In the News

Southern is committed to being a social justice university. In the spring 2021 issue, Southern Alumni Magazine looked at some of the many ways the community is taking a stand — and spotlighted some additional campus resources.

SCSU students gather at Black Live Matters, Southern Connecticut State university

When President Joe Bertolino came to New Haven in 2016, he pledged to make Southern a social justice university by ensuring that all members of its extended community were treated with dignity, respect, kindness, compassion, and civility — inspired by the tradition of Cura Personalis (care for the entire person) that he had learned during his Jesuit education at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania.

Four years later, this goal — and the actions and conversations it sparked — remain at the forefront, further informed by an international outcry for racial justice in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May. COVID-19 has also graphically illuminated racial and economic disparities. How does a campus community committed to social justice move forward?

In July, Diane Ariza joined Southern as vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion  — a new senior-leadership position. The move echoes a national trend: the number of chief diversity officers is on the rise on college campuses and in the business community. But while many developed the position in response to a major incident, this was not the case at Southern. Instead, strategic leadership was sought to bring the university to the next level of commitment and change.

Diane Ariza
Diane Ariza

Ariza was raised in a bi-racial, bi-cultural community in Puerto Rico. She brings decades of experience to Southern, including, most recently, social justice-related leadership positions at Nazareth College in Rochester, N.Y., and Quinnipiac University in Hamden. She began her Southern tenure by talking to hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Within months, she developed a three-year strategic plan: Advancing Southern Towards a Social Justice and Antiracist University: Priorities and Recommendations (2020-2023).

“In recent years there has been some great work done at Southern promoting antiracism and social justice that I haven’t seen in other places,” Ariza says. “But we will not solve systemic racism and inequality overnight, so we must find ways to take meaningful action by contributing however we can and moving forward as a community.”

Working with Ariza, students are continuing to drive Southern’s social justice mission throughout the 2020-21 academic year. The Student Activism Committee, often working alongside the Student Government Association and multicultural student groups, held many events — including an on-campus Black Lives Matter (BLM) March (Sept. 30), a Voter Teach-In (Oct. 26), and the State of Social Justice at SCSU Town Hall (Nov. 18).

For the BLM march, hundreds gathered at Buley Library, then traveled on to the residence life quad. The event included speakers, art, and music, and culminated with a vigil commemorating Black lives lost to police brutality and racial injustice. “The community came out and they came out in force. . . . If you wanted an example of a peaceful, intelligent, informative, teachable rally — that focused on action and the future while simultaneously acknowledging the pain of the present and the past — Southern was it. . . . I couldn’t have been prouder,” said Bertolino, commenting on the event during a Diversity in Higher Education podcast.

The State of Social Justice at SCSU Town Hall, moderated by Ariza and held online, was also a semester highlight. The event outlined ongoing goals and progress made on multiple fronts, including campus diversity. (Watch at news.SouthernCT.edu/socialjusticerecap.) In recent years, Southern’s student body has come to increasingly reflect the community at large: about 38 percent of students are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) and, last year, more than 50 percent of the incoming class were students of color, says Robert Prezant, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

The developments were too numerous to highlight exhaustively during the town hall or in this article. But they cross all areas of campus, from curriculum development to residence life. Additional training programs are preparing staff and faculty to support all students, including those who are first-generation and BIPOC. Services offered through the Multicultural Center have been expanded, and a new initiative — Athletes Fighting Injustice — was launched this summer.

In terms of academic developments, a new minor — Racial and Intersectional Justice Studies — will be launched. And Enrollment Management is working to enhance access to higher education, even for high school students not planning to attend Southern. Staff offer programs on topics like paying for college and completing the application for federal student aid. (Southern’s Financial Literacy and Advising program is listed among the top 10 in the nation.)

