A Letter to the Trinity Community

November 10, 2016

To the Members of the Trinity Community:

During the past 48 hours, we have all felt a range of emotions. Surprise. Disappointment. Fear.  We worry for ourselves and our classmates, our friends and families, our nation and our future. For the past year, we have witnessed Donald Trump spew hate in an effort to campaign for the presidency. At the same time, we have watched Hillary Clinton, the first ever woman to run for president, promise us equality for all. Between building walls or making bridges, it seemed like an easy choice.

On November 8th, 2016, Americans chose a path that was very different from the one that we had hoped and planned for. We do not deny that, in this moment, the future feels bleak.

Friends, family—where do we go from here? Starting today, let us come together. Let this be our rallying cry. Let us remember that the man propped up in the White House was placed there by the people and thus, he answers to us. And let us not forget what is truly plaguing America: our division.    

As students, we came to Trinity with ambitions to learn, to expand our minds and to expose ourselves to new worldviews. Going forward, let us be students outside of the classroom. Let us listen to what has happened and why it has happened. Let us be teachers, too. Let us engage and discuss and fight for what is right and good and just.

We hope that none of you are so disheartened that you will shy away from politics, but rather that you are awakened, that you realize that our country needs us now more than ever. This country’s well being, its future, its success, its peace, is all in our hands. For the next four years and for the rest of our lives, we will reject any normalization of hate, any act of hate, any form of hate. We will listen and teach when there are chances to do so. We will fight.    

We will fight the walls that Trump has advocated for, because we believe in bridges. November 8th has taught us that those bridges are going to take a lot more work—but hard work has never scared us. It has never deterred us. We do not give up. We are resilient, we are fighters, and we are the strongest among the many because we are fighting for love.

Finally, for those of you who are a part of the LGBTQ community, for those of you who are undocumented, disabled, Muslim or have been victim to racism, sexism or police brutality—please, know that you are not alone. We stand beside you, in solidarity. We will fight every day, in every way that we can, together.

Today is not an end. It is a beginning. Let us never again stand divided, as we were on November 8th.

Love,

Emily Dowden and Alicia Abbaspour
Editors-in-Chief of The Beacon Newsmagazine

Teachings from a Local Theater Group

Staff writer Natalie Charette ’19 explores what a local theater group, HartBeat Ensemble, can teach Trinity students about their own surroundings.

On Saturday, Oct. 15, the HartBeat Ensemble, a community theater group based in Hartford, performed “Frog Hollow, A State of Mind,” a production inspired by the neighborhood surrounding Trinity College. This production was the third of a series called The Neighborhood Investigative Project.

In 2001, Steven Raider-Ginsburg, Julia B. Rosenblatt and Gregory R. Tate founded HartBeat Ensemble with the goal of uniting communities despite differences of class and race. These disparities are all too obvious in a city such as Hartford, where ethnic diversity, income and opportunity are inconsistent with much of affluent Connecticut. The ensemble strives to challenge these divisions and inspire conversation for change.

The Neighborhood Investigative Project exemplifies HartBeat Ensemble’s dedication to spur change within Hartford’s communities. Through this project, the ensemble partners with various community groups in Hartford and interviews residents so that they can voice their concerns. The issues identified are than given a narrative on stage. HartBeat hopes to perform in each of Hartford’s communities, including neighborhoods such as Parkville and Asylum Hill.

Hannah Simms and Cindy Martinez co-directed Frog Hollow, A State of Mind. Martinez also wrote the play, bringing the stories of Frog Hollow residents to the stage. The directors interviewed over 30 residents in Frog Hollow, who expressed concerns such as traffic safety, respect for diversity and distrust of the police. According to Simms, the characters are either directly based upon one person, or are composites of different individuals interviewed. Simms stated that the overarching goal of this project is to “celebrate the uniqueness and glory” of each of the neighborhoods while also “identifying challenges and a spark for change.”

The production was performed at the Studio at Billings Forge on Broad Street, located right in Frog Hollow. The group strives to perform in each neighborhood off which the production is based. Simms emphasized that this project is a community effort, and the community partners are crucial for both the interview process and implementing change. Additionally, the group works with local artists from the area for an even more authentic message. Martinez, for example, actually resides in Frog Hollow.

