling Awareness Semester the social work program has developed, this year's campaign is a bit different.

The target population includes coaches and athletes, both of whom are at-risk groups to develop a problem with gambling. The student group, along with their supervisor Thomas Broffman, professor of social work, will be trying to improve the education and training athletes and coaches receive about gambling.


The National Council on Problem Gambling has declared March as National Problem Gambling Awareness Month (NPGAM). Their affiliate, the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling (CCPG), is again partnering with the Eastern Gambling Awareness group as it has done the past five years.

By partnering with the CCPG, Eastern's Gambling Awareness group hopes to bring attention to how athletic populations are at-risk of developing problem gambling. This population was chosen because athletes are prone to gambling due to their competitive nature, need for action and perception of social norms.
According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, 9 percent of athletes across 11 different sports reported that they wager on sports at least once per month; 67 percent of all college students bet on sports; and30 percent of male student athletes reported they have wagered on sports in the past year.


Along with increasing and improving the education that members of the athletic community receive, the Gambling Awareness Group at Eastern hopes to raise awareness about the resources available if someone does have a potential problem with gambling.

Possible warning signs of a problem gambler include: missing deadlines and important activities; difficulty in concentrating; lying to loved ones about gambling; and gambling to escape boredom, pain or loneliness.


Gambling among athletic communities is often overlooked due to the amount of awareness building that already occurs regarding drugs, alcohol and suicide. Problem gamblers are also more prone to risky behaviors such as drugs and alcohol. If gambling awareness was increased among athletes and their communities, teammates, coaches or family members might be able to spot a potential problem early on and get problem gamblers the resources they need before it is too late.


If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, please call the CCPG (Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling) hotline at this confidential number: 1-888-789-7777, text them at 847-973-5685, or visit them at: www.problemgambling.org

Gambling Awareness Campaign Targets Athletics

Written by Michael Rouleau


Willimantic, Conn. -- Four students in the social work program at Eastern Connecticut State University have been given the task of raising awareness about problem gambling within the athletic community. While this is the sixth annual Gambling Awareness Semester the social work program has developed, this year's campaign is a bit different.

The target population includes coaches and athletes, both of whom are at-risk groups to develop a problem with gambling. The student group, along with their supervisor Thomas Broffman, professor of social work, will be trying to improve the education and training athletes and coaches receive about gambling. The National Council on Problem Gambling has declared March as National Problem Gambling Awareness Month (NPGAM). Their affiliate, the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling (CCPG), is again partnering with the Eastern Gambling Awareness group as it has done the past five years.
 
By partnering with the CCPG, Eastern's Gambling Awareness group hopes to bring attention to how athletic populations are at-risk of developing problem gambling. This population was chosen because athletes are prone to gambling due to their competitive nature, need for action and perception of social norms. According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, 9 percent of athletes across 11 different sports reported that they wager on sports at least once per month; 67 percent of all college students bet on sports; and30 percent of male student athletes reported they have wagered on sports in the past year.


Along with increasing and improving the education that members of the athletic community receive, the Gambling Awareness Group at Eastern hopes to raise awareness about the resources available if someone does have a potential problem with gambling. Possible warning signs of a problem gambler include: missing deadlines and important activities; difficulty in concentrating; lying to loved ones about gambling; and gambling to escape boredom, pain or loneliness.


Gambling among athletic communities is often overlooked due to the amount of awareness building that already occurs regarding drugs, alcohol and suicide. Problem gamblers are also more prone to risky behaviors such as drugs and alcohol. If gambling awareness was increased among athletes and their communities, teammates, coaches or family members might be able to spot a potential problem early on and get problem gamblers the resources they need before it is too late.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, please call the CCPG (Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling) hotline at this confidential number: 1-888-789-7777, text them at 847-973-5685, or visit them at: www.problemgambling.org

"Eastern in 4," Eastern's Revamped Academic Plan

Written by Michael Rouleau


Willimantic, Conn. - As part of Eastern Connecticut State University's 2013-18 Strategic Plan, "Eastern in 4" is now a requirement for current students and incoming freshmen. The goal of "Eastern in 4" is to lay out a tight and comprehensive plan--including academic and career goals--that will lead students to their bachelor's degrees in four years.

"Eastern in 4" has existed as an informal objective for several years now, but recent data supporting the need for college-career planning has caused the University to revamp and mandate the program. "There are so many options and requirements in a college setting," said Alison Garewski, a professional advisor with the Advising Center. "Students unknowingly taking courses they don't need--costing them more money and prolonging their time in college--is an issue nationwide."

