The Amazon at Westconn

by: The Students of Professor D’Aries’ WRT 377W-O1 Course of Fall 2017


NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: The following article consists of the “Literary Event” personal opinion reflections/reviews from the Fall 2017 students of Professor D’Aries’ WRT 377W-01 course, The Writing Life. The editor has elected to make the minimum amount of edits in the attempt to preserve originality. Otherwise, reflections were written and published by the members of the class on BlackBoard.

Please keep in mind while reading direct quotes from Dr. Alvaro Fernando Rodrigues-da Cunha, that he has only been speaking and writing in English for twelve months now.

To start off the article, D’Aries’ BlackBoard reminder for the assignment is posted first.

The reason that this particular class’ reviews of Dr. Alvaro Fernando Rodrigues-da Cunha’s lecture, Indigenous Tribes and Languages of the Amazon Rainforest, on October 10th, are being published is because The Echo’s Editor-in-Chief/President, Alyssa/Lulu Meyers and Vice President, Sophia/Sophie Pizzo, are members of this class, and were subject to attend and review this event. In an act of community and togetherness, Meyers prompted the opportunity to put our required attendance to a more informal use.

More information on Dr. Alvaro Fernando Rodrigues-da Cunha’s lecture can be found here:



Howdy, folks!

As I mentioned in class, we will attend this lecture on Thursday, October 5th at 1:40 in the Student Center Theater: We will meet at the lecture, so be sure to come see me so I can mark you present.

Before class on Tuesday, 10/10, post a 250-word response to the lecture in this forum. This response will be similar to our reader responses in that I’m most interested in your analysis and critique rather than a summary. Be sure to include at least two quotes from the speaker.

And as Alyssa mentioned in class, anyone interested in contributing their response to a feature article in The Echo should contact her directly.

See you on Thursday!




Dr. Alvaro Fernando Rodrigues’ lecture on indigenous tribes and languages of the Amazon rainforest was both fascinating and quite enjoyable. He talked about population numbers and numbers of languages. The videos he showed were peculiar but interesting to watch. They certainly had more information on them then I was expecting. I knew tribes like that existed and they are in need of help from the outside world, for food and proper medicine, but I was mostly under the notion that they were striving to preserve their way of life, without being kicked out by illegal foresters/minors or dying for their lack of food, medicine, and dangers of the jungle. Dr. Rodrigues didn’t really say anything about preservation, but I think it was intended when he said they needed help.

All people are people, but because of where they live, they grow to think differently, communicate differently, and just live differently than people in other places. “Human beings are all the same. Same hardware, but different software.” We’re built the same but wired a different way. And people like him wish to understand exactly how they are wired. “Each language holds information on the people who speak it.” And Dr. Rodrigues this information is well worth learning and understanding. That is why he does what he does. And he seems very passionate about it.

When he said that he had only been speaking English for no longer than a year, I was very surprised. His English isn’t perfect, but for someone like me, who has major difficulty learning a new language and remembering, that is quite impressive. My personal favorite part was towards the end when he showed us the translation of a few English words into a few different languages indigenous to the Amazon tribes. I liked echoing his pronunciation of the words.



If living in a rain forest means no unnecessary mass shootings and worrying less about what people think about you, then point me in the direction. I enjoyed Dr. Cunha’s lecture on indigenous tribes for the simple fact that it’s based on an appreciation for language and culture. Sometimes we get so embroiled in our own worlds that we forget to appreciate the small things, and I get the sense that in these tribes, they appreciate everything despite having little food and no health care and that just so happens to be their two major necessities. So I loved it when he said that everything is about nature in the Amazon rainforest while in America it’s all about money. I could agree; it’s all about money and power. What if we could live like the indigenous for a week? It takes something like that for some of us to really appreciate what we have, like a bed and hot water.

Another part of the lecture that stuck out was when he said that between us and the indigenous tribes we have the same hardware (feelings, bodily needs) and a different software (he speaks one language, I speak another). No matter where you’re from, we have this common link: a need to survive. Also, the roles of females and males are similar. Women take care of the home and the men work outside the home; they hunt.  We’re all just trying to survive. What also stood out to me, and most likely to everyone else, was the video of the young man wearing the bullet ant gloves, per ritual. I found it intriguing; painful to watch but intriguing, considering that’s what it takes for a boy to become a man, and it makes him a better man too.

The fact that this young man never complained made me feel like a total wimp for having complained all throughout my service in the army.

Again, I really liked listening to Dr. Cunha. I hope to attend another lecture in this series.

PS: I need some of that magic tea! (I forgot what it’s called. I think he called it miracle tea.)



Dr. Alvaro Fernando Rodrigues-da-Cunha presented, with exceptional enthusiasm, a look into the lives of various indigenous tribes. Having spent four years living among a few different tribes, Dr. Rodrigues-da-Cunha has vital information on the communication, survival and cultural aspects of living in the Amazon rainforest. One concept that Dr. Rodrigues-da-Cunha repeated is “we have the same hardware, but different software.” We may look the same or very similar, but we have vastly different perspectives and ways of thinking.

