Tuesday, May19th 2009 Edition

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Tuition Increase and Job Cuts for Fiscal Year 2010

Craig Donofrio

WestConn’s budget concerns will be directly affecting student
wallets next year. The tuition rate for the fiscal year of 2010 has been increased, and university and state officials
are making sure that every
dollar is wisely spent.
“We’re feeling the pinch across the board,” said Mark Case, the Director of Administrative
Services. Case also stressed that “no department in particular” at WestConn has been individually targeted
for reassessment.
At the state and university levels, decreasing hours of pay and the amount of positions
held in general are being
looked at.
A retirement incentive plan is set to be passed by the Connecticut
senate. The plan’s main goal is to entice state employees over the age of 55 to retire by offering them additional
Additionally, three administrative
positions will be cut from fiscal year 2010. No names or positions undergoing
evaluation have been released.
Furlough days for faculty, or unpaid days of non-required attendance, have increased from one day of this current fiscal year to three days for the 2010 fiscal
“They’re doing everything they can for it [the dates of furlough days] to have a minimal impact on students,”
said the Director of Student Centers and Student
Life, Dr. Paul Simon.
When asked if faculty members are making sacrifices
because of budget cuts, he used himself as an example. Since the university is no longer hiring non-essential—that is, not related to health and safety—
administrative positions if they become vacant, some faculty members are doing double duty. When former Midtown Student Center Director James Mcniff
passed away earlier this academic year, Simon filled the empty position. He remains as being the director of both the Westside and Midtown student centers.
State faculties throughout Connecticut have been under state-wide restrictions made by Governor Jodi Rell. An example of one of these restrictions is a travel ban, which prevents all Connecticut state agencies from paying for their employees’ out-of-state travel. This includes traveling for conferences, or traveling across state boards in order to check out a new computer system.
At the university level, small cutbacks have already been in effect. Most computers on campus have been set to print double-sided pages. A software program designed to monitor the heating, ventilation and air conditioning for temperature management has been developed. Small things such as brining the heat down a degree or two is one of the things that the university is doing to curb costs.
“We’re doing small things you wouldn’t even notice”
to cut costs, said Charles P. Spiridon, the Associate
Vice President for Human Resources at WestConn.
Not all areas are being cut back on, though; the carpets in Pinney Hall are scheduled to be reupholstered,
said Laughran.
When queried, a University Computing (UC) worker who answered the UC front desk phone on Friday denied knowing of any budget cuts that would affect WestConn’s computer technology before
hanging up.
Last year the annual tuition rate for a commuter student was $7,088. That has been increased by 5.3 percent, up to an official number of $7,426. The average
annual number of an instate dorming resident will be $17,174, up from this year’s average rate of $16,281: a 5.5 percent increase. Instate graduate students
will pay $8,382 next year, up from this year’s $7,951 annual tuition rate. These numbers were obtained
directly from Sean Loughran, the Director of Fiscal Services.
“It will be challenging over the next couple of years,” said Case.

“Bubonic” Blog
Causes WestConn Fright

Richard Kokinchak
Staff Writer

A WestConn student died of the bubonic plague recently, or at least that was what some faculty were led to believe a few weeks ago.
For Dr. Elizabeth Cohen’s News Writing Course, student Ilyse Weinstein wrote a fake obituary stating that she had died from a rare case of the bubonic plague.
a class
assignment to an “outbreak” in about
24 hours.
Weinstein wrote in her false obituary: “Ilyse was suddenly struck with the, once thought to be dormant, bubonic plague while studying in her New York home. Doctors were unable
to determine the cause of the rare flare up of this medieval
disease, also known as the black death.”
The bubonic plague has not existed for centuries, but apparently
some people at the student affairs office were concerned.
“I picked the bubonic plague because it seemed ridiculous,”
Weinstein explained in a phone interview. The blog was on blogspot.com, a popular
blogging website. Weinstein
received a phone call one Sunday evening from the WestConn Student Affairs Office.
“They told me they were so glad to here from me and that I was alive,” said Weinstein, “I was confused because how could someone believe that I truly had died from the bubonic
According to Weinstein, the person who contacted her on the phone said that about 10 people were searching for her.
“That’s just ridiculous because
I don’t even live on campus; how would they find me?” said Weinstein.
“I found the whole thing a little
distressing at first, then hilarious,”
said professor Cohen in an email.
“I was contacted by Walter Bernstein, who had already figured
out it was not real. I also spoke briefly with President James Schmotter about the incident. Apparently he never took it too seriously, his was the voice of reason...

c’mon- bubonic plague? He apparently
told the concerned parties...But what I did find positively spooky was right after the faux plague we got hit with REAL swine flu! Wow. Talk about prescience, Ilyse should take up palmistry,” wrote Cohen.
“President Schmotter said that this was impossible and that if it had happened, WestConn’s
police department would have already been informed,”
reiterated Weinstein.
In the end, everyone came to their senses and realized that Weinstein was in fact alive and well and had no died from the ancient medieval disease. Weinstein said that Professor Cohen’s next lecture will be on the power of posting information
on the internet.

