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New college safety data revealed a 29% decrease in all crimes reported across Connecticut’s 10 largest four-year undergraduate institutions from 2019 to 2020, including a 42% decrease in sexual offenses.

This 29% decline marks the steepest drop in recent years. Between 2018 and 2019, reported crimes among the 10 largest universities decreased by 11% and sexual offenses decreased by 17%. University of Connecticut spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said that the COVID-19 pandemic, which halted the spring semester and moved classes online in March of 2020, can explain that year’s dip in crime.

“The coronavirus pandemic significantly decreased the on-campus population at Storrs and the regional campuses for much of the 2020 calendar year, and the number of incidents reported during that period decreased as a result,” Reitz wrote in a UConn press release... READ MORE

“As you have learned in school and from us, this past week will never be forgotten by the people of the United States. Your mother and I thank you, Alison, for helping us get through this time. Thankfully no one in our immediate family or friends were hurt by the terrorist attack, however we were all touched. It started as a normal day but around 8:50 on Tuesday morning, America ended as I knew it.”

— From the journal of John Cross, Sept. 16, 2001

My family never talked about the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks much. Aside from annual moments of silence and one detailed lesson in sixth grade, I don’t remember learning about 9/11 in school. I can’t describe the first time my parents told me about the attacks. For me, 9/11 was an ever-present fact — a part of me always knew that planes went down, buildings collapsed, and people died, but I understood it in a detached way, like someone watching a movie.

I was 10 months old when the Twin Towers fell. I am too young to remember the terrorist attack that changed our nation forever and too young to remember what America was like before. All I know is a post-9/11 world. I never knew a different New York City skyline or what it was like to get on a plane before airport security, and I don’t know a country at peace.

Every year, for 20 years, there are the same words, plastered on posters, displayed on TV ads and shared on social media: Never forget. But how am I supposed to never forget when I am too young to even remember? ... READ MORE

(Alison Cross)

John Cross’s Sept. 16, 2001, journal entry.

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(Alison Cross)

The Community Health Center Inc. set up shop inside the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Waterbury on a Friday in mid-July. Armed with 24 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, the team of six staff and volunteers sat ready for patients from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Not one person showed up.

The turnout was not surprising, according to the vaccination site leader and nurses at the mobile clinic. Last month, new vaccinations across Connecticut fell to the lowest numbers since January, a predictable outcome when nearly 65% of the total state population has received at least one vaccine dose. But in Waterbury, only 46% of residents are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Waterbury is not alone. The populations of fully vaccinated residents in Hartford, New Britain, Bridgeport, and New Haven are between 41% and 51%. These five cities share some similarities: a population that is at least 60% minority, a median household income below $47,000 a year, and a rank within the top 10 cities and towns with the highest cases and deaths from COVID-19, according to data from the state Department of Public Health and the U.S. Census Bureau.

While differences in political ideologies have framed much of the vaccine conversation, the data shows that in Connecticut, the populations with the lowest vaccination rates are racial and ethnic minorities... READ MORE

Time is ticking to take advantage of reduced or no-cost health insurance plans through the American Rescue Plan Act Special Enrollment Period, which ends Aug. 15.

Residents can access discounted insurance coverage by enrolling through Access Health CT, Connecticut’s official health insurance marketplace.

“The American Rescue Plan Act has made health insurance coverage significantly more affordable and this special enrollment period provides access to this help for many more people,” said James Michel, chief executive officer at Access Health CT. “We ask that if you or someone you know is uninsured or unemployed, please enroll by Aug. 15..." READ MORE

M sobbed in her kitchen.

It was just after 7:30 on a frosty winter night, and her dad had baked a pizza for the family. She wanted dinner, but no matter how much she tried to bring herself to eat a slice, she could not do it. The panic was too much.

It was December of 2020, and the eating disorder that crept into M’s life during the COVID-19 lockdown had taken total control. It consumed her thoughts, robbed her strength, and threatened her health—M knew she needed help.

Following the start of the pandemic, eating disorder support group membership increased, waitlists for recovery treatment grew, and hospitalizations of patients with eating disorders nearly doubled in the Hartford HealthCare network. Experts say those trends are no coincidence; among other factors, the increased downtime, isolation and anxiety experienced during the pandemic lockdowns created the perfect conditions for eating disorders to form and flourish... READ MORE

(Alison Cross)

Each day at the Connecticut Poison Control Center (CPCC) brings calls about someone suffering the adverse effects of cannabis poisoning. Most often, those calls involve children, said Dr. Suzanne Doyon, medical director of the CPCC.