With nearly 1,000 freshman at Eastern this year, approximately 650 have completed their academic plans. Though the plans are designed in group sessions of five to 20 students, each four-year plan is individualized according to a student's degree requirements and preferences--taking into consideration which liberal arts courses to take, internships and study abroad opportunities.

"Every semester when registering for classes I use my four-year plan to aid in my selection," said Christina Harmon, a sophomore majoring in psychology. "'Eastern in 4' was a great way for me to learn what classes I need to take and how to stay on track in order to graduate on time."

While "Eastern in 4" is available to all students and majors, it is especially useful to transfer students, continuing education students and those switching majors. "This program is ideal at Eastern because we're a liberal arts school," said Chris Drewry, a professional advisor with the Advising Center. "Students are required and encouraged to take courses outside of their major, so having this direction is really helpful."

"Before making my 'Eastern in 4' plan, I had no idea if I could fit a double major's worth of classes into my schedule," said Thomas Hacker, a freshman with a double major. "Now I have a roadmap to double major in music and communication in four years."

EES Defeats Political Science in College Bowl Competition

Written by Dwight Bachman


On March 12, the Eastern College Bowl completed its 37th consecutive season.  Held in the Student Center Theatre, the College Bowl is a competition for undergraduates representing various majors.

The championship match saw the lead exchanged several times, a match that was not decided until the final question. The team representing the Environmental Earth Science (EES) Department defeated the team from the Political Science Department. EES had won matches against Economics and Mathematics to reach the finals, while Political Science had won its previous matches over Biochemistry and Biology. The winning EES team included students Dustin Munson, Cody Lorentson, Daniel Grondin, and Mackensie Fannon. 

College Bowl questions asked come from many different academic and non-academic areas, often involving audio or visual clues. Questions in this year's championship match included ones involving Dante's "Inferno," Julius Caesar and his crossing the Rubicon, phobias, songs from Disney movies and one titled, "The Doors of Eastern," in which contestants were asked to identify buildings on campus after seeing photographs of their front doors.  The question that decided the winner of the 2014 College Bowl  involved the naming of Transuranium elements. 

The College Bowl is organized and run by Tim Swanson, associate professor of physical science, who originated the competition in 1978.  This year, he was assisted by Biology Professor Gloria Colurso and Marty Levin, interim dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.

Meth Mania," Eastern Professor's New Book

Michael Rouleau

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Willimantic, Conn. - Nicholas Parsons, assistant professor of sociology at Eastern Connecticut State University, discussed his new book "Meth Mania: A History of Methamphetamine" on Feb. 19 during Eastern's Wednesday Seminar series.

            Parsons was first introduced to the topic of methamphetamine use in 2001 when pursuing his graduate degree in the state of Washington. "I hadn't heard much about methamphetamine growing up in Connecticut or attending college in North Carolina," said Parsons. "But the topic received much media attention in the Northwest, and I was especially interested in how it was being portrayed."

            According to Parsons, there have been three major "scares," or sustained levels of media attention, regarding methamphetamine. The first was the "methedrine" scare of the late '60s and early '70s; then the "ice" scare of 1989; and most recently the "crystal meth" panic, which occurred from roughly 1995 to 2006.

Each of these "scares" was characterized by sensational media coverage--for example a horrific murder committed by someone allegedly under the influence of the drug or a neighborhood meth lab exploding--and calls for punitive drug policies. "Generally the mainstream news media has only shown part of the story--the scary, sensational part," said Parsons. "This partial reporting is a disservice to the public, as they are not being fully informed. The historical and sociological reasons why the problem exists or the drug is harmful are rarely discussed."

"Meth Mania" examines the history of methamphetamine in the United States, its relationship with the mass media, and the resulting public and political reception. "Hysteria leads to political action," said Parsons. "Policy decisions made in a state of hysteria may address those immediate problems but their shortsightedness creates new ones in the long run."

One of Parsons' major findings is that reducing the supply of a drug does not reduce demand, which is why legislation such as Prohibition and the War on Drugs has not succeeded in reducing drug use. According to Parsons, when restriction on supply occurs circumvention follows, not prevention. "Meth labs did not exist until the early '60s, after pharmacies started to face new restrictions on selling meth-based drugs," said Parsons. "Since users could no longer buy it, they started making it themselves."

