Letter to the Editor: UConnPIRG's Affordable Textbooks campaign

A fresh semester can seem great to students until they see what textbooks they need, especially if the course is required.

On the first day of my required Organic Chemistry class, my professor presented the syllabus and told the class that we were required to purchase a course package priced at $400. This is a problem countless students face without a choice in the matter. Students can either excel in class and burden themselves financially or risk poor performance.

Another common problem students face is bundled class materials. The only way to get the workbook or access code included in bundled class materials is by buying a brand new textbook. This eliminates student options of used or rented books and was created by publishing companies to harm those markets. Enter open textbooks.

Open textbooks are published under an open license, and are accessible online for free and in print at a lower cost than traditionally published textbooks. Open textbooks can be remixed by professors or combined with other open textbooks to create a custom book.

The result of adopting open textbooks is students can learn with high quality peer-reviewed materials without the barriers of cost and professors can create the perfect book for their class. Additionally, students will not be placed in the uncomfortable position of choosing between their grades and their finances.

The cost of textbooks is increasing at over three times the rate of inflation, contributing to the rising cost of attending college. We need to take course materials costs seriously to keep college affordable.


Response to Editorial: Integration magnet schools, yet another desegregation failure

Dear Editorial Board,

Over the last three years, I have had the opportunity to work alongside and learn from community members pursuing educational justice in Hartford and their partners from across the country. The issues involved in school segregation, integration, and equity are complex, and those who dedicate themselves to addressing them face many obstacles and frustrations caused by past and current racism and white supremacy embedded in our educational system. It is far easier to stand on the sidelines and criticize such efforts, as you did in your 12/4 editorial on the topic of school integration in Hartford, than to critically and productively engage in the process of seeking solutions. I was startled to read the headline of the piece, declaring the efforts a failure, and further dismayed to read the incomplete and misleading content.

The Connecticut Supreme Court decision of 22 years ago referred to in your editorial is the landmark Sheff v. O’Neill school desegregation case filed by families in and around Hartford to raise up the rights of Hartford public school students who were denied an education equal to their peers in suburban school districts due to segregation and economic disparities. The Regional School Choice Office lottery that was mentioned in the editorial is undoubtedly flawed, and the plaintiffs in the Sheff case continue to litigate with the state on this and other deficiencies in delivering on their responsibility to all Hartford students. One point that should be made here is that the “empty seats" issue is not caused by the 75% integration goal, but rather the failure of the state to fund and expand the capacity of magnet schools to meet the demand for them.

With the current lawsuit, Robinson v. Wentzell, challenging the lottery admissions system and potentially threatening the progress that has been made for quality, integrated education for Hartford students, it’s imperative that there be factual and unbiased information shared among your readers, including that Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative non-profit organization that stands for among other things opposing affirmative action, is representing the plaintiffs in this case.

My hope is that going forward the resources and platforms that we as members of the UConn community have access to will be used in a more responsible way with regard to issues of such great human importance.

Additional sources of information include: the NAACP LDF, the Sheff Movement Coalition, and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Sincerely,

Patricia O’Rourke
PhD Program, Department of Curriculum & Instruction
Neag School of Education, University of Connecticut
patricia.orourke@uconn.edu


Letter to the Editor: Towers is treasure 4

To whom it may concern,

My name is Sean Rose (CLAS ‘09), and I must say, I read the previous letter written by Stephen Winchell (CLAS ‘08) with a sense of confusion. For a moment, it seemed as if Mr. Winchell had accidentally mailed in a rough draft of one of his many bizarre, poorly written fiction novels. I mean, when you get rejected by every reputable publisher out there, I guess mailing it into the Daily Campus would be your next best option! Why not!

But upon close examination, an even darker truth emerged: this was, in fact, Mr. Winchell’s sincere response to my previous letter. The man was apparently so badly eviscerated he couldn’t reply with anything but a bunch of whiny lies. I was hoping my last letter would force him to at least take a stab at something coherent, but of course I was expecting too much from a former West resident. My bad!

I will not respond to Mr. Winchell’s ludicrous, mean-spirited lies about chauffeurs and caviar and buying grades. I guess when you never wash your clothes, eat nothing but Flamin Hot Cheetos, and sleep through almost all of your classes, you’ll assume pretty much anyone with a modicum of hygiene as being “rich enough to buy anything [they] want.”