“We get calls about this daily. Absolutely,” Doyon said. “There was even a day two weeks ago, where we had five children in different hospitals in the state of Connecticut, all with edible marijuana exposures. Five at the same time—that was a record for us.”

Now that Connecticut has made the possession of recreational cannabis legal as of July 1, Doyon fears that the number of calls to CPCC for cannabis exposures will only increase: “The numbers are going to go up.” Her anxieties are not unfounded; data from poison control centers across the country substantiate Doyon’s predictions... READ MORE

(Alison Cross)

The state’s failure to pass a ban on flavored tobacco products may have put it in a better strategic position to prevent and combat teen tobacco use.

Legislators could not agree on the ban in June, but a new—albeit small—study by Abigail Friedman, assistant professor of health policy at the Yale School of Public Health, found that after San Francisco banned flavored tobacco products in 2018, including flavored e-cigarettes, cigarette smoking increased among the city’s high school students.

In comparatively similar school districts across the country with no flavor ban, cigarette smoking continued to decline, according to Friedman’s study, published in May in JAMA Pediatrics.

“This raises concerns that reducing access to flavored electronic nicotine delivery systems may motivate youths who would otherwise vape to substitute smoking,” Friedman wrote.

The results of the Yale study may be a case of correlation rather than causation. Data show that between 2017 and 2019, other high-risk youth behaviors such as alcohol, cannabis and cocaine use that trended downward for four or more years also increased. Friedman cautioned that the study has limited generalizability outside of San Francisco and said that future investigations should evaluate whether these upward and downward trends continue... READ MORE

(Alison Cross)

Isolated from friends and the LGBTQ community, University of Connecticut senior Megan Graham at times found herself questioning her queer identity during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I felt a bit more insecure about my identity being away from my friends who are within the community,” Graham said. “I didn’t have the same outlet as I did to be myself without judgment. I questioned myself more and wished I had more people to talk to about it.”

At UConn, Graham is the president of the Queer Collective, an LGBTQ discussion-based support organization that is run through the Rainbow Center, the heart of UConn’s LGBTQ community. Graham said that some of her self-doubts stemmed from losing these LGBTQ affirming spaces as the pandemic shut down campus and moved classes online.

Like Graham, many young adults in the LGBTQ community lost their outlets and safe spaces during the pandemic. A new survey by the Trevor Project, a nonprofit that works to prevent LGBTQ suicide, found that in 2020, a majority of LGBTQ youth ages 13-24 suffered from poor mental health in homes that did not support their sexual orientation or gender identity... READ MORE

As Connecticut pools and shoreline beaches open up and hot summer days start to set in, you may be reaching for a bottle of SPF to protect against UVA and UVB rays, but before you slather on the lotion, do you really know what’s inside that bottle?

According to a new study, a cancer-causing chemical may be lurking in your go-to brand of sunblock.

Valisure, a New Haven pharmaceutical testing lab, found concentrations of benzene, designated a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, in 27% of the nearly 300 sunscreen and after-sun products tested... READ MORE

(Alison Cross)

Members of the University of Connecticut women’s rowing team allege that UConn’s June 2020 deficit-driven decision to terminate rowing from its varsity roster violates Title IX, and some of the athletes have retained legal counsel to gear up for a potential class-action lawsuit if the parties do not come to a resolution.

UConn denied these claims and said that they remained in compliance with Title IX when they announced last summer that the women’s rowing, men’s swimming and diving, men’s cross country and men’s tennis teams would play their final season in 2020-2021 to meet mandated budget cuts. UConn does not have a men’s rowing team.

The women’s rowing team took to the streets of Storrs in protest Monday afternoon to demand that UConn reinstate the team... READ MORE

Members and allies of the Jewish community rallied on the Student Union Lawn Monday afternoon to condemn the recent bias incidents targeting Jewish students — and to call on the University of Connecticut to take concrete action against antisemitism.

“A Solidarity Gathering to Fight Antisemitism,” organized by UConn Hillel, lasted from 3:30 to 5 p.m. and included speeches from student activists, leaders from the Connecticut Jewish community, Undergraduate Student Government (USG) representatives and UConn President Thomas Katsouleas... READ MORE

The University of Connecticut Police Department, Residential Life and Undergraduate Student Government are discussing modifications to the university’s cannabis-enforcement policy, according to USG and UCPD representatives.

