Tuition Increase and Job Cuts for Fiscal Year 2010
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
At the state and university levels, decreasing hours of pay and the
amount of positions
held in general are being
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
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
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,
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
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.
Causes WestConn Fright
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.
assignment to an “outbreak” in about
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
“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
“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,”
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
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
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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
“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
according to the United States Department of Veteran Affairs’
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
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
“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.
website can be accessed at
your Writing Skills in Berkshire Hall
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.
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
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
“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
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.