It was interesting to learn that there are so many indigenous people in the world. It is insane to think that 69 tribes do not have any contact with the outside world. It is also sad to know that they need protection from governments that do not even admit they exist.

Another concept that Dr. Rodrigues-da-Cunha made clear is that living in the rainforest is hard. He admitted that he had trouble adapting to the diet and even lost three teeth while there. I cannot imagine living in a place where food was not guaranteed and dental hygiene was not certain. He mentioned that the indigenous people depend on nature the way we depend on money. I think sometimes we need to be reminded of the luxuries we benefit from here.

I thought the videos he presented really drove home his points. It was interesting to see a glimpse into their world. Watching the video of the ants in the gloves was eye-opening. There are so many complex aspects of the lives of people we never think twice about. Dr. Rodrigues-da-Cunha ended the presentation with a powerful thought: “Loss of language is loss of humanity.”



I have to say that presentation was very exciting to listen to. The Professor who presented was one of the most eccentric and interesting people I’ve heard talk before. I knew of the Amazonas region from watching an episode of Chef’s Table on Netflix, wherein an ex-hippie acid head decided to become a chef and now runs one of the top 10 restaurants on the planet. It seems that everyone to come out of that area, in my limited two-example experience, is a wild tree person to which everything is “amazing, trust me.” Hearing about indigenous peoples in trouble always irks me. These cultures, as archaic and primitive as they are, are really beautiful and should be treated with respect. The entire foundation of our civilization can be traced back to people like this, and in typical modern human fashion, we exploit them and destroy their homeland for our own gain. The language discussion was cool in of itself, but still, I am always drawn to the fact that I wish they would just take care of these people. The Brazilian government, in some cases, refuses to acknowledge their existence so that they can continue to log the forests. Maybe I’m just a hippie in this sense, but I’m not sure. It seems pretty straightforward to me that these people should be cherished and kept safe for as long as we can. If it all comes down, my money would be on them to make it through, not any of us modern folk.



Learning about indigenous tribes/cultures in the Amazon was quite interesting, to say the least. The guest speaker was incredibly intelligent with his research and very informative. I was also amazed at how quickly he learned our English language so quickly in just one year, after spending the first four years of his life in the rainforest. This experience overall made me really appreciate the American way of life, and not to take the small simple things for granted. Thus, it seems as if the tribes that reside in the Amazon almost thrive on what little resources they can harvest. By this is mean they pretty much make do with what they have and seem relatively happy to live the life they do. Seeing such scarce conditions, however, made me sad because if members of the tribe become ill they do not have the proper treatments to cure the specific illness that can rapidly spread ending up fatal for most. Further, although he greatly appreciates the culture he came from, which is completely respectable and understandable, I question the thoughts of him saying he could adapt back to that lifestyle. Finally, the two quotes or two statements that stood out to me throughout the whole presentation were the following: ” A life without suffering is a life that is not worth living.” (in regard to the coming of age ceremony for becoming a man). Also in correlation with that painful ceremony, “The Amazon tribe Satere Mawe the young males wear gloves filled with hundreds of bullet ants.” Watching the short video clip of this experience, was even painful for me to watch, justifiably cringeworthy!



Dr. Rodrigues’ lecture on the Amazon Indigenous tribes was very interesting. While I’ve heard and studied very few indigenous tribes in a few anthropology Dr. Rodrigues shared a lot of new information. For example, he shared with us a lot of numbers when it came to population and the number or tribes and languages. It was shocking to find out that at one point in time there were at least 6 million indigenous people living in Brazil, it was even more shocking to find out that as of today there are less than 900,000 indigenous people. While this is an understandable fact as Rodrigues shared with us that as many as 69 tribes have never had any sort of outside contact with the world around them. So much so that when these tribes do come into contact with others it is almost impossible to communicate with them. He further explained that many of these tribes are trying to ask for help as they do not have access to basic human necessities such as food, clean drinking water, and medicine. Dr. Rodrigues shared with us that the lifespan for many of the indigenous people is between 40-50yrs old. Learning this amazed me simply because in America 40-50 years of age is still considered to be quite young. Overall the lecture was very interesting and I learned a lot.



Overall, I thought the lecture was boring.  The speaker had interesting things to say, and I enjoyed the videos that he showed the audience throughout his presentation, but when he was just talking to himself I couldn’t help but wonder how much longer I would have to sit there until the speech was over.

I don’t think this is the speaker’s fault, exactly, because he was clearly passionate about what he was talking about.  Maybe I just wasn’t as invested because he wasn’t talking about aspects of these tribes that I was interested in.  Yes, the languages they speak are important but I found myself being more drawn to the social dynamics and gender differences.  I was interested in what the men of different tribes used to cover their penises and how even though they live life naked the women still sit in a way that hides their vaginas from view.  I was interested in the fact that, despite having minimal contact with other kinds of people, the tribes’ women still fall into basic gender role stereotypes that we see in our own society: the men go out and the women stay home to cook and care for the children.  Some things really just don’t change in the world, huh?