Eight individuals, two of whom are alumni of the Ensemble’s Youth Play Institute, brought the story of Frog Hollow to life in the Saturday and Sunday productions. The first half of the production was a play, segueing into the discussion portion, where the audience engaged in an interactive discussion to envision change within the community.

It is needless to say that there is often a disconnect between Trinity students and the surrounding Hartford community. In fact, many students are likely unaware that the surrounding neighborhood is even called Frog Hollow. They may take a day trip to the capital or enjoy a meal at a restaurant downtown, but few students take stock in the lives of everyday Hartford residents, who face problems with which many Trinity students struggle to sympathize. It is important that Bantams are aware of groups such as the HartBeat Ensemble, so that they too can feel the pulse of Hartford beyond the campus of Trinity.

By: Natalie Charette ’19

Bringing Real-Life Issues into the Classroom

The Moylan Mentorship program creates a safe space in which Trinity Students and Hartford Youth can discuss racism and discrimination. 

During the summer of 2015, I had the privilege of working as a Dream Camp counselor in Hartford, Connecticut, where I led a class of 30 children for four weeks. There, I realized the importance of directly interacting with a younger generation and, consequently, was inspired to join a similarly structured organization: The Moylan Elementary School Mentorship program.
This program was started by Professor Dyrness, the Associate Professor of Educational Studies at Trinity College. Her idea came into fruition after she realized that Hartford Public Schools focus strictly on grades and test scores, rather than holistic life lessons. She wanted to design a program for students to get out of the classroom and to discuss topics like discrimination and racism, which directly affect the lives of many students. Professor Dyrness focused on specifically helping public schools, due to the fact that private school students generally have access to more resources. She partnered with Moylan Elementary School, a neighborhood school in proximity to Trinity, and thus started the Moylan Mentorship program.
In this program, teachers select fifth grade students who they believe would benefit from being paired with a mentor. Approximately 10 Trinity students are involved, each assigned two mentees. Every Monday evening, mentors and their mentees engage in a dialogue about racial relations. To guarantee sensitivity regarding these topics and knowledge about their associated challenges, mentors have to be of a minority group. Most Moylan students are from minority groups, with 97% being either Black or Hispanic/Latino(a). Most people may wonder why mentors would want to talk to ten year olds about such serious topics, but the reason is simple: most of the students have faced these challenges themselves.

At my first session at Moylan, the mentor facilitator stuck blue and green sticky notes on each child, at random. After everyone introduced themselves, the children with the blue sticky notes were given snacks, while the children with a green sticky note had to wait. Professor Dynress then asked all of them what they thought of this unequal distribution. One of the students, Kayla, who sported a blue sticky note, said, “[The kids with the blue sticky notes] represent the white people, and [the kids with the green sticky notes] represent the black people.” All of mentors, and even Professor Dyrness, were caught off guard by her response, but we immediately understood why she had answered as she had. She further explained her reply: “Back in the day, white people and black people were separated, and the white people treated the black people badly.” The mentors brought up the word racism and asked the kids if racism still existed today. Janiyah said, “Yes. Down South.” Another student responded: “Even here, I see discrimination.”
Many of the Moylan students have faced racism and discrimination throughout their lives. As students who are also of color, mentors have walked the same path. By talking about these issues together, this program has created a safe space for the Moylan students.
Toward the end of the sticky note activity, Professor Dynress asked the students with the blue sticky notes if they’d give their snack to the kids with green sticky notes. They nodded their heads and agreed, echoing sentiments of fairness and equality for everyone.

By: Juliana Perez ’17 

Should Trinity Rethink its Partnership with Hartford Police?

Jake Villarreal ’16 takes a deeper look at Trinity College’s close relationship with local police and questions whether it is the best way to deal with student crime.

For a while, in my home county of Monterey, Calif., medical marijuana was illegal. However, it was legal on a state level. But, it was illegal on a federal level. That meant that someone possessing or using marijuana faced a fine, imprisonment, nothing, a felony, or some combination, depending on which police happened to catch them in the act.