No, Mr. Winchell, its simply called taking care of yourself. Its called taking showers, eating well, and studying. You had the money and resources to do all of these things, and you didn’t take it. Instead you holed up in filthy West all day and all night, dedicating yourself to becoming one of the most repulsive creeps Storrs Mansfield has ever witnessed. And you take pride, in this! Good lord.

As for your claim about Towers residents “weeping and wailing” that night in 2008 - what kind of nonsense is this? Perhaps those voices you heard were inside of you, Mr. Winchell. Perhaps it was your soul, crying out, begging for a more desirable vessel. A vessel that had the good sense to brush its teeth once in a while, or ingest something besides Dubra and Monster Energy Drinks.

Or, how about this - one that could admit, once and for all, that Towers beats West.

Take a hike, Winchell. Towers Rules.

Sean Rose

CLAS, 09

Letter to the Editor: Don't want higher taxes? Don't be mislead by 'tax talk'

Stefanowski says he’d ‘cut taxes’ and Lamont would ‘raise taxes.’ That’s earned him some voters’ support and has pushed others from Lamont to Oz. But Stefanowski’s narrative grossly oversimplifies how public finance works, and it can easily lead us to vote against our own interests. If we understand a few basics about public finance, we can see that even if Stefanowski ‘cut state taxes,’ it would not necessarily save us any money in the end.

Here’s the reality. States get their revenue from a few sources: about one half comes from state taxes on income, sales, and property and one third comes from federal grants. Recently, there have been dramatic reductions in federal grants to states for both education and transportation.[i] States have to make up those funds in some way, regardless of who’s in office. When states get less federal funding, they generally consider two options. The first option is to increase the state’s total tax revenue in some way. There are various ways to do this, only some of which reduce the state tax burden on working- and middle-class residents. The other option that states usually consider—and which Stefanowski seems to favor—is to cut state spending so that we ‘need’ less money. This could mean spending less state funds on education, infrastructure, and other social services. It could also mean sending less state money to municipalities. Both options put more pressure on municipalities who are often left with little choice but to raise local property tax rates in order to keep their communities afloat.

So, even if Stefanowski gives the average resident a state ‘tax cut,’ we might just face higher municipal property taxes or the indirect costs of decreased services, like car expenses (for damages caused by our poorly maintained roads) and much more. In either case, CT’s working- and middle-class residents would pay the price. In that sense, saying he’ll ‘cut taxes’ is like a salesperson saying “Here’s a great deal: you pay nothing and I’ll give you nothing!”

The average CT resident doesn’t need just any ‘tax cut.’ We need specific kinds of reforms that shift the total tax burden off working- and middle-class residents without sacrificing things like education, transportation, health, and other social services. The phrases ‘tax cut’ and ‘tax increase’ say nothing of substance. They don’t tell us anything about who will or won’t be paying or how they’ll be doing so. They conceal more than they reveal and they rely on our fear to fill in the details. We can’t let them mislead us.

Rachael D. Stephens

Ph.D. Student, University of Pennsylvania, Anthropology & Education

M.A., Teachers College, Columbia University, Anthropology & Education

Email: rstep@upenn.edu

[i] https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/fact-sheets/2017/12/federal-spending-priorities-shifted-toward-health-over-past-decade, https://www.cbpp.org/research/state-budget-and-tax/federal-aid-to-state-and-local-governments

[ii] https://www.pgpf.org/chart-archive/0053_defense-comparison


Letter to the Editor: Re: "Lamont is a labor union lapdog, and this should concern you"

To the Editor of the Daily Campus,

Jacob Marie’s opinion piece (Oct 29), smearing both unions and gubernatorial nominee Ned Lamont as “a labor union lapdog”, is both misleading and misinformed. Marie blames Connecticut’s fiscal problems on an “unholy marriage” between labor and the Democratic Party while failing to identify himself as Director of Political Engagement for the UConn College Republicans. Nor does he reveal that his “facts” come from the anti-union, libertarian Yankee Institute. Marie says unions have “poured huge amounts of money” into Lamont’s campaign, but he ignores the far greater amount the Republican Governor’s Association (with unlimited corporate donations) is spending for Lamont’s opponent.

To their credit, Democrats like Lamont understand that unions, though collective bargaining, built the American middle class and are essential for preserving it. And that – not some phony conspiracy or imagined corruption – is the reason union members tend to vote Democratic.