The bit at the end when the speaker had some words in the tribes’ languages up on slides for us to repeat was amusing for the time that we did it, but I can’t say I remember anything about it besides laughing at myself for butchering the pronunciation.

Maybe this lecture just wasn’t for me.



On Thursday, Oct 5, I attended the lecture on “Indigenous Tribes and Languages from the Amazon Rainforest” presented by WCSU World Language Professor, Linguist, and Anthropologist Dr. Alvaro Fernando da Cunha. The lecture was captivating, soul-wrenching, and thought-provoking. The indigenous tribes are in danger and close to extinguishing.

Dr. Fernando da Cunha explained why, with personal stories, images, videos, and facts.

His storytelling method was geared to capture the audience’s heart, and invite, inspire, and engage students to become future participants in the research, study, and preservation of these sacred tribes.The professor stressed the commonality of internal emotions between these untarnished tribes of the Amazon, and human beings throughout the world. All humans feel. He then explained the daily struggle to survive within nature, and the survival techniques used with the utilization of medicinal plants, natural fibers, and skills necessary to live near a river, or a mountain. Survival within a specific habitat has been learned and mastered through a lineage of multi-generational adaptation. Longevity and survival within the rainforest will, at best, reach

The professor stressed the commonality of internal emotions between these untarnished tribes of the Amazon, and human beings throughout the world. All humans feel. He then explained the daily struggle to survive within nature, and the survival techniques used with the utilization of medicinal plants, natural fibers, and skills necessary to live near a river, or a mountain. Survival within a specific habitat has been learned and mastered through a lineage of multi-generational adaptation. Longevity and survival within the rainforest will, at best, reach fifty years. Malaria, other diseases, malnutrition, and parasites shorten the lifespan.

The domestic and hunting tasks within the tribes adhere to the male-hunter, and female- child tending and home keeping chores paralleling the anthropological patterns of Homo-Sapiens, and other early prehistoric tribes. Task responsibilities and chores within the tribes are viewed equally, without a gender directed dominance. Women determine male sexual partners. In this realm, the women have more control.

A final portion of the lecture focused on the spoken languages. There are 305 indigenous ethnicities, and 274 indigenous languages in Brazil. From those 274 indigenous languages, there are many variations amongst the different tribes.

I appreciated the storytelling narrative of Dr. Fernando da Cunha. He was sharing his personal story of living amongst these people and passionately invoking audience members to share in the study of these special tribespeople that have lived apart of an electronic- frenzied society that rarely, or barely has the time or opportunity to stop and see the natural world.



On October 5th, Western’s departments of World Languages and Literature (WILL), History, and Social Sciences hosted Dr. Alvaro Rodrigues-da-Cunha, of the University of Sao Paulo and University of Campinas in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and a post-doctoral researcher of anthropology and linguistics as they pertain to the native peoples of the Amazon Rainforest. Dr. Rodrigues spoke at WCSU’s Midtown campus Student Center Theater, delivering a lecture titled “Indigenous Tribes and Languages of the Amazon Rainforest”.

Dr. Rodrigues, a lively speaker who engaged his audience with fervor and friendliness, spoke of the great cultural diversity both endemic to the Amazon and present, through centuries of colonization and cultural exchange, throughout the nation of Brazil—the largest country in South America, which contains most of the Amazon, and houses most of its tribes.

He also spoke of the continued fragmentation of these cultures.

While European colonization, which began in the late 1400s, represented the initial, and perhaps largest overall, disruption to the forest’s tribes, today most indigenous Amazonians are threatened by the dual presence of loggers and drug smugglers, as well as global warming.

These are serious problems for groups of people already beleaguered by the hostile environment of the forest itself, most Amazonian natives already living lives much shorter, on average, than those of first-world people.

Yet, as Dr. Rodrigues was quick to point out, the indigenous peoples of the Amazon are just as human, and so just as deserving of respect and dignity, as we are here, in a technologically-advanced society. Indeed, we have the same basic necessities despite our cultural differences, a glaring fact which continues to be ignored by those who persist in destroying the Amazon.

I think he put it well when he said, “We have the same hardware and different software.” In other words, we have the same bodies and brains, but different ways of carrying out our lives.

Regardless, for many of the tribes of the Amazon, the primary struggle—one existential in nature—is that of basically defenseless peoples, most without any weapons other than bows and clubs, having to defend themselves against encroaching loggers, remorseless forces acting on behalf of large, greed-driven organizations. In the process, many distinct languages, spoken nowhere else in the world, have perished along with the tribes.

