Hands Up! Don’t Shoot! At Eastern

(From The Campus Lantern – December 4, 2014)

Alexandra Andre / Eastern Connecticut State University

Alexandra Andre / Eastern Connecticut State University

On Wednesday, November 19, two Eastern Sociology majors, Alexandra Andre and Lindsay Emblidge, held a daylong series of events on the topic of police brutality as part of their senior seminar project. The first part of the event was a speech by Professor Westberry, of the Sociology Department, on the subject of minorities and police brutality. After the speech, Lieutenant Madera from Campus Safety touched upon the Eastern Police Department’s perspective of the issue. Finally, Dr. Lugo, Department Chair for the Sociology Department, spoke about the history behind police brutality as well as the different types.

After the speeches, there was a march on campus to raise awareness on the topic of police brutality. Participants held signs with sayings such as “Police are meant to protect,” and “Minorities have rights too.”

The timing of the project was perfect in that it was held the week before Darren Wilson was announced as not being indicted for the shooting of Michael Brown. Contrary to Eastern’s typically apolitical atmosphere, there have been multiple peaceful protests on campus in wake of the recent and ongoing events of Ferguson, in addition to Andre and Emblidge’s march. One peaceful protest, which was organized by the Black Student Union, took place late on the night of the indictment; the second took place the day after and was organized by M.A.L.E.S.

“We live in the time of Twitter and Facebook. In this era of social media, events are in the spotlight for a week or two, and then people lose interest shortly after,” Emblidge stated. She continued, “We want to tell people that this is not a dying issue. It is only getting worse and we have to keep the momentum going in this social movement against police brutality to enact the changes we want to see in society.”

The panel illustrated that the killing of black males ages 18-35 by police officers is a reflection of the bigger problem of police brutality and institutional racism in the United States. One of the most important grassroots steps that need to be taken to work to solve this problem is heightened knowledge of these issues. With the presence of such politically involved students, Eastern is doing its part in raising awareness in our campus community.

“I don’t think people understand why the people in Ferguson are protesting,” stated Andre, “It’s not just about Mike Brown, it’s the overall picture.”

Autism Awareness at Eastern

(From The Campus Lantern – November 13, 2014) 

Jennifer Boylan / Eastern Connecticut State University

Jennifer Boylan / Eastern Connecticut State University

On Tuesday, November 4, the Office of AccessAbility Services (OAS) hosted an Autism Awareness event in the Betty Tipton Room. Peer-mentors (OAS interns) who work with students on campus with autism and forms of social anxiety ran the event; tables were facilitated by the interns, a PowerPoint was presented, and two speeches were given throughout the event. Among the activities that were available for guests were arts and crafts, video games, and trivia. There were also giveaways, such as autism awareness t-shirts, and free food for participants.

The main purpose of the event was to inform the Eastern community on autism and to promote the services that the OAS offers. The OAS is located below Health Services on campus and its “services are designed to meet the unique educational needs of students with documented permanent and temporary disabilities such as AD/HD, ASD, learning disabilities, psychiatric disabilities, deafness and hearing impairments, blindness and visual impairments, and physical disabilities.” The office can be contacted at (860) 465-0189.

“English at Work” Panel

(From The Campus Lantern – November 13, 2014) 

Tom Hurlbut / Eastern Connecticut State University

Tom Hurlbut / Eastern Connecticut State University

On Wednesday, October 22, the Eastern Connecticut State University English Department hosted the “English at Work” Panel. ENG 202, Introduction to English Studies teaching assistants Mikayla Zagata, Ryan Bahan, and Jessica Link, moderated the panel. Panelists included Dr. Elsa M. Núñez, president of the university; Michael Palumbo from the Center for Instructional Technology at Eastern; Starsheemar Byrum, coordinator of Eastern’s Women’s Center and the Sexual Assault & Interpersonal Violence Response Team (SAIV-RT); Christopher Drewry, Director of the Academic Services Center; and William Bisese, Director the Academic Services Center.

The panelists were first asked what English studies meant to them. Dr. Núñez and Polumbo agreed that the study of words is important in reading, writing, and transferring ideas from one person to another.

When asked why they chose to study English, the panelists discussed professors and teachers who inspired them to follow their dreams. Bisese spoke of an academic advisor who helped him find his passion for English studies in college; coincidently, he was also moved to work in advising. Dr. Núñez shared a personal anecdote from college in which a professor helped her improve her writing in an English course so much that she took up an English major. Byrum explained that English professors at Eastern helped her when she was feeling homesick in the beginning of college; it was that faculty-student relationship that inspired her to study English.

The moderators then asked what the most important lesson that the panelists learned as English majors. Polumbo talked about the “superpowers” that he learned as an English major: the ability to convey messages and the power to learn and teach. Drewry stressed that the English major teaches students to successfully read others’ points of views and articulate their own opinions. Bisese discussed the power of the written word and the importance of punctuation.

Although each panelist is very successful in their careers, there were still parts of the English major that were difficult when they were in college. Byrum talked about the difficulty she had in Dr. Tapia’s “Modern American Grammar” class here at Eastern. With a laugh, she said she still could not diagram sentences to this day.

Although each panelist went into different careers, each of them still uses the skills they gained as English majors in their everyday lives. Dr. Núñez discussed how she is given more opportunities because of her English skills; she is skilled at and enjoys writing, so she is a valuable member of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system.

There was also a discussion of different career opportunities that are available to English majors. Dr. Núñez mentioned that English majors are likely to be hired for marketing and advertising jobs because of their critical thinking and writing skills; she encouraged students to apply to entry-level jobs that may not suit traditional English majors. Drewry agreed that the options are limitless for English majors. On the subject of the idea that English majors will have low-paying jobs, he reassured students that some of the most financially stable people that he knows were English majors.

The panel ended with individual questions for each panelist. Dr. Núñez talked about how she went from being a linguist to being the president of a university; Palumbo discussed how he “moved up in the ranks” and became an editor in the publishing industry; Byrum spoke about how Eastern changed from when she was an undergraduate and her appreciation for the university; Drewry touched upon advice that he gives to English students in his work as an advisor; Bisese gave advice to students who may want to study English in graduate school. Students in attendance walked away that night with a variety of stories that they could potentially apply to their own career.