ScholarMatch Recognizes Eastern’s Support of Low-Income Students

Written by Ed Osborn

Eastern Connecticut State University was recognized by ScholarMatch as one of the standout colleges in the United States providing support for first-generation and low-income students. ScholarMatch is a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization founded in 2010 by author Dave Eggers. Its mission is to make higher education possible for young people from modest backgrounds.

Each year, ScholarMatch analyzes 1,400 U.S. colleges and universities, using public data and information from College Scorecard, to determine which schools offer the most supportive environments for students whose families earn less than $50,000 per year. ScholarMatch publishes its findings in its College Honor Roll, which recognizes 375 schools that are offering robust student support and are achieving excellent outcomes for this student population.

ScholarMatch also features schools recognized on its College Honor Roll in ScholarMatcher, the free interactive college search tool created by ScholarMatch to help underserved student populations find their best fit college in just a few simple clicks. Read more about ScholarMatch at www.scholarmatch.org.

Eastern’s Police Department Named Among Top 25 in Nation

Eastern’s Department of Public Safety.

Written by Ed Osborn

The Department of Public Safety at Eastern Connecticut State University has been named one of the top 25 college and university police departments in the United States for its efforts to improve campus safety. Eastern was ranked fourth on the list of 25, which included such institutions as Oregon State University, Indiana University and the University of Houston. Brown University in Rhode Island, ranked 19th, was the only other New England institution that made the top 25 list.

“Each department on the list has shown outstanding dedication to the improvement of campus and student safety at their institution,” said Linda Shaw, director of Safe Campus, the organization conducting the recognition program.

The Safe Campus list recognizes outstanding achievement by administrative departments on college and university campuses. Each department was nominated based on its efforts to improve campus safety. All 4,706 U.S. accredited higher-education institutions were eligible.

Officers from Eastern’s police department host a table at the University’s health expo.

Safe Campus’s mission is to improve the overall safety and security of U.S. college and university students. Selection to the “Top 25” list was made by the Safe Campus Advisory Board, a committee of senior-level university administrators from around the nation. Criteria included creation of major programs to improve campus safety, especially those that can be replicated on other campuses; development of department procedures that contribute to campus safety and security; implementation of safety policies that are promoted across campus; and the demonstration of quantitative results that demonstrate improvements in campus safety.

“The safety of our students, faculty and staff is our top priority,” said Eastern Connecticut State University President Elsa Núñez, “so I am gratified to see our campus police department recognized as a national leader in promoting and improving campus safety. The leadership provided by the Department of Public Safety to ensure security and safety on our campus has ranged from collaborations with local authorities to improving campus security systems to educating our students on how to support a ‘safe campus culture.’ Not only have we seen a reduction in campus crime statistics, members of our campus community clearly understand that maintaining a safe campus is everyone’s responsibility. It starts with the excellent relationship our campus police department has built with Eastern students, faculty and staff.”

Officer David DeNunzio leads a student through a drunk-driving simulation.

One example of a program initiated by Eastern’s Department of Public Safety to improve campus safety was its initiative to address underage drinking, which educates freshmen on the risks involved. From 2009 to 2016, alcohol-related incidents on Eastern’s campus referred for disciplinary action declined by 89 percent. The Eastern campus is also equipped with 386 high-resolution surveillance cameras, which have helped reduce potential criminal activity; statistics show that there have been no robberies or burglaries on Eastern’s campus the past three years.

Eastern is a member of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System, which received a $750,000 grant in 2015 from the U.S. Department of Justice to combat violence against women. Eastern’s public safety officers received training in a number of areas related to sexual and domestic violence as part of the grant. Eastern was also one of six schools in the nation selected by the Department of Homeland Security in 2013 to participate in its Campus Resilience Program, which vastly improved the campus’ emergency-response tools and resources. Eastern has since established a Campus Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), composed of campus personnel who are trained to be first responders.

Within the local Willimantic community, Eastern’s police department was a partner with other organizations on two important initiatives – the Community Life Improvement Project (CLIP) and the Windham/Eastern Community Action Network (W/E CAN) – to improve student relationships with residents in local neighborhoods.

Earlier this year, Eastern’s hometown of Willimantic was named to the list of the 50 safest college towns in America, based on crime statistics. The list was composed of towns of more than 15,000 residents that are home to a four-year college or university, and was compiled by Safewise.com, a security and safety analytics company.

A&E Executives Visit Eastern, Speak on Crime TV

The panel (back left) and audience watch an unaired scene of an A&E show.