As Dr. Rodrigues stated, “Each language holds the unique reality and knowledge of those who speak it.” If that’s the case, then we have lost many realities, and countless amounts of knowledge, since the arrival of Europeans to the shores of the Americas. So, if we wish to preserve the unique wisdom of the peoples of the Amazon Rainforest, then we had better work to preserve the languages of those peoples; thus we must protect those people themselves, and the forest that they call home.



“Amazing,” is an adjective and exclamation that the presenter continuously used throughout his presentation. “Amazing,” is how I will describe my experience attending this lecture on Indigenous People in in the Amazon Rainforest. While the presentation itself was fascinating, I found the presenter’s passion and energy thrilling. His obvious interest and investment (which I was not surprised, but excited to discover is something intimately important to him) drew me in more than anything else. He wanted us to see what he saw, to understand what he felt and saw. Instead of putting the information before us and hoping that a few words on a PowerPoint would be enough to absorb his lecture, he made us – or, at least he made me – feel involved and included as if we were part of the presentation; part of the presenting.

He told us, in regard to all human beings, that, “we have the same – the same – hardware, but we have different software. Yeah, [it] is amazing. The same hardware – necessities, emotions… There’s no difference about them and us. There’s none.” It would have been simple to say that we are the same and leave it at that, but he kept making a point to repeat it and make the thought stuck. At first, during the first few times when he would refer back to this concept, I would think about how I, personally, could understand it. I have heard similar things, about all of us humans being the same, and sometimes I would be able to grasp the concept, but rarely would I ever feel it. It is my belief that the presenter put a lot of thought, passion, effort, and feeling into conveying and promoting this – for lack of a better word – vibe. Eventually, I think I started to feel it, or at least feel and/or empathize with his feeling of this connectivity, unity, whatever it was that hit and stuck with me.

Oh, and I want that magic tea that prevents period pains, please and thank you.



To me, the most memorable and impactful part of this lecture was the presenter himself. Right from the beginning of the presentation, Dr. Alvaro Fernando Rodriguez-da-Cuma was enthusiastic and radiating positive energy. He expressed his hope that students in the crowd, in five or ten years, would take his place on the stage, presenting their own lectures and research. It was refreshing to attend a lecture with such an enthusiastic presenter– it was evident that Dr. Rodriguez-da-Cuma has a passion for the Amazonian tribes.

At face-value, the lives of the indigenous Amazonian tribes are such a polar opposite from what we consider to be modern/”advanced” society. Watching the first video of indigenous tribe members making contact with more “modern” people was interesting. As people living in what we consider to be modern times, our exposure to people living in nature or without technology is usually through history textbooks or documentaries. We forget that these tribes are still existing and thriving and that they are living cultures. That’s why I found Dr. Rodriguez-da-Cuma’s work so profound– he is dedicated to making sure that these people and their languages are not forgotten, even when the rest of the world likes to pretend that they don’t exist.

My biggest takeaway from the presentation, ultimately, was the phrase Dr. Rodriguez-da-Cuma repeated several times: “We have the same hardware, but different software.” Even throughout cultures that are so vastly different, we are all humans trying to meet the same needs.



Summer Movie Madness

Alana Branch | Arts & Entertainment Editor

Still brokenhearted over the dullness of Batman v. Superman? Then no fear; Captain America: Civil War is here.

Well, almost.

The highly-anticipated blockbuster is set to hit theaters in the United States on Friday, May 6. Yes, it coincides with final exams, but it’s a welcoming reminder that summer is upon us!

Meanwhile in international markets, Captain America: Civil War is meeting all expectations, already surpassing the $200 million mark.

It’s safe to say that it’ll do just fine over here.

So, are you Team Cap or Team Iron Man?

Personally, I’m Team Black Panther.

Do yourselves a favor and check it out!

Happy Summer!

Trigger Warning

On the road that I live on someone has written the words “OBAMA FU*@” in some type of permanent chalk. Shocking? Yes. Vandalism? Yes. Horrible? As I took time to reflect on this last question, I realized that no, it’s not horrible. We live in a country where you won’t die, be arrested, or tortured for voicing opinions; where being critical of leadership is allowed, even encouraged, for it is part of the roots this country was founded in. Thomas Jefferson helped to write the list of grievances we had with King George III in the Declaration of Independence, and our freedom to speak freely is a right protected underneath the very first amendment.

Yet we live in a society where the ability to speak freely and exchange ideas is ever dwindling. Why is it that students cannot listen to a set of well-respected conservative speakers without calling out nasty and irrelevant slurs? Watch if you dare. Why are people protesting and shutting down Donald Trump rallies and denying a candidate his political platform to speak? Why are comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock refusing to speak at universities because of intense scrutiny and censorship of humor?


Universities are quickly becoming not a place where one goes to learn new ways of life and diversity of thought, but instead a place where young people are sent to be censured, to become not bold, but timid and singular in thinking. It is why political nominees like Ben Carson noted for his anti-politically correct speech at the National Prayer Breakfast and Donald J. Trump who obviously speaks anti-pc run with momentum and support.