Jules Tetreault, associate vice president and dean of student affairs, emphasized the importance of understanding the complexity of many students’ lives — most notably, a lack of access to basic needs such as shelter and food. In October, the university opened an on-campus Food Pantry along with a related Social Services Center to help students access vital resources.

Of course, a commitment to social justice is not a new endeavor for the university. COVID-19 altered plans for Social Justice Month, which is historically held on campus in November. For the first time, the event was offered online and given an overarching theme: Changing the paradigm from ally to antiracist. Southern also annually offers social justice grants, ranging from $500 to $2,500, to members of the campus community for projects/initiatives that forward a climate of inclusion and challenge injustice. And the Top Owls Social Justice Awards honor those who have taken a stand.

Still, much remains to be done. Among the many goals cited during the State of Social Justice meeting:

  • Attracting and retaining a more diverse faculty. Approximately 23 percent of full-time faculty are BIPOC, compared to about 19 percent in 2005.
  • Determining how to best support housing-insecure college students and high schoolers who want to go to college.
  • Leveraging existing and external support to meet students’ pressing needs with limited resources.The list goes on — and the work continues. •

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
SouthernCT.edu/dei The Division for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion shares a wealth of information online, including social justice priorities, suggestions for getting involved, and resources, a podcast, and more.

Real Talk: A Diversity in Higher Education Podcast In Season Two, student activist Jamil Harp and Professor KC Councilor break down communication barriers and get to the heart of equity and inclusion conversations on college campuses.

History Department Teach-in Series Watch the series — which addresses topics ranging from militarization to incarceration to the psychology of racism.

Crucial Conversations: A Southern video series addressing important topics in two parts — Race in America part 1  and part 2.

Cover image, Southern Alumni Magazine, Spring '21Read more stories in the Spring ’21 issue of Southern Alumni Magazine.

 

a doctor in a white coat administers a vaccine in the arm of a patient

The CARE (Community Alliance for Research and Engagement) program, based at both the SCSU College of Health and Human Services and the Yale School of Public Health, is using a major CDC grant to advance several community-based initiatives, including promoting the importance of flu vaccinations as a way to ease the burden on health care systems during the COVID-19 pandemic. Alycia Santilli is the Director of CARE.

According to CARE’s data, during the 2019-20 flu season in New Haven, more people of color than whites were hospitalized due to the flu: 35 percent of Black and 31 percent of Hispanic residents, compared to 22 percent of white people. This year, with COVID threatening to overwhelm health care facilities, keeping people safe from the flu seems more crucial than ever. So CARE is engaging in outreach within city neighborhoods, with seven newly hired community workers visiting places like food pantries, senior housing, barber shops and hair salons, to talk to residents about the flu vaccine and encourage them to get vaccinated. The New Haven Register recently published an article about CARE’s efforts to calm residents’ fears about vaccines and encourage them to get vaccinated:

“Flu Fighters Combat Vaccination Fears in New Haven”
By Sujata Srinivasan December 16, 2020

 

Philosophy Professor David Pettigrew

December 14, 2020, marks the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords in Paris. Following three weeks of negotiations, the Dayton Peace Agreement — also known as The General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina — was signed in Dayton, Ohio, on November 21, 1995, and formally signed in Paris, on December 14, 1995, bringing an end to the international aggression against Bosnia and the resulting genocide.

Philosophy Professor David Pettigrew has long been involved in advocating for the victims of atrocities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. While his efforts are part of a personal commitment to human rights and social justice, Pettigrew’s work on Bosnia also has an academic dimension, expressed through his lectures, publications, film screenings, and other work. He also teaches a holocaust and genocide studies course at Southern.