Let’s set the record straight. First, Connecticut’s fiscal woes don’t stem from “unsustainable salaries and benefits given to state employees”. The real problem is debt. For decades, Connecticut promised retirement benefits to public employees without saving a dime to cover them; when it finally did start saving, it raided the pension fund. The result is a legacy of $100 billion in unfunded pension obligations. The current cost of benefits has nothing to do with it.

Marie also fails to explain that state employees have, through collective bargaining, bailed Connecticut out of three budget crises since 2008. Concessions negotiated in 2017 will save Connecticut $1.57 billion in the current biennium alone and $25 billion over 20 years. In the current biennium, state employees on average gave up $30,000 each. Yet Marie calls the 2017 agreement “irresponsible”.

Third, Marie’s claim that “state employees make anywhere from $25,000 to $40,000 more than their private sector counterparts” is false or seriously misleading. If we’re talking salaries, then it’s just false; private sector salaries are higher, especially for employees with advanced degrees. State jobs do tend to come with better benefits, but that difference has narrowed as state benefits have been “leveled down” (through negotiations).

The real issue isn’t whether public sector benefits are too high; its whether private sector benefits are too low. Big corporations, eager to please shareholders, have been reducing benefits for years; many small employers offer none at all. Jobs that used to provide excellent benefits no longer do, and the reason is that corporations have nearly destroyed collective bargaining.

Sincerely,

Thomas Bontly

President, UConn-AAUP,

Michael Bailey,

Executive Director, UConn-AAUP

Letter to the Editor: Towers is Treasured 3

To whom it may concern,

My name is Sean Rose, and I’m an alumnus of the University of Connecticut (CLAS ‘09). Once again, I would like to register my disappointment with the Daily Campus for publishing the most recent letter by Stephen Winchell (CLAS ‘08). I was hoping my last letter would put and end to this nonsense once and for all. It did not. Instead the fine young students of UConn were all treated to one of Mr. Winchell’s notorious anti-grab ‘n go screeds. I could debunk his last letter point by point, but instead, I’d like to address the man directly.

Mr. Winchell, is this what you want? Ok. Sure. I’ll play your game.

Here’s something Mr. Winchell won’t tell you: for every year he lived on the Storrs campus, Towers was his first choice. Quite frankly, he LOVED Towers. Often I’d spot him stalking near Vinton Hall in the evenings, staring up at the lights coming out of the windows with awe and envy. And every year, when it came time to request dorms for the next semester, he’d request Towers first. And when he inevitably was rejected, year in and year out, he’d go to his second choice: South. And then down the list: Alumni, North, McMahon, East, Hilltop… down and down he’d go, until he finally hit the bottom of the barrel, the absolute last on his (and everyone’s) list. West Campus.

Why would this happen? Why would Mr. Winchell get rejected from Towers - and every other dorm on campus - year after year? Simply put: he wasn’t good enough. He was a notorious boor, a layabout, a poor student. His beliefs were strange and - I’m being as charitable as I can be here - his personal hygiene was questionable. He was not liked by anybody on campus, and he only lived in West because they were the only dorm foolish enough to accept him. I guess when you’re already a disgusting stink pit, accepting one more piece of trash doesn’t make much of a difference!

Mr. Winchell, if you want to continue this correspondence, be warned: this isn’t the last story I’ve got on you. I’ve got enough dirt to last me for weeks and weeks to come. You want a war? You’ve got one.

Thank you for your time,

Sean Rose
CLAS, 09

Letter to the Editor: The case for Dave Coderre for State Senate

Dear Editor,

I met Dave Coderre at his campaign kickoff event back in February and I was so inspired by his speech that I decided to get involved in his campaign. Since that time I’ve attended campaign events, put out signs and talked about him with friends and colleagues whenever possible. Dave is a small business owner and knows first hand how excessive taxes and government regulations are hurting the business climate in CT. Dave Coderre wants to represent all of us in Hartford and bring common sense solutions to the problems facing the 29th district. I’m voting for Dave Coderre for State Senate and I would ask you to do the same. Thank you.

Scott Antonson

Thompson, CT

860-933-9861


Letter to the Editor: UConn commits itself to Hartford with the Urban Semester

Dear Editorial Board:

As Director of UConn Hartford, I was pleased to see an editorial written by the Editorial Board in The Daily Campus highlighting the Urban Semester: an immersion opportunity available to UConn students to live and learn in Hartford and closely connect to city life for a full semester. I appreciate how the authors applauded the program and the Hartford campus as representative of UConn’s efforts to partner with the state of Connecticut and its capital city.

