Episode 69: Supreme Deliberations

News microphones set up in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington DC.

This week marks the start of the Brave Space feature with an interview featuring Kelly Ha, a Master’s of Social Work student who tells us about her experiences as an Asian American and with the #IAmNotAVirus campaign. We also sit down with Prof. David Yalof to discuss the future of the U.S. Supreme Court, and we learn what, exactly, Mirror Lake took the place of on campus.


[00:00:00] Tom Breen: [00:00:00] Hello everyone, and welcome to episode 69 of UConn 360. That is the only podcast in the universe that covers the University of Connecticut from every conceivable angle. Uh, I am your facilitator of sorts. My name is Tom Breen and joining me as always are my colleagues, Tyler Silverio.

Tