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. Previous figures from 2019 and next year’s 2021 figures are expected to be more representative of a typical year,” Reitz wrote in a UConn press release.
Four Conn. Health I-Team journalism campers spent the week planning, scripting, shooting and producing a video story on the clean-up work going on after the May 15 tornado that devasted Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden and damaged parts of the surrounding neighborhood and Quinnipiac University. The student journalists, Raven Joseph of the Cooperative High School, New Haven; Kiersten Harris, Amadi Mitchell and Casmir Ebubedike, all of the Achievement First Amistad High School in New Haven, spent the week interviewing officials, knocking on neighbors’ doors and shooting video. With help from Jodie Mozdzer Gil, an assistant professor of journalism at Southern Connecticut State University, and Charlene Torres, a senior at Quinnipiac University, the students produced the first C-HIT News segment. This video was shot in July and the work on the park continues. https://youtu.be/iU15UfIG7vI
With the average college tuition reaching new heights at public and private universities, high school students and their parents, particularly those of lower income, are under greater pressure to not only find the most suitable institutions but also the best financial aid packages. Although many universities, including Quinnipiac University in Hamden, provide financial aid packages to a large portion of students, they may not be able to cover all their students’ financial needs and may force students to transfer or take on crippling debt, Charlene Torres, a Quinnipiac senior from Bridgeport, said. Torres said some of her friends have had to drop out of Quinnipiac due to their inability to continue paying the tuition or their increasing debt. “I know my roommate sophomore year was taking out $30,000 in loans every semester just to go here,” Torres said. Financial aid is a common concern on campus.
As anxiety and depression among college students soars, universities in Connecticut and nationally are expanding their mental health counseling, even offering courses that address mental well-being. A new national report from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State found that anxiety and depression were the top concerns of students seeking counseling services, and that self-harm behaviors have risen for the seventh year in a row. In another survey, 57 percent of directors of college counseling services said the severity of student mental health concerns increased between 2015 and 2016. And according to a National College Health Assessment (NCHA) survey, 9.1 percent of college students reported being diagnosed in the last year with a psychiatric condition. “We have seen an increase this fall compared to last fall of almost 30 percent in students requesting to be seen by our counseling service,” said Kerry Patton, director of health and wellness at Quinnipiac University. Over the last few years, anxiety has surpassed depression as the most common reason students at Quinnipiac are seeking counseling services.
Researchers at Yale University are testing whether a humorous card game can help young, black women reduce their chances of contracting HIV and AIDS—part of a new but growing trend examining whether games can spur health behavior changes. Played among three to five people, “One Night Stan” has players draw cards to establish sexual scenarios and then prompts players to discuss how they would react in those settings. The game, developed by play2PREVENT, a gaming lab within the Yale School of Medicine, is still a prototype, but designers are hoping to launch a video game version eventually and bring it to a broader audience. “It’s really about evaluating sexual situations and encounters,” said Kimberly Hieftje, a developer of the game who is an associate research scientist at Yale School of Medicine and deputy director of the play2PREVENT Lab. A growing number of developers, in Connecticut and nationally, are testing whether card, video, online and mobile games are effective tools for getting people to make healthier choices.