The Case For Open Mics at Thursday Night Cafe

By Allison Brown

Thursday nights in the student center are lively. The promise of free food lures students out of their dorms for a chance to interact socially with other frazzled peers. Starting at 9:00pm students stand in a line that extends from the stairway, all the way around the corner, to get free pancakes. Along with the delicious food, there is usually an event in the student center café occurring at the same time. The most popular events seem to be the karaoke nights, as well as the open mic nights and with good reason. They are an informal talent show where people can perform a dramatic monologue, play an instrument, sing a song or show off unique talents. The draw for most students on campus to come to these events, seem to be to support their friends who will be performing that night.

This form of entertainment offers college students a way to speak out, advocate, lead, educate, and interact with their peers.  By performing or speaking at a Thursday Night Café, a student’s confidence is built up. If a student is playing an instrument or singing and is a performing arts major, this gives them a constructive place to practice their craft. Beyond this rationale, the audience is treated to a night of relaxation away from the normal stress of college life. Sarah Henkel (’20), echoes this sentiment stating, “I like open mics because it gives a chance for my peers to shine,” Henkel continued, “people that I would never expect have the most amazing voices and I think it is a great way to show these hidden talents.”

An additional benefit to these open mic nights is the little planning that is needed on behalf of the staff. Unlike karaoke or bingo nights, no additional electronics or games pieces other than microphones are required. It is a relatively cheap way to get college students involved with their peers and the school.

It takes an overwhelming sense of courage to get up in front of people and perform. Speaking in front of college students can be a daunting task; even if these people are your friends. In order to show support as well as appreciation for the performers, there is a certain etiquette to follow. Generally speaking, respect of the space, audience and performer are paramount for an entertaining evening. Do not talk loudly over the musicians or make obvious gestures that you are not listening to the person in front. This will distract the performer and make them less likely to be their true selves. As far as those who will be going on the stage that night, do not apologize before you perform; it deters from the excitement of what you will be doing. Proving confidence is key to a lively night, Brooke Cochrane (‘18), shares “I like watching everyone get on stage confidently and have fun singing, or reading pieces of literature.”

Free pancakes and theater is the perfect solution to Thursday night boredom. Not only are the pancakes cooked to perfection, the talent witnessed at these open mic nights are astounding. Stefanie Dominquez, (‘18), discloses the reason she loves to watch her peers on stage is due to the fact that, “it gives them an opportunity to shine.” Open mic nights illustrate the talents of Eastern’s student body in an informal, positive setting, providing an uplifting way to end the week.

Improving the Environment as Individuals

By Jason Dayton

We have witnessed the removal of all references to Climate Change within an hour after President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January, replaced by an “America First Energy Plan”. We have heard the rhetoric of current politicians in office who aim to gut the Endangered Species Act. We are aware that the current administration is looking to dismantle the Clean Water Rule, dating back to 1952 and 1969 when the highly polluted Ohio Cuyahoga River caught on fire and burned for days. We are witnessing the first of many actions to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its power in protecting the environment. Our consumption of energy, plastics, and other natural resources continues to increase along with carbon-dioxide levels and plastics persisting in the environment. However, too many are quick to direct blame at different political parties at the federal and state levels, rather than accept responsibility for each of our own actions.

This made me think of a chapter in the book “Environmental Problems/Behavioral Solutions” by Cone and Hayes (1980) where they discuss how advancements in physical technology/science have provided the start of multiple opportunities to live more sustainably (e.g. clean energy); however, as a whole, humanity’s development of behavioral technology (i.e. knowing how to properly apply this knowledge to protect the environment) and even interests in the environment have lagged behind these physical advancements. In our society, there appears to be this disconnect between nature and the individual. You can even witness this walking outside between classes; majority of the people you will see will either be wearing headphones or looking at their phones rather than noticing the flowers blooming early, hearing the first signs of spring from the birds, or seeing the vultures soaring above South Residential Housing.

People may argue that Climate Change is a real issue, but few will make small lifestyle adjustments to ameliorate the conditions of our planet. Even something as routine as disposable K-Cups have important consequences on both the biotic and abiotic components of ecosystems; for example, last year alone, a majority of the 9 billion K-Cups sold by Keurig alone probably ended up in landfills. This is not to mention the other 19 billion pounds of plastic that is dumped in the world’s oceans in 2015. Spending the extra dollar to purchase the new recyclable K-Cups or plastic K-Cup style containers which you can fill with your own coffee will not necessarily save the planet, but every little bit counts. Other small helpful acts could include remembering to shut off the lights in your dorm room if you will not be there for at least 15 minutes, unplugging your laptop/phone charger from the outlet, being smart with your pipette tip usage in the lab, and even using reusable or paper plates rather than cheaper Styrofoam.

