Eastern a Top 25 Public Regional University in U.S. News and World Report

The class of 2023 gathered for a group photo during the Fall 2019 Warrior Welcome weekend–Eastern draws students from 160 of Connecticut’s 169 towns

 Eastern Connecticut State University is again the highest ranked institution among Connecticut’s four state universities in this year’s U.S. News and World Report’s edition of “Best Colleges.” The 2020 rankings were released on Sept. 9.

This is Eastern’s highest ranking ever as it was ranked 21st among public universities in the North Region. Eastern moved up five spots among public institutions over last year’s rankings and moved up 13 spots when both public and private institutions were considered.

Under the mentorship of Biology Professor Vijaykumar Veerappan, Roshani Budhathoki ’19 was selected for an undergraduate fellowship by the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB).

.The North Region includes colleges and universities from New England, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland, and is known as the most competitive among the four regions that make up the U.S. News and World Report ranking system.

Regional universities such as Eastern are ranked based on 15 criteria that include peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, class size, faculty resources, admissions selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving.

“Given the uncertain times facing the higher education community, I am delighted to see Eastern achieving its highest ranking ever,” said Eastern President Elsa Nunez. “This is a testament to our commitment to high standards and the faculty and staff’s focus on providing students with personal attention. Our improved ranking this year is due to our rising graduation and retention rates as well as the continued quality of our incoming classes.

 Environmental earth science students traveled to the mountains of Wyoming and Idaho this summer for a geology field course led by Eastern faculty.:

“Students and their families turn to the Best Colleges rankings to help decide where to attend college. These newest rankings reaffirm that Eastern is providing a relevant and high-quality education on our beautiful residential campus.”

This year’s U.S. News and World Report rankings included reviews of upwards of 1,400 schools nationwide and are available at www.usnews.com/colleges. They will also be published in the Best Colleges 2020 Guidebook, published by U.S. News & World Report and available on newsstands on Oct. 15.

For the past 35 years, the U.S. News and World Report rankings, which group colleges based on categories created by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, have grown to be the most comprehensive research tool for students and parents considering higher education opportunities.

Written by Ed Osborn

Eastern’s Sustainability Initiatives Recognized by National Organization

Sustainable CT stakeholders celebrate the soft launch of Sustainable CT in 2017 at Wickham Park, Manchester.:

 Eastern Connecticut State University has been highlighted for its sustainability efforts in the “2019 Sustainable Campus Index,” a publication of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). The index highlights innovative and high-impact initiatives at colleges and universities that submitted a Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) report in the most recent calendar year.

The university was recognized as a “Highlighted Institution” for the Sustainable CT program managed by the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern, as well as for being among the highest scorers among universities in the “Food and Dining” sustainability category.

“We are pleased with this recognition of our progress on sustainability at Eastern, and we realize that we have a lot of work ahead of us to achieve our climate and sustainability goals,” said Lynn Stoddard, executive director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy and chair of Eastern’s Green Campus Committee. “We are inspired by the sustainability accomplishments of our peers and continue to learn from each other.”

In 2018, the Institute for Sustainable Energy launched Sustainable CT, a voluntary certification program to support and recognize thriving and resilient Connecticut communities. The program offers a menu of best practice actions in nine broad categories, including equity and inclusion, local economies, arts and culture, and environmental stewardship. More than half of Connecticut’s municipalities participate in Sustainable CT and 22 towns and cities earned certification in the program’s first year.

In the Food and Dining category, Eastern was recognized as a top performer among colleges and universities. Chartwells, Eastern’s food service provider, has introduced a number of environmentally conscious initiatives, including a tray-less dining room and donations of surplus food to the local food pantry.

A recent “Zero Waste” barbeque luncheon featured an environmental theme, which emphasized reusable, recyclable or compostable materials to minimize waste. The event enhanced Eastern’s Green Campus Initiative and communities beyond Willimantic as well. Waste from the luncheon was taken to Quantum BioPower in Southington, where it was processed and turned into electricity to power the Southington Town Hall and the Southington police and fire stations.