It is because no one wants to be constantly censured and corrected at every turn. What is the definition of political correctness? According to the Merriam Webster dictionary it is, “agreeing with the idea that people should be careful to not use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people.”

But why such the fuss about offending people? Offense is not the worst crime in the world. We have all offended someone, that does not make one a bad person and every person who has walked the earth has been offended, yet we still somehow manage to survive. So the idea of offending someone does not seem like a strong enough catalyst to create such a radical change in thought.


The only recourse then is to look at the word politically correct for our answer. The question that raises first is, “If my speech is not political and I am not a politician then why must I worry about being politically correct?”  The answer being: Totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is the politicization of everything to achieve a political agenda. We are beginning to develop into a Totalitarian society by enabling the power of government over all aspects of life both public and private enforced by censorship and terrorism. Political Correctness is the censorship by which an increasingly corrupt, authoritarian, and large government seeks to control society and the individual.


Look around. What political groups are promoting programs that give government more control over personal aspects of life like healthcare and education and cause government to grow larger? What parties have corrupt officials and candidates? What groups promote political correctness and who do they associate with and what are their agendas?

If we are not careful, and if we do not question authoritarianism and censorship we are sure to lose our rights. Political correctness has indeed gone too far if we want to continue to live in a society that upholds the basic right to freedom of speech.

Bees and Lemonade

In a generation where one can purchase contraptions like the Smart Mattress to catch a cheating partner, no one should have been surprised when one of our favorite celebrities Beyoncé came out with her visual album Lemonade dishing the details on Jay-Z’s infidelity. Yet, shocked we remain. Beyoncé always manages to create a buzz in the bey-hive, first with her hit-single Formation dropping right before the Super Bowl, and then with built-up anticipation for her the album, Lemonade, which is by far one of her best masterpieces yet.


The album is an hour-long combination of poetry, music, and visual eye-candy. Beyoncé takes us on an emotional journey through denial, anger, emptiness, accountability, forgiveness, redemption, hope. As we know, Beyoncé is not shy to celebrate black culture demonstrated in her video Formation which highlights the after affects of Hurricane Katrina on the black community and discourses about racially-charged police brutality. In her album Lemonade, Beyoncé again does not shy away from commentary on the “black woman as the most disrespected person” and black men’s roles in their families’ lives. Honest, breathtaking shots of black neighborhoods that bespeaks pride of her roots are a welcome sight after the death iconic African-American figure Prince. Lemonade is not just a one-watch album, filled with complex layers of multimedia, it is a truly transcendental experience that breaks the internet and artistic barriers.


Why the new noise ordinance bill is scaring citizens


If you are at all involved with Mayor Mark Boughton’s Twitter or the Danbury news, then you know that Boughton is under full blast from citizens of Danbury for passing a new noise ordinance bill that allows police officers to fine vehicles and private residences for playing music too loudly.

The noise ordinance isn’t new news — it’s been in place since 2006. But this current ordinance leaves it up to the Danbury Police Department’s discretion whether or not the music is too loud, as opposed to using a sound level meter, therefore allowing officers to give citations for claims without evidence.

The rules aren’t bogus. The rules for the sound levels haven’t even changed. If you look at the noise ordinance bill from 2006 and compare it to the one Boughton signed this year, the levels are the same.

db levels.jpg

It makes sense that you should be warned — and if necessary, fined — if you are blasting music from your vehicle when there’s a Little League game going on at Rogers Park and players can’t hear the umpire. It makes sense to be warned or fined if you are blasting music so loudly in your home that your neighbors are losing sleep. It makes sense to be warned or fined if you are playing music so loudly while cruising down the street, that other drivers cannot hear an emergency vehicle’s sirens coming from behind them.

In both the ’06 and ’16 bills, they go on to explain (d) General prohibitions, followed by Specific prohibitions. In the updated version, is this neatly tucked-in paragraph:

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 10.34.25 AM.png

What “plainly audible” standards? Let’s refer to the definitions list. Both bills have a definition list, so you could refer to certain words while reading the bill if you have any queries. However, in the updated version, this definition was added:

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 10.41.18 AM.png

It seems that the only update to the bill was to explicitly explain that officers have the right to claim that music “sounded too loud” without using an instrument to test the idea.

Many news articles have pointed out that millennials seem to be getting the most upset over this because they just want to hear their music without repercussion. (Oh, how us millennials love our music!) And Boughton has made it clear in several quotes and Tweets that people can listen to what they want, but at a reasonable volume to respect their neighbors and surroundings.

However this isn’t just a whiney outcry from the 20-somethings who claim that their rights are being stripped. I think many of the protestors are looking at what’s going on in the rest of the country, and how officers are given complete freedom to call ’em how they see ’em, without proof — just based under suspicion.

This law allows officers to give citations without proof of any law breaking. Though it may not have been the intention, the law lets officers target specific people, like minorities.

