SUNY Old Westbury Professor Llana Barber visits Eastern

By: Casandra Rivera

“White picket fences, apple orchards” and cookie cutter houses in the suburbs, cross an “unmarked barrier to find condemned mills and poverty in the city”. “How did the city get like this? How did it not affect the suburbs? Is segregation responsible?” These questions ran through my mind as SUNY Old Westbury Professor Llana Barber set the scene and placed me in the city of Lawrence, Massachusetts from 1945 to 2000.

SUNY Old Westbury Professor Llana Barber talking about her new book Latino City at Eastern.

In her recent visit to campus, Barber told the story of Dominican and Puerto Rican individuals migrating to the United States in search of what we know as the “American Dream.” However, what was initially expected from America was far from what they received.

These individuals initially settled in New York City, but the city was enduring an urban crisis: poverty and unemployment were rampant, and it was sometimes not safe. In search of a safer and more prosperous place to start their new lives, they migrated to the city of Lawrence, Massachusetts.

Lawrence was also, experiencing an urban crisis of its own due to what is known as the “suburb boom.” During this time Lawrence’s suburbs “expanded, doubling in size and individuals from the city moved into these suburban areas, causing the city to go through a downward spiral.”

The people of Lawrence were looking for a scapegoat for the city’s decline, someone to blame for the urban crisis, this scapegoat became Dominican and Puerto Rican settlers. These individuals were blamed for bringing poverty, crime, and welfare dependency to the city of Lawrence.

However, through the hard times, Dominican and Puerto Rican residents of Lawrence were determined to prove this narrative false. Instead they halted Lawrence’s decline: they increased the population of the city, they increased funding for schools, they saved local industries that were hanging by a thread and they insured that Hispanics had a voice in the community. It was an act of activism that revitalized the city, these individuals came together to transform the city of Lawrence.

 

 

Polisci Student Adam Murphy Wins Prestigious Fulbright-Hays Scholarship to Study in Indonesia

Adam Murphy (’18) a double major in Political Science and History, with a minor in Asian Studies, has been awarded a Fulbright-Hays Scholarship to study Indonesian language in an intensive language program in Salatiga, Indonesia. Salatiga is a city on the Island of Java, the most populated island in the world. Java is one of Indonesia’s 17,000 islands located in Southeast Asia. This program is sponsored by the Consortium of Teaching Indonesian (COTI) through Cornell University Center for Southeast Asian Studies. Adam will be in Indonesia this summer from June to August, living with a host-family and taking language classes at a local university.  

This is not Adam’s first trip to Indonesia. Last year Adam lived in Yogyakarta, Indonesia through an immersive language program when he was accepted to a fellowship through US-Indonesian Society. During the last program, in addition to taking language classes, Adam taught English at an organization called Stichting Jogja, that offers free English classes to people in poverty. Also, through the program Adam met with national leaders, and scholars, learning about current political events. Some of these leaders included the Minister of State, the Princess of Yogyakarta, Speaker of the House, and Deputy US Ambassador.

“I am ecstatic to return to Indonesia, to continue my language studies. I am very excited to try new foods, meet new people, live in a different area of the country, and of course visit friends I’ve met in my past trip there. I am honored to be accepted to this program and awarded the Fulbright-Hays Scholarship.” 

Adam enjoying coffee and ice cream with some of his Indonesian hosts during his last trip.

Polisci Professor Mendoza-Botelho Presents at Symposium on Bolivia

By Anne Pappalardo

Willimantic, CT — Eastern Political Science Professor Martin Mendoza-Botelho was invited by a small group of panelists to discuss “Bolivia: Assessing the Contemporary Social and Political Landscape” at a public symposium at American University in Washington, DC, on March 5.

Presenters at the event addressed the significance of Bolivian President Evo Morales’ term in office and the MAS, Bolivia’s governing party under Morales. They also discussed the historical impact of the era, key policies and initiatives, and addressed challenges and controversies that promise to shape Bolivia’s present and future.

Eastern Political Science Professor Martin Mendoza-Botelho (center), accompanied by symposium hosts Professor of Latin American Studies Robert Albro (left) and Dean of Academic Affairs Núria Vilanova (right), both of American University.

“Among other things, I commented on Bolivia’s Welfare State, including social policies such as education, healthcare and pensions, as well as how some recent changes will affect them, such as the reduction in price of key commodities, such as natural gas, that Bolivia exports,” said Mendoza-Botelho.

