A Graveyard of Dreams

The deck we built this summer was

A big hit with my friends; it seemed the perfect place

To have a smoke or two or ten while we thought

 Far too passively, ignoring just how rapidly the cancer

Acclimated; we probably should’ve waited more than 15 years to start

‘Cause now we tear apart not just our lungs but also dreams of

Having a fresh start; breathing through lungs not bogged down with the scars of tar.

Dreams of staircases not feeling like mountains,

Dreams of breath feeling relaxed instead of labored,

Of hearing “good” on your bill of health’s paper,

Of smelling like fresh pomegranate from soothing body washes

Instead of prematurely banging nails into our coffins

Of having a beautiful singing voice,

Of being the tennis team’s first choice.

Voluntarily we murder our dreams

They die in the form of cigarette butts, tossed over the deck railing

Suspended in the blackness of night

They fall

Into a mass grave

Where their fire dies, and turns to ash.

Bruce Jenner Sits Down in 2-hour Interview with Diane Sawyer on Friday Regarding Gender Transformation on ABC

Some people know the 65-year-old for his Olympic achievements while others love him as the level-headed, golf-loving stepfather on the hit reality show Keeping up with the Kardashians. But it came as a surprise to all when Bruce Jenner started to transform in a way that resembled a woman. From growing out his hair to allegedly shaving down his Adam’s apple, for months rumors swirled around the gold medalist’s appearance. All of that was finally put to rest Friday night when Jenner sat down with Diane Sawyer for an emotional two-hour interview and said, “I am a woman.”

Jenner had been married three times and has 10 children, including stepchildren. The first person he told out of all of them was his son, Brandon, 33, a musician, from second wife Linda Thompson. Jenner admitted that everyone processed the news differently, and among his stepdaughters, Kim Kardashian, was the most accepting.

 “They [Kanye West and Kim] were talking about it and Kanye says to Kim, ‘Look, I can be married to the most beautiful woman in the world, and I am. I can have the most beautiful little daughter in the world, and I have that. But I’m nothing if I can’t be me. If I can’t be true to myself, they don’t mean anything,’” Jenner explained.

He then went on to explain the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity, having been married to women.

“Sexuality is who you are personally attracted to, what turns you on – male or female. But gender identity is how to deal with who you are as a person and your soul and who you identify with inside.”

Jenner added that he was never attracted to guys and still considers himself heterosexual.

For years Jenner had struggled with his identity, even relating back to eight or nine-years-old when he would secretly try on his mother’s dresses. “My brain is much more female than it is male,” he said. He distinctly remembered those particular moments making him feel good.

As the mayhem started to unfold a year and a half ago, Jenner confessed to contemplating suicide.

“Go into the room. Got a gun. Boom. You know? Pain is over. It’s done. You know. Go to a better place,” he thought. But such negative thoughts fortunately never came into fruition.

“I can’t do something like that. I want to know how this story ends,” Jenner followed, and has been on hormones ever since.

Jenner’s highly anticipated interview was met with praise and support not only by family and friends, but celebrities as well, including Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres. Jenner is being called brave for speaking on his decision publicly for the first time and is shedding light on the transgender community. His inspiring story as well as others from Chaz Bono and “Orange is the New Black” star Laverne Cox, raise awareness on a number of transgender issues. Suicide, murder, and racial violence continue to plague the transgender community. Media website, Mashable, reported that approximately seven transgender women were killed this year.

“I would like to work with this community to get this message out,” Jenner said.

According to E! News, an eight-part documentary series will air in the summer on its network, chronicling Jenner’s life as a transgender woman.

 “I feel like I’m gonna be OK.” Jenner said. “2015’s gonna be quite a ride.”

Writer on the Rise: Eric LaRocca

Some people dream, others work for it, and Eric LaRocca definitely works. A creative writing major here at WCSU, LaRocca has already seen plenty of success from his plays being brought to life most notably at the Hartford Stage Company to having several of his short stories published in both the United States and the United Kingdom. LaRocca has a flair for all things grotesque and “body-horror,” and his latest play “Abscission” does not stray from what he loves best.