Ultimately, working together to influence political policies is incredibly important. Yet, there are other changes that each of us can make to our routine’s that can point the state of the planet in a positive direction.

The Contagious Nature of Crowds

By Evan Ortiz

I think it is safe to say that we have all been in a crowd at one point or another in our lives. One of the most interesting aspects of crowds is how contagious they can be. When gathered in large numbers, a cheer or a series of boos can spread through people like wildfire. I can think of a few instances where I have been the victim (or the instigator) of this strange phenomena in crowds.

A few years back, my dad and I were at a Dave Matthews Band concert and the opening band was playing. I hadn’t recognized them at all, and their music was okay. During one of their songs, one of the band members clapped to the beat of their own song, hoping to entice the crowd to clap along. My dad and I heard clapping, so we started clapping too. We thought the clapping was getting louder, so we kept on clapping.

Then we realized there was no one else clapping, we were hearing the echo in the stadium (as it had not filled entirely yet). My dad and I laughed as we stopped clapping. Even when we were exposed to fake crowd noise, we felt compelled to join in. If everyone else was having a good time, why shouldn’t we. When the lie was revealed, we stopped clapping. But we still felt compelled to hop on that train when we heard that noise.

Perhaps this is why concerts have this certain feeling of connectivity. Crowds can make us feel different, make us act more outwardly then we would anywhere else. You turn to the person next to you, someone you have never met before, and you feel like you’ve known them for years. It’s the crowd, it’s the atmosphere, it’s something that almost cannot be explained. If you’ve never been to a concert, or if you’ve never been in a crowd of people who are enjoying something, you need to find a crowd to cheer with.

Is Haven Teaching Students Effectively?

By Elena Sorrentino

It is that time of the year again, when students are required to complete the University’s required Haven Understanding Sexual Assault course. While in essence, the information that this course is trying to present is very relevant and necessary, I believe that it would benefit the university if they worked to find a more effective way to promote discussion of interpersonal violence issues on campus.

Perhaps my largest issue with the Haven course is that if you are a returning student, it is basically the exact same program that we were required to take last year. There are perhaps a few minor changes, but I can’t even ascertain that for sure, because the largest portions of the information and graphics were identical to those previously. I equate this to if everybody had to take the same “Introduction to Library” course every year, perhaps it would be helpful if we were told new information, but what is the point of reiterating a course you already passed?

The course recognizes that you pass, based on a post-test, which includes the same questions you’re required to take in a presurvey. While in essence, this might work as a legitimate indicator that students learned something in the course, students themselves are never told what they get right or wrong. Rather, they are simply told if they pass or fail. Therefore, they are unable to confirm for themselves if they did actually learn anything through the course. Alternatively, they may believe to be correct about one of their answers when they are in fact incorrect.

In addition to this, since Haven is an online course, students often simply breeze through it. While there are time limits on each slide, requiring the student to stay on it for a certain period of time, it is very simple to do other things and simply hit the ‘next’ button when the opportunity allows. By asking the same questions in the pre and post surveys, the students know exactly what information they are going to need to know and can effectively zone out everything else. I have talked to many of my friends about this course, and all of them seem to share the same attitude: “get through it as quickly as possible.” Which, for a course pertaining to a very important subject matter, most definitely is not the way it should be looked at.

In 2016, The Chronicle reported that the administration of The College of Saint Rose, which is of similar size to Eastern, paid over $8,000 to take a Haven course. With this amount of money Eastern could do a lot to further knowledge about sexual assault on campus in ways that students wouldn’t simply do out of obligation. For example, one thing that I did learn through Haven was that the only way Eastern listed to “get more involved in the prevention of sexual violence” is to join “The Men’s Project” on campus. Haven states that this “is a small cohort of Eastern students who identify as men to meet to engage in dialogues about men and masculinities; as well as to learn, listen, challenge and work together to GENERATE accountability, CHANGE behaviors, INCREASE involvement in gender equity efforts and interpersonal violence prevention and positively INFLUENCE the behavior of others.” While this is a notable accomplishment, the fact that it is the only thing that our campus lists as a possibility to prevent this on campus is severely disappointing. For a campus that is so invested in issues of domestic violence that they force us to take a required course, that they are fully aware very few people pay attention to, most likely obligated only in order to cover their own requirements, I would expect a little more attention to be brought to organizations and activities that might actually make a difference.