“Professor Cohen told me this was a situation that she would never forget,” said Weinstein.
It was also an educational experience. The Echo asked Cohen what this event told her about the influence of blogs.
“Nothing you put online is private. Ever,” answered Cohen.
“We live in an era of rapid
communication, so fast it makes your head spin. From a class assignment to an “outbreak’
in about 24 hours. Amazing. With newspapers perishing and Google a daily activity, blogs are the future—like it or not.”

New Housing Contract Raises Ethical Questions

Dan Ravizza
Special to The Echo

The end of the spring semester
is when WestConn Resident Assistants (RAs) and Academic Resource Mentors (ARMs) are to renew their contract for the following semester.
In the wake of recent financial downturn, the Housing
and Resident Life office has modified the 2009-2010 RA/ARM contract to include more desk hours and program activities. The contract was released to all RA and ARMs last Tuesday.
Among the new controversial
rules on the 2009-2010 Resident Assistant Agreement, obtained last Thursday, is the agreement to submit information
for “written approval” for “any additional employment outside of [the] RA position, and any extra-curricular activities
such as varsity teams, intramurals,
clubs, etc.” and “to complete [the] responsibilities as RA, I understand that I may be denied permission for the activity” and also approval for registering for more than one night course.
“I see this as a breach of privacy,” said Ethan Breitling who doubles as Student Government
Association (SGA) vice president and a Newbury Hall RA.
“I fully support the intent of this clause. In my opinion [it is] to make sure that the RAs are not in violation of their duties because of other commitments
of time. However, the way it is written it requires permission which really means you have to tell your superiors everything you are involved in other than classes and the RA position. What if an RA is in a hate group or Alcoholics
Anonymous?” said Ethan Breitling.
According to the contract, students would apparently have to submit that information
to Resident Directors.
The new contract also requires
eight hall programs RA instead of the previous four. This has raised concerns over the issue of overworking RAs, which could affect their jobperformance.
A two-year RA, who wished to remain anonymous in fear that his or her comments could potentially hurt his or her chances at attaining the same job next semester, said: “because there is eight [programs]
instead of four, I feel it might detract from the quality.
I feel we [should] do more quality programs that had a little
bit more funding or a little bit more commitment.”
SGA president and graduate student Edmund Breitling had similar concerns.
“The contract also asks for more programs which will be good for the students. I would just like to make sure that quantity will not affect quality,”
said Edmund Breitling.
In addition to more programs,
RAs are required to take an additional five hours of desk work. This places them at seven hours a week at the desk.
“It’s definitely going to have an adverse effect on people who work the desk. Even if you split up that time to an hour a day, it’s still going to take time away from other activities, or time spent studying,
or time spent at work,” said the anonymous RA.
As more responsibility is being placed on the RAs and ARMs, the powers of the residential staff are being expanded.
RAs and ARMs are required to secure written approval
from Resident Directors
before committing to extra
or co-curricular activities.
Tuesday’s closed door meeting
explained the changes in the contract to all new and returning hires. Ron Mason, Director of Housing and Resident
Life, is issuing no comment
at this time. Maribeth Griffin, Director of Residential
Programs and staff was unavailable for comment.
“We just would have liked to have seen the contract soon and possibly had representation
as it was being rewritten for this year,” said Ethan Breitling.
The SGA is aware of the potential impact this new contract
may have on students.
“The SGA is ever vigilant in its goal to help improve student
life at WCSU. I would like to encourage the entire student body to email me with concerns that they may have so that we can work together towards a solution,” said President Edmund Breitling
An extension to sign this contract
has been given to all potential
RAs until this Tuesday, May 19.


New G.I. Bill may Entice Veterans to Return to College

Craig Donofrio

The United States Office of Veteran’s Affairs and the Department
of Defense recently formulated a new benefit package
for soldiers who served after
9/11. Named the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, it offers more money for housing and tuition to veterans
than the last G.I. bill.
WestConn is an approved university whose students will receive funding from the new bill. Some of the interest generated
from the bill has to do with an increase in Basic Allowance
for Housing (BAH).
A maximum of $2,275 will be allocated for BAH, at WestConn, according to WestConn’s
Veterans Affairs Coordinator
Brian Coppola.