Q: What is “Abscission” about?

A: “Abscission” is a one-act play that is set in an unnamed foreign country rampant with civil unrest after the highly fascist government had issued a mandate ordering execution to all civilians openly practicing homosexuality. The play, however, takes place in the cellar and makeshift operating theatre of a surgeon/biochemist who has since been executed by the government for aiding opponents of the regime, and follows a gruesome encounter between the surgeon’s surviving apprentice and a Soldier representing the government.

 LaRocca admits that the play is very dark with violent language and some graphic scenes. “It offers a timely commentary on similar situations currently occurring in countries such as Russia and Uganda,” he further commented. In other words, do not bring your children to see this play!

Q: Did you ever think you would be in this position?

A: To have some of my horror fiction published in the United States and England is so validating for me as a writer…It’s even more rewarding, however, to hear my words performed. Writing is such a solitary activity and it’s an incredible experience to be around the high-octane energy of directors and actors.

 LaRocca credits WCSU Professor, Oscar De Los Santos, for championing him along the way.

 “Eric has taken a number of my writing workshops in recent years. He’s one of the best student writers I’ve run across. It’s no surprise that he’s getting positive attention in the horror field. It’s well deserved. Eric writes with a contemporary lens, but the spirit in his material is classic storytelling. His horror tales are edgy and pull no punches – but they have a point. Eric has much to say about contemporary society and its problems. That’s important and largely what distinguishes him from countless others clamoring for attention in the publishing business,” stated the professor.

 Q: If you had to write a play in another genre, what would it be and why?

A: If I were to write a play in another genre, I might try comedy. It would certainly be a challenge. Comedy and horror are actually closely related, I believe. Both genres operate with the intention to illicit a reaction from the audience.

 The horror playwright went on to say how important it is that all kinds of writers belong to an organization whether it be national or local; just as long as it’s supportive of them. “Writing can be a fairly unsociable activity and writers are an intrinsically sensitive breed. It can become easy to get discouraged if you feel as though nobody is standing behind you,” he followed.

 LaRocca is currently outlining fresh ideas and hopes to finish a new one- act play by summer’s end, and of course a new batch of short stories. Be very scared!

For anyone interested in seeing “Abscission” this summer, you can check it out from July 6 to July 19! It will be running as part of Gadfly Theatre’s Final Frontier: Horror Festival in Minneapolis, MN. Go on gadflytheatre.org for more information!

“Furious 7” Review

Airplanes, skyscrapers, booty shots, oh my! When one goes to see a Fast & Furious movie, no one expects to cry. We go rather to have an awesome time and forget about the important things in life like college and relationship issues. From the ridiculous stunts to the hilarious one-liners from The Rock, it is everything you would expect from movies like this. But this installment is special. It’s the last to feature Paul Walker, whose beloved character, Brian O’Connor, alongside Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto, was central in the franchise. Walker was tragically killed in November 2013, delaying the 7th film’s production. Ultimately, the result was mind blowing. With a little bit of CGI and change to the story, the movie proved to be a success in the box office when it was released on April 3rd.

The plot? No idea! The action? Top notch! The villain? Jason Statham… enough said! And you could always rely on R&B crooner Tyrese for a laugh here and there. The theme since the very beginning has been family, and the tribute for Walker seemed fitting courtesy of flashbacks from prior Furious flicks, Wiz Khalifa’s poignant single See You Again, and a monologue by Diesel, who always looked at Walker like a brother. So expect to say “OH SHIT” a lot, laugh out loud, and shed a few tears! (Yes even grown men will cry). Furious 7 is currently “flying” in theaters!

Check it out before final exams start to take over your lives!

Get Registration Right the First Time

Evan Mills

Contributing Writer

Here at WCSU, like almost any other college, it’s important to be ready when course registration time rolls around. If you’re new to college, you may be struggling more than is necessary. There are three basic steps to follow to make your registration process simple and headache-free. Be prepared – know what it is you’ll need to do before you can register. Write it out – writing out your courses and their times can help you visualize your schedule. Follow through – always make sure you set your alarm so you don’t get locked out of a popular class prior to waking up.