Sigma Tau Delta’s Book Swap Get Books New Life

By Kyle Hottin

In the lobby of Webb Hall on February 21st and 22nd, Sigma Tau Delta, Eastern’s English Honors Society, hosted its second Book Swap. The first was held last November with high regards. During this iteration, students and teachers were able to browse through a variety of books, from children’s to archaeology textbooks, which were donated from the English department as well as members within Sigma. Those interested in what they saw were given two different “payment methods”: one could either spend a dollar for one book (or get three for the price of two) or they could trade in their own books. No matter what method they chose, people were able to leave with new reading material and satisfaction. On the other side of the table, the money that was raised during this event is aimed to be used to support member of Sigma who cannot afford the expenses for an upcoming trip to the Mark Twain Museum and the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center.

Though the funding aimed to help Sigma members, it however does not mean that patrons were left without benefits. Over the course of two days, the people who stopped by were not only excited to see a sale like this, but they were also happy that these books were being given a second chance at life. Physical books can currently be seen as a modern day hassle, especially with the rise of digital, and especially convenient, solutions. Physical books can take up space, get damaged, be left unread, and of course carry a steep price tag. Sigma Tau Delta’s response, specifically the action of giving longevity to used books, certainly provides a worthwhile rebuttal. For those who may have missed this event, there will be another Book Swap from March 22nd to the 24th in the same location.

Trivia Night with Sigma Tau Delta

By Kyle Hottin

What do the first thirteen colonies, the Fibonacci sequence, and Freddie Mercury all have in common? All of these topics and more were all part of a trivia night event hosted by Sigma Tau Delta, Eastern’s English Honors Society. On the night of March 6th, the Johnson Room became the stomping ground for students who wanted to prove their knowledge across all trivia categories. Teams were able to compete for a variety of prize baskets that featured snacks and schools supplies, a college student’s two best friends. The event also featured a variety of snacks, such as peanut butter and jelly sandwich crackers, pretzel chips, and fruit snacks, complimented by a plethora of juice boxes and water.

Once the event began, students were able to form teams of six to seven members and come up with their own team names. Some of the most notable team names were the Department of Homeland, the Red Scare, and the United Nations. Throughout the eight rounds, with a total of forty questions in all, there were a couple of times where some teams tied with each other. However, that did not mean that other teams were too far behind. Not only did the top two teams tie for first place, but they also went in to two tiebreakers. Overall, it was not only an event of academic excellence, but it was also a great opportunity for people to come together and have a nice time. Jokes were told, smiles were made, and questions were answered. Contestants not only left with prizes, but also some fun facts to share with their colleagues.

Volunteer Opportunities Available at CCE

By Enidza Torres

The Center for Community Engagement is known for doing lots of good in the Willimantic/Windham area. Eastern Connecticut State university students are lending helping hands and open hearts to the residents who open up their community to us during the school months. From working with children who are just starting their journey into knowledge and education, to adults filled with wisdom and life lessons, being involved in the Center for Community Engagement allows students to get real life experience hands-on. That is what “Liberal Education, Practically Applied” is all about.

Windham High School reminds me very much of my Alma Mater, New Britain High School, go Hurricanes! Both of these cities are home to State Universities who have welcomed high schools on tours of their beautiful campuses. The after-school program at Windham High School is one that many ECSU volunteers relate to. The students are having conversations and going through life the same way we all did not too long ago. You are able to reflect upon the person that you were when in high school, compare it to the person you are today and see the growth that has happened.

Running Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, from 2:45pm-5:00pm, the Windham High School After-School Program has Eastern volunteers assisting with homework, projects, essays, or studying, which students need to get done for the week. This is followed by fun enrichment activities like cooking, bake shop, a trip to the local recreation center for a game of basketball or a dip in the pool.

If this or any of the other great Center for Community Engagement programs interest you, please make sure to register by March 10, which is the last day for Spring registrations. Programs are filling up fast! A list of programs and times can be found on the CCE website, www.easternct.edu/cce, and registration is easy, just sign on to eweb and go to the Center for Community Engagement page.