Over the past few years, the use of reusable “to-go” containers has allowed more than 70,000 paper containers of pre- and post-consumer waste in Hurley Dining Hall to be composted by Quantum BioPower, which has reduced university trash output by nearly 70 percent.

Chartwells Food Services has supported other sustainable food systems by making low impact dining options available, educating customers about more sustainable options, offering meatless dining, and instituting sustainable food and beverage practices.

“Eastern’s dedication to environmental stewardship is evidenced by a range of sustainability efforts seen daily on our campus,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “I am pleased that this green campus commitment has been recognized by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). As AASHE notes, the Sustainable CT initiative coordinated by Eastern’s Institute for Sustainability is an important contribution that we are making to our state. In addition, we appreciate AASHE’s recognition of the work Chartwells Dining Services is doing on our campus and in our community to promote lower energy consumption and greater food security. Such recognitions are gratifying and motivate us to continue our efforts to be good environmental stewards.”

“We are happy to highlight Eastern Connecticut State University in this year’s Sustainable Campus Index,” said AASHE’s Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “We hope that the stories contained in this year’s report will provide inspiration and ideas for other institutions to promote a more equitable and ecologically healthy future.”

Eastern’s STARS report is publicly available on the STARS website: https://reports.aashe.org/institutions/eastern-connecticut-state-university-ct/report/

Written by Dwight Bachman

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About Eastern

Eastern Connecticut State University is the state of Connecticut’s public liberal arts university, serving 5,200 students annually at its Willimantic campus and satellite locations. In addition to attracting students from 160 of Connecticut’s 169 towns, Eastern also draws students from 33 other states and 80 other countries. A residential campus offering 41 majors and 59 minors, Eastern offers students a strong liberal art foundation grounded in an array of applied learning opportunities. Ranked among the top 30 public universities in the North Region by U.S. News and World Report in its 2019 Best College ratings, Eastern has also been awarded ‘Green Campus’ status by the Princeton Review nine years in a row. For more information, visit www.easternct.edu.

About STARS

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. STARS was developed by AASHE with broad participation from the higher education community. The credits included in STARS span the breadth of higher education sustainability and are organized into four categories: Academics, Engagement, Operations, and Planning & Administration. All reports are publicly accessible on the STARS website. For more information, visit stars.aashe.org.

About AASHE

AASHE empowers higher education faculty, staff and students to be effective change agents and drivers of sustainability innovation. AASHE enables members to translate information into action by offering essential resources and professional development to a diverse, engaged community of sustainability leaders. We work with and for higher education to ensure that our world’s future leaders are motivated and equipped to solve sustainability challenges. For more information, visit www.aashe.org.

View Online: http://easternct.meritpages.com/news/eastern-s-sustainability-initiatives-recognized-by-national-organization/10535

Half of Connecticut Communities Now Participate in ‘Sustainable CT’

Sustainable CT, a statewide initiative that inspires and supports communities in Connecticut to become more efficient, resilient and inclusive, has registered its 85th Connecticut municipality, officially reaching a participation rate of 50 percent of the state’s cities and towns. These communities are working towards their own unique sustainability goals through this free voluntary certification program.

“We are excited and inspired by reaching this milestone,” said Lynn Stoddard, executive director of the program and director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE) at Eastern Connecticut State University.

“Half of Connecticut’s towns, home to 2.1 million residents representing more than 58 percent of our state’s population, are working to make our communities great places to live, work, and play,” continued Stoddard. “When towns register for Sustainable CT, they send a strong message to their residents and peers that they are committed to making their communities more sustainable, collaborative and forward-looking. We look forward to bringing more towns on board and working with communities across Connecticut to achieve their sustainability goals.”