     If you want registration to go smoothly for you, you should try and be as prepared as you can. Many schools require you to meet with an advisor prior to registration. At Western, it is protocol that you meet with your advisor to discuss your academic future and receive a PIN number, which you will need in order to register. Meeting with an advisor can be very informative, as they often know more about your major than you do, and can tell you what classes may not be important to take, and which ones are imperative. Sometimes students are unaware of this requirement. You are held responsible if you fail to contact your advisor and get your PIN, which can be very stress inducing if you are all set to register and are stopped by a mere six-digit number.

     The second step is to “write it out”. It is wise to visit the school’s website and look at the list of courses to see which ones are available for

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you to take. WCSU students need to visit the “BannerWeb” page to view the “Open/Close” tab, which will enable you to view all offered courses.  It would be a good idea to write down what courses you want to take and the times they are offered, and see if any other courses you need conflict with those times. Many times, students will be ready to register, realize that they accidentally chose two classes that have overlapping time slots, and are then forced to make a choice between the two. Don’t let this happen to you. Take the time to go over your proposed schedule before you register- that way, you won’t have to change it.

     The last step is to follow through. All your effort may go to waste if you sleep through your registration time. Whether it is at 12 midnight or at 7 a.m., you will definitely want to be awake for it. If you are on time, the chances of your required and desired classes being filled up by the time you register are going to be reduced. If you have been prepared, you will already have a list of the courses you plan to take, and the CRN’s or “course registration numbers” that correspond to those courses. (CRN’s are displayed along with the course name, time slot, location and instructor). A tip of advice to new students: Clicking on the CRN of a class will bring you to the course overview, giving you a detailed description of what the course curriculum entails. This will help you decide if it is a course you may enjoy. When you are ready to register, you must go online and sign into Banner and go to the “Registration Add/Drop” tab. From there, you will need to enter your CRN’s and click “submit”. This is why it’s smart to write the CRN’s down, so you’ll have them readily available for this step. After you do this, your courses should pop up in a box that reads “Web Registered” and that’s how you know you’ve completed the process. You can then take a deep, satisfied breath of accomplishment.

     It’s actually very simple, really. It comes as a struggle to many students, and very often to incoming freshman who seldom know the ropes. If you are able to be prepared, write out the information, and follow through with your registration process, you should be able to get through it very easily and will enjoy a whole semester following a well-designed class schedule, avoiding a lot of painful hair pulling in the process. Save that hair. You’ll want some to pull out during exam week.

WCSU and Fossil Fuel Development

Ryan V. Stewart

Contributing Writer

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If you follow global affairs, you will undoubtedly have come across perilous predictions of the future. It seems increasingly popular for news outlets to publish jarring forecasts of what life may be like in, say, 2030, 2050, and so forth. If you find yourself keen on reading about the future, you may also find that, among these projections, there is one phrase in particular that stands out: “climate change.”

     From sea level rise, to droughts, floods, crop failure, and more extreme and frequent storms, climate change is one of the most pressing challenges facing our world today. And if you’ve been paying attention to the press surrounding global warming and the growing momentum of the worldwide campaign for a safe climate, you will have invariably come across a movement within the movement: fossil fuel divestment.

Fossil fuels have long been the primary focus of the world’s energy and transportation demands, and thus investment in them can be a considerably lucrative practice. They are traditionally cheap and plentiful, and boast a high EROI (energy returned on energy invested). It has been sensible for universities in particular to invest in order to boost often-inadequate endowments.

     However, we are now well aware of the hugely detrimental effects of burning fossil fuels: by changing the carbon content of the atmosphere, it traps more incoming heat from the Sun, warming the Earth’s surface. In effect the Earth is, because of human actions, exiting the relatively consistent climate of the Holocene epoch (our current geological timeframe) and quickly departing into a new, climatically volatile age. This is, by my own estimation, the greatest threat humanity has ever faced, and the definitive issue of the 21st century. To ignore this issue is to do so at great peril, and at the cost of our own quality of life and that of future generations.