Written by Raven Dillon

Eastern Connecticut State University hosted several Arts and Entertainment Network (A&E) executives on Nov. 7 who discussed the representation of crime on television. Held in the J. Eugene Library, the panel included Laura Fleury, senior vice president of programming, Sean Gottlieb, vice president of development and programming, and Peter Tarshis, executive producer of A&E and Lifetime Movies Network.

Several sociology and criminology classes attended and asked questions regarding police procedures, documentary film crew work, and the differences between scripted and unscripted crime shows. Moderated by Eastern faculty and professors, the panel treated students to exclusive, unaired clips from A&E’s upcoming shows, including the new season of “The First 48,” a show produced by Tarshis that focuses on the first 48 hours after a crime has been committed.

Students also inquired about the difficulties of filming shows such as “Live PD,” which gives a transparent look at law enforcement on duty. Gottlieb, the producer of “Live PD,” talked in detail about the humanizing aspect of showing police interactions and how the documentary crew or bodycams often captured things that the officers missed.

The written and unwritten rules regarding “true crime” – meaning unscripted television about crimes which actually occurred – were discussed at length. “Unresolved cases are corrosive to viewership,” Tarshis explained. “So right away, you need to focus on cases that resolve nicely, that end with the bad guy going to jail.”

Tarshis went on to explain that this gives an extremely black and white perspective of crime on linear network television, with little room for morally gray areas. Other mediums, like streaming services such as Netflix, allow producers to stretch story arcs over several episodes so they can delay viewer gratification.

One student asked about the families of the victims, which prompted a discussion regarding scripted television. Fleury, producer of the Emmy-nominated show “Beyond Scared Straight,” talked about how carefully they have to tread in order to make a stimulating, yet non-exploitative narrative.

“Our first priority is to not re-victimize the family of the victim. We have to be very careful with not only the victims themselves, but the victims’ families, as well as creating a satisfying story for people who don’t care about these rules.”

The event was sponsored by the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Criminology and Social Work.

Health Sciences Faculty Present at Research Seminar

Professor Ashley Bissonnette presented her research related to public health programs and social activism in indigenous communities.

Written by Anne Pappalardo

Eastern Connecticut State University’s Health Sciences (HSC) Department held its first faculty research seminar on Nov. 5 in the Science Building. The event showcased research activities of HSC faculty as well as informed students of potential opportunities for independent study with faculty mentors.

The Health Sciences major consists of three concentrations – Public Health, Pre-Nursing and Pre-Physical Therapy. The department’s objective is to train future scientists and health specialists through a combination of experiential learning and coursework designed to prepare students for careers in physical therapy, occupational therapy, public health, nursing and a variety of other health- and biological science-related positions.

HSC faculty members who presented research topics included Professor Anita Lee, who presented “Physical Activity and Health.” Lee discussed the role of physical activity related to health and disease prevention, the concept of normal weight obesity and how physical activity can be “prescribed” to the general population to achieve health.

Professor Mary Kenny’s “Applying Social Science Research in Public Health” presentation detailed the benefits of public health careers and her background in diverse projects in countries such as Brazil, Jamaica, Mongolia and Ghana. She addressed how applying acquired social science research skills can assist in developing health and educational interventions in similar countries. “Highlight your strengths. This type of work is of value to future employers – focus on it. It greatly enhances your résumé,” said Kenny.

“Using Cultural Resources for Planning Public Health Programs and Social Activism in Indigenous Communities,” presented by Professor Ashley Bissonnette, addressed health disparities rooted in this country’s first wars against indigenous peoples and ways cultural resources can be used in the development of public health educational programs.

HSC Professor and Department Chair Yaw Nsiah detailed his research on experimenting with compounds from tropical trees and shrubs from West Africa.

“Extraction and Purification of Pharmacoactive Compounds from Tropical Plants,” presented by HSC Professor and Department Chair Yaw Nsiah, detailed his research that focuses on experimenting with compounds from tropical trees and shrubs from West Africa. The hope is that new anti-infectives will be discovered that can be used to combat viruses and bacteria.

Health Sciences major Cassidy Martin ’19, who assists Professor Nsiah with his research, said, “I participate in his research project by extracting active compounds from leaves, then use various evaporation and purification techniques to identify organic compounds and test them on different bacteria types for their reactions.

“I’m grateful to be participating in the research project because I enjoy microbiology and now have the opportunity to learn additional techniques and apply them to real research,” said Martin. She plans on pursuing a career in nursing, with an interest in nursing education and biomedical research.”