“It’s a lot more money, let’s put it that way,” said Coppola, who was very pleased with the bill.
Like most numbers in the bill, that housing dollar amount is contingent on how much time served.
To take full benefit of the plan, a soldier will have to have served after 9/11 for 36 months, or “at least 30 continuous
days on active duty and must be discharged due to service-connected disability,”
according to the United States Department of Veteran Affairs’ official website.
The lowest amount offered is 40 percent of the benefit package
given to soldiers with an accumulated serving time of 90 days to six months. From there, the total amount of benefit
money offered increases by about 10 percent every additional six months of time served.
An education counselor stationed
in the Veteran Affairs Regional Office at Buffalo, NY, spoke about the bill over the phone.
“A veteran who takes all online classes won’t receive basic housing benefits,” said the counselor, who used this example to show that the new bill is not guaranteed to be better than the last G.I Bill in every aspect.

However, for those students who are eligible to take advantage
of the bill’s BAH, the new G.I Bill is a relief.
“It’s definitely better than the last bill,” said ex-marine and Iraq War veteran Timothy
Joseph, who is currently a WestConn senior majoring in biochemistry.
“I was getting about $250 a month before, and now I’ll be getting a lot more. The BAH really helps me out. It’s long overdue, and I’m glad the government is doing this for the troops,” said Joseph.
Coppola said that there are “20-30 new veterans coming” to WestConn next fall.
“Some guys are coming back to school thanks to this bill…It’s great,” said Coppola.
The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill becomes
effective August 1, 2009. Veterans must apply for the bill to receive its benefits; the Veteran’s Department is accepting
applications. For more information, the Veteran’s Affairs
Office at WestConn can be reached at 837-8587. The Buffalo Department of Veterans
Affairs Regional Office can be reached at 1-888-442-4551; press numeral 1 and then 5 to speak directly to an education counselor. The official
website can be accessed at www.gibill.va.gov.

Hone your Writing Skills in Berkshire Hall

John Coleman
News Editor

Are you suffering an insurmountable
case of writers block? Is your senior thesis deadline fast approaching, and you still find yourself on page three? If so, then WestConn’s Writing Lab is right down your alley!
Located on the first floor of Berkshire Hall in room 106, the Writing Lab offers WestConn students aid in any number of areas. Grammar, brainstorming,
paper revisions and journaling
are all proudly advertised
on the Lab’s subsection of the University’s webpage, www.wcsu.edu/writinglab.
The Writing Lab is open to help students five days a week, and it offers free tutoring to the student body.
“Our writing consultants — a team of friendly graduate and undergraduate students — read and respond to drafts, giving the writers advice and guidance
as they plan, organize, and revise academic papers. The consultants also teach students
strategies for generating ideas,” said Dr. Patrick Ryan, Assistant Professor of Writing and the advisor to the Writing Lab.
“We help organize essays and reports, and help with editing and proofreading; but the consultants will not write, revise, edit, or proofread students’
papers for them.”
Each semester WestConn hires six or seven graduate students to help at the Lab as assistants. In addition, two undergraduate students are brought on board to help out as Writing Consultants.
“All of the graduate assistants
are master’s students in English literature or professional
writing,” said Ryan.
“The undergraduate tutors are juniors or seniors whohave been recommended by their professors
as exemplary writers.”
Kevin DeNunzio, an undergraduate, worked at the Lab last semester.
“Somewhere down the line, I see myself
being a teacher, and working with students in the Writing Lab helped me gain some perspective,” wrote DeNunzio
in an email to The Echo.
“I enjoyed helping students construct and edit their papers. Both student and tutor
learn in the process, which is healthy of course. If anyone is interested in becoming
a teacher of English or writing, they should work in the Writing Lab. I’d like to work there again, schedule permitting.”
The Writing Lab annually conducts 700-800 tutoring sessions annually.
“To gain maximum benefit from a session,
a student should make an appointment
and bring a draft of the paper at least three or four days before the writing assignment
is due,” said Ryan.
In addition to providing contact information, the website of the Writing Lab also provides helpful links for writing and developing papers.
Ryan concluded, “Many students see tutoring
as remedial work; however, strong writers who want to hone their craft derive great benefit
from working with our writing consultants in the Lab.”
For more information of WestConn’s Writing Lab, contact Patrick Ryan at RyanP@wcsu.edu, visit their website, or call (203) 837 – 8728.



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