     That being said, there are many actions being taken, and that can be taken, to halt the threat of a warming world. (How adequate these measures will prove, however, remains to be seen.) Some universities are beginning to take their money out of dirty fuels. Recent headlines feature various pressures being put on prestigious schools—Cambridge and Harvard, for example—to divest. Meanwhile, campaigns for university divestment are gaining more and more traction by the day, touching not only Ivy League schools but smaller, public universities as well.

     WestConn has, unsurprisingly, fallen into the fold. Fossil Free, an extensive side project of climate crusader Bill McKibben’s environmental advocacy group, 350.org, features a page on its website which tracks campus divestment campaigns, and Western has been listed on the site for several months. WCSU’s divestment petition can be found under the heading “Fossil Fuel Divestment: Colleges & Universities,” and is addressed to President Schmotter. The petition was started by Mr. Matthew Curran, who could not be reached for comment. As of April 12, 2015, it claims 17 out of 100 needed signatures. The petition calls on WCSU to divest entirely from climate-destroying fuels, making note of the disastrous consequences of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy to bring its point home. The WCSU divestment page can be found at https://campaigns.gofossilfree.org/petitions/western-connecticut-state-university.

     In an effort to elucidate the exact nature of the fossil fuel investments made by WCSU, or the collective Connecticut State Colleges & Universities (CSCU), I contacted Robert Schlesinger, Western’s Vice President for Institutional Advancement. While Schlesinger couldn’t comment on specific investments, it is appropriate to assume that CSCU maintains investments in fossil fuels, or fossil fuel-related stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and so forth. Hence, the petition featured on Fossil Free’s website is one germane to the larger divestment movement, and divesting WCSU and the CSCU system from dirty fuels is a step in the direction of climatic stability.

     As Earth Day approaches, let us, as a university and as a community, press for a future that is promising for all people, and for the planet on which we all depend.

Relay for Life barely relayed its policies (and how I practiced investigative journalism along the way)

Jordan A. Sprogis
Editor-in-Chief
Publicly held events are expected to provide basic information to the general public. This basic information includes:
  • who can attend the event
  • what the event is
  • when it is
  • where it is
  • why it is being held
  • how they can attend, such as any costs or cut-off times
Unfortunately, a very popular annual event at Western Connecticut State University (WCSU) failed to include most of this information on their most common form of advertising.

 

On the Relay for Life at WCSU Facebook page, there is one recent post that says the registration fee is $10. An article on about.com was the only other online source I could find verifying that there is a registration fee. The Relay for Life official website does not give specific information about this.
On Saturday night, I arrived to Relay for Life and the doors were locked. The event was still going on for another three hours, so I assumed that there was another entrance. Somebody was nice enough to let me inside but immediately upon entering, a member of the Student Government Association (SGA) stopped and asked me if I had registered.
“We didn’t register. We just got here,” Dakota Sarantos, the editor-in-chief of The Echo, told her.
“You have to register,” she said.
“Okay, so register us. We’ll have two wristbands.”
“You can’t register. It’s after 11 p.m.”
She went on to briefly explain that even though the event went on until 3 a.m., the cut-off time was 11 p.m. and the registration cost was $10 per person. I had no idea about this information and I wondered how many other people didn’t, either.
“If a store says they’re open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., they’re not going to stop letting people in at 5,” Dakota said to me about the issue. 
It was then that I decided to write an opinion editorial piece about the lack of information for the event.
 