Students were encouraged to ask questions and contact faculty members to further explore opportunities for involvement in their cutting-edge research opportunities. Department Chair Nsiah announced that the department intends to continue to host faculty research seminars each semester.   

The following HSC faculty also presented at the seminar:

  • “Molecular Mechanisms for Urate Secretion in Human Kidney Cells,” presented by Professor Amy Bataille, documented diseases that are associated with uric acid imbalances – gout, hypertension, cancer, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, and cardiovascular disease, among others.
  • Professor Pallavi Limaye presented “Genomic Analysis of the Human Fetal Brain,” which focused on how the understanding of human fetal brain development can be enhanced by genomic data analysis.
  • Professor Paul Canavan presented “Analysis of the Baseball Pitch: Effect of Floor Placement on Body Movement and Pitching Accuracy.”
  • Professor Mitchell Doucette presented “Right-to-Carry Laws and Workplace Homicides: The Role of Firearm Exposure.”

Digital Art Exhibition at Eastern Begs for Human Interaction

In Balam Soto’s piece “Interface,” projections shift on the wall according to surfaces touched by visitors.

Written by Raven Dillon

WILLIMANTIC, CT (11/06/2018) The work of Hartford-based digital artist Balam Soto is on display at the Eastern Connecticut State University Art Gallery from Nov. 1-Dec. 7 in an exhibition titled “Interface.” Blurring the line between spectator and participant, the exhibition allows gallery visitors to manipulate the digital artwork by physically interacting with its tactile components.

“I have always been inspired by technology,” said Soto at the Nov. 1 opening reception. “Technology is an ocean, large enough to swim in, and it can transform the way people look at the world, or look at art.”

Eastern students interact with “Interface.”

Pieces in the gallery incorporate tactile surfaces that, when touched, cause fluctuations in sound and light projection, literally putting the experience of the art into gallery visitors’ hands. With the press of a button, sounds change and projections morph as the artwork endlessly transforms.

Soto handles both the creative and technical sides of his art. He melds low tech with high tech and employs the use of custom software and electronics. “When people go to galleries or museums, there is a glass wall between them and the exhibition,” said Soto as he watched students

A hand affects sound and light with the piece “Sonic Moon.”

interact with his artwork. “I want to remove that barrier.”

At first, visitors were hesitant to touch any of the installations – seemingly content to view from a distance the beautiful abstract projections on the walls. The energy within the gallery quickly changed, however, once patrons realized they could interact with the pieces.

Within 20 minutes, the “glass wall” had been shattered and the gallery was filled with fluidly shifting projections and echoing musical harmonies. The visitors became an integral part of the display. Most pieces in the exhibition allow for human interaction, thus altering the experience.

Kristen Morgan, director of new media studies and associate professor of theatre, enjoys Interface exhibition, holding one Godeon while the older son, Judevine, takes a break to “interface” with his Rubics Cube! BTW, Judevine is also the name of a play written by the late poet, David Budbill, a dear family friend from Vermont.

Soto is an internationally successful artist, with gallery exhibitions and art pieces around the world. He has received six Editor’s Choice awards and one Best in Class award from the World Maker Faire, held in the New York Hall of Science Museum.

He has also received official citations from the Mayor of Hartford, and the governors of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. In April 2008, Soto was honored with a Diploma of Recognition as a “Maestro,” a Master of Visual Arts, by the National Congress of Guatemala for “being a valuable and outstanding artist with international success.”

New media “Interface” artist Balam Soto chats with Retired Mathematics Professor Emeritus Stephen Kenton during the reception for the exhibition.

Eastern’s Art Gallery is located in Room 112 of the Fine Arts Instructional Center on the Eastern campus. Parking is available in Cervantes Garage and in the Student Center parking lot. The gallery is free and open to the public on Tuesday and Wednesday 11 to 5 p.m., Thursday 1 to 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 2 to 5 p.m. For more information, call the gallery at (860) 465-4659 or visit www.easternct.edu/artgallery/.

Eastern Volleyball Wins LEC Championship

The Warriors’ victory over Keene State College on Nov. 3 earned them the conference title.

