Sunday, September 21, 2014  
The Charger Bulletin

Charging Forward

by Elissa Sanci | September 17, 2014

Charging Forward is the University of New Haven’s new initiative meant to prioritize academic and administrative programs and reallocate resources to better the campus community.

charging forward

“Charging Forward is not a cost-cutting effort; it is strategic resource allocation,” said University President Steven H. Kaplan, who revealed the task force recommendations to staff and faculty during campus-wide meetings on Sept 10.

“This important initiative will allow us to reinvest and support those programs that further our vision and reputation, and help us take advantage of opportunities, and manage future challenges without increasing the overall budget,” reads the description on UNH’s website.

“We’re not announcing any immediate layoffs. We’re not proposing any radical changes, because they are not needed,” Kaplan added. “In fact, our financial health has never been stronger, and we are poised to achieve many great things. But we know that we cannot continue to count on increased revenues going forward. Thus, to strengthen our core academic programs, to invest in additional faculty and staff, to improve our facilities, and to remain competitive and secure a bright future, we must be strategic, meaning we must prioritize our programs and wisely use our resources.”

This initiative, which is still in draft form, was launched in 2012 with a goal to reallocate support and resources to the university’s highest priorities while simultaneously reducing and eliminating funding for programs and departments that no longer meet the university’s goals.

Charging Forward will change up to 80 percent of things on campus over the next three to four years, according to Provost Daniel J. May. Although some of the larger changes will take years to implement, Kaplan explained that there are many changes that can and will be made during the current academic year, such as phasing out some academic programs that have not been active for years, and have no faculty or students.

“Charging Forward is not a budget cutting exercise,” said Chief Financial Officer George Synodi. It’s not about saving money, but making the university a more efficient establishment, he expressed during a question and answer session on Mon Sept 15.

“These recommendations are a starting point,” Kaplan said. “Now, we will collect feedback from faculty, staff and students before finalizing the plan and implementing the recommendations.”
Students, faculty and staff will have the opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns with the initiative through Oct 7 by sending an email to chargingforward@newhaven.edu. More information concerning the initiative can be found at newhaven.edu/chargingforward.

“We want to establish a culture of continuous improvement, and so I don’t see us declaring victory in a year or two and forgetting about it. We will remain focused on using our resources strategically in the future,” Kaplan said. “Our ultimate goal is to provide our students with the very best educational experience and to be recognized nationally as one of the top comprehensive universities in the Northeast. Only through prioritization can we achieve this goal and fulfill our mission – now and in the future.”

App Secrets

by Samantha Mathewson | September 10, 2014

What started as a class project in the University of New Haven’s digital device forensics course has since become world renowned after students discoverd security flaws, breaches of privacy and additional vulnerabilities in chat, dating and social media apps used by nearly one billion subscribers on the Android platform.

UNHcFREG - Apps- cmyk

“Anyone who has used or continues to use the tested applications are at risk of confidential breeches involving a variety of data, including their passwords in some instances,” said Ibrahim Baggili, assistant professor of computer science at UNH’s Tagliatela College of Engineering, and head of the cFREG.

The tested applications include Instagram, Okcupid, ooVoo, Tango, Kik, Nimbuzz, MeetMe, MessageMe, TextMe, Grindr, HeyWire, Hike, textPlus, MyChat, WeChat, GroupMe, Whisper, LINE, Vine, Voxer, Words With Friends, Tinder, Wickr, BBM, Plenty of Fish, Snapchat, Kakao Talk, and Telegram.

“We did not find issues in all of these applications, but the majority of them had anywhere from minor to severe issues that affect user security and/or privacy,” said senior information technology major Daniel Walnycky.

“The application issues can be broken down into two categories: data security issues and data privacy issues,” said Walnycky. “Data security issues relate to unencrypted network transmissions from one user to another. Data privacy issues relate to unencrypted data being stored on user devices and/or app servers.”

UNHcFREG made five videos outlining the problems that include passwords available in plain text and private information stored on company servers. The videos identifying the apps were posted starting Monday, Sept.8 and will continue through Friday, Sept. 12. The videos can be found at http://www.youtube.com/unhcfreg.

“Each of the five videos discusses three or four applications with their specific issues. We explain the severity of the issues, how we found them, and a list of devices/tools used so that others can easily recreate our findings,” said Walnycky.