However, I feel compelled to also share my disappointment at the negative and monolithic characterization of Hartford in one particularly offensive statement: “Hartford is the natural choice for the state university, but its [sic] such a drab, impoverished city. In a way, though, this is to the benefit of the program. The Urban Semester does not shy away from the fact that Hartford is in dire straits.” To counter this mistaken representation of Hartford, I welcome the authors to avoid negative stereotyping and habitual fallback representations with deficit depictions of doom, gloom, and hopelessness. Instead, I invite them to appreciate our state capital as a historical and global city rich in wide ranging human stories and economic and cultural resources. UConn Hartford and the Urban Semester emerge from and are part of these assets and our students greatly benefit from them.

Hartford’s many nonprofits, businesses, and governmental agencies enrich our student and faculty learning through the service opportunities, internship experiences, and career options available all around us. Lively neighborhoods throughout the city bring a diverse world to the center of our state. Just recently, as an example of many similar accolades, a nationwide healthcare blog post lauded Hartford as among the “Best Cities in the Northeast for a Career in Healthcare.”

Furthermore, despite your assertion to the contrary, the University of Connecticut is an urban school: we have thousands of graduate and undergraduate students attending vibrant downtown campuses in Stamford, Waterbury, and Hartford. These locations along with UConn Avery Point deepen and broaden the university’s academic opportunities and commitments across the state.

I invite you to visit and experience the vibrancy and energy of the city and of UConn Hartford.

Sincerely,

Mark Overmyer-Velázquez, Ph.D.
Director, UConn Hartford
Professor of History and Latinx Studies
mark.velazquez@uconn.edu


Letter to the Editor: Yale Law Students underscore their intellectual intelligence

Of the many articles I have read about the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States, among the most dismaying are those that document the willingness of Yale Law School students opposed to the nomination to ignore bedrock principles of American jurisprudence, specifically due process and the presumption of innocence.

Even worse, the students have been abetted in their cavalier dismissal of these principles by spineless faculty canceling classes so these students can participate in manifestly non-academic, political demonstrations, where, if what one sees in television and reads in newspapers is accurate, the malevolent notion that Judge Kavanaugh should be presumed guilty until proven innocent is proclaimed to be the guiding principle by which disputes involving the most heinous allegations are resolved.

In graduate school at Yale many years ago, I learned from my teachers in the history department, most notably the late Henry A. Turner Jr., that to be considered seriously, arguments that are testable empirically must be corroborated by empirical evidence.

In the case of the Kavanaugh nomination, all of the evidence that exists not only fails to substantiate the allegation of rape made publicly on national television by Christine Ford; it contradicts it. But the Yale Law School students ostentatiously proclaiming their moral piety, have obviously ignored this undeniable fact, which only underscores their intellectual arrogance.

The most charitable explanation I can come up with is that they missed the classes in their courses in which these principles were taught. A less charitable interpretation is that their professors do not consider these principles applicable when Republicans and conservatives are the objects of unsubstantiated accusations.

That Senator Richard Blumenthal, himself a Yale Law School alumnus, managed to appear at a meeting of such students is especially repugnant in light of the senator's serial lies about his non-existent military service in Vietnam.

One has no choice, really, but to draw from this lamentable series of events the conclusion that these students have learned little or nothing since enrolling in Yale Law School. Should I ever need legal representation, I will make certain not to choose any of them.


Jay Bergman is Professor of History at Central Connecticut State University and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Scholar. He received his M. A. in 1972, M. Phil. in 1973, and Ph.D. in 1977, all from Yale.

Letter to the Editor: A message from the Humphrey Clinic

Dear Editor,

The Humphrey Clinic for Individual, Couple and Family Therapy closed on August 15, 2018.

Humphrey Clinic Marriage and Family Therapy students, staff and faculty members would like to thank our clients, the UConn community and the local community for learning with us and sharing over 30 years of healing and hope. We’ve had the privilege of fostering new possibilities and change with a special focus on strength-based, whole family treatment models. We cherish having witnessed our clients grow and flourish along with us. We are proud that throughout our history and even through the closing process, that we endeavored to provide the utmost care to our clients and students.

As society gains more understanding of the importance of supporting mental health and well-being, it will be important for all of us, as we disperse and move to new locations, to advocate for continued awareness, action and intervention for individuals across family and community systems. We have faith that the Humphrey Clinic will continue its impact and legacy on a local, national and international level through its web of former faculty, students and clients. We encourage the UConn community to care for themselves using the variety of quality services available in the area. Former clients of the clinic seeking records from the Humphrey Clinic should contact 860-486-3692 and leave a message detailing what information you would like and your phone number.