With input from municipal leaders across the state, Sustainable CT was developed under ISE’s leadership in partnership with the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities. To achieve certification, registered Sustainable CT communities work to demonstrate significant achievements in actions in nine sustainability impact areas ranging from thriving local economies and vibrant arts and culture to clean transportation and diverse housing. As a core part of the program, towns must address diversity, equity and inclusion when completing their certification applications. Certification submissions go through a series of rigorous reviews by independent experts and Sustainable CT partners.

“It is inspiring to see such incredible momentum in the second year of the program, and the interest points to a bright future for the state of Connecticut,” said Katie Dykes, commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) and member of the Sustainable CT board of directors. “As we work to achieve our ambitious state levels goals, Sustainable CT serves as a critical framework for engaging our municipalities and supporting local action.”

Fairfield, Glastonbury, Greenwich, Hartford, and Stamford achieved “silver” certification, the highest honor in the program, in 2018. Seventeen municipalities were recognized at the “bronze” certification level: Bristol, Coventry, Hebron, Madison, Middletown, Milford, New Haven, New London, New Milford, Old Saybrook, Ridgefield, Roxbury, South Windsor, West Hartford, Westport, Windham and Woodbridge. More communities are working towards certification in 2019, with an application deadline of Aug. 30.

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Sustainable CT is a voluntary certification program to recognize thriving and resilient Connecticut municipalities. An independently funded, grassroots, municipal effort, Sustainable CT provides a wide-ranging menu of best practices. Municipalities choose Sustainable CT actions, implement them, and earn points toward certification. Sustainable CT is independently funded, with support from the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation; the Hampshire Foundation; the Common Sense Fund; The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut; and the Bristol Brass General Grant Fund, the Merriman Family Fund, and the James R. Parker Trust at the Main Street Community Foundation. For more information, visit www.sustainablect.org.

Written by Lynn Stoddard

Eastern Alumna Salutes Inclusive Excellence Award Winners

On May 9, Eastern recognized more than 100 students with a 3.5 cumulative grade point average or higher, and an additional 11 students who have demonstrated exemplary co-curricular engagement at the University’s Seventh Annual Inclusive Excellence Student Awards Ceremony. The ceremony recognized the achievements of African, Latino, Asian and Native American (ALANA) students at Eastern.

Eastern President Elsa Núñez said the ceremony was not just about inclusion, but also spoke to the University’s other core values of academic excellence, integrity, social responsibility, engagement and empowerment. “It is important for each of you to stand tall and be proud of who you are and what you are capable of. Never, ever, ever let anyone attempt to diminish your worth or your talents.

“Today’s honorees join thousands of other successful Eastern alumni who are making their own personal contributions out in the real world, including our guest speaker today, Dr. Kawami Evans. Today, we show respect and celebrate the accomplishments of students who too often have been forgotten in the past.  Thank you for being part of this celebration; to our honorees, congratulations.  We are very proud of you.”

Keynote speaker Evans ’97 serves as associate director at the Center for African Diaspora Student Success at the University of California at Davis. She earned her bachelor’s degree in history and social science at Eastern, her Master of Education in educational policy and research administration from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a doctorate in educational management and leadership from Drexel University.

Evans encouraged the students to use their curiosity and optimism to persevere through unseen psychological struggles that can become their staunchest challenges. She said many high- achieving students fall prey to chasing individual achievements, accolades or material gain as their goal, even confusing their self-worth with what they can accomplish.

“This is dangerous; it can lead to anxiety and depression. Don’t let this be your reality or focus,” said Evans. “Who you are is what we are celebrating today. All the earned accolades you are receiving are but a byproduct of the brilliance within you . . . You are the promise of our ancestors’ prayers and walk with the wisdom and swag of those who have grit, resilience, the social and emotional intelligence, curiosity and hope.”

Evans told the students the most important element they need to resurrect in discussing their future success is their spirituality, ways in which students discover their destiny — answers to the big questions of who they are, what is their life purpose and how do they make difference in the world.

“Much of the world right now is relegated to systems and polices. We have to raise the bar with our vision of what’s possible,” Evans said. “It will take hard work, community, love, bravery, unrelentless effort and celebration.  I sincerely believe that we can create a world that works for all.”