“Although all of the data transmitted through these apps is supposed to go securely from just one person to another, we have found that private communications can be viewed by others because the data is not being encrypted and the original user has no clue.” Baggili said this is especially true when there is a “man-in-the-middle attack.”

A man-in-the-middle attack is when an attacker finds a way to intercept traffic going between two victims. The victims believe they are talking directly to each other, but in actuality, the messages are going through the attacker before they reach the designated recipient.

Many people feel they have nothing to hide. Yet, strangers can easily tap into a variety of “private” data without informing the app user, said Baggili.

“The underlying problem that allows private conversations to be observed is a lack of encryption. A large percentage of applications still haven’t switched from HTTP (unencrypted) to HTTPS (encrypted),” said Walnycky. “In order for developers to use HTTPS, certifications are required. Certifications cost money and can take time to implement. A lot of developers don’t want to spend the money or time going through the process. This creates a lot of potential security and privacy holes.”

“It’s wrong for a stranger to be able to look at your private information without you even knowing they are doing it,” Baggili said. “Depending on the app, user locations, passwords, chat logs, images, video, audio and sketches can be viewed by people invading the user’s privacy.”

Strangers who tap into private conversations have the potential of observing user GPS locations, chat logs, images, videos, audio files, sketches, and even passwords. What they do with this information depends on the goal of the hacker. It could lead to black mail, extortion, account hijacking, etc.

The security issues were discovered by the cFREG team, which ran a network forensics experiment. The team was made up of UNH students including Walnycky, Armindo Rodrigues and Jason Moore. Details of how this was done is included in the videos. The team was also joined by new faculty member, Frank Breitinger from Germany, and a PhD research student from China.

Walnycky described that in order to find data security and privacy issues he and his team conducted three tests: network transmission analysis, server storage analysis, and device storage analysis.

“For the network transmission analysis the students conducted a man-in-the-middle attack through the use of a rogue Wi-Fi access point. A device was connected to this Wi-Fi access point and another device was connected outside the network. This setup forced all traffic to go through the rogue access point and be monitored by network traffic analysis software. They then proceeded to conduct conversations within applications and viewed the traffic logs for unencrypted traffic to determine what being sent/received was intercepted,” said Walnycky. “For the server storage analysis they looked deeper into these traffic logs to find direct HTTP links to files that were sent/received by users and stored on app servers without encryption or authentication. For the device storage analysis they searched through database files that applications use to store information. They found that many apps have unencrypted databases that contain highly sensitive user information.”

There is no way for users to directly fix this problem themselves. However, what they can do is be aware of what they’re sharing and understand the possibility of conversations being listened in on.

Individuals who use apps with security issues should be aware that their information is at risk and should run updates daily. They also should learn to run security tests on their own.

“They should also try conducting the tests that were done in the UNHcFREG videos on other apps. There’s no real way of knowing what these applications are doing/how they are doing it unless you see for yourself,” said Walnycky. “This problem can be solved by developers using encryption in network transmissions, server storage, and device storage.”

Each of the companies that own the apps has been notified of the issues by the cFREG team.

“Most companies simply have web contact forms for support – and no way for us to contact their developers or security teams. We had no choice but to use the support contact forms available on their websites, and most companies did not even respond. This exacerbates the problem – and it shows that mobile developers are still not taking security seriously,” said Baggili.

In regards to businesses improving their user’s privacy, Walnycky said privacy in general has been in decline over the years.

“It doesn’t seem like it’s in the best interest of the developers to give their users privacy. It takes away potential monetary profit from them either selling off user information or trying to sell users something through advertisements. However, many apps now let you “buy back your privacy” by using a non-free version that doesn’t have advertisements,” said Walnycky.

UNHcFREG was established in fall 2013 as part of UNH’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science to research digital forensics, security and privacy awareness and help reduce cybercrime. Last spring, UNHcFREG discovered vulnerabilities in WhatsApp, which has 500 million users and Viber, which has 300 million users.

“The goal of this research was to discover security and privacy issues within the social media, chatting, and dating app market on android and iOS, and we’ve been working on it since late May,” said Walnycky. “Our goal as an organization is to spread security and privacy awareness throughout campus and the world at large. We hope this project will push companies into taking stronger actions to combat these issues and boost awareness to the users.”

“This work is inspired by me, but executed by UNH students. Without the students, this work would not be possible. Their success, is our success,” said Baggili. “The students are excited to be part of a project that helps them protect their privacy – as well as other peoples’ privacy. Dan Walnycky produced the videos, he is our most creative IT student, in my honest opinion.”