Crime and punishment on college campuses works in similar tiers: The consequences of me smoking a blunt, for example, are entirely different depending on whether evidence is discovered by my Resident Advisor, a Campus Safety officer, or the Hartford Police. In 2013, Trinity made an administrative and financial decision to refurbish the building at 130 New Britain Ave. and turn it into the Trinity College substation of the Hartford Police Department. This was done with a large financial contribution from Trinity. The substation increased the presence of police officers around Trinity, and continues to act as a hub for detectives who would otherwise be in the field.

The extra police officers are meant to deter and stop crime. They spend their time patrolling Frog Hollow, the Hartford neighborhood surrounding Trinity, not Trinity’s campus itself. Of course, they pay particular attention to the area directly bordering Trinity, since the substation is a partnership with the City of Hartford and Trinity College. It doesn’t make sense for Trinity to financially and institutionally support an additional police station instead of the methods for preventing and dealing with crime already available to us as an institution.

From a Hartford-centric perspective, the easiest and most constructive ways to prevent crime are by putting money into life-building services and safety nets like education, after-school activities and mental health counseling. Given that Trinity has already opened the floodgates of donating to public institutions, why would they make the choice to finance a police station instead? The increase in police officers, especially with the Trinity College name attached to them, has only furthered animosity between Trinity and the surrounding neighborhood.

Since most Trinity students don’t leave far enough off campus to be victims of off-campus crime, though this does happen on occasion, the move makes even less sense considering the money could have been spent on on-campus staff and services for preventing crime, especially since in the case of emergencies, the Hartford police are still available. There are just more of them with the additional substation.

Besides Hartford’s interests, this move isn’t in the best interest of Trinity either. It would not be a controversial statement to say that the people who commit the most crime on Trinity’s campus and in the immediate area surrounding the college are Trinity students. The financial and institutional partnership between Trinity College and the Hartford Police Department to create the new substation on New Britain Ave. means that more Trinity students are going to have to deal with the police instead of on-campus resources when it comes to illicit activities, such as fake ID possession, illegal drug use and underage drinking.

It could be argued that these problems being brought to the police have some benefits. There’s the additional deterrence of facing a potentially life-ruining felony as opposed to a strike from campus safety, the possibility of torts for the victim in cases like sexual assault where there is a clear harm done, and the retributive aspect of more severe punishment. If these could be considered benefits, all of them can be equally fulfilled with 911 calls and responders or investigators already, and are not unique to patrol officers.

Instead, Trinity should put money into staffing and improving on-campus resources that stop, prevent, or deal with crime like the Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Misconduct, which is already doing great work. Trinity could use dedicated resources to help students rehabilitate from the chronic use of drugs like cocaine, or at least discuss safety in casual use. This could take the form of a student club, a health center campaign or working group, or a student government committee, but any option would need funding.

Deferring to more police as a mechanism to keep Trinity students safe is an incorrect decision, and if possible, should be rescinded. As movements like Black Lives Matter show, an increase in police officers makes Frog Hollow, a predominantly black and Latino community, less safe as well. Besides recent videos circulating on Facebook of Hartford Police brutalizing people during routine arrests, the trail of violence stretches back to at least April 13, 1999, when an unarmed black teenager was shot and killed by Officer Robert Allan. He would later become Lieutenant Allan, the Hartford Police’s South District Commander, who orchestrated the partnership between Trinity and the Hartford Police.

Municipal Elections Predicted to Follow Democratic Trend

On Tuesday, Nov. 3, Hartford will hold municipal elections, including an election for mayor. According to virtually all pollsters, Democrat Luke Bronin is the projected winner of the mayoral race. The Democratic Party has always had a strong presence in Hartford. More than 70 percent of active voters in Hartford arpiee registered Democrats, and Hartford has not elected a mayor from any other party since Republican Antonina Uccello in 1971.

Nonetheless, Bronin is not running unchallenged. Those registered to vote will have a choice between him, Republican Theodore Cannon and Joel Cruz of the Working Families Party. Republican mayoral candidate Theodore Cannon has argued this succession of Democrats as mayor has weakened Hartford’s government by creating what is effectively a one-party system.