A total of 280 students qualified for an Academic Excellence Award with a 3.5 cumulative GPA or higher, and more than 100 of them were able to attend the May 9 event. During the ceremony, several students received service awards. Adrianna Arocho and Mayra Santos Acosta was presented the Volunteer Service Award; Aiyana Ward, the Athletic Excellence Award; Kimberly Allen and Sommer Bachelor, the Career Development Award; Jenilee Antonetty, the Resident Assistant Diversity Impact Award; Rafael Aragon, the Residential Community Leadership Award; Tristan Perez, the Social Justice Advocacy Award; Emma Costa, the Inspirational Leadership Award; Ishah Azeez, the Resilient Warrior Award; Kimberly Allen and Vishal Jungiwalla, the Advisor’s Choice Award; and the Freedom at Eastern Club, the Building Bridges Award.

By Dwight Bachman

Eastern Receives High Sustainability Rating by AASHE

In recognition of its sustainability achievements, Eastern Connecticut State University has earned a STARS Silver rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) measures and supports sustainability in all aspects of higher education.

More than 10 years ago, Eastern made a commitment to become a carbon neutral campus by the middle of the 21st century. Eastern has worked steadily to reduce its carbon footprint and integrate sustainability into university operations, with five “LEED” (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) buildings; the state’s largest geothermal system; a Sustainable Energy Studies Program; and opportunities for on- and off-campus sustainability internships.

In recent years, Eastern and Chartwells Dining Services have taken strong action to promote sustainability practices in the university dining hall by buying local foods, removing trays from the dining hall to reduce food waste, replacing all disposable take-out containers with reusable containers, donating excess food to the Covenant Food Kitchen, and converting food waste to biofuel and compost.

“I am proud of Eastern’s sustainability progress and the many initiatives led by our staff, faculty and students to earn the Silver STARS rating,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “In addition to the recognition, STARS helps us assess where we are with our sustainability efforts, how we compare to our peers and where the next opportunities lie.”

With more than 800 participants in 30 countries, AASHE’s STARS program is the most widely recognized framework in the world for publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in five overall areas: academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership.

“STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing campus sustainability efforts,” said AASHE Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “Eastern has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS Silver Rating and is to be congratulated for their efforts.”

Unlike other rating or ranking systems, this program is open to all institutions of higher education, and the criteria that determine a STARS rating are transparent and accessible to anyone. Because STARS is a program based on credits earned, it allows for both internal comparisons as well as comparisons with similar institutions.

Eastern’s STARS report is available at https://reports.aashe.org/institutions/eastern-connecticut-state-university-ct/report/2018-12-31/. To learn more about sustainability at Eastern, visit www.easternct.edu/sustainability.

Written by Ed Osborn

Annual CREATE Conference to Showcase Student Art, Research

Eastern Connecticut State University will host its premier academic and artistic conference of the year on April 12. CREATE – Celebrating Research Excellence and Artistic Talent at Eastern – will take place from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. in the Student Center and surrounding venues. An award ceremony with remarks by Eastern President Elsa Núñez will take place at 12:30 p.m. in the Betty R. Tipton Room of the Student Center.

Students present research during the poster session of the 2018 CREATE conference.

Hundreds of student researchers, artists and performers will present their talents at CREATE. Students from all majors will lead oral and poster presentations, participate in panel discussions, showcase music and dance performances, exhibit their art and photography, and present documentary films and more.

Registration will take place at 8 a.m. at the Student Center Café. President Núñez will present two undergraduate awards and two mentor awards to outstanding students and faculty members at the 12:30 p.m. award ceremony.

For more information, visit http://www.easternct.edu/create/, where you can view the day’s agenda and download the event’s cell phone app for iPhone and Android.

