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.

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

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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 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).”


Reflections on Water and Politics

By Lindsey Berube

Veronica Herrera

UConn Professor Veronica Herrera challenging students on their views on water and politics during her talk about her new book on Mexico.

Last March, I had the opportunity to attend a talk on the water crisis in developing urban cities by UCONN Political Science Professor Veronica Herrera, author of Water and Politics: Clientelism and Reform in Urban Mexico. As a political science student, I enjoy the Pizza and Politics events organized by the department because it gives students the chance to learn about topics within the field that we might not get the chance to throughout our time at Eastern. In my experience, I have not studied the concept of water systems and the political implications associated with them in great depth and was not fully aware of the connection it had prior to the presentation. The speaker was able to present the issue in a way that was easily understood by discussing her qualitative research approach performed throughout eight Mexican cities. She analyzed the effect that water distribution had on the citizens’ lives and found significant results. I discovered that within those Mexican cities, political corruption is rampant and can affect citizens’ daily lives. For instance, the occurrence of water being shut off to part of the urban area due to a lack of votes for a specific candidate is not uncommon. The basic need of water is distributed unevenly and unfairly and has severely affected the populations based on the political conditions in place. I believe this topic is essential for students to be aware of and I strongly urge fellow students to engage in these great opportunities offered by the department.

Polisci student Sierra Colon receives the César Chávez Distinguished Service Award

By Phillip Hoeps

Sierra award

Sierra (center) surrounded by family love during the Award Ceremony. At her right aunt Migdalia, abuela Carmen and at her left abuela Gina and her proud mom Denise.

We are very proud to announce that the 2017 student recipient of the César Chávez Distinguished Service Award is our fellow Political Science student, Sierra Colon! We wanted to showcase some of Sierra’s many achievements that lead to her receipt of the award. Sierra has worked as an intern with the Department of Environmental and Energy Projection, where she composed a bill for disposal of mercury thermostats to be reviewed by the legislature.  She has also advocated for affordable tuition at college appropriations meetings hosted by state representatives as well. Last summer, Sierra was awarded the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman scholarship, that allowed her to complete a two-month internship in Cape Town, South Africa, working on agriculture reform and social justice issues within the community. Notable is also her four-year devotion to the Organization of Latin American Students, where she created the annual Latin Fest, a celebration of Latin culture and the merge of cultures in the United States. We are very proud to have such an engaged student in our department and at our University, a big CONGRATULATIONS SIERRA!!!

Polisci student Meaghan McFall-Gorman is the winner of the 2016 Election Blog competition


Meaghan McFall-Gorman receiving her well desserved award for the Election 2016 Blog competition

On March 8, 2017 Meaghan McFall-Gorman received an award for winning the Elections 2016 Blog Competition. Dr. Mendoza-Botelho and Dr. Krassas were happy to present the award to Meaghan for her excellent post on the rift between Donald Trump and the Republican Party in the 2016 election. Meaghan is a senior English and Political Science major who has written blog posts on a variety of topics in the past. In this particular blog post Meaghan wrote about her experiences at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in 2016, and particularly the perception of Donald Trump at the conference. I caught up with Meaghan after she received the award, and we talked how perceptions of Donald Trump have changed since last year. Meaghan had an interesting outlook on the topic because she was able to attend CPAC in 2017 as well as 2016, and she thought President Trump was extremely well received this year. She explained that the change in perception of Donald Trump over the year was a complete turnaround from 2016 when he didn’t attend the conference allegedly because of threats of a walk out planned by conference goers. Meaghan thought that President Trump’s 2017 CPAC address was a very presidential call to action. She appreciated him focusing on unity rather than a usual call to arms. Another one of her favorite moments from the conference was an International Relations panel featuring Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus because even though many people see the two as opposing each other, she thought the two complemented each other well in their views and approaches.

After graduating Meaghan is enrolling at her graduate school of choice, Queens University in Ontario, to pursue a Master’s Degree in English Literature and Language.

Visit of Polisci Eastern alumna and JD candidate Raagan Mumley

Polisci student Megan Hull (left) with JD candidate and Eastern alumna Raagan Mumley (right).