Since the beginning of his presidency in 2006, Morales has set an ambitious program of reform mainly aimed at incorporating long-standing social demands of indigenous and less privileged groups. Benefiting from the high prices of international commodities, the Bolivian government has been able to implement important reforms that have allowed the country to cut poverty by more than half, in addition to implementing important institutional changes such as the rewriting of the country’s Constitution.

“I hope this conference will foster an informed debate among experts that will eventually resonate among policymakers,” concluded Mendoza-Botelho. “In the recent past, the Morales administration has achieved impressive and positive social and economic changes that have benefited many sectors of the population, in particular indigenous groups that were historically marginalized.”

Mendoza-Botelho began his professional career with UNICEF and worked for several organizations including the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the Organization of American States. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Cambridge, is a member of the Bolivian Studies Association and was editor-in-chief of the Bolivian Research Review journal. He became a faculty member at Eastern in 2013.

Eastern polisci students present their work at the Northeastern Political Science Association Annual Conference in Philadelphia

By Adam Murphy

A week ago, a group of us, polisci students, presented our work at the Northeast Regional Political Science Association annual conference in Philadelphia. The group included Tess Candler, Emma Avery, Mikhela Hull and me. We spent the entire weekend attending academic panels of scholar on a range of topics, together with Professors Nicole Krassas and Courtney Broscious. For me the conference was an amazing experience, as I was able to hear political scientists talk about food riots in India in one panel and educational assessment in another. Another group went to another panel entitled “Analyzing the Trump Presidency”. In her own words, Emma greatly appreciated “…the diverse viewpoints that came from around the country and the academic discourse

From left to right, Eastern students Tess Candler, Emma , Adam Murphy and Mikhaela a the NPSA 2017 Annual Conference in Philadelphia.

From left to right, polisci Eastern students Tess Candler, Emma Avery, Adam Murphy and Mikhela Hull at the NPSA 2017 Annual Conference in Philadelphia.

that took place”. Moreover, Emma and Tess presented a co-authored paper on environmental policy in congress; while Mikhela presented a paper examining child protection policy failures. My paper explored trust in government among college students. All of us received great feedback and enjoyed being able to present our research to a specialized audience. As part of this trip we were also able to take some time to view a historic city, and enjoyed our tour of the Reading Terminal Market, Independence Hall and the Philadelphia Magic Garden. In between academic panels, we were able to visit some food places unique to Philadelphia.We recommend anyone interested in presenting their research, take advantage of opportunities to receive valuable feedback from an audience and see a new city.

 

Welcoming Back Pizza and Politics

By Alaina Beyers

Economic prestige discussion

Eastern students participating in the last Pizza and Politics night.

November 1st marked the kick off of the Political Science department’s first Pizza and Politics event of the fall 2017 semester! The Political Science department, in conjunction with Eastern’s Pre Law Society, hosted an open discussion on the effects a country’s level of prestigious status has on its ability to interact politically and economically with the international community. Dr. Martín Mendoza-Botelho, Dr. Chris Vasillopulos and Dr. Patrick Vitale, each from different niches of the Department, lent their expertise as framers of the discussion by setting up individual arguments based on the three questions below to an audience of more than 30 students.

1. How do you define economic prestige from your discipline/theoretical perspective and how it relates to political power?

2. Would you say that there is a loss of economic prestige in the U.S. and in the Western World in general? If so, what are the immediate and long term effects?

3. In a globalized world (and economies), can governments still use economic prestige as a nationalist tool?

From the various responses that each of the professors gave, the students followed up by breaking into groups and conversing amongst themselves, picking out assumptions made by each professor, and deciding which of the arguments from their perspectives contained the strongest and weakest points. Members of the Pre Law Society Bianca Little, Kyle Gray, Alaina Beyers, and Taylor Moore lead the discussions in these small groups, and then reported out to the collective on the conclusions of each discussion.

Each of the professors were game to field any questions or comments sent their way from eager Eastern students, and the atmosphere of engaged excitement was tangible! Thank you to all the professors involved, the Pre Law Society, and the student audience. We hope to see even more Eastern students at the next Pizza at Politics!

For anyone interested in more information please contact the President of the Pre Law Society, Megan E. Hull at prelawsociety@my.easternct.edu.