Written by Michael Rouleau

Halladay, Canavan, Torcellini Present a Range of Research

Halladay Discusses Gender Stereotypes on Confidence

By Dwight Bachman

Brianna Halladay, assistant professor of economics, addressed the topic “Perception Matters: The Role of Task Gender Stereotype on Confidence and Tournament Selection” at the Faculty Scholars Forum on March 20.

Halladay said extensive research suggests that women avoid competition even when they can be benefit from potential rewards. Researchers conclude that women differ in their preference for competition compared to men.

Halladay’s own research explores the potential that another channel may be yielding the observed gender gap in tournament selection: a gender difference in beliefs about future performance reflecting gender stereotypes.

Using a laboratory experiment, she analyzed differences in tournament entry, using a male-stereotype task and a female-stereotype task. Her findings suggest that the observed difference in behavioral responses to competition among men and women is not due to a difference in preference for competition, but rather a difference in beliefs about future performance task (an environment where women would carry lower beliefs about future performance), and that more women than men enter the tournament under the female-stereotype task.

“In other words, it appears an increase in female confidence and decrease in male confidence is driving this result,” said Halladay. “This suggests the effect of competitiveness on gender is not exclusively about a difference in preference for competition, but consistent with a difference in beliefs about future performance.”

Canavan Presents at Sports Medicine Symposium

By Raven Dillon

Paul Canavan, professor of health sciences at Eastern Connecticut State University, presented at the 31st Sports Medicine Symposium in Wisconsin on March 14. Canavan gave three presentations and was also a guest speaker at the symposium.

Canavan’s first presentation was titled “Preventing Groin Injuries,” and used evidence from research literature as well as Canavan’s own real-life experience with the Northeastern University ice hockey team. He spoke on the importance of providing specific screening and interventions to prevent such injuries in sports.

His second presentation was called “Efficient and Effective Functional Examination and Exercise Prescription for the Lower Extremity” and was directed towards physicians and physical therapists to advocate the use of tests that screen for strength, flexibility and control, as well as provide specific therapeutic exercises.

The final presentation, “Knee Varus and Knee Valgus: Considerations for Therapeutic Exercise Intervention,” examined Canavan’s prior research related to the stresses upon the knee for individuals with knee valgus (knock-kneed) and knee varus (bow-legged). This presentation helped attendees understand various exercises that may help these individuals and potentially slow the progression of knee osteoarthritis.

The Sports Medicine Symposium was primarily attended by physicians and physical therapists throughout Wisconsin and beyond. Nearly 250 attendees included primary care physicians, emergency medicine physicians, physical therapists, athletic trainers, nurses, coaches, athletic directors and others who were interested and involved in the care of athletes of all ages and abilities.

Torcellini: ‘Buildings Mortgage the Energy Futures of the World’

By Dwight Bachman

Paul Torcellini, endowed chair of sustainable energy studies and professor of environmental earth science, kicked off the Spring Faculty Scholars Forum on Feb. 13 with a fascinating presentation on “Living at Zero: Experiences in Moving Towards an All Renewable Energy Lifestyle.”

Torcellini, who has been researching energy efficiency since he was in high school, said buildings that use electricity and natural gas to stay warm, cool and lighted are the largest consumer of energy in America. Unfortunately, the growth of new facilities is taking place more quickly than measures to impact energy efficiency. “Buildings mortgage the energy futures of the world,” said Torcellini.

He used the construction of his own family home to encourage others to strive to live at what he called “net zero or zero net.” For sure, it is net positive. He described the process as “building on a diet.” Together, he and his family decided to evaluate and examine the cost and value of how they would light, heat the space, use hot water, appliances and electronics in their new home.

The family started building the home in 2014 and finished in 2016. Through a series of measures including a great deal of insulation, heat pumps, energy efficient windows and efficient LED lighting, the house uses so little energy that solar photovoltaic panels generate enough electricity to cover all the loads. The solar panels also produce enough electricity to partially power a new electric vehicle.

In addition, the construction of the house minimized the introduction of chemicals that outgas during the life of the house. Mineral-based paints, linoleum with cork backing and tongue oil on native wood floors were used.