In The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, writer Michelle home_book_cvr.jpgAlexander writes how mainly minorities and poor people in the U.S. are targeted subjects of the law, resulting in the mass incarceration in this country that we all know too well.

Here, Alexander talks about how a police department in Oakland, Calif., received a federal grant for drug busting, and were under “tremendous pressure” to meet certain quotas and expectations:

“The task force commander emphasized that they would need statistics to show that the grant money was well spent and send the task force out to begin a shift with comments like, ‘Let’s go out and kick some ass,’ and ‘Everybody goes to jail tonight for everything, right?'”

Now, not to accuse the DPD of saying things like this, but if this bill is standard across the U.S., then who’s to say that comments like this would never come up? Or that this isn’t somebody’s motivation to get up in the morning and put on their uniform?

Alexander explains the dangers of giving officers too much free will, and how they take advantage of their unlimited power by using a little something called “pretext stops.”

“A classic pretext stop is a traffic stop motivated not by any desire to enforce traffic laws, but instead motivated by a desire to hunt for drugs in the absence of any evidence of illegal drug activity,” Alexander writes. “In other words, police officers use minor traffic violations as an excuse — a pretext — to search for drugs, even though there is not a shred of evidence suggesting the motorist is violating drug laws.”

People can refuse to let an officer search their belongings. Many people don’t know that though, and those who do just want to obey and stay out of trouble. But those who do refuse to be randomly searched are often questioned by the officer, thus causing suspicion.

And suspicion is all an officer needs to go forth with the search anyway. This is called the stop-and-frisk rule, where as long as an officer has “reasonable articulable suspicion” that someone is engaged in criminal activity and dangerous, it is “constitutionally permissible to stop, question, and frisk him or her — even in the absence of probable cause.”

Neither side is completely right or completely wrong. The only argument that the citizens of Danbury should try to make is the fact that officers are allowed to make their own judgements based on no evidence.

The City of Danbury and Boughton should reconsider the small addition they made to the bill and require that officers test sound levels using a sound meter instrument.

Pretext stops and stop-and-frisks happen every single day in this country, and the majority of them involve minorities and poor people. Laws like this scare citizens because it can be used as an excuse to wrongfully investigate somebody based on a preconceived stereotype.

Ask yourself this: Does the law side with who it hired, or with the citizen?

Stop Recycling My Childhood

Alana Branch | Arts & Entertainment Editor

In movie news, Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book was released this past Friday to critical acclaim and dominated the box office with $103.6 million for Walt Disney Studios.

And soon there’s to be another live adaptation of the beloved Rudyard Kipling classic, helmed this time by Andy Serkis.

Recently, several entertainment outlets reported that there could be a remake of a Robin Williams favorite, Jumanji, starring dynamic duo Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) and Kevin Hart, whose film Central Intelligence hits theaters June 17.

After reading this, immediately three words come to mind: WHAT. THE. FUCK.

Added to the long list of questionable trends in Hollywood is live reboots/remakes of some of our favorite childhood movies; movies we grew up watching and continue to watch because why not? Most of them appear on TV.

Do you know how many times I’ve seen Toy Story parts 1, 2 & 3 with commercials around the holiday season?

Just last year, Disney put out the very successful Cinderella, and next spring, Emma Watson, who I’ll honestly always see as Hermione Granger, will portray Belle, seen for the first time on big screen in the live version of Beauty & the Beast.

Is it safe to say that originality is lacking like it always has been in Hollywood? For a normal movie-going person, it may not be as big a deal as it is for someone like me, an aspiring screenwriter who strives to look for something different, even if just a speck in a pool of similar ideas.

If it screams big money, then studios will go for it even if it’s been done several times before.

However, if they touch The Lion King, I’m going nuts.



Tuition Increase for Connecticut State Colleges and Universities – An Opinion Editorial

President Mark E. Ojakian of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system has recently decided on an increase in tuition. Because of this, tuition for the 2016-2017 school year is expected to increase by 5.0% at Western, Southern, Eastern and Central Connecticut State Universities, and by 3.5% at community colleges. At Western, the increase means students will have to pay an extra $480 per year.

I find this frustrating because President Ojakian has previously said that the system’s budget will “not be balanced on the backs of our students.” However, he actually is putting it on the backs of the students…because who else is going to pay it?

Students like myself who choose to attend state schools within the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system do so for mainly one reason: they are the most affordable option for furthering our education. However, as we have watched the cost of tuition and fees increase by almost 50% in the last 6 years, it is obvious that this will not be the case for students too much longer. Yes, $480 may not be a significant of money to some students; but to others, it could be the deciding factor of whether or not a college education is in their cards.