“It feels unreal. It was crazy to see firsthand application after application failing to pass our security and privacy tests,” said Walnycky. “It’s easy to assume your information is safe, but this research proved otherwise. Now is as good of a time as ever for people to be aware of how the technology they are using works, how they are using the technology, and how complete strangers could be using both these things against them.”

UNHcFREG has gained world recognition for their research and are on their way towards becoming the strongest research group in digital forensics in the U.S. and worldwide. For more information, visit http://www.unhcfreg.com.

LAU Condor Carnival

by Alyssa MacKinnon | September 3, 2014

The Bixler-Botwinik quad was filled with the sounds of music and students as the Condor Carnival, hosted by the brothers of Lambda Alpha Upsilon fraternity, kicked off on Saturday, Aug 30.

Students rock climbing at LAU’s Condor Carnival. (Photo by Nicholas McDermott / Charger Bulletin photo)

Students rock climbing at LAU’s Condor Carnival.
(Photo by Nicholas McDermott / Charger Bulletin photo)

Rock climbing and a dunk tank were some of the most popular attractions, but the temporary tattoos and caricatures were a large draw for many people.
The carnival also featured a bouncy house obstacle course, a personalized street sign designer, and a wrecking ball blow up competition.

“I love LAU and I want to support them,” said senior Ahjahta McDuffie when asked why she attended the event. “The brothers are really fun and I love the pride they have in their fraternity.”

One of the members of Lamda Alpha Upsilon, Lamar Leonard, said that his favorite part of the carnival was seeing people have a good time and being able to enhance people’s college experience.

“We think of these events as bonding events…we are big on unity,” Leonard said.

Carnivals are a great time for various student groups to work together. Greek and non Greek organizations alike helped; the sisters of Sigma Iota Alpha assisted by making colorful snow cones, the sisters of Chi Kappa Rho made sugary swirls of cotton candy, and members of the Fire Science club cooked food on the grill.

Math Zone gets a new course structure and director

by Samantha Mathewson | August 27, 2014

Yevgeniya Rivers seeks to create a more cohesive Math Zone environment with a revised course structure this year as new director of the program.

North Hall, Home to Math Zone is under the new direction of Yevgeniya Rivers  (Photo by Samantha Mathewson / Charger Bulletin Photo)

North Hall, Home to Math Zone is under the new direction of Yevgeniya Rivers
(Photo by Samantha Mathewson / Charger Bulletin Photo)

“The class now meets in Math Zone,” said Rivers.

Unlike the past, the structure of Math Zone now requires students to have an hour and 15-minute block in their schedule for seat time twice a week, just as any other course would.

“We encourage 10 hours a week total,” said Rivers, the new director of Math Zone. “Six additional hours should be spent at the student’s own pace.”

Math Zone launched at the University of New Haven in the fall of 2013 and is an innovation in mathematics education, merging e-learning technology with direct teaching methods to enhance student success.

Each student is going to have two teachers and one tutor assigned to their course.

The faculty will provide students with mini-lectures, support through guided practice and assistance with navigating the software. They will monitor student progress and guide them in the mathematics learning process.

“There will be a customized pacing guide,” said Rivers. “This allows students to finish early if they gain mastery points at a quicker pace.”

To utilize the customized pacing guide, students adjust the end date of their course, and the pacing guide adjusts the schedule of mastery points for them to let them know when they should complete the course.

Students will still have the option of completing their courses early or completing more than one math class per semester based on their own pace.

“It’s a big bonus for student-athletes with a travel heavy schedule,” said Rivers. “They can finish their schedules early. It is also helpful for students wanting to get it out of the way to work on other courses. It’s been done, but I think we will have more take advantage.”

The Math Zone department is working very closely with the Center for Learning Resources, the First-Year Success Center and the Academic Success Center to make sure students are on track to complete their course.

Rivers previously taught in NYC public schools in general and special education for mathematics. She also has experience with educational leadership.

“I was ready to move into a world that blended leadership and actual teaching,” said Rivers.

As the new director of Math Zone, Rivers will be overseeing curriculum, coordinating communication efforts and developing a student-centered environment for the teaching and learning of developmental mathematics.

“I want them [the students] to understand we are here to help them and create a collaborative environment,” said Rivers.