Written by Bob Molta

The Eastern Connecticut State University women’s volleyball team put the finishing touches on its most successful season in 12 years by winning the Little East Conference tournament championship with a four-set victory over Keene State College Nov. 3 at Eastern’s Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

Sophomore Abby Stern of Manchester had 22 kills and three players combined to commit only one reception error on 77 attempts as the top-seeded Warriors avenged their only Little East loss of the season with the victory over third-seeded Keene State College — Eastern’s eighth straight victory and 19th in its last 21 matches.

After losing in straight sets at Keene State in its conference-opener Sept. 15, Eastern ripped off nine straight victories — and won its final seven LEC regular-season matches — and later ended the regular season on a six-game win streak. Eastern advanced to the tournament championship game with a sweep of Rhode Island College before ending a run of three straight three-set losses to Keene.

The conference tournament championship and ensuing NCAA invitation were the first for Eastern since 2007, when it defeated Western Connecticut in the LEC championship match. The Warriors finished the season with a 10-1 home record.

Six-foot freshman Anna Barry of Andover — one of three players on the team from high school state power RHAM — was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player on the strength of two-match totals of 28 kills, a .533 attack percentage and two blocks. She attacked at .737 with 14 kills in the semifinal sweep of Rhode Island College and had 14 kills and a .385 attack percentage against Keene. Another freshman, libero Madison Bell of Salem, played like a veteran in the tournament, fielding 43 serves without a reception error and digging up a team-high 39 balls (5.57 per set).

Of her four seniors, fifth-year head coach Megan Silver-Droesch told E-TV’s Dom Conte after the championship, “I’m so proud of them, they work hard and they got better every single year. And to overcome a hurdle (Keene State) that stopped us (in the regular season), is extra-special.”

The senior class included Carly Balskus of Hebron, Jackie Orlowski of Woodstock, Caryn Sibiskie of Rockfall, and Leah Sopneski of Deep River — the latter three overcame significant injuries throughout their careers.

The Warriors (23-7) concluded their winningest season since 2006 with a berth in the NCAA tournament for the 17th time — the second most such Division III appearances in New England history.

In the season-ending conference awards, Barry was named Rookie-of-the-Year and as the only freshman selection to the LEC first team. Silver-Droesch was named Coach-of-the-Year for the second time. Joining Barry on the all-conference team as second-team picks were Stern — last year’s LEC Rookie-of-the-Year — Balskus, and sophomore Alaetra Long. Barry was also voted to the NEWVA (New England Women’s Volleyball Association) All-Rookie Team.

Eastern to Host Third Annual Civic Action Conference

Written by Raven Dillon

WILLIMANTIC, CT (11/02/2018) Eastern Connecticut State University will host its third annual Civic Action Conference on Nov. 14 from 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. in the Johnson Community Room of the J. Eugene Smith Library. The conference is free and open to the public. Registration begins at 9 a.m.

The conference is organized into four overarching themes, each featuring a variety of subtopics, such as the role of service learning in urban revival and career-readiness via community-based projects. At lunch, keynote speaker Thomas Piñeros-Shields of University of Massachusetts-Lowell will discuss his sociological research about immigration policy, youth civic engagement and social movements.

The first theme, “Writing Assignments to Promote Civic Action,” begins at 10 a.m. Eastern sociology professors Cara Bergstrom-Lynch, Lucy Hurston and Nicolas Simon, along with English professor Miriam Chirico, will discuss social justice and service learning through writing.

The second theme, “Employability and Civic Engagement,” begins at 11 a.m. and will explore undergraduate student career readiness. Featured Eastern professors for this segment are Terry Lennox (Art and Art History), Fatma Pakdil (Business Administration) and Alex Citurs (Business Information Systems).

Following theme two is Piñeros-Shields’ luncheon keynote presentation from noon-1 p.m.

The third theme, “Higher Education as a Public Good: Dimensions of Civic Engagement,” begins at 1 p.m. Several presenters from the University of Connecticut will discuss the development and enactment of community-engaged critical conversations through a graduate level course.

The fourth theme, “Community Engagement Research,” will include presentations from Eastern professors Nicolas Simon (Sociology) and Patrick Vitale (Geography), in addition to Yolanda Bergstrom-Lynch, who is a public services librarian and reference lecturer with the J. Eugene Smith Library.

The Civic Action Conference is sponsored by the Center for Community Engagement. For more information, contact Kim Silcox at silcoxk@easternct.edu, John Murphy at murphyjo@easternct.edu or Nicolas Simon at simonn@easternct.edu.

