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.

 

 

Bolivian Ambassador to the United Nations talks at Eastern about the dangers of unilateralism

By Zoe Marien

To talk about world peace is to talk about war. And why haven’t we stopped making war? While the United Nations is supposed to help make countries act multilaterally, Ambassador Sacha Llorenti pushed the point that some nations, such as the United States and Europe, have begun to act unitarily during his visit at Eastern as part of the University Hour program. Because of this, Ambassador Llorenti states, “We are currently in the worst humanitarian crisis since 1945.” There are unending statistics that point this out, but to name a few: 40 million people have been displaced due to country conflicts, there are currently 20 million refugees, 1.8 billion people drink contaminated water daily, and about eight people have as much wealth as 3.5 billion people. To make it worse? We are facing a climate change crisis and some of the most powerful leaders in the world are not only ignoring it, but refusing to admit that it exists.Sacha

So, what do we do now? It’s hard to tell. Ambassador Llorenti seemed to be a strong advocate for multilateralism, but currently, it’s not working. The United States has refused to comply with the Paris Agreement, which will not only impact themselves but also the rest of the world. In his question and answer section, Ambassador Llorenti stated that regardless of where we are in the world, countries seem to always put “profit over solving problems.” We have made ourselves focused on money rather than on curing cancer or Alzheimer’s. Because of this, because of our love for money and lavish things over anything else, we have made ourselves unsustainable. If every single country in the world consumed goods the way that the United States and Europe does, we would need four planets in order to sustain ourselves.

To act multilaterally, we would have to come together globally. To do that, we would have switch our way of thinking and put solving problems over profit. But, as our guest Ambassador Llorenti pushed us to consider, is that even possible when so many major world powers have insisted on acting alone?

Women March in Venezuela

By Valerie Bak

Just one day after Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States women around the world mobilized in opposition to his campaign’s divisive rhetoric and marched in cities all across the globe. It is estimated that over 3,000,000 people marched in the United States, scrawling over 600 cities and towns.  This impressive organization started from a Facebook post and turned into a worldwide event which drew on men and women of all classes and races. The Women’s March is reported to be the largest political protest in American history. For a brief moment in our nation’s history it appeared that the people where dedicated to holding their leadership accountable, but opposition movements have diminished here in the United States as the people appear to be giving Trump the space to prove his presidential platform. But is this the route the American people should be taking? How do we stand up for our nation’s sacred institutions of justice and law? The civil mobilizations occurring now in Venezuela demonstrate how important it is to ask ourselves these questions sooner rather than later.

Women in Venezuela

Lilian Tintori, front fourth from right, wife of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, leads a sit-in blocking the Franciso Fajardo highway after a women march against repression was blocked from reaching the Interior Ministry in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, May 6, 2017. (Fernando Llano / AP). Source: www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-venezuela-women-march-20170506-story.html

The people of Venezuela continue to march in protest of their country’s president, Nicholas Maduro. Falling oil prices have caused the Venezuelan economy to decline, leading to high inflation rates and unemployment. The country currently suffers from severe shortages of food, medicine, and goods and continue to debilitate the people of Venezuela. As a result of these dynamics, opposition to Maduro’s leadership have emerged. This opposition has grown more supporters over recent weeks as Maduro’s regime continues to use the court system to serve their agenda. Maduro has used The Supreme Court to strike down almost every law adopted in 2016 by the opposition party of the country’s National Assembly. Maduro has also used the court to impose a political ban on opposition leader, Henrique Capriles.  As a result, the people have taken to the streets, calling for an emergency presidential election to remove Maduro from office.

 

Maduro’s regime continues to use excessive military force to detain protesters and political opponents. The BBC reports that over 36 people have died and hundreds have been injured in protests over the last few weeks. As a result of this violence, the women of Venezuela organized a Women’s march on May 6th to call attention to the impending humanitarian crisis. This march of solidarity was led by opposition MP’s and has been called the “Women’s March against Oppression.” As thousands of women gathered across Venezuela to show their opposition to Maduro, they banged pots and pans to draw attention to their demands of holding fair elections. These marches show that women are not willing to stand on the sidelines any longer, and are willing to take the risks to ensure the security of democracy.

No need for Big Bucks to Run for Office

By Victoria Weiss

On Tuesday, April 4, Elona Vaisnys visited Eastern Connecticut State University to present “No Need for Big Bucks, Run for a State Office”. Vaisnys spoke about CEP, which is the Citizens Election Program. CEP provides public funding to run election campaigns for seats in the state legislature and for state offices. CEP is important because those who can campaign through CEP funding will have no special interests once elected into office. As residents of a state that was once known as “Corrupt-icut” this is a program we should pay attention to.