 

Gender Neutral Bathrooms

by Samantha Mathewson | May 7, 2014

Gender neutrality is a national issue that campuses face when planning accommodations to welcome all prospective students.

male female sign

At the University of New Haven, “we need to think about being a university welcoming to all students,” said Rebecca Johnson, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students. “It is a national issue and we need to respond to it.”

Amber Crow, president of UNH PRIDE, said that establishing gender neutral bathrooms on campus was a combined initiative that started with PRIDE and was pushed through by the Office of Residential Life and the Dean of Students’ Office. Crow explained that during a meeting of the advocacy committee of PRIDE it was said that in member Mel Vitullo’s opinion, UNH wasn’t totally gender neutral and did not cater to students who don’t identify with the “normal” genders (male and female).

“So when we decided to get the ball rolling on increasing gender neutrality on our campus, we approached our club’s adviser, Dean Baker, about it. He kind of took over from there and really pushed the initiative with Residential Life and Facilities and the many other wonderful offices who were a part of making this happen,” said Crow.

Johnson explained she brought the issue to the facilities committee so that the campus could become a more welcoming environment for the community and provide options for students that are accessible and safe.

The Facilities Department then conducted a survey of the bathrooms on campus in order to locate single, one-person bathrooms that can be utilized as gender neutral bathrooms. After evaluating the campus, a list of available unisex bathrooms at UNH was created and can be found on the Intercultural Relations website: http://www.newhaven.edu/student-life/CampusLife_StudentAffairs/intercultural_relations/safe-zone.

Some locations of these bathrooms are on the first floor of Kaplan, the first and second floor of Maxcy and on the thrid floor of the Marvin K. Peterson Library.

On May 1, Johnson sent out an email to the university community notifying them of the update, stating, “in an effort to better meet the needs of the University community, attached is a list of restroom facilities on campus that are gender neutral. This means that the facilities may be used by any member of the University community, regardless of gender identity/expression.”

Gender Neutral bathroom located on 1st floor of Kaplan Hall (Samantha Mathewson/Charger Bulletin Photo)

To go along with the gender neutral bathroom initiative, Wanda Tyler, Director of the Office of Intercultural Relations, explained some of the content featured in the Safe Zone training that UNH, along with many other universities nationwide, provides to the campus community.

The mission statement of the UNH Safe Zone Program is to create a safe environment for anyone who is questioning their sexual orientation or wishes to celebrate differences in sexuality, sexual identity, and/or gender identity.

One aspect of the program deals with LGBT (standing for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) issues and how faculty, staff and students can be allies for this community. The training allows participants opportunities for expanding their minds so they can be understanding of the experiences of others.

“For someone who identifies as transgender, decisions about their housing situation and which restroom to use can be challenging to make,” said Tyler.

Transgendered individuals feel, see and associate themselves as being one sex, while they may have been born a different one.

“When they look in the mirror they may physically be a woman, but have a personal, internal sense that they are male and see something like facial hair,” explained Tyler. “Those of us who are not part of the trans community need to be understanding of what it might be like to be in their shoes and understand the transition some may be undergoing.”

Tyler also explained a word that she was taught that has, in her opinion, cleared things up. “Cisgender is used to describe or label those that are not transgender,” said Tyler who went on to also clarify that “LGB” identifies sexual orientation, while the “T” identifies gender identity where the physical appearance may not match what one feels psychologically.

Mario Pierce, assistant director for housing and operations at the UNH, explained that the exact signage of the bathrooms has not been decided yet, but they are currently distinguished as “unisex” with a male/female figure on the sign. However, the decision has been made to include gender neutral bathrooms in not only the newest residence hall currently being built, but in all buildings from now on.

“We will have to take a look at what is governed by code [regarding sinage for the bathrooms],” said Pierce, “but yes, code now requires unisex (or gender neutral) bathrooms in facilities.”

According to Johnson, as the campus expands and facilities are renovated, the list of gender neutral restrooms on campus will be updated.

Since gender neutrality is a wide spread issue, Johnson also mentioned some other universities that are taking actions to address this issue. The examples she provided included New Mexico State University and Brown University, who have implemented either, or both, gender neutral bathrooms and housing.

Wesleyan University in Connecticut had a Genderless Restroom movement of their own, where bathroom signs that normally read “Men” or “Women” had been torn down and replaced with a paper sign that read “All Gender Restroom.” This sign included pictures for everyone. Wesleyan University also has had gender neutral housing for several years.