Polisci Student Megan Hull joins Connecticut State Universities’ March on Hartford

By Joshua Newhall

Governor Malloy’s recent round of budget cuts clearly indicate that the financial crisis in Connecticut is far from finished. Even though the governor vetoed the state’s prior budget the threat of budgetary restrictions still looms over the heads of many state-run organizations.

This round of budget cuts hit the Connecticut State University system particularly hard, delivering affects that both students and faculty at the universities felt. In order to meet reductions in the budget, faculty members agreed to take three furlough days, or uncompensated days off, which has negatively affected both them and their students who have subsequently lost class time. Faculty members of the schools also received a three percent salary decrease and lessened benefits. Lastly, it is likely that student tuition, housing and meal plan fees will rise because of these proposed budget changes, along with reductions to financial aid.

From left to right, State Representative Susan Johnson, ECSU Professor David Stoloff, ECSU Political Science Senior and President of the Pre-Law Society Megan Hull, and State Senator Mae Flexer.

From left to right, State Representative Susan Johnson, ECSU Professor David Stoloff, State Senator Mae Flexer, and ECSU Political Science Senior and President of the Pre-Law Society Megan Hull.

As these changes to the state’s budget were clearly bound to impact the quality of education received at state run campuses around Connecticut, the CSU community decided to take action and express their concerns at the epicenter of these reforms, Hartford. On September 27th a plethora of professors, faculty and students from all of the State’s colleges protested at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

At this rally both students and faculty displayed their discontent for what they deemed a misappropriation of states funding away from public universities. All of the Connecticut State Universities and UConn had representatives present at the rally, including Eastern’s own Elena Tapia, David Stoloff and Theresa Bouley. Along with the presence of these Eastern professors, there were also Eastern students that took the time to voice their concern at this event. Among them, Megan Hull, senior of Eastern’s Political Science department and president of the Pre-Law Society. At the rally, Megan was able to address the press and fellow rally attendees about her personal quarrels with these new restrictive budget cuts. She gave her own story, one that can resonate with the majority of the student body at Eastern and the other state universities of Connecticut. Megan, along with her full-time student status at Eastern, also has worked full-time in order to support her education for most of her life. While she already had concerns about the debt she acquired from receiving her undergrad, Megan now faces the risk that attendance to her dream law school at UConn could be threatened by budget reforms such as this one. In her closing plea, she directly addressed the state’s lawmakers “…from both parties, to do what you were elected to do, and represent the people of Connecticut’s interests and come to a bipartisan agreement on a fair, equitable and fiscally responsible budget.”

While the future of the Connecticut State Universities’ budget is unclear, the September 27th rally certainly made one thing clear, that the body of students and faculty that were affected by this budget change will not sit by idly without vocalizing their concerns. As the state’s representatives continue the process of organizing the budget it is evident that they must reconsider the value they place in their public education, since there appears to be a clear disconnect between how the attendees of this rally and their representatives feel about how to meet these budget constraints. No matter what the outcome of the next budget proposal is, it is clear that the faculty and students of the Connecticut State Universities will stand united in order to protect their community and their education system.

The Pre Law Society gets ready for a busy semester

By Megan Hull

Greetings from the Pre Law Society, here at Eastern Connecticut. The Society was present at Eastern’s Student Fair last week and shared with interested students its mission to prepare undergraduates in their path to Graduate and Law schools. Our first meeting was this past Tuesday September 19, where we began our preparation to give undergraduate student the tools they will need to conquer Graduate School and Law School. We went over key aspects of accepting CV, as well as what law schools are looking for when looking over applications. We spoke lightly on what is to be expected the day you take your LSAT and the different test prep that is available.

The board of the Society at Eastern's Student Fair. From bottom right (clockwise), President Megan Hull, Vice President Caitlyn Sampson, Secretary Andres Villar and Treasurer Bianca Little.

The board of the Society at Eastern’s Student Fair. From bottom right (clockwise), President Megan Hull, Vice President Caitlyn Sampson, Secretary Andres Villar and Treasurer Bianca Little.

If you are thinking about graduate school and law school, we welcome you to join us. As we too prepare for what comes after Eastern.

For further information please contact the President of the Pre Law Society, Megan E. Hull at prelawsociety@my.easternct.edu.

Pre Law Society members talking about their career plans during their first meeting.

Pre Law Society members talking about their career plans during their first meeting.