Another sustainability measure is the Torcellini family’s commitment to raising much of their own food, including organically fed meat from turkeys, chickens, sheep and pigs, as well as producing eggs.

ISE Interns Shift Three Rivers CC to Sustainable Lighting

Alex Fazzino (left) Oscar Gomez (right) review the Three Rivers Community Collage lighting blueprints.

This January marked the conclusion of an Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE) project that began two years ago. Student interns from Eastern’s ISE conducted a massive conversion to energy-efficient lighting at Three Rivers Community College.

In total, 8,575 light bulbs were replaced with LED lights by students Emma Avery ’19, Tara Brooks ’18, Leticia Denoya ’17, Alex Fazzino ’18, Oscar Gomez ’18, Weronika Lewkowicz ’17 and Zachary Stygar ’17. The interns have all since graduated.

Their auditing efforts included counting the light bulbs in all of Three Rivers’ buildings, along with identifying fixtures, bulb types, running hours and cost to create a master spreadsheet for later use. The upgrade is estimated to save more than $55,000 in energy costs moving forward — equivalent to the tuition for 14 full-time students.

In addition to gaining insight on how different kinds of bulbs can create different ambiances, the ISE interns learned that some lighting choices may be aesthetically pleasing but waste energy. The Eastern students spent six months on the project, working with facility managers, lighting specialists and contractors.

Along with initiatives throughout Connecticut to advance the adoption of practical, cost-effective solutions and strategies that increase energy efficiency, sustainability and resilience, the ISE works in close partnership with Eastern’s Center for Sustainable Energy Studies and the Facilities Management and Planning Department to incorporate sustainability into the academic offerings, physical infrastructure and culture of Eastern Connecticut State University.

Written by Jordan Corey

Eastern Celebrates Native American Heritage Month

Demonstrations of Native dancing by members of the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes rounded out the Native American Heritage Day of Events on Nov. 13.

Written by Jolene Potter

WILLIMANTIC, CT (11/28/2018) Eastern Connecticut State University held several events in commemoration of Native American Heritage Month in November. Events featured prominent figures and speakers from the local Native American community – including internationally acclaimed author and environmental activist Winona LaDuke of the Anishinaabe Tribe as well as Chief Marilynn Malerba of the local Mohegan Tribe. The celebration also included demonstrations of music, jewelry making and natural medicines.

There are currently 573 tribes recognized by the federal government according to The Bureau of Indian Affairs. All federally recognized tribes are sovereign and self-governing nations that maintain a government-to-government relationship with the United States. Each indigenous nation has a distinct history, language and culture.

Native American Heritage Month serves to educate the public about the challenges faced by Native people currently and historically as well as the ways in which tribal citizens and communities have worked to address these challenges.

There are two federally recognized Native American tribes in Connecticut – the Mashantucket Pequot Nation and the Mohegan Tribe. However, there are several other tribes, bands and communities in Connecticut that don’t have federal recognition, including the Schaghticoke Indian Tribe, Paucatuck Eastern Pequot Tribe and Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation.

Many Native communities are not recognized by the federal government, as obtaining federal recognition requires extensive documentation, which is particularly difficult for the many Native communities that have oral histories with little written down. Without recognition, communities aren’t eligible for certain services and have limited rights to self-governance. The Eastern Pequots lost their federal status on Oct. 12 (Columbus Day), 2005.

Author and activist Winona LaDuke of the Anishinaabe Tribe spoke with the Eastern community on Oct. 31.

The first event of Native American Heritage Month occurred on Oct. 31 and featured internationally acclaimed author and environmental activist Winona LaDuke of the Anishinaabe Tribe. LaDuke’s talk, “A Native Perspective: Sustaining Our Land, Recovering the Sacred,” explored how indigenous understandings of land, religion and sacredness influence strategies for a sustainable environment.

The current and historical territorial dispossession of indigenous peoples often goes hand in hand with natural resource exploitation. LaDuke discussed how the exploitation of natural resources threatens Native communities, as well as the necessity for utilizing renewable forms of energy. This exploitation often violates treaty rights, threatens the environment and contributes to climate change.