Eastern to Host 12th Day of Giving, Local Food Drives

Written by Shelby Eccleston

WILLIMANTIC, CT (11/02/2018) The 12th annual Day of Giving at Eastern Connecticut State University will occur on Nov. 21 from noon-2 p.m. in Hurley Hall. The event is open to Willimantic residents who may not have Thanksgiving plans otherwise. Preceding the Day of Giving, several food drives will occur at Windham grocery stores.

Day of Giving is a collaboration between the Center for Community Engagement (CCE), the Office of Institutional Advancement and Chartwells, Eastern’s food service provider.

Turkey, stuffing and other traditional fixings will be donated by the ECSU Foundation and Chartwells. Staff from Chartwells will prepare food and decorate. More than 50 volunteers from Eastern – students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the university – will serve food, provide transportation, welcome guests, run children’s activities and clean up.

Transportation will be provided free of charge from Ashton Towers at noon and from the Covenant Soup Kitchen at 12:15 p.m. Parking is available on campus, with handicapped spaces in the Student Center lot.

During the weekends preceding the event, the CCE will run food drives in the parking lots of local grocery stores. All donations go to the Covenant Soup Kitchen and other local food pantries.

Upcoming drives are on Nov. 3 and 4 at Bob’s Windham IGA; Nov. 10 and 11 at the Willimantic Food Co-op; and Nov. 17 and 18 at Stop and Shop on Main Street. Each drive goes from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Donation boxes will also be placed around campus beginning Nov. 1.

Last year’s Day of Giving hosted approximately 500 community members. “You can’t ask for a better humanitarian day for people that are less fortunate,” said one longtime Willimantic resident.

Faculty Present in 3 October Scholars Forums

Ari de Wilde

Written by Dwight Bachman

Eastern faculty continue to share their prolific scholarship with the campus community during the University’s Faculty Scholars Forum. In the month of October, three professors shared fascinating research on the underworld of professional bike racing, how service to community can enhance faculty scholarship, and the evolving artistic work of how women are now depicted in Persian art.

On Oct. 31, Ari de Wilde, associate professor of kinesiology and physical education, presented “Splinters, Snake Oil and Six Days: Collusion and Underworld Politics in Early 20th Century Professional Bicycle Racing.”

Today, professional cycling is marred by doping scandals and corruption, scenarios that de Wilde says are portrayed as new by the popular media. He argues that these realities are not new behaviors and could be found in the thriving, professional racing circuit of America’s early 20th century, noting that “while underworld-related actives are rarely formally recorded, close reading of autobiographies, newspaper accounts and other descriptions can yield tremendous insight into this world.” 

On Oct. 17, John Murphy, lecturer in the Communication Department; Nicolas Simon, sociology lecturer; Art Professor Terry Lennox; and Kim Silcox, director of the Center for Community Engagement, examined “Community Engagement as a Path to Faculty Development.” Topics ranged from Simon’s discussion of his scholarly research based on community engagement to Silcox’s overview of the Center for Community Engagement and how the center supports faculty through service learning course development. Faculty interested in learning more are encouraged to contact the center at (860) 465-4426.

On Oct. 3, Afarin Rahmanifar, lecturer in the Art and Art History Department, shared her work on “Women in Persian Poetry, Storytelling and Painting.” Rahmanifar said to understand her work, one must understand Iranian history. Until the 20th century, traditional painting, art, poetry and writing in Iran were dominated by men. Women were often portrayed in art without power or authority.

Afarin Rahmanifar

In 1932, Reza Shah, the first Shah of Iran and father of Mohamad Reza Pahlavi, passed a law that forced women to take off their veils. From 1945-1979, Rahmanifar says there were a huge effort to modernize the country and create an educational system.  After the Iranian Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini made it mandatory for women to wear the hejab again.

Rahmanifar’s work primarily reflects her experience living in exile from Tehran, where she grew up in the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution. Her art reflects an interest in telling stories about women in repressed societies who are involved in politics, culture and religion. Rahmanifar’s most recent project is “Women of the Shahnameh,” which is a result of her reading “The Book of Kings (“Shahnameh”) by Persian poet Ferdowsi, who lived 1,000 years ago.

“His epic stories shape women as active and who play participatory and even leading roles in leadership and decision making in Iranian society,” said Rahmanifar.  “Women are presented as lively figures, warm, with intellect who dare to exercise liberties and do not fear death. . . Within my work, I’ve attempted to not only create images from my inspired reading of (Ferdowsi’s) stories, but also to break the conventional wisdom and messages of earlier historical miniature paintings.”