Caitlin Pereira, Area Coordinator First-Year Areas, agreed with both Johnson and Tyler that gender neutral bathrooms give all students a safe bathroom facility on campus and that, “it is especially important for students who identify as a gender that differs from their biology.”

For UNH, the next step will be gender neutral housing. “I am very optimistic that we will end up with some sort of gender neutral housing in the future,” said Pereira who has done a lot of research on the topic. “We are at a point nationally where trans issues come up, and having gender neutral housing would provide an inclusive environment.”

PRI

Pereira continued to explain that gender neutral housing would be an option for those students that wish to participate in it because “the comfort level goes both ways.”DE strives to work with the ORL to implement gender neutral housing for students who require it.

“While I personally am not directly affected by gender neutral bathrooms on campus, I am excited for my friends and club members who are. We in PRIDE are very excited about this transition and hope that because of it, our campus will expand on gender neutrality,” said Crow. “My hope is that the introduction of gender neutral bathrooms on our campus will provide a safe environment for UNH students.”

Mindful Snacking

by Patricia Oprea | April 30, 2014

Vendor Fair offers nutritious snacks for students, promotes healthy eating.

Students visiting a vendors fair table with fruits (Patricia Oprea/Charger Bulletin Photo)

Students visiting a vendors fair table with fruits (Patricia Oprea/Charger Bulletin Photo)

In a fast-paced college life, eating nutritious food may not be a high priority for students. For some, work or class can interfere with dining hall hours. Other students might find themselves grabbing snacks such as Oreos, Doritos, or a Redbull just to keep them going; however, as shown during the Vendor Fair on Tuesday, April 22, 2014 has been a year of food-related changes.

While some complain that the University of New Haven has minimal options for snacking, or no healthy snacks, UNH has been increasing partnerships with food quick companies. Last year, a pastry from Jazzman’s may have been the only source of food from an open location, however Jazzman’s now has yogurt, KIND granola bars, and a hummus and pretzels combo. Even the N-rgize café in the Beckerman Rec center has a plethora of protein and power bars lining its counters, along with veggie smoothies.

At 11 a.m., five companies began to set up their products outside of the marketplace, downstairs in Bartels. At the first table was Fresh Point, with baskets full of apples and facts about the many different types of apples. Originally, they were known as Fowler Produce Company, which had been passed down in a family for three generations. Now they are a country-wide produce, fruit, and dairy company. Their food comes from local farmers in states including Connecticut.

“We desire to bring the highest quality of product; local produce to our customers,” said Representative Bob Kelly. Fresh Point provides food from local farms from May to October, and regular produce throughout the year for UNH. Apples, oranges, peaches, pears, and cantaloupes are just some of their products as an approved vendor through Sodexo.

Next was Happy and Healthy Products, a company desiring “to give people more natural, and healthier, snacking options.” They are at UCONN as well, and were invited to come sell at UNH in January. Products include Be Happy and Healthy breads like banana and zucchini, along with brownies and cookies. There are also Be Happy and Healthy Snacks including, trail mix, nuts, fruits, and Rocky Mountain Popcorn. The company also sells fruit bars called Fruitful, which are either cream-based with coconut flavoring, yogurt-based with blueberry flavoring, or fruit-based with raspberry flavoring. Their products are halal, kosher and fine gold approved, and can be found in front of the cashier tables in Bartels during meal times.

Across from Happy Valley was the company Farmer’s Cow. They are responsible for providing various dairy products to UNH, such as eggs and milk, and ice cream for catering. Three years ago, Guida used to provide these things for UNH, but Farmer’s Cow is a local company, which prompted the switch. The ice cream flavors featured were Salted Caramel, Spiced Apple, Peanut Butter Cup, and Raspberry Boots.

mindful snacking 2

Next was Mark Maillett with his company, Deep River Snacks. These all-natural, gluten free, kosher, non-GMO, and US-made, chips have been at UNH for five years. Their beginnings were in Old Lyme, Conn., and now they are found in seven countries worldwide! The snacks have even appeared on the Rachel Ray Show and in the Huffington Post. From Rosemary and Olive Oil, to Sweet Maui Onion, and Mesquite Barbeque, there is a plethora of flavors. Deep River snacks is even involved with several charities, such as the American Liver Foundation, Autism Speaks, and the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.

Chris’s Cookies was right across from Deep River Snacks, providing a sweet contrast with four chewy cake-like dessert bars. Mississippi Mud, Carrot Cake, Raspberry Linzer, and Cinnamon Apple were just the few of thirteen flavours sampled. Representing the company was Kyle Birdsall, who said that although these products are used mainly in catering, they are hoping to expand to make them full-time at UNH.

UNH is striving to provide options for gluten free, kosher, vegetarian, and vegan diets. Students can expect more food changes like these in the near future, as Sodexo comes across companies to collaborate with.

 

Hola, bonjour, and privet

by The Charger Bulletin | April 16, 2014

The Modern Language Department’s week in the limelight.

Students being taught how to belly dance. (Steve Blazo  Photography)

Students being taught how to belly dance.
(Steve Blazo Photography)

The University of New Haven recently pledged to double the amount of students who study abroad by the end of this decade. President Steven H. Kaplan remarked, “As a leader in experiential education, UNH seeks to expand the opportunities available to our students and to enhance their appreciation for diverse cultures and viewpoints.”

UNH was the first college in Connecticut to join Generation Study Abroad, and as if almost in sync, a month after this, the university had their first Modern Language Festival.

The series of cultural activities from Monday, April 7 to Thursday, April 10 sought to bring attention to a growing Arabic, Italian, Spanish, French, Chinese and Russian departments at UNH.

The festival began on Monday with a day of dance. First featured was the Portuguese culture with the Maculele, or Warrior Stick Dance, originating from Brazil. This dance began in the times of slavery when African men and women would dance with their machetes to pass the time cutting sugarcane. Now it is done in a circle called Roda with the Brazilian drum, or atabaque. Bamboo sticks are used and hit above the head with the right hand striking in an X-shape to the rhythm.

Spain was represented next with a lesson in Flamenco. This form of art includes dance, guitar playing, drums, foot stomping, and handclaps, or “Palmas.” The hands are very expressive in this form of dance and the motions are inward and self-reserved.

Next, Professor Halima Belemlih set up a Belly Dance performance representing Arabic culture. This type of dance focuses on the articulation of the hips and was taught by UNH student Marwa Lahlou and her friend Jasmin. They demonstrated dances with traditional outfits and students had the option of following along.

On Tuesday, the festivities continued with Chinese students on the BSAC patio teaching the traditional game of Mahjong. Taiwanese Bubble tea and Chinese steamed bread was also served. At this time in the programming space, Spanish professor Irizarry had a presentation showing the connection between Latin American and African American music; Salsa and Hip-Hop. This included video, audio, and lyrics.

Following was henna tattoos in the Bartels programming space. The tattoos are drawn using dye from the henna plant, which is popular in Eastern cultures and can be painted on the skin and last for several weeks.

In the afternoon, students could play Gioco Dell’Oca, or the Goose Game. This resembled a life-size version of Candyland and was led by Italian professor Maddalena Lolaico and her students. Participants formed teams, and on their turn, rolled a pair of dice, which said how many spaces forward to move. Some squares sent one backwards and some caused missed turns. If one team landed on the same space as another, that team was sent back to the space where the other team had been. A team had to land on the sixty-third square to win.

Thursday commenced with naming tables in Bartels, in which professors Chiaoli Lin, Dima Krizhanovskiy, and Mohammed El Idrissi could write student’s names in Chinese, Russian or Arabic respectively. Around lunchtime, students studying French, and their professor Coralie Gallet, had “Bistro Français,” where they served typical French dishes, such as quiches, cheese, baguettes, and crepes in the Bartels dining room. During the lunch, French music and a slideshow.

Dance UNH 4.07.2014 Steve Blazo Photography www.blazophoto.com

Afterwards, students studying Russian and their professor Daria Kirjanov put on “Kafe Rus.” Ukrainian cherry and potato dumplings and Russian tea and pastries were served. An accordionist played Russian folk songs during the event, along with modern Russian music and a slideshow that was shown.

On Thursday afternoon, students learning Arabic performed songs in the language on the BSAC patio. At night, a classic Russian comedy movie titled, Kidnapping in the Causcus was shown.

Professor Alessia Dalsant reflects, “We are so excited about this week’s success that we are planning to make it an annual event! The festival’s objective is to introduce students not only to the wide selection of languages offered at UNH, but also to the diverse and rich cultures that one discovers by studying languages.”

Dalsant believes that speaking a foreign language opens doors not only to the job market, but also for personal growth. The festival would not have been possible without the generosity of Greg Overend; Director of Student Activities, Dean Lourdes Maria Alvarez; Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Dean Rebecca Johnson; Dean of Students, and Wanda D. Tyler; Director of Intercultural Relations. After a taste of these multi-faceted cultures, who wouldn’t want to study abroad?

 

Psych Word

by Elissa Sanci | April 9, 2014

An inside look at the voices behind the mic at WNHU’s Friday afternoon show.

Rob Girard (left) and Kristina Gilbertie (right) Co-Hosts of Psych Word at WNHU/ Photo by Erica Naugle

Rob Girard (left) and Kristina Gilbertie (right) Co-Hosts of Psych Word at WNHU/ Photo by Erica Naugle

Rob Girard and Kristina Gilbertie, the hosts of the WNHU’s Friday afternoon show Psych Word, seem as though they’ve known each other forever. Girard and Gilbertie are drug and alcohol counselors who create a fun, fresh atmosphere for their radio show, inviting their listeners in and creating a conversational tone. Since the start of their show in February 2014, they have been featured in the newest edition of “New Haven Living” magazine.

Psych Word, which airs live each Friday from 3 to 4 p.m. on WNHU 88.7, covers a range of topics including mental health, current events, and overall wellness with a little humor and sarcasm mixed in.

Girard is currently a masters student at the University of Connecticut, and the creator of the show and its name. He said he gave the show its name because he felt it encompassed the content—psychology and mental health—and also because he liked the play on words.

“I like that it sounds like psych ward, because a lot times when you’re listening to us, you’re like ‘What? They are nuts!’” he adds, “I kind of go off the deep end sometimes.”

Each show has a theme, and Girard and Gilbertie often have guests that correspond to their themes. Guests have ranged from veterans and pin-up girls—women who make calendars to raise money for veterans—to health and fitness experts.

“We try to stick to a topic each show, but sometimes we get sidetracked,” Girard said. “Sometimes our callers will take us in a different direction.”

Girard explained one of the most popular segments of their show is Rant of the Day, which is where callers are able to call in from 3:10 p.m. to 3:20 p.m. with their “Rant of the Day.”

Co-Hosts of Psych Word at WNHU/ Photo by Erica Naugle

Co-Hosts of Psych Word at WNHU/ Photo by Erica Naugle

Gilbertie, who is also lead singer of the bands Sister Funk and Run Jenny, said that getting listeners involved is one of her favorite parts of being on the radio. “I love being interactive and getting people involved, and we love getting callers to give us their point of view.”

WNHU is the University of New Haven’s non-commercial, official FCC-licensed FM radio station, which broadcasts live from the station, located in the basement of Maxcy Hall.

“I knew that WNHU had been the number one college radio station for years, and I knew that I wanted to try to get a show on the station,” Girard said. “When we got the offer for a live show Friday during drive time, it was like the perfect recipe.”

Girard and Gilbertie stay connected with their listeners through many social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and they even have their own website, psychword.com, where listeners can go to share thoughts, opinions and comments of the show.

 

UNH joins Generation Study Abroad

by Kerri Zbodula | April 2, 2014

UNH is the first Connecticut college to pledge doubling the amount of study abroad students.

A group of UNH students who studied at the University’s campus in Tuscany last fall / UNH Today Photo

A group of UNH students who studied at the University’s campus in Tuscany last fall / UNH Today Photo

The University of New Haven is the first Connecticut college that has joined Generation Study Abroad with the objective of doubling the amount of study abroad students within the next ten years. Generation Study Abroad is in existence to encourage American students to participate in a program of international study.Generation Study Abroad was launched on March 3 at UNH. Generation Study Abroad believes that every student should have the opportunity to study abroad. Within the next decade, their goal is to have 600,000 U.S. students studying abroad in credit and non-credit programs. Since it was launched, more than 150 colleges around the country have committed to the program.Amanda Carter, a criminal justice major at UNH, has gone to a new country to study every fall semester since her freshman year. Carter began in Spain her freshman year, then traveled to Italy her sophomore year, and just finished studying in Korea her junior year.

For Carter, studying abroad has been a great experience. “Studying abroad has brought me closer to the people and cultures of the world. It’s a great experience to get a perspective outside the normal American college student,” said Carter. “Me and other students studied at the Korean National Police University as part of UNH’s exchange program. The experiences and opportunities I had learned, alongside criminal justice professionals abroad cannot be matched. Although many people are hesitant to go out of their comfort zone and study abroad, I can confidently say I would recommend it for anyone.”

UNH provides students with components of a liberal arts education, as well as opportunities for hands on technical learning through research. Between the 1,800 graduate students and 4,600 undergraduates, UNH enrolls approximately 6,400 students per year. UNH offers 75 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, consisting of its College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, Tagliatela College of Engineering, and College of Lifelong & eLearning.

More information on IIE’s Generation Study Abroad initiative and a complete list of commitment partners can be found at www.iie.org/generationstudyabroad.

 

Comedian Kevin Breel speaks about depression

by Patricia Oprea | April 2, 2014

Kevin Breel, a 22-year-old comedian, stepped on the stage of Dodds Theater March 10 and instantly started making sarcastic jokes and witty comments, just warming up the crowd for the rest of his show.

Photo Obtained via Twitter

Photo Obtained via Twitter

Breel cracked jokes about Yale men wearing three scarves and pointy shoes, about the curtains onstage, and about his complementary UNH T-shirt. Kevin then began his story. He was an honors student, a star basketball player and captain of his team, and deeply involved in the theater program at his high school in Canada. Yet Kevin remembers the overwhelming feeling of depression that would pervade his life, even during the happiest of times.

He thought it wasn’t okay to feel such things: going from practice to rehearsals, but then coming home depressed. One night, four years of hiding his feelings inside and pretending everything was okay, just shattered. February 26 was the day Kevin’s basketball team won the championships, and the day he wrote his suicide note. In it were things he had never told anyone, and with a bottle of pills, a notepad and pen, Kevin prepared for this to be his final night.

Yet Breel is alive and well today, and shared the significance of that with the UNH community. After realizing that all the trophies, medals and awards in the world wouldn’t make him feel better, Kevin knew that he had to do this himself, and the thought scared him.

Breel began to talk to people, thinking it would make him happy; his family, friends, coaches, and even a counselor finally heard his story. The latter challenged Breel to use his story and do something with it. Breel submitted a script of his story and mental illness awareness to TedTalks, and was asked to change his ideas. Instead, Breel did something else. He wrote a different script for a “fake talk” as he calls it, and submitted that. It was accepted and Breel was asked to come on the show, but little did people know that Breel would be discussing his original topic.

“Confessions of a Depressed Comedian” went viral. People around the world shared this video and sent Breel emails; one from a girl named Amber touched him the most. Amber had picked a date to commit suicide if things didn’t get better for her within six months. Six months later, nothing had changed so she prepared to carry out her plans…until she scrolled down her Facebook newsfeed. There was Breel’s video. Amanda watched the video, and she is still here today because Breel’s words prevented her from taking her own life.

“Maybe that’s all it takes,” said Breel, “just loving each other and caring for one another.”

“I believe that humor opens the heart,” writes Breel in his online bio. “And when the heart is open, we can talk about these topics…we can have an honest conversation about them. I think we spend a lot of time talking about how to take care of our bodies, but not enough on how to take care of our minds.”

Breel has been touring the United States and Canada talking to college students about mental health and suicide prevention. “When you have a cast, everyone runs to sign it, but when you have depression everyone runs the other way,” said Breel.

That is just why Rotaract brought him to UNH. Too often, the mental health community is unheard of, or mental instability is equated with homelessness or imprisonment. Sometimes mental illnesses are disregarded as just having a bad day, and aren’t taken as seriously.

Depression is everywhere. “Depression needs a louder voice everywhere. Depression is something that many individuals go through, yet few speak about. I would like to speak on behalf of the Rotaract Club, to say that we hope everyone who attended either of the talks took something away and felt more understanding that it is okay to speak up, it is okay to be yourself, and it is okay to get help”, said Rotaract President Jenna Rabadi.

The organization To Write Love on Her Arms wanted to get Breel to speak at UNH for a while, and members were thrilled that Rotaract was able to fund him. TWLOHA is an organization that helps create a home within their club and on campus for those who struggle with mental illnesses and other issues.

“We were so excited to have Breel speak at the university because his story is so inspirational and has been featured on TedTalks, so we hoped that students would recognize his name. It was such a great opportunity to help us spread our organization’s message, that you are not alone and there is hope,” said TWLOHA member Jacqui Guzman.

President Ashley Arminio said “Having a speaker talk about their life, and bring a positive light to issues that have such a negative stigma linked to them, brings a sense of hope to the campus and allows students to connect to someone.”

 

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