LaDuke is the executive director of Honor the Earth, a non-profit organization that raises awareness and financial support for indigenous environmental justice. The organization recently played an active role in the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. LaDuke was also involved in stopping work on the Sandpiper Pipeline in northern Minnesota in 2015.

Eastern hosted Chief Marilynn Malerba of the Mohegan Tribe on Nov. 7 at 3 p.m. in the Student Center Theatre. Malerba is the 18th chief of the Mohegan Tribe and is the first female chief in the tribe’s modern history. Malerba spoke of many issues affecting Native communities throughout the nation including land rights, voting rights, rates of poverty and unemployment, violence – particularly against women and children – suicide, drug and alcohol abuse rates, educational shortcomings and healthcare inadequacies. “American Indian activism is needed now more than ever,” she said.

Chief Marilynn Malerba of the Mohegan Tribe spoke with the Eastern community on Nov. 7.

Malerba focused on the tendency for Native communities to experience poverty and joblessness. Seventeen percent of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders and 27 percent of all self-identified Native Americans and Alaska Natives live in poverty, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

“The living conditions for Natives on reservations are often of poor quality,” said Malerba. “On many reservations the electricity is subpar, plumbing is subpar or nonexistent, the roads need renovating and the homes are overcrowded.” Malerba’s assertions are supported by data from the National Congress of American Indians, which states that 40 percent of Natives who live on reservations are in substandard housing, one-third of homes are overcrowded and less than 16 percent have indoor plumbing.

Eastern Pequot tribal members Natasha Gambrell ’15 and Valerie Gambrell ’77 (both Eastern graduates) spoke on Nov. 13 about the difficulties their tribe experiences with federal recognition.

Also discussed was the shockingly high rates of violence against women and children in Native communities. According to the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence, American Indians are the victims of rape and sexual assault at a rate more than three times higher than that of any other race in the United States. Furthermore, while the majority of survivors of sexual assault are victimized by a family member or intimate partner, American Indian and Alaska Native women are more likely to be victims of sexual violence committed by a stranger or acquaintance outside of the tribal community, with 70 percent of perpetrators being non-Native. This creates unique challenges for tribal communities in adjudicating cases of sexual assault, leading to lower prosecution and a lack of justice for Native survivors of sexual violence.

Malerba also discussed the massive disparities in health care for Native Americans as compared to the general population. Although Native Americans are able to receive health care through Indian Health Services (IHS), like many other federal agencies that serve Native people, the IHS suffers from a lack of funding. As a result, one in three Natives are uninsured and lacking proper healthcare. According to the Center for Disease Control, Natives suffer from high rates of diabetes, obesity, substance abuse, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Another epidemic facing Native communities is youth suicide. According to U.S. Census data, suicide is the second most common cause of death for Native youth ages 15 to 24 – two and a half times the national rate for that age group.

“Maintaining a connection with their tribe lowers the suicide rate for indigenous youth, among serving them in other ways,” said Malerba. “The Indian Child Welfare Act is not highly regarded and indigenous children are still being displaced. This contributes greatly to an increased risk of suicide.”

Demonstrations of Native dancing by members of the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes rounded out the Native American Heritage Day of Events on Nov. 13.

Malerba also stressed voter suppression as a major issue for Native communities. “Only about two percent of the U.S. population is made up of American Indian and Alaskan Native people,” said Malerba. “We can’t move mountains with elections. We need other people to care about and rally toward Native rights.” Some factors that contribute to voter suppression are lack of official addresses on most reservations and the distance of polling places from reservations.

Malerba ended her informative talk with an important lesson: “Have a large voice when you’re offered a seat at the table. Advocate for what you think is right.”