UConn students in need of counseling services or referrals should contact Counseling and Mental Health Services at 860-486-4705.

Community members can find information through their insurance for therapists who are paneled with their provider.

Thank you again,

Kevin Hynes

Ph.D., Marriage and Family Therapy

The Humphrey Clinic and the UConn Marriage and Family Therapy Program


Letter to the Editor: Towers is treasured 2

To whom it may concern:

My name is Sean Rose, and I’m an alumnus of the University of Connecticut (CLAS ‘09). With all due respect, I’m going to have to forgo the usual introductory pleasantries and get down to brass tacks here: I’m writing to you, with grave concern, about the letter you published by a Mr. Stephen Winchell (CLAS ‘08) the other week.

Mr. Winchell went out of his way to applaud the Daily Campus editorial staff for publishing my last letter, which he memorably deemed a “screed” (very ironic, considering his boorish, clunky writing, but I digress). Unfortunately, I can’t extend the same courtesy. In my view, the Daily Campus committed an act of grave irresponsibility in publishing Mr. Winchell’s last two letters. You are enabling the views of a man who is delusional beyond hope.

I mean, what else can you say about a man arguing that West is better than Towers? Anyone with any objective sense will tell you that pristine Towers is far, far superior to the trashy hole that is West. Mr. Winchell himself even admits as much, saying: ”Towers is no doubt an ornament on the crown of UConn.” Yet even after copping to this - and going on to admit that West has no dining hall or grab ‘n go, all but confessing that Towers is a better dorm - he somehow still comes to the ludicrous conclusion that West is better because “it has heart.” Hilarious, considering that I can’t imagine any better evidence against West residents having heart - or good sense! - than Mr. Winchell’s awful letters.

I want to make this clear: there is no “war” between the dorms of Towers and West, except for inside the twisted mind of Mr. Winchell. His signing of his last letter with “West Wins” should tell you as much. Why is there no rivalry? Because Towers is a better dorm than West. This is accepted fact, as anyone on the Storrs campus can attest. To continue to give Mr. Winchell a platform in your editorial page is massively irresponsible, and I urge you, Daily Campus editorial team, to put a stop to this once and for all. Do not publish any more of Mr. Winchell’s nonsense. Let the Truth Win.

With warm regards-

Sean Rose
CLAS ‘09


Letter To The Editor: The administration's side of the parking debate

Dear Editor: 

Many students are aware that UConn adjusted its parking structure and shuttle bus routes for the fall semester.  

Although it might seem like these changes were made randomly, a number of considerations were factored in, including employment contracts, student safety, vehicle congestion and construction. 

We now realize that the way these changes were communicated to our students could have and should have been better.  However, we are confident that these adjustments have improved parking and transportation services for the student body as a whole. 

We will be meeting with students this week to further discuss the issues, as well as holding few more meetings though this semester with a group of students as mechanisms to improve communication.   

Graduate assistants were allowed to buy staff parking permits for the first time this year as part of their new labor contract with the University. This prompted the need to adjust some areas that were previously used for student parking to be reassigned for other uses. 

However, there was no loss in the number of student parking spaces on campus. 

The perception that there was a decrease in student parking comes from the reassignment of spaces and the restriction of overnight parking in commuter lots, which was done to ensure parking access to students who truly travel to and from campus each day. 

In terms of the new bus routes, we are evaluating ridership counts and bus tracking technologies to improve the experiences of our customers and the accuracy of our data.  

Another element in determining the new bus routes was to minimize traffic in the area of Jim Calhoun Way and Hillside Road, which can be a very congested and dangerous intersection. In addition to having fewer buses in that area, we also encourage all Facilities Operations employees not to drive vehicles in that area. 

Finally, it’s important to understand the long-range traffic planning that has taken place. We have eliminated the left turn from North Eagleville Road onto Glenbrook Road with exceptions for emergency vehicles and service deliveries. In the future, the entrance/exit of the North Garage also needs to be reconfigured along with the intersection of Alumni Drive and Hillside Road to allow for better traffic flow. 

Thank you for your patience and understanding. If you have any questions or comments relating to this topic, please feel free to contact us. 

Sincerely, 

Michael Jednak 

Associate Vice President of Facilities Operations