Elona

Eastern guest Elona Vaisnys explains the Citizens Election Program (CEP) to students.

Vaisnys visited Eastern to encourage students to consider running for state offices. All one needs to do to qualify for a CEP grant is to prove that they are a serious candidate. Elona explains this as going out into the community and raising funds as small as $5 per donor to prove that the potential candidate has support from the community. One great benefit of CEP grants is that an individual can run for state office without using funds from special interest groups to whom the candidate will owe a favor, contract, etc.

The money from CEP comes from the sale of abandoned property in the state of Connecticut. As a matter of fact, Connecticut is the only state with this type of successful program. CEP grants go towards campaigns to run for state governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer, comptroller, and general assembly. All current Connecticut State officers ran their election campaigns on CEP grants, and about 89% of the current Representatives and Senators ran for their seat in the Connecticut General Assembly on CEP funding.

Vaisnys enthusiastically endorses the Citizens Election Program. She raises a thought-provoking question; if CEP is available to all and 89% of those in office make use of the program, why don’t the other 11%? What do candidates have to gain from special interest group support that support through CEP cannot provide? CEP provides candidates with money to run a clean, debt-free campaign. This way, while the candidate secures their position with the state, their job will be their top priority, as opposed to repaying campaign debts to special interest groups.

Elona Vaisnys encourages students at Eastern to consider running for state office. With passion, community support, and a CEP funded campaign, running for state office is more attainable than ever. You truly do not need big bucks to run for state office. Be a challenger and give the incumbents a run for their money.

Studying Politics as a Digital Arts Major

By Alyssa Koval

As a student I have always found the topic of politics very interesting, but within the last year and a half with the onslaught of political propaganda brought on by this past election, the most chaotic election to date some U.S politicians have argued, I have been thinking a lot about how both politics and the arts may seem different but have always gone hand in hand. Being a Digital Arts major thrown into the Poli-Sci lions den, so to speak, has been jarring and taken me out of my comfort zone-I’ll admit that- but I think it’s a great experience to be able to listen to my colleagues and their opinions of what’s going on in the political world today, and what we can do as a collective to make the world a more Just, peaceful place to be. I appreciate the ability to have a discussion, and value the voice of people that may or may not have the same opinion as you-as this is the core of how we as a society can make progress in the political world; Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, etc. We all have the freedom to voice our opinions but progress can only be made if leaders truly listen to the words of their counterparts and respect that they also want to make a positive change in the world, and in our country. I see this value being taught in even the politics classes on campus, which is why I thought it was so important to mention here; being that today’s students and young adults will be the leaders of tomorrow. I greatly respect and appreciate the opportunity to dip my toe into the pool of collegiate political discussion as an art major because not only does it give me a unique perspective into the world of politics, but it also makes me think about my own field and how the most famous art in history reflects so much of what politics were present at that point in time. I have a couple of  my personal favorite examples of this:

Liberty Picture

Liberty Leading the People by Delacroix.

Liberty Leading the People is arguably one of the most powerful paintings of the era of Romanticism in France. This painting, by Delacroix, is depicting the Revolution of 1830 where the people of France sought to overthrow the unjust Charles the X. The main figure, a bare-chested woman barreling over a barricade in the streets of Paris with her bayonet in one hand while proudly thrusting the French flag of revolution upwards into the air, her followers in quick pursuit behind her. This woman is not a literal historical figure, but the personification of liberty itself leading the people of France to victory.

Rosie the Riveter.

Rosie the Riveter.

On the opposite side of the same coin, we have Rosie the Riveter- an American icon promoting women’s strength and ability. The classic “We Can Do It!” poster was originally created to promote women and house wives to get back to work in factories and shipyards in order to help the war effort during World War II. Many able bodied working men had gone off to war, leaving little to no help back home so then was created Rosie; an attempt to persuade the women of America that they can hold down the fort while the men were fighting over seas. Rosie has since become the face of the Feminist movement promoting equality for women everywhere.

 

 

Polisci Student Adam Murphy is Awarded a Prestigious Scholarship to Study in Indonesia

Adam Murphy2

Proud Adam thinking about the big journey ahead.