The month of recognition and celebration continued on Nov. 13 with the “Native American Heritage Day of Events.” Lessons in jewelry design were led by Natasha Gambrell ’15 of the Eastern Pequot Tribe. An interactive program featuring a variety of Native music was also held by Chris Newell, a singer and senior educator of the Mashantucket Pequot Museum.

Native American Heritage Month events were co-sponsored by the Intercultural Center, Arthur L. Johnson Unity Wing, the Office of Equity and Diversity, the Institute of Sustainable Energy and the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Criminology and Social Work.

 

Princeton Review Names Eastern a Green College 9 Years in a Row

Eastern’s newly renovated Communication Building features a number of sustainability improvements, aligning it with the State of Connecticut’s standards for high-efficiency buildings.

Written by Michael Rouleau

Eastern Connecticut State University is one of the most environmentally responsible colleges in 2018 according to The Princeton Review. Eastern is listed in the Review’s 2018 edition of “Guide to 399 Green Colleges,” published on Oct. 16 – the ninth year in a row that Eastern has made the list.

Schools were selected based on a summer 2018 survey that measured more than 25 data points related to sustainability practices and policies. Only schools with Green Rating scores of 80 or higher (out of 99) are featured in the guide.

“We are pleased to release our 2018 edition in October, as the month has been designated National Campus Sustainability Month,” said Robert Franek, editor-in-chief of The Princeton Review. “To all students wanting to study and live at a green college, we strongly recommend the outstanding schools we identify and profile in this guide.”

“We are proud to again be recognized as an environmentally friendly school by this important publication,” said Lynn Stoddard, director of Eastern’s Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE). “We’re happy that today’s college students value sustainability, and that our institutional efforts to minimize environmental impact have not gone unnoticed.”

Eastern’s commitment to sustainability is demonstrated through its use of renewable energy and strides toward carbon neutrality, the construction/renovation of “green” buildings, environmentally related academic and extracurricular offerings, and other green initiatives.

The Eastern campus boasts five LEED-certified buildings (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), including three residence halls, the Science Building and the new Fine Arts Instructional Center. These buildings feature daylight-harvesting and gray-water systems, recycled flooring, native plants and rainwater collection systems. LEED buildings can reduce energy and water costs by as much as 40 percent.

This fall 2018 semester, Eastern reopened its newly renovated Communication Building, which now meets the high-performance building standards set by the State of Connecticut. Such standards include utilizing recyclable materials for a portion of the construction, as well as materials sourced within 500 miles of the worksite. Improvements have also been made to water conservation, energy conservation and insulation.

Eastern is also home to Connecticut’s largest geothermal installation. Located at High Rise residence hall, the system draws energy from the internal heat of the earth and reduces energy use by 12 percent. Elsewhere on campus, a 400-kilowatt phosphoric-acid fuel cell provides clean energy that prevents the release of approximately 1,350 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.

Lining the campus’ walkways and roads are solar-powered lighting fixtures. Furthermore, commuters with electric or hybrid cars can take advantage of vehicle-charging stations as well as choice-parking spots as reward for reducing their carbon footprint.

A university’s greatest amount of waste may come from its dining hall. To reduce food waste, Eastern’s Hurley Hall and food provider, Chartwells, has a three-pronged program that involves offering students plates (rather than trays) of food, donating leftovers to the local soup kitchen, and composting discarded food.

Eastern is also home to the Institute for Sustainability Energy (ISE), the organization spearheading the statewide initiative “Sustainable CT.” With 22 municipalities certified as of this October, and more in process, Sustainable CT provides a road map for communities to become more sustainable and resilient.

Among its academic and extracurricular offerings, Eastern offers a strong environmental earth science (EES) program – with tracks in EES, general earth science, and sustainable energy science – as well as a new minor in environmental health science. The Environmental Club advocates for the importance of human impact on the environment, while promoting sustainable awareness and practices on campus.

The annual Campus Sustainability Week engages students in environmental issues and gathers volunteers for service projects. The Green Theme housing community – located in the LEED-certified Nutmeg Hall – allows environmentally minded students to live together and participate in activities related to “going green” and sustainability.