This restriction on supply, while seeming to be an immediate solution to drug use, has resulted in other issues. "Of course meth is harmful and I wouldn't suggest anybody using it," said Parsons. "But many of the problems associated with drugs in society extend from the unregulated black markets that emerge, and not just the chemical properties of drugs."

Professor Russell's New Book Named Top 10 Book in Business/Economics

Written by Michael Rouleau

russell book cover.jpgWillimantic, Conn: -- On April 29, Beacon Press will publish "Social Insecurity: 401(k)s and the Retirement Crisis," a new book by CSU Professor of Sociology James Russell. The book has been named by "Publishers Weekly" as a top 10 book in Business and Economics for Spring 2014.
 
The book is already receiving critical acclaim. "James Russell is a formidable crusader with a gift for rendering an obtuse topic accessible," said Nomi Prins, author of "All the Presidents' Bankers" and "It Takes a Pillage." In "Social Insecurity," he has penned a book that will enrage citizens of all ages and political persuasions, illuminate them about the organized robbery of their economic futures by the financial services industry, and inspire them to action. More than a description of a retirement system coopted by predatory bankers and fund managers, Social Insecurity is also a passionate account of the complicity of the global political elite and their ideological zealots, complete with a Hollywood moment of Russell's victory in achieving reform measures that can benefit everybody.

Charles R. Morris, author of "The Trillion Dollar Meltdown" and "The Tycoons," writes, "Forget the TV ads of gray-haired retired couples on bicycle trips. If you're an average American, you won't have enough to retire on. The shift from old-fashioned pensions to 401(k)s has enriched Wall Street and jeopardized your future. Essential reading for anyone who works for a living--from millennials to boomers--James Russell's Social Insecurity explains what you lost and who benefited from it."

  Helaine Olen, author of "Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry," agrees, calling the book "an absolutely necessary read! James Russell has written the book explaining how we all got sold on the ridiculous notion of do-it-yourself retirement savings, and why it was never, ever going to work for anyone but the financial services sector. A devastating indictment that nevertheless concludes with ideas for reversing a dangerous trend we can no longer afford to ignore."

 

russell head shot.jpgThe mass transition from pensions to 401(k)-type plans started in 1981 due to the implementation of regulations of the Revenue Act of 1978. The idea was that "defined contribution" programs like the 401(k) coincide with American capitalist values better than "defined benefit" programs like the pension.

However, Russell argues that the reality of the 401(k) is far different--and more detrimental--than the intention. "401(k)s do a better job of supporting Wall Street than they do retirement," said Russell. "The enormously powerful financial services industry benefits from the current growth of defined contribution plans [like the 401(k)] from which it draws commissions, interest payments and management fees."

"James Russell has penned a book that will enrage citizens of all ages and political persuasions, illuminate them about the organized robbery of their economic futures by the financial services industry, and inspire them to action," wrote Nomi Prins, author of "All the Presidents' Bankers" and "It Takes a Pillage."

In "Social Insecurity: 401(k)s and the Retirement Crisis," Russell delves into the history of retirement in the United States, case studies of other 401(k)-type plans in other countries, myths and realities of "defined contribution" and "defined benefit plans", suggestions for reform and more. "I wanted to write a book not just for academics, but for the general public," said Russell when describing his intention for the book. "Awareness of the 'swindle' needs to be raised."

Russell is considered an international authority on retirement policy. He is the author of several books dealing with economic and social policy, as well articles featured in a number of publications. In addition to "Social Insecurity: 401(k)s and the Retirement Crisis," Russell has authored numerous books over the past two decades. They include: "Escape from Texas: A Novel of Slavery and the Texas War of Independence" (Sloan Publishing, 2012); "Double Standard: Social Policy in Europe and the United States" (Rowman and Littlefield, 2006, 2009, 2015--3 editions); "Class and Race Formation in North America" (Prentice Hall, University of Toronto Press, 1994, 2008--2 editions) "Societies and Social Life" (Prentice Hall, Sloan Publishing, 1992, 1996, 2006, 2009--4 editions); "Clase y Sociedad en Estados Unidos," with Silvia Núñez García (Ed. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1997); "Modes of Production in World History" (Routledge, 1989) and "Marx-Engels Dictionary" (Greenwood Press, 1981)

Russell has taught in universities across the United States and as a Fulbright senior researcher professor in Mexico and the Czech Republic.

 


 

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