The new proposal would limit UCPD’s interaction with students suspected of possessing cannabis in residence halls, USG legislators say.

In a 16-3-2 vote last week, the USG Senate passed new legislation titled “Cannabis Enforcement by Residential Life and the UConn Police Department,” which opposed the current policy that requires Resident Assistants to call the police when they suspect cannabis use. The new legislation instead favors a reduced police presence similar to how residential life handles alcohol violations... READ MORE

(File Photo / The Daily Campus)

As authorities continue their investigation of last week’s suspicious fires on campus, the Busby hall director announced on Tuesday an additional fire occurred earlier this month outside the residence hall and emergency equipment was vandalized, leaving Busby residents expressing concern over the delayed communication of community safety threats.

In an email sent to Busby residents on Feb. 23, hall director Karen Lohr revealed a recycling dumpster was set on fire on Feb. 5, nearly two weeks before the garbage can fire outside the Busby bus stop was reported in the campus-wide crime alert along with two separate fires on Feb. 17. Lohr also said the following day, Busby staff found exit signs missing and an emergency light damaged. The Feb. 18 vandalism incident was never reported to the University of Connecticut Police Department, according to UCPD Deputy Chief Andrew Fournier... READ MORE

This week marks the first anniversary of UConn Health’s fight against COVID-19. After a year of fear and fortitude, isolation and strength, tragedy and triumph, the doctors, nurses and essential workers of UConn Health remain vigilant in their battle against this deadly virus.

On March 14, 2020, UConn Health began caring for its first coronavirus patient. Over the course of the year, UConn Health has treated more than 800 COVID-19 patients, documented more than 400 employee infections and distributed more than 26,000 shots... READ MORE

With a 25-3 vote in a special election Wednesday night, the University of Connecticut Undergraduate Student Government Senate elected Michael Christy as the new USG Chief Diversity Officer following former CDO-elect B Diaz’s resignation March 10.

Christy, a fourth-semester political science major and a USG associate justice, said he is ready to foster an inclusive community in USG.

“We cannot hear, learn and accept one another if we do not build a community that allows us to be vulnerable with each other about our experiences,” Christy said. “Each of us deserves an equal and just chance in achieving anything we set our minds to, today we look forward to a brighter future...” READ MORE

Deficit increases from $28 to $49 million if university closes before Nov. 1

The Fiscal New Year began with financial uncertainty for the University of Connecticut as Chief Financial Officers from UConn and UConn Health shared plans to request $104.9 million in state funds to cover looming budget deficits.

At the board of trustees meeting Wednesday, UConn Chief Financial Officer Scott Jordan said the university will ask the state for $28 million to cover COVID-19 losses and expenditures... READ MORE

Hazel Montano (3) 9/11.mp4

University of Connecticut students expecting to move into newly remodeled apartments found unlivable units, some lacking walls, floors and toilets. Willington Oaks management said that renters must wait another month to move in.

“I feel like we were totally deceived into thinking we would have a place to live in by the time school starts..." READ MORE

(Video by Hazel Montano / Renter)

MONROE, CT — High-tech met high need as local teens began an online, beginner coding camp Monday to inspire the next generation of programmers and raise money for the Monroe Food Pantry... READ MORE

(Alison Cross)

MONROE, CT — Covid-19 may have put beach vacations on hold, but Wolfe Park remains open for residents to soak up summer sun and fun — poolside... READ MORE

MONROE, CT — A local author’s short story won an award from a statewide writing competition for published media. John-Paul Marciano’s “Torn” took home third place in the single-story category of the Connecticut Press Club Communications Contest.

The story follows Gerhard Engel, an officer in Nazi Germany, as he debates reporting a Jewish girl to the Gestapo. Speak up, and the girl goes to a concentration camp. Stay quiet, and Gerhard risks a camp sentence himself... READ MORE

MONROE, CT — The last edition of the Monroe Courier landed on doorsteps and front lawns over a year ago. What endeavors have the editors and reporters undertook since leaving the paper? Where are they now? Well, last week, one former editor self-published a book of poetry.

Kenneth Briodagh, of Orange, released “Stories and Sins” on July 25. The book is the culmination of years of writing... READ MORE