His given reason for the decision to increase tuition is the fact that the State of Connecticut is experiencing a budget deficit of almost $1 billion dollars, which then causes the CSCU system to experience a cut of $26 million. President Ojakian stated that deciding against tuition increases would have led to elimination of many student service functions, and “it would have really meant destruction of the high quality of higher education that we currently afford our students.” However, I can’t help but wonder exactly which services he’s talking about. He says, for example, that libraries would have shorter hours and some classes would not continue to be offered, yet I can’t help but want specifics. Perhaps they are library services and extra classes that we students are willing to sacrifice in order to save ourselves money on tuition.

President Ojakian said he believes the increase is “a fair and responsible decision given our current economic reality.” However, I can’t help but feel the opposite. I don’t see what is fair about forcing students to hand more money over to the CSCU system in order to make up for the lack of funding due to the State’s financial crunch.

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 5.20.34 PM.png

Continuously raising tuition is not fair because students are already struggling to stay afloat financially between a variety of things at our age such as rent, insurance, gas prices, and textbooks. Also, majority of students have mediocre jobs because of the very fact that we still are students. We are in a period of our lives where our time and energy should be exerted into our studies, rather than into full time hours at work or second jobs necessary to meet the financial demands of our education.

Yes, there is financial aid offered to those who need it, though in some cases, it is possible that sufficient financial aid may not be awarded. On the other hand, ironically, financial aid can be seen as having led to a rising deficit, which then leads to a rise in tuition as a means of balance. Besides, it is difficult for the typical student enrolled in the CSCU system to even rationalize paying more for an education that is increasingly becoming more commonplace in the job market. The price of our education is rising but the value is unfortunately not rising along with it. As President Ojakian has stated, a hiring freeze has been put into effect and no new professors are being considered. One may argue that it is important for a university to have the ability to hire educators who can bring fresh ideas, courses, and insight to the table.

John Board, a political science major at Western Connecticut State University and former Senator of the Student Government Association, seems to share my frustration in President Ojakian’s decision. He also points out the fact that the decision was made during a time when students would not be paying much attention to the matter. “I am extremely frustrated, but not surprised that President Ojakian would propose an increase while students are away on spring break…” he said, “The best way to govern is in a transparent and open way.”

I am not trying to attack President Ojakian and I am not blaming him for the State’s failure to provide students with a truly affordable education. I just don’t understand how he could acknowledge the idea that the budget cut shouldn’t become the problem of Connecticut’s young college generation, yet his decision to raise our tuition does not reflect that idea. As a working college student who will have debt to face upon graduation next month, I cannot help but feel disappointed for returning students who will be affected by the upcoming tuition increase. My fellow CSCU students and I may not know what the proper solution to the deficit may be, but it isn’t our job to know. More importantly, I do not believe that the solution lies in the wallets of the State’s young college generation.

Girl POW-er

Even if you don’t agree that Mulan is the best Disney Princess, I think we all can agree that she’s the most bad-ass (pardon my French). While dominate personalities in female leads flourishes,  we also continue to see a procession of physically strong women such as Rey from the newest Star Wars The Force Awakens, or Wonder Woman in Batman vs. Superman. This common theme of female fighters leads me to my next thought: how can this empower women beyond the screen?


One of the directions I think this is leading woman in is in self defense.

The movement surrounding the issue of rape culture is a brave one and one that needs to be heard. However, I have too often heard misleading statements such as “don’t teach me not to…teach your sons not to…” You fill in the blanks.

sons to rape               5fc76c85f320814d3c218494a02a3516

These kinds of statements are not only sexist because men can get raped too. But it operates under the false assumptions that 1) all men are inherently rapists and need to be taught to go against their “nature” or 2) suggests men are being actively taught to be violent against woman.This statement also leaves the blame on men and takes a passive stance on the issue.

If you believe in educating everyone on the issue of sexual assault, then why not also teach women to be proactive about their safety? This is where self defense comes in. Self Defense is a necessary tool in everyone woman’s toolbox, not just for your safety, but also just in case you ever need to hit your cheating ex-boyfriend where it hurts (just kidding)! It is important to take personal responsibility and get proactive and educated about your own safety.


Here at Westconn, we have a program called R.A.D. Rape Aggression Defense Systems. This program is the largest women’s physical defense program in the country and focuses on realistic and basic self defense tactics and techniques. The class also discusses awareness, prevention, risk reduction, flight or flight syndrome, and even offers the option to put your new found skills to the test by sparring with one of the instructors. R.A.D. is offered periodically.


There will be a Female Safety Awareness class where you can join Officer Maz from the WCSU Police department in an intro course this Thursday on April 14th from 4pm – 6pm in White Hall, Room 122. If you are interested in signing up email Sam Almonte at

And finally what I’ve been waiting to type this whole article: Girl Pow-er! (Power Puff Girls reboot…anyone?)



What is Rock?