The last major contender in the mayoral race is Cruz, who has been advocating multiple programs to help the economically disadvantaged. Cruz has the endorsement of the Working Families Party, a small political party only present in eight states and D.C.

Bronin faced a still larger field of four other contenders during the Democratic Party’s primary season, including current mayor Pedro Segarra. Segarra has been mayor since he was appointed in 2010. After Bronin defeated him in this year’s primary, Segarra chose to drop out out of the race entirely.

During primary season, Bronin repeatedly criticized Segarra for the increase in homicides over the past year (26 this year before Oct. 3, up from nine in 2014). Bronin also stressed the importance of increasing the size of Hartford’s police force. Data reported by Hartford law enforcement to the FBI indicate Hartford had 420 full-time police officers in 2014, down from 455 in 2013 and 440 in 2011.

Despite the focus on law enforcement, overall crime has been on a downward trend for the past five years, including a decrease in property crimes such as burglary.

PIEEE

The Beacon posted a voluntary anonymous survey titled “Which issue do you believe is most important for the new Mayor of Hartford to prioritize?”  (as seen in the figure to the left)to freshman, sophomore and junior Trinity class Facebook pages. After one week 29 students responded. 48 percent of the respondents voted that reducing crime was the most important issue for the mayor to prioritize. The second highest concern was shared among 31 percent of the participants, who cited the need for an improved quality of life for Hartford residents. In addition to these issues, public education and decreasing unemployment also drew a substantial amount of votes.

The ballot on Nov. 3 will include elections for Hartford’s city treasurer and city council.

By: Dylan Ingram

The Art Mart

Stock up on local culture: Madison Hummer ’18 offers a monthly dose of art from around the block.

Renovations to the Wadsworth Atheneum allowed for the opening of a new exhibit called, “Warhol and Mapplethorpe: Guise & Dolls.” The exhibit is not just a serendipitous occurrence for lovers of the art world; it’s an absolute sensation. It is the first show to feature the artists together, displaying their portraits of one another.

Warhol and Mapplethorpe both offered invaluable explorations of gender identity through their artwork. The complementary subject matter intensifies their challenge of social norms, creating a thought-inducing environment for the viewer.

After an Italian art dealer privately commissioned 100 art pieces of men wearing unconvincing drag, Warhol was so intrigued by the topic that he continued to produce similar works by his own artistic volition. This phase in his artistic life is epitomized by Warhol’s ten polaroid portraits of “bad drag”. Mapplethorpe’s contrastingly illustrated examples of “good drag.” The contrast of the two examples of cross-dressing invites a discussion of gender perception. The pieces also reveal the subjects’ intimate struggle with identity and sexuality.

The eyes of Warhol and Mapplethorpe watch from their portraits, silently observing the reactions to their unadulterated confrontation of society. While the artists’ cross-dressing subjects are documented in heavy disguise, the drag queens seem to be more themselves in their frames than Warhol and Mapplethorpe.

Historical Coltsville Reveals an Unexpected Past

In nineteenth-century, the now dilapidated and slightly ominous Coltsville served as Hartford’s own utopia. The star-covered Russian Orthodox dome towers over the Coltsville Historic District, jarringly out of place in contemporary Hartford. Samuel Colt developed Coltsville with his wife Elizabeth Jarvis Colt.

The village was designed as an attempted utopia, established to house Colt’s Patent Fire-Arms Manufacturing Company factory workers. The standard nineteenth-century amenities, such as a social hall, churches, and housing, were accompanied by far more eccentric privileges. In effort to attract German-speaking workers, Colt built a model Germanic village, including a beer hall, ski chalets, and replica Alpine cottages.

The village has not been officially preserved, yet its relative anonymity has protected it for over 150 years. Coltsville will be the only national park in Connecticut, and its recognition indicates the lasting impact of the nineteenth-century tycoon. The village provides a fascinating glimpse into the industrial dynamic of the nineteenth-century.

By: Elizabeth Askren ’17

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