By Megan Hull (Political Science and Pre-law Minor)

This week I had the great opportunity to meet Eastern Alumna and JD Candidate at Vermont Law School, Raagan Mumley. Over breakfast at Not Only Juice, in Willimantic, we deliberated such things as the successful structure of a CV, in preparation for law school, the LSAT as well as how her political science background given to her by Eastern Connecticut State University gave her the skills she would need to conquer her law degree. Her advice and experience is greatly appreciated for the continuation of pre-law studies at Eastern.

** Students interested in a law degree or legal studies can contact Megan Hull at hullme@my.easternct.edu for potential student related activities.

On Presidential Powers

By Mark Marcy

Prof Hayes Pizza Politics

UConn Professor Thomas Hayes with ECSU students Emily Margolis, Nicole Coughlin and Jared Latour

It was nice to see a full attendance at Pizza and Politics the other night for the discussion with keynote speaker, Dr. Tom Hayes. The discussion centered around the historical rising power of the presidency, the use of executive powers to circumvent the partisan divided congress, and what we can do as citizens to check the rise of authoritarianism.

To open the discussion, Dr. Hayes, outlined the historical gains in power of the presidency and how congress has allowed the president obtain these additional powers.  The power of the purse lies in the hands of the House, but presidents often present a proposed budget for the House to then push through congress.  While congress is the legislative branch, many legislative issues originate in the executive.  And, as the de facto leader of the party, the party coalesces around the president to further the presidential agenda.

Prof Hayes Pizza Politics 2

The Pizza and Politics crowd

As the evening wore on, it became clear that Dr. Hayes was not enamored with this current administration, questioned the capabilities of President Trump, and implied that the current administration is led by Steve Bannon and Steve Miller, advisors to the president.  While this is a harsh view of the administration, I must agree that this seems to be the case.  A few examples of instances where an administration that rises from outside government was uninformed about the nuances in the working of government (such as, the first Muslim nation ban), as well as a few examples of a president that didn’t know the basic’s like; the nuclear triad (among others).  Dr. Hayes suggested that the most powerful way, we as citizens, can voice our concerns about this rising authoritarianism, is to VOTE (as well as peacefully protest).

The audience had well thought out informed questions indicative of a group of polisci majors having a chat session.  It was awesome!

Eastern Students participate in CPAC 2017

By James Dignoti

In late February the Eastern Conservative/ Libertarian Club attended the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor Maryland

Professor Chris Vasilopolus surrounded by the Eastern participants at CPAC

Professor Chris Vasilopolus surrounded by the Eastern participants at CPAC (the author third from left).

just outside of Washington DC.  Having also attended the conference last year there are some similarities and differences between the two conferences for several different reasons. The highlight of this trip by far was being able to see President Trump and Vice President Pence speak.  We also got to see several other good conservative speakers and had the chance to meet some of the speakers.

As far as differences between last year’s conference and the conference this year was that this year felt more like a victory rally for conservatives while last year there were several Republican Presidential Candidates still competing for the nomination, this year, there was much more unity within the party having won.

The Trump speech was by far the highlight of the Conference.  He came out to a strong ovation by the crowd.  The speech however, felt more like a rally than a speech from the President.  President Trump was very engaged with the crowd and in his speech highlighted what he is going to do in his Presidency.  President Trump addressed several policy areas including immigration and the Middle East.  President Trump also addressed the media and how the media has treated him.

Eastern students with Senator Ted Cruz

Eastern students with Senator Ted Cruz

Besides the speeches by both Trump and Pence, there were also several other great speakers worth noting.  One really good panel discussion was a discussion of the Constitution with Senator Ted Cruz and Radio Host Mark Levin.  They discussed the importance of protecting the Constitution.  There was also a very good discussion about Women and Politics with Trump’s Campaign manager Kelly Anne Conway and Mercedes Schlapp.  Furthermore, there were several other panel discussions and speeches concerning several different issues including, Abortion, Defense and The Second Amendment.

The conference also had an anti-establishment feel and a new Republican feel to it. There were very few establishment speakers at the conference this year and the Majority of the Speakers supported Trump during the General Election.  This overall was a great week and our club is fortunate to have the opportunity to attend this conference every year.  We are also grateful to our Advisor, Professor Vasillopulos for attending this conference with us every year.  It is very beneficial to our Political Education and we are able to meet many amazing people at this conference every year.

Donald Trump

View of President Trump at CPAC 2017