Pettigrew recently published an op-ed essay in Al Jazeera Balkans on the Dayton Accords, following his co-organizing of the online international symposium, “Bosnia: 25 Years After the Dayton Accords 1995-2020,” which took place on November 5-6, 2020. His essay — “Confronting the Tragic Legacy of the Dayton Accords” (the text of which is below) — sets forth fundamental structures for the possibility of transitional justice for Bosnia and the region. The things he proposes will provide the possibility for long-awaited constitutional reform that would respond to the destabilizing influence from Republika Srpska and as well as to rulings from the European Court of Human Rights. This essay was also featured as a lead essay (in German) in the “Memorandum on the Dayton Peace Accords,” which was published by the Society for Threatened Peoples [Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker], an NGO based in Germany.

Since the essay’s publication, Pettigrew was interviewed on FACE TV/Sarajevo by Senad Hadžifezović, a prominent journalist and TV show watched in the region and around the world. It was posted on YouTube and so far has more than 50,000 views. He also presented virtually a paper for KRUG 99 for their special session on the Dayton Peace Accords, and was again interviewed, this time by Al Jazeera Balkans, for publication in Sarajevo.

Among other invitations for interviews and participation in a podcast and a webinar, Pettigrew was also invited by Ben Moore, director of The Center for Bosnian Studies at Fontbonne University,  to participate in a panel discussion, “Bosnian Studies: Scholars’ Perspectives on an Emerging Field.”

Pettigrew’s essay follows.

“Confronting the Tragic Legacy of the Dayton Accords, 1995-2020”

As we reflect on the legacy of the Dayton Accords, it should not escape our attention that Bosnia and Herzegovina was the victim, from 1992 to 1995, of international aggression from Serbia and from Croatia. Indictments and convictions at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) have identified Serbian and Croatian nationals, including Presidents Tudjman and Milošević, as members of Joint Criminal Enterprises responsible for orchestrating the aggression. At the end, “Mladić addressed a letter to Milošević, copying General Perišić, to express his gratitude for the ‘invaluable’ assistance that the VRS (Army of Republika Srpska) had received from FRY (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) authorities”. Mladić said he could not have done it without them.

Of course, Milošević was eventually indicted for genocide and other war crimes in 2001 as part of his own designs on “Greater Serbia.” Perhaps we should also recall that Bosnia had already sued Serbia for Genocide in the International Court of Justice in March 1993. Eventually, the ICTY Chamber found that the criminal enterprise in the Prlić case involved Croatian nationals “whose goal was to permanently remove the Muslim population from Herceg-Bosna.” However, in spite of being eventually implicated in Joint Criminal Enterprises, both Tudjman of Croatia and Milošević of Serbia were signatories to the Dayton Accords in 1995. Milošević was representing Serbia, as well as representing the leadership of Republika Srpska, by virtue of a “Patriarch Paper,” since Mladić and Karadžić were already indicted for war crimes and were unable to attend.

There were, however, representatives of the Bosnian Serbs at Dayton who had not yet been indicted. These included Momčilo Krajišnik and General Zdravko Tolimir. But both Krajišnik and Tolimir were also eventually indicted and convicted of war crimes. Hence, the problematic character of the negotiating team should have provided some foreshadowing of the fate of the peace agreement. In the years following the Dayton Accords, both Croatia and Serbia have worked to undermine Bosnia and Herzegovina as a sovereign state. Each has encouraged separatist/secessionist initiatives in Bosnia (Herceg-Bosna and Republika Srpska), arguably pursuing their territorial goals from 1992. Their tactics to undermine Bosnia’s sovereignty have included anti-Muslim and nationalist propaganda.

There has also been the internal source of destabilization: Republika Srpska. It was Milošević who oversaw the legitimation of Republika Srpska at Dayton, one of the two entities “demarcated” by the agreement. The founders of Republika Srpska had officially declared the geographic territory of Republika Srpska and subsequently sought to secure the territory as ethnically homogeneous. The ICTY Trial Chamber in the Karadžić judgment determined that there was a common plan “to permanently remove the Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian Serb-claimed territory.” Indeed, having officially declared the ethnically homogeneous territory, the founders of Republika Srpska carried out their aggression from 1992-1995 against the civilians of Bosnia, committing atrocities that have been judged to be war crimes, including genocide. However, in spite of the atrocities for which perpetrators had already been indicted–the ICTY had been formed in May 1993–at Dayton, the Bosnian Serbs were “rewarded” in the sense that Republika Srpska, the territory they had declared and violently transformed in name and deed, was recognized and legitimized as an official entity within Bosnia, an entity that would undermine Bosnia’s national sovereignty for the next 25 years.

Following the legitimation of Republika Srpska in 1995 as an entity in Bosnia, the authorities have undertaken concerted efforts, in spite of Annex 7, to prevent non-Serbs from returning to the homes from which they were forcibly expelled, thus continuing efforts to achieve the goal of ethnic homogeneity. Such efforts have included the intimidation of returnees through hate speech, genocide denial, the glorification of convicted perpetrators, and suppression of memorials for the victims.  In addition, Milorad Dodik, now member of the Presidency of Bosnia, and former President of Republika Srpska, undermines Bosnia’s existence by challenging decisions of the national court and threatening secession. Republika Srpska seeks to prevent Bosnia from functioning as a state, undermining any hope of restorative justice that would lead to reconciliation. Genocide denial and threats of secession have been wielded by the leadership of Republika Srpska with impunity. The failure of the international community to respond to these destabilizing provocations have led to the public celebration of the genocidal atrocities, a phenomenon Hariz Halilović has referred to as a “triumphalism” that retraumatizes the victims and threatens a repetition of the atrocities.  Sadly, “triumphalism” is part of the legacy of the Dayton Accords.

In 2014, a plaque glorifying Mladić, for example, was installed on a hill from which his forces assaulted the civilians of Sarajevo, and in 2016, a plaque commemorating Karadžić was affixed to a student dormitory in Pale. A monument that glorifies the perpetrators has stood in the middle of Višegrad for years. Sculptor Miodrag Živković has created numerous nationalist monuments glorifying the Serb forces that committed the very atrocities that have been judged to be genocide and other war crimes.  These provocative monuments to the perpetrators, such as in Bijeljina, which is dedicated to “The Fallen Serb Fighters,” are a form of genocide denial that insults the memory of the victims. This again, is part of the tragic legacy of the Dayton Accords.

When I spoke with Richard Holbrooke, the lead negotiator at Dayton, in a brief conversation in 2009, I identified the recognition of Republika Srpska as a legitimation of a genocidal geography, and as a dehumanizing zone of discriminatory exclusion that continues the founding genocidal impulse by its very existence. I proposed that the political existence of Republika Srpska needed to be challenged through constitutional reform that would reverse that dehumanizing zone of exclusion. He said he agreed with me completely, but he doubted it would be practical. He described the founding leaders of Republika Srpska as opportunists, thugs and criminals. In his book To End a War Holbrooke had already expressed his frustration with recognition of Republika Srpska, stating that “to divide Bosnia-Herzegovina into two independent parts would legitimize Serb aggression.” In 2005, in his Foreword to Derek Chollet’s book, The Road to the Dayton Accords, Holbrooke wrote “I still regret…agreeing to let the Bosnian Serbs keep the name ‘Republika Srpska’ for their entity. Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic was right when he told me it was a ‘Nazi name’.”

The Dayton Accords attest, then, to the failure of the international community to recognize and stop a genocide in progress, from 1992-1995; the failure to create a just peace at Dayton; and the failure to support state-building in Bosnia in the past 25 years. As Republika Srpska wields genocide denial, challenges to the constitutional court, and threats of secession with impunity, the international community’s failure has betrayed the possibility of a meaningful future for the next generation and has undermined the possibility of restorative justice.

As we mark 25 years since Dayton, it is imperative that the international community confront this tragic legacy.  One crucial initiative would be for the High Representative, who has the responsibility to oversee the peace, to use his BONN powers to implement a law against genocide denial and against the glorification of convicted war criminals. This would be important for the survivors who are traumatized by these threatening and dehumanizing acts.  A legal framework for such legislation can be found in the Council (of the European Union) Framework Decision of 28 November 2008, on “combating … expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law.” The Framework Decision indicates that “Member States shall … insure” that “publicly condoning, denying, or grossly trivializing crimes of genocide is punishable.” Switzerland and Belgium have passed such laws against genocide denial. These laws, based on a tradition of laws against Holocaust denial such as exist in Austria and Germany provide a conceptual model for this long overdue legislation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Denial of a genocide is an act of hatred and discrimination, since it minimizes or justifies the barbaric crimes suffered by the targeted group, minimizing not only the crimes but also the suffering, and in this way the denial entails a threat that the crime could be repeated. The denial identifies the group as unworthy of empathy or protection against harm and renders the group vulnerable to a repetition of the harm. Such laws in Bosnia would need to criminalize the denial of not only the Srebrenica genocide, but of all war crimes that were committed, along with hate speech, as well as the glorification of war criminals and celebration of the atrocities.

Finally, it is imperative for the international community to resist and condemn threats of secession and destabilization and to recognize Bosnia’s sovereignty by expediting its membership in the European Union and its entry into NATO. A law against genocide denial, EU membership, and entry into NATO, should be the focused goals now in order to address the tragic legacy of Dayton and to support long overdue state-building in Bosnia.

David Pettigrew, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy
Southern Connecticut State University
Member, Steering Committee, Yale University Genocide Studies Program

 

Volunteers fill Christmas stockings for veterans.

COVID-19 has presented countless obstacles and losses over the past nine months, and now, with the holiday season upon us, many folks are feeling the challenges of COVID even more intensely. Lisa Siedlarz, student loan coordinator in Financial Aid and Scholarships, is doing what she can to make the season a little brighter for veterans, a group that is close to her heart.

Lisa Siedlarz being interviewed by WFSB

For the past 12 years, Siedlarz has coordinated a holiday stocking drive for veterans, collecting donations of treats and small gifts and organizing a team of volunteers to help her stuff and deliver the stockings to the VA Hospital in West Haven. She started making holiday care packages for soldiers when her brother was serving in Afghanistan, and after he returned home, she began making stockings for veterans at the VA.

WFSB interviewed Siedlarz recently about her work: “New Haven woman on a mission to bring joy to veterans this holiday season” (Dec. 1, 2020). She plans to shop and fill the stockings soon, and will drop them off at the VA in mid-December.

Donations Siedlarz has received for filling the stockings

Asma Rahimyar
Asma Rahimyar

Asma Rahimyar – a senior pursuing a double baccalaureate degree in political science and philosophy at Southern – will become the first Rhodes Scholar in the university’s history.

Rahimyar, a Trumbull resident and daughter of Afghan refugees, was among 32 Americans chosen for the prestigious award from an applicant pool exceeding 2,300, according to Elliot F. Gerson, American secretary of the Rhodes Trust.

The award is considered one of the most prestigious academic honors in the world. Applicants are chosen based on several criteria with academic excellence being the foremost. “We seek outstanding young people of intellect, character, leadership and commitment to service,” Gerson said.

Rahimyar said she is proud to represent her family, community and Southern.

“It’s exciting, overwhelming, and also very humbling,” she said. “I had no expectations of making it to this point.

“Southern has taught me how to keep my feet on the ground and reach for the stars,” Rahimyar continued. “So many of our students have life struggles outside of the classroom and it’s difficult for them to pursue their studies. They should know the sky’s the limit; there’s no limit to the extent of their aspirations.”

SCSU President Joe Bertolino said the award is a source of great pride for SCSU and all those who have supported Rahimyar throughout her “journey of great accomplishment,” noting that Rhodes Scholars are typically recipients from Yale, Harvard and other leading colleges and universities across the nation.

“Being named a Rhodes Scholar is a tribute to her outstanding qualities as a student and her passion for human rights,” he said. “And it is also testimony to the mission of empowerment and opportunity that we pursue at Southern, through a deep and enduring commitment to social justice.”

Rahimyar plans to pursue masters’ degrees in global governance and diplomacy, and in refugee and forced migration studies. She eventually hopes to obtain a doctoral degree and empower women in Afghanistan, while helping to rebuild that country through stable government.

Earlier this year, she was selected as a recipient of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship for outstanding potential for leadership, commitment to public service and academic excellence. She also has earned various other awards and serves as president of the Muslim Student Association. In addition, she has participated in a United Nations Conference on Cultural Diplomacy.

Patricia Olney, professor of political science and Rahimyar’s academic advisor who recommended her for the Rhodes Scholarship, pointed out that she also had won a competitive SCSU summer research grant of $3,000 to reconstruct the history of two Afghan villages suffering the ravages of wartime abuses during the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s.

“It was these horrors her parents fled from to seek refuge in the United States and why she developed a passion for human rights, as well as refugee and immigrant rights,” Olney wrote in her letter of recommendation.

Olney said Rahimyar has compiled a remarkable 4.0 GPA, while also being very active in other activities.

“The flurry of extracurricular activity I see her so devoted to has always confounded me as she spends a minimum of six hours daily in the library and seems entirely devoted to her studies,” she continued. “Yet to Asma, academic and service activities are twin passions — neither of which can be compromised, including her many acts of kindness outside of her formal activities.”

Rahimyar will be among more than 100 students representing 60 countries who will attend Oxford University starting next October. The Rhodes Trust will pay for all of her college and university fees; provide a stipend for necessary expenses while at Oxford; and cover transportation costs to and from England.

Of the more than 2,300 applicants, 953 were endorsed by their college or university. Selection committees in each of 16 U.S. districts then invited the strongest applicants to appear before them virtually for an interview.

Two students were chosen in each of the 16 geographic districts, based on a student’s home address. Rahimyar joins a student from New Jersey attending the U.S. Naval Academy to represent District 2.

 

Biology Professor Sean Grace was quoted in an article, “What kelp can teach us about thriving amid uncertainty,” published on Quartz. The writer, Katherine Ellen Foley, uses kelp’s ability to survive in harsh conditions as a metaphor for how we can look at life during a pandemic. Below is the full text of the article.

“What kelp can teach us about thriving amid uncertainty”
By Katherine Ellen Foley
Health and science reporter, Quartz
November 4, 2020

On days when it feels that the uncertainty is too much to bear, we’d be wise to take notes from a humble, giant algae: kelp.

We land-dwellers rarely think about kelp, but we’ve got quite a lot in common with this ocean friend. For one thing, neither of us are plants; kelp is actually a type of algae called a heterokont. Our lives also share similar beginnings and ends: We both create offspring via sexual reproduction, and eventually, our cells age and die.

These similarities should inspire us to know that we, too, can be like kelp in perhaps its most remarkable feat: It stays firmly rooted amid tumultuous forces beyond its control, and in doing so, inadvertently creates a nurturing environment for others.

Kelp is somewhat constrained in where it can live; because it is algae, it must stick to shallow salt water where it can absorb the sun’s rays. Unfortunately, though, these shallows experience incredibly turbulent waters—too rough for most organisms to handle. These forces would rip humans apart, says Sean Grace, a marine ecologist at Southern Connecticut State University.

Although kelp might be happier in a calmer environment, it continues to thrive. It does so by being both steadfast and flexible. At the bottom of kelp stocks are appendages called holdfasts, which live up to their names, Grace says. Holdfasts fuse themselves to rocks, and become unflappably grounded.

Portrait of SCSU Professor of Biology Sean Grace
Sean Grace

Holdfasts allow the parts of kelp that stretch up to the sky, called stripes and blades, to bend to the water’s will. This flexibility is what allows them to survive, instead of getting whisked away and torn to shreds. Even while it accommodates unforeseen pushes and pulls, kelp never stops reaching for the suns’ rays.

But here’s more: As kelp sustains itself by absorbing sunlight, water, and literal tons of carbon dioxide (cleaning up much of our dirty work, I might add), its stability creates a habitat for all kinds of marine life. It does so physically, by providing a reliable hideout for fish, crustaceans, and mammals; and biologically, by providing these creatures with the nutrition they need to thrive.

“If you look all around the world to wherever there are kelp forests, you find higher biodiversity, which is a signal of health,” Grace says. The more kelp, the more other kinds of life thrive.

We didn’t ask to live through the pushes and pulls of 2020, nor did kelp ask to live through the ebbs and flows of the tides. Yet kelp survives, and help others thrive, as should we. Although we don’t have holdfasts, we do have family and loved ones to keep us grounded. We have foundational values that allow us to keep sight of our goals, even while being pulled in undesirable directions. And we can make room for others along the way, too.

Perhaps when Confucius referenced the strength of the humble green reed compared to the stiff oak, he really meant to say “kelp.”

Jennifer Hopper
Jennifer Hopper

Throughout this election season, our faculty experts in the Political Science Department have shared their insight and expertise with the public via a slew of media interviews.

Collectively, Jonathan Wharton, Tess Marchant-Shapiro and Jennifer Hopper have provided Southern with a regular presence in the news. Media representatives have expressed that they value not only their knowledge of politics, but their ability to provide objective analyses of political events — a valuable skill in today’s polarized political world.

As an example, Channel 3 interviewed Jennifer both on Election Day, and then the next morning, about the presidential election race. She also was interviewed on WNPR’s “Where We Live” show.

Jonathan also was interviewed on Channel 3 before the election, and on Channel 30 after the election.

In the days leading up to the election, the three were interviewed by various media, as well.

As an example, Tess was interviewed by Channel 3, Channel 61 and WNPR.

 

Mrs. Mildred Madison

When 94-year-old Mildred Madison’s absentee ballot was late arriving, she wanted to make sure her vote was counted. So her son, History Professor Julian Madison — drove her 350 miles each way, from Chicago to Detroit, so that she could cast her ballot. Mrs. Madison was featured in a news segment on CBS 17, a local CBS affiliate in North Carolina, as well as on CNN Politics.

Mrs. Madison is quoted in the CNN article as saying, “I’ve been voting in every election, whether it was city, state, county or national for the last 72 years.” She has a long history in activism and politics and was the first black president of the League of Women Voters in Cleveland, Ohio, where she raised her children. In that role she worked to bring the final presidential debate between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter to Cleveland.

In the video, Mrs. Madison emphasizes the importance of voting, “not only for your children, but for their children.”

Professor Madison says, “While growing up, my mother insisted on two things: First, respect women. Second, vote in every election. Her explanations were simple. By voting, I take part in shaping my future as well as those who come after me. Second, it sets an example for others. Finally, by NOT voting, not only will my voice not be heard, but I will have no right to complain when things go wrong.”

From the CBS 17 video: History Professor Julian Madison waits for his mother as she casts her ballot.

Mrs. Madison’s story has caught the attention of many and has now gone viral. Professor Madison reports that news outlets in Vietnam, England, and France have picked up this story as have outlets in most states. The Daily Show covered her story on October 20, and she has been interviewed by phone by someone on the Oprah Winfrey Channel. She was also featured on the CBS Morning News on Election Day, November 3.

As Professor Madison says, “this is certainly an opportunity for my mother who has run for political office on several occasions and won, to continue to push people to vote.”