Eastern’s Two Gentlemen of Verona Amazes Audiences

By Evan Ortiz

There has always been a certain hesitation from audiences when approaching a modern-day interpretation of Shakespeare. Many people look back on Leonardo DiCaprio’s Romeo+Juliet with nothing but disdain. Eastern’s most recent play, Two Gentlemen of Verona, was presented as a modern interpretation of Shakespeare in the 1970s. The buzz on campus was as follows: “I don’t know, the last time I watched a modern twist on Shakespeare, I hated it.” Despite the cautious nature of the students, the Theatre Department’s performance of Two Gentlemen of Verona soared beyond all expectations and was a thoroughly enjoyable musical.

This is a musical in every sense of the word. Singing was incorporated into the dialogue frequently, adding a nice layer of depth to the play. Some songs were only sung by one or two characters, and some were full-blown dance numbers with singers and dancers filling the entire stage. Each song had its own bounce, its own pace, and they felt as though they were pulled directly from the time period the play was set in. The live orchestra played a large part in this: The band’s thumping electric bass and tight percussions set the tone of the entire play, at least in a musical sense.

For the average audience, Shakespearean humor is difficult to absorb since the playwright’s language is so obscure. Each and every performance, however, was able to move past that obstacle and present the comedy in a way that never escaped the audience. A lot of this had to do with the physical actions of the actors: most played up their roles by becoming very animated and throwing themselves into the jokes (the Pearl Necklace sequence stands out as an example).

Since there isn’t enough room in this newspaper to praise every actor and actress by name, I will focus on three standout performances. Patrick Loller as Proteus epitomized a sleazy adulterer who comes from the land of betrayal. From the moment he first walks on stage, Loller commanded the attention of the audience with his booming voice, and his chemistry with Jordan Pollard, playing the character Valentine, is electric. As Valentine, Pollard’s singing voice completely blew the audience away. His soulful tones and well-projected words waved through the audience like a powerful ocean tide. Hanna Madler completely stole the show as Sylvia, one of the play’s leading ladies. Madler threw herself entirely into the role, flooring the crowd as she moved from flirtatious to intense (and back again) in a completely believable and entertaining way.

The lighting set the tone of every scene well, the set design complimented each location (Verona, Milan, the jungle), and nothing really felt out of place. Some of the choral songs had a bit of an issue, as the orchestra was far too loud to hear the vocals and lyrics clearly. Beyond that, Two Gentlemen of Verona was incredibly enjoyable and Eastern’s Theatre Department should be applauded for their great portrayal of Shakespeare in the modern age.

NBA: Dirk Reaches 30,000 Points

By Marquist Parker

With a little less that 11 minutes left in the first quarter of a game between the Dallas Mavericks and the LA Lakers Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki hits a fadeaway shot to put his team up 12 points.  These were not just any 2 points, these points helped put Nowitzki in an exclusive club: the 30,000 point club.  This club has only 6 members: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, and now Dirk Nowitzki are the only other players in NBA history to reach the mark.

Nowitzki is the first international player to reach the threshold, further cementing his legacy as basketball’s greatest player born outside the United States, with Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria) 26,946

“Congratulations to Dirk Nowitzki on reaching the NBA’s most exclusive 30,000-point club,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a news release. “Throughout his 19 seasons with the Mavericks, Dirk has been a model player and terrific ambassador for our game. This latest accomplishment further establishes his legacy as one of the NBA’s greatest players.”

“You look at his body, his athleticism, you’re like, ‘OK, there’s no way this guy has 30,000 points,'” Mavericks forward Harrison Barnes said, “It just speaks to his consistency, year in, year out, Hall of Fame players next to him, not Hall of Fame players next to him, going out and doing what he does all the time.”

The 2016-17 season has been perhaps the roughest of Nowitzki’s career, with his body beginning to show the wear of 1,500-plus regular-season and playoff games. The 7-foot German missed all but five of the Mavericks’ first 29 games with an Achilles injury and came into Tuesday averaging 13.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, the former his worst mark since his rookie season.  But Nowitzki has showed flashes of his vintage self, helping propel Dallas to the cusp of the Western Conference’s No. 8 seed. A 20-point outburst Feb. 9 helped the Mavs to an overtime win against the rising Utah Jazz, and he came through in big moments during narrow wins over the Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs earlier this season.

Thirty thousand points. One indelible legacy.

Eastern Connecticut State University's Student Newspaper