 
A couple of days later, I asked a team leader at Relay, Kim Lockwood, for specifics about the registration fee and cut-off time (via online). She was very well-informed about the event and was more than happy to explain it to me. I really appreciate her response, which was done in an informative and timely manner. 
“People are required to pay the registration fee if they plan to stay (or arrive) later than 11 p.m. because of the complimentary midnight breakfast. In a lot of cases, many people who do not register either have other obligations or feel that they have spent enough time at Relay in the seven hours before that. People may also decide to register so that they can stay late enough for prize drawings,” Kim explained. 
While I better understood Relay’s policies, I still had to go out of my way and ask for specifics.
People who plan on attending should not have to seek out information like I did to attend a free event that is open to the public.
“I would go out of my way to look for more information if I was going to the dentist, not a school event,” said Tara Kijek, a junior and Studio Art major. “I would hope that all of the advertisements and information would be consistent. I shouldn’t have to go online because they didn’t put it on the poster. Not everybody has internet access like that, either.” 
Upon hearing about my writing this article, I was told by a few different people via online that it wasn’t a good idea. I didn’t understand why – and I still don’t. To make it clear if I haven’t already, all that I’m doing here is talking about a flaw in an event on campus that is relevant to students and faculty in the school newspaper.
I was told by one of the people who contacted me that the $10 registration fee and the cut-off time was “widely known” information, and implied that is why it wasn’t mentioned on any basic signs about the event.
It is not professional to assume that information is just known by people. More importantly, by definition, it’s a form of exclusion. Intentional or not, it is an oversight.
This is unfair to freshmen, transfers, and students like me who have not memorized the event’s policies.
It’s like saying, “Well, you didn’t know about the details because you should have known. How? Magically, I guess.”
When a few other students involved with the event spoke to me, I got cold responses for wondering why basic information was not included in signs around campus or online.


 
After that, another student messaged me about my concerns for Relay, and said to “come find me, before I find you”, which, even in the context, I tried to justify as a friendly introduction, but there’s just no way to say that out loud without it sounding extremely…unfriendly.
The bottom of the line is this: I do not have an issue with the policies or the event itself. Relay for Life is a fun event that people can enjoy with friends and family while raising money for cancer research. It is completely understandable that there is a donation fee and a specific cut-off time. I would not expect otherwise. But when this information isn’t included with the event’s advertising, it is implied that these policies don’t exist.
It failed to properly inform the public about its details and policies. I hope that in the future, the planners of this event will take this issue into consideration and explain its expectations better to the public.   
If you decide to participate in next year’s Relay for Life, make sure to register in fall, especially if you plan to stay late. If you do not plan on staying the entire event, you do not have to pay the registration fee. Registration will always be $10 and you cannot be let in after 11 p.m.

Join the Movement

Hannah Stewart
Contributing Writer

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This year marks the 70th anniversary of the first and only use of atomic weapons for warfare in human history.  Two bombs were dropped in two Japanese cities: Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6, 1945.  It is estimated that 150,000 people were killed instantly, however the final tally of those who died would rise to more than 190,000.  It took only five days after the bombings for Japan to surrender, bringing an end to World War II.

There are seven countries in the world that have nuclear warheads.  Every five years, 175 countries meet at the United Nations in New York City with the hope of abolishing nuclear weapons. This year is special; students can participate.

70 international organizations have coordinated a movement on April 24 to 27, taking place in NYC, to encourage the United Nations and the nuclear capable countries to eliminate their arsenals, and implement policies to improve the lives of every citizen around the world.  There is a rally, march and Peace Festival on April 26th, and students are encouraged to not only attend, but to help with the planning and outreach as well.

One WCSU student, Heidi Odenwaelder says, “It is exciting that these organizations want students to get involved, and are allowing us to participate and help make a difference in something that’s so important in securing the safety of not only our citizens, but around the world as well.”  Odenwaelder is a Political Science major and one day hopes to be a part of the United Nations to help make such important decisions.

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There are also easier ways to get involved and make a difference.  There is a petition, The Petition for Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, that anyone can sign and share, available on the Peace and Planet website.  There are posters available for download that students can post anywhere.  Students can also follow the Peace and Plant organization on Twitter and Facebook, and just share some of the posts about the movement to followers, spreading the word.

For more information about the rally, the march and festival, or about the movement itself, go to http://www.PeaceeandPlanet.org, or email info@peachandplanet.org.

You can also follow the organization on Twitter, @PeaceandPlanet, or add them on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/PeaceandPlanet.