Adam Murphy, a major in Political Science and History, was awarded US-Indonesian Summer Studies scholarship to take part in a 10-week immersive language training program this summer in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Yogyakarta is located on the island of Java, the most populous island in the world with 135 million people, containing 60% of Indonesia’s population. His award comes from the United States-Indonesia Society whose mission is “To expand mutual understanding in the areas of politics, economics, history, culture, and to strengthen the bilateral relationship.” Adam, who has no prior Indonesian language experience, will be living with a host family, in addition to taking part in programs meant to encourage cultural understanding. In his own words: “I am incredibly proud and excited to have been given this opportunity. This will be a great experience to take what I have learned about Indonesia and build on it. I am just excited to see a place vastly different than what I know, and just build relationships with people I meet there.” Von buoyage Adam and BIG congratulations!!!

The Ordeal of Undocumented Students

By Yenimar Cortes

What’s the craziest thing you did over spring break? I’m sure that question leads into many memorable stories. Let me start mine by introducing myself. My name is Yenimar Cortes, I am eighteen years old and I recently changed my major from biology to political science. I am also part of Connecticut Students for a Dream, a youth-led organization across the State that empowers, educates and advocates for immigrants’ rights. The craziest thing I did over this spring break was share with Connecticut legislators that I am one of the many undocumented students that live in Connecticut today. You’re probably asking yourself now, “Why would she do that? And why does it matter?” I did it to help undocumented students in Connecticut receive access to institutional aid, education equity, and help them afford college to accomplish their goals.

I arrived to Connecticut at the age of two with my older sister who has always been my role model. Like many undocumented students my senior year was the hardest year. That year most undocumented students discover that they are barred from many financial help and that all your efforts in high school could be meaningless. After senior year most undocumented students find themselves in very difficult situations. Some work two to four jobs trying to pay for school and others are never full-time students. Unfortunately, many students skip semesters trying to make ends meet. The costs of attending school to seek a higher education come with an overwhelmingly intimidating obstacle, financially. The impact of financial aid could be the difference between a student succeeding or regrettably dropping out of college. The latter is as of yet the inevitable outcome for undocumented students because we are ineligible to receive financial aid. To graduate from college and be undocumented is something almost impossible; according to the Migration Policy Institute only about 1% of undocumented students actually graduate college.

yenimar-cortes-

Yenimar at a rally supporting better policies for education. Source: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com

Although it seems hopeless, it is not. Many organizations led by powerful undocumented youth are leading campaigns that propose pieces of legislation that bring equality and equity. One of the many is the Afford to Dream Campaign led by Connecticut Students for a Dream. Currently we have two proposed bills, Senate Bill 17 and House Bill 7000. Institutional aid is student-generated funds that are set aside to be given to help students, based on financial need. Everyone who pays school tuition, including undocumented students, contribute to this fund. However, the same fund readily supports all students except the undocumented because they cannot fill out the FAFSA. These proposed pieces of legislation only ask that undocumented students have access to apply to that fund that they contribute to, so that they will be able to afford college and accomplish their goals.

The fight for undocumented students to have access to institutional aid has been long and hard. This year marks the fourth year in which we fight to pass this “Afford to Dream” legislation. Last year it made it past the Higher Education committee and Senate floor with bipartisan vote   but it was not brought up to the House floor and we once again lost a battle. Although it has been a tough and exhausting four years we have and never will lose hope.

Last week during our campaign’s week of action, both undocumented youth and allies alike gathered together and numbered 50 to venture out to the Legislative Building to advocate for the proposed legislation. Together we watched as both bills were voted out of the Higher Education Committee. Following that, we spent half the day talking to legislators, giving them fact sheets and graduation caps to symbolize that we only desire to be able to afford to graduate from higher education. We spent the other half of the day having a sit-in in the legislative building’s lobby, while holding signs that showed the future occupations we aspire to have. The next day we learned about institutional racism and education and what we can do to dismantle it. All the support that was shown during our week of action helped prove to legislators how much people want and need this proposed legislation to pass. At the end of these two days we all were left exhausted, but filled with much power and passion to keep advocating passage of these bills.

After the week of action, I thought about the impact legislation can have on the lives of millions of people to shape people’s lives for better or worse and shape the way society looks. If SB 17 and HB 7000 pass this will change the lives of countless undocumented students in Connecticut for the better. These students will be able to afford going to college and won’t have to kill themselves for years to chase this dream. Like this legislation, we the people also have so much power to demand what is right. The only way things will change is if we raise our voice to demand it. I changed my major from biology to political science because I want to help shape society into a better place for every individual, no matter who they are. The politics of today seem to be more concerned over who has more power instead of focusing on making people’s life better. We are the future of the political world so my question to you is, why are you a political science major?

“IN LAK’ECH You are my other me, If I do harm to you, I do harm to myself. If I love and respect you, I love and respect myself.” (Mayan Greeting Tradition).”