Julian Madison

Sarah Crawford

Sarah Crawford, a professor of biology who has an expertise in virology, recently had an article published regarding the latest developments with vaccines and therapeutics in the journal, “Medical Research Archives.” The piece is titled, “Defeating the COVID-19 Pandemic by Targeting the Critical Interface between SARS-CoV-2 Virus Infection and Its Destructive Immune System Effects.”

Crawford discusses why younger people are at lower risk for severe reactions to COVID-19 infections; the role of interferon — both natural and in drug form — and of hydroxychloroquine on the disease; the keys to effective therapeutics; and whether it is possible to prevent the “cytokine storm,” the cascade of reactions causing serious complications in the second week after an infection begins.

She also addresses the topic of whether previous exposure to other coronaviruses can generate immunity.

And Crawford’s article points out that previous vaccines for SARS and other coronaviruses showed serious after effects in some patients in clinical trials. “We are beginning to see that now with the new vaccines,” she said.

After having her paper published, she was interviewed on Channel 3 (WFSB) and on WTIC radio (1080 AM).

The following is a question-and-answer with Crawford that offers a summary of the highlights of the article:

*Why are younger people at lower risk for severe reactions to COVID infections?

I believe one of the reasons is that people 50 years and older tend to produce less interferon than younger folks. Interferon inhibits the reproduction of the virus in the early stages.

*Can interferon as a drug help those who don’t produce enough of it naturally?

Studies have shown that it does help. But it has a wide range of effects in drug form, and the pros and cons would have to be weighed.

*Are there other reasons for young people having much milder symptoms?

This may be related to the various vaccines given to children. There is evidence to suggest they create a broad enhancement of the immune system during a person’s youth. This seems especially linked to a type of tuberculosis vaccine.

*What are keys to effective therapeutics?

The most effective therapeutics attack the spike attachment protein, replication of the RNA genome, and assembly of virus particles in infected cells.

*Is it possible to prevent the “cytokine storm,” the chain reaction in the body that spurs inflammation and sometimes blood clots and other complications, in a person who already has been infected?

Drugs, such as Remdesivir and Favipiravir decrease the duration of the disease, and seem to have the greatest effect in limiting the cytokine storm if given early in the infection. Dexamethasone, a glucosteroid, has been shown to decrease mortality rates.

*What about hydroxychloroquine? Is this an effective treatment or not?

There is conflicting evidence. But a study in Henry Ford Hospital included 2,500 patients in which there was a significant reduction in mortality rates when used by itself or with the antibiotic azithromycin, compared with those who used neither. This contradicted an earlier Oxford study.

*Can previous exposure to other coronaviruses generate some immunity from COVID-19?

Other coronavirus may produce long-lasting cross-reactive immune system responses.

 

 

Vivian Shipley

English Professor Vivian Shipley, a Connecticut State University Distinguished Professor, has won the grand prize in The MacGuffin’s 25th Annual Poet Hunt Contest with her poem “No Rehearsal.” The MacGuffin is a national literary journal established in 1984 at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Mich. The winning three poems, selected by this year’s guest judge, poet Matthew Olzmann, will be published in a short feature appearing in Vol. 37.1 due out in early 2021.

Shipley, who earned her bachelor of arts and master of arts degrees in English from the University of Kentucky and her doctorate in Victorian literature from Vanderbilt University, has taught at Southern since 1969 and has published 16 books of poetry. She teaches undergraduate and graduate poetry writing workshops in the English Department. She says that her winning poem is about the coronavirus.

Shipley’s work has received many accolades. Her book All of Your Messages Have Been Erased (Louisiana Literature Press, 2010) was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and won both the 2011 Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement and the Sheila Motton Book Prize for Poetry from New England Poetry Club. It was also recognized as Best Creative Work by the Connecticut Press Club and was a finalist for both the Connecticut Book Prize and the Milton Kessler Poetry Prize from SUNY-Binghamton. Shipley has received many other awards and recognitions as well, including being chosen as SCSU Faculty Scholar three times and named to the University of Kentucky Hall of Distinguished Alumni.