On the stage in a club a lanky-built kid disturbs the chattering at the bar when he flips the gain on a stack of amplifiers. Uncut, uncombed—a head behind the smoke and a cigarette burning. Leather shoulders fall to tight black jeans with boots of suede, all split by an axe no one in the club has ever seen. What started as counter culture kids jam-packed in a garage becomes a veil on a stage in front of thousands. Most of everybody have labeled the music as dark, boring and old. They hear the buzz preceding a face melting riff which will cheese their minds and they cringe when six strings emblazon the stage in a fiery array. “What is that noise?” a girl at the bar says. “Man, we have the worst luck, there’s a band tonight.”

Rock is the dead ringer of the words “rock is dead.” It’s rooted in the reject, the social parasite—that will to rock.

In the club no one sways and no one cheers, they silently observe the crumbling stage crack the floor as the night fades away. The bass line slaps against their ear drums as the twang fills what’s in between. Two sticks pulse the scene in the hands of a wicked man whose only satisfaction grows from banging all day the very instrument his neighbors resent. By now the club has emptied, the flood is outside as the walls structured over an arena of distortion shake and hold the unworthy at bay.

Rock is that mysterious liquid on the dance floor and the dirt in the fingernails of the mad. A rocker’s sway against the groove thrives in the scene of discomfort. Some may say the music’s gone, but it’s hiding away in nodes which only welcome those who find their way away from the crowd at that new nightclub. That dank alleyway near the bank hides a rocker and in the grime on the subway, they watch from afar the muck that music has become.

A guitar blaring in the night bleeds the ears of the innocent unlearned. Who, awaiting the moment the band is done, can have their fragile understanding saved by the drop of the bass amidst the mildly unnerving idea that a DJ is talented. Passion spews a heartfelt message, oozing from the microphone a philosophy that speaks to the outcast. The stage clears.

An empty scene and abandoned instruments drown from the sound spilling out of the speakers and all who left consume the area once again. They soak in the atmosphere and love all around them, absorbing the spillage around broken glass that was shattered only moments ago at the foot of rock. The clubbers dance and laugh away, shading shallow observances with Empty Dance Music.

By now rock has become the smokers outside. It’s the grungy cool kids too off-beat for blending in, the ones who see their night filled with the open acceptance that they are exactly who society wants them not to be. Smiles smearing over the crowd under the smell of cigarettes fall unnoticed. Behind the crowd thumping to a beat, the rock skitters back to its reclusive state and fills the world with dreams built upon the demise in the image that the world has made for it.

The Case Against Whacky-Inflatable-Arm-Flailing-Tube-Colonials

By Anonymous. 

Over spring break, the Board of Regents for Connecticut state schools approved a 5 percent tuition increase for the 2016 year. According to the CT Mirror, tuition has doubled in the past 13 years.

Yet today, after doing work in the library, I walked out to see a massive, cobalt, arm-flailing-tube-man outside the main entrance to Berkshire hall.

Of course, I knew that it was for the purpose of attracting students to WestConn; I had seen the flocks of 12th graders walking across the quad for a few months now. But as a student who participated in the college search, I know that not only that arm-flailing-tube-men do not attract me to universities, but also that they shun me away with their obscene tackiness.

As a student, what disgusts me is what this money could have gone to. The CT Board of Regents recently decided to issue a harsh ruling on University Professors—tenured professors at WCSU could have been shifted around to other schools, while the already high adjunct ratio would skyrocket. The only reason that the BOR was not able to ruin any sort of academia at WCSU was the AAUP stepping in to protest.


The inflatable blue man outside of Berkshire gym.

The fact is that Connecticut’s Scott Walker-esque austerity is crippling our school. WCSU, and its predecessor Danbury Teacher’s School, were founded to further education. The fact that tuition increases are becoming a fact of the Public School life only makes it all too easy to obstruct the goal that the CSU schools were founded upon.

This frivolous spending combined with tuition increases only amounts to less funding towards students’ education.

Is WestConn going private? Tuition hikes push away lower-income students, so are the tube-men infantry in WCSU’s army to court higher income *cough* white *cough* students. This sounds a lot like for-profit schools like DeVry University, or University of Phoenix…or Trump University. These schools provide less than satisfactory education, for a higher than palatable price.

Obviously, this is somewhat an exaggeration. Google whacky-inflatable-arm-flailing-tube-men, and you’ll see that they can cost less than $100. But it is this pattern of spending hikes that worries me.

It is not the fact that whacky-inflatable-arm-flailing-tube-men are on our campus that bothers me. It is the fact that our campus spent our tuition dollars buying whacky-inflatable-arm-flailing-tube-men that bothers me.

It is now understandable and normal for prestigious colleges to have sushi bars (which ours now does), or other luxuries of the like, but WCSU is not UConn. Our school does not have millions of dollars to pay for a basketball coach (as the CT government allows UConn to do) coming from out-of-state students (and tax dollars). With what little money we are given, our school needs to fulfill its first priority: educating students to their highest potential.

And I’m just not sure that whacky-inflatable-arm-flailing-tube-colonials will do that job.

Western Connecticut State University is not a used car dealership. It is a university. We should treat it as such.