Ian Bick Interview: EDM Entrepreneur

Leo Budnick
News Editor

Whether you know him from his outrageous and over-the-top rave events at Tuxedo Junction or from his current involvement in a Ponzi scheme, nineteen-year-old Ian Bick is certainly a name that doesn’t go unmentioned when discussing nightlife, entrepreneurship, and federal charges. Though he personally didn’t want to say anything  about his trial and the charges pressed against him, Ian still had plenty to discuss on matters such as his takeover of the Tuxedo Junction venue and upcoming college party events like “I’m Shmacked,” in this interview.

How did you go about purchasing Tuxedo’s and when did you purchase it?

Well, a few years ago I did teen nights at Tuxedo’s and then I took a break from there and moved on to concerts. Then Tuxedo’s was going out of business. So I never really purchased it. I just kinda took it over. I turned the front room into Sky Bar — and then that failed. Four or five months later, I took over the back room and combined the whole place back into Tuxedo’s. And that was in April 2014.

So it didn’t cost you anything?

Nah just the renovation fees. Even with the Sky Bar too.

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As it’s known to most people, you don’t have a liquor license and can’t sell alcohol at your venue. Does that affect the turnout at all?

Not at all. Our age group is like the fourteen to under twenty-one crowd. And the people that are twenty-one are coming because of the artists—because we’re bringing a bunch of big artists to the place.

How many events have you had since acquiring Tuxedo’s?

We’ve had about twenty to thirty—all large and major concerts. As well as some rentals. Some people rent out the venue.

Most people don’t accomplish too much at nineteen years of age. How does it feel to be a young entrepreneur?

Stressful to say the least. I mean, there’s a lot of like challenges and stuff that you’re faced with everyday. And it’s definitely not like–it’s just as hard as people that like go to school. I mean, everyone does their own different thing in life so you can’t really compare me to a different kid. Everyone’s on their own path.

Your recent trial involving financial misunderstandings has been the talk of Danbury local news. Has the trial had any effect on your business or personal life?

Personal life, yeah. I mean, that kinda separates like all your old friends and stuff like that. In business, no. I don’t really deal with adults. I deal with kids. Kids don’t read what’s going on.

What’s the most amount of people you’ve had at your concerts and who performed when you had the biggest crowd?

All three Hyperglows (EDM tour) basically sold out. We had anywhere from 800-1,000 people—not all in at one time—people came in and out throughout the night. And The Chainsmokers (EDM group) on Thanksgiving was huge too. That was a big show—I mean, all of our shows are really selling out that’s what it comes down to.

Do you know how many WestConn students usually show up to your events?

Very few. I mean, like—it’s not like—you couldn’t live just off of the WestConn crowd because they don’t come out. These are artists that would go to, like, colleges all over the country. If they were brought here then people just—I don’t think they’re really appreciating or understanding the market of value of the artists that are coming to their hometown and college town.

How have you be able to get in contact with all of these artists?

I mean—it just happened over time. I actually did Big Sean at WestConn (2012). Because of that we just established ourselves and then we got in touch with agencies and stuff like that. And worked with the people that brought Krewella here (2014).

Do you think you can make more of a profit if you bring in more WestConn students? 

I mean, right now it’s hard to attract that crowd because right now, there’s no alcohol but we’re able to sell out the shows without that. It’s worth keeping it consistent to expand into other things. I mean like—and this is a big thing for WestConn, we’re bringing I’m Shmacked (touring college party event) in April. And that’s on a Thursday April 9th. That’s going to be just WestConn and then we’re doing bus trips from other schools. Everyone at colleges knows about I’m Shmacked so it’s going to be big.

How much does admission cost for most of your events?

It can range anywhere from twenty to fifty dollars a ticket. It all depends on the event too.

What can we expect to see from Tuxedo’s for the rest of 2015?

Over the summer we’re bringing in huge names. I can’t really name anything yet but the artists are going to be like festival-grade—it’s basically going to be like everything we’re bringing in now but we want to have artists where they come for like three days at a time. There’s definitely different types of options to do mini festivals.

Any closing statements?

Telling kids to chase their dreams is really what Tuxedo’s stands for and doing anything no matter what people tell you you can’t do.