Eastern Students ‘Take Back the Night’ Against Sexual Assault

Take Back the Night keynote speaker Michael Bidwell of the Sexual Assault Crisis Center of Eastern Connecticut spoke with students about using their voices to take a stand against sexual assault.

Written by Jolene Potter

Eastern Connecticut State University students, faculty and staff took a stand against sexual assault, domestic violence and other forms of interpersonal violence in October with a series of events focused on increasing awareness and response to survivors.

The events were hosted in collaboration with the Arthur L. Johnson Unity Wing, Women’s Center and Sexual Assault & Interpersonal Violence Response Team (SAIV-RT), illustrating the collective approach of Eastern in addressing interpersonal violence.

Sexual violence and domestic violence are major public health concerns that plague communities and families across the nation and the globe. The statistics are staggering – every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted and nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States.

On Oct. 23, Eastern hosted 2, 90-minute sessions of Students Fight Back, a program that teaches tools for bystander intervention, awareness, personal safety, intuition and the basics of self-defense. The motto for the program was “The best fight is the one never fought.” Acknowledging survivors attending the program, keynote speaker Nicole Snell said, “We want to help survivors work through their trauma and reclaim their personal power.”

Nicole Snell of Girls Fight Back presented “Students Fight Back,” a gender-neutral class about using you intuition, being an active bystander and consent.

The program also provided an in-depth discussion of consent, including how consent is clear, unambiguous and verbal. “Firstly, silence is not consent,” said Snell. “‘No’ is a complete sentence. Anything said afterwards is a negotiation and there is no negotiation with people who don’t respect our boundaries.” Students gained a clear understanding of consent as ongoing, verbal, coherent and retractable at any time.

Students Fight Back encourages students to define their own personal boundaries and safety. “You are the expert of your own personal safety,” said Snell. “Who better than you to make decisions about your safety?”

On Oct. 29 from 6-8 p.m., Eastern held Take Back the Night, a march, rally and speak-out for survivors and allies of sexual assault and other forms of interpersonal violence. Take Back the Night is an international event and non-profit organization with the mission of ending sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual abuse and all forms of sexual violence.  

“Intimate partner violence, sexual violence and stalking are a huge problem in this country, causing victims, as well as witnesses and bystanders, in every community to suffer incalculable pain and loss,” said Starsheemar Byrum, coordinator of Eastern’s Unity Wing and SAIV-RT. “It is important that we come together and take action on spreading the word and educating each other about these issues.”

The event has grown significantly from prior years, with a line of students outside of the Student Center Theatre wanting to support survivors and share their stories. “It is incredibly moving to see so many people show up to support survivors of violence,” said a student who shared her experience with the crowd. “When survivors speak out, even despite immense fear, they put a face and a story behind issues that are often shrouded in statistics or silenced altogether. It is an extremely courageous thing for anyone to do.” 

Support persons from Eastern’s SAIV-RT, Women’s Center, Counseling and Psychological Services, and Police Department attended the event to inform students of available resources and stand in solidarity with survivors of trauma.

For the Clothesline Project, survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence made t-shirts to show support for those impacted by interpersonal violence.

Eastern also collaborated with multiple local organizations and non-profits to increase the network of support for students. Sexual assault crisis counselors and advocates from the Sexual Assault Crisis Center of Eastern Connecticut (SACCEC) were also in attendance, including college advocate Allison Occhialini, who offered support to survivors who shared their stories.

SACCEC is a private, non-profit agency offering free and confidential services to victims of sexual assault and abuse through crisis intervention, advocacy, counseling and prevention, and community education.

Representatives from the United Services Domestic Violence Program also attended to offer services and words of encouragement to students who may be struggling with or know someone in a domestic violence situation.

United Services provides the only domestic violence shelters and services in Northeastern Connecticut. They offer a wide array of services designed to respond to the needs of domestic violence victims and their children throughout their journey to become free of abuse.

Although Take Back the Night is usually an annual program held in April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Eastern’s community united to offer the event in October as well in commemoration of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. “We wanted to offer the program again this fall because we all have a role in hearing survivors and ending interpersonal violence on campus,” said Byrum.

As a visual display of survivor support, Eastern also launched the Clothesline Project. Displayed from Oct. 25-31, the project displays shirts with messages and illustrations designed by survivors of sexual assault, dating violence and domestic violence. The purpose of the project is to increase awareness, destabilize stereotypes about “victims,” celebrate survivor strength and to provide another avenue to courageously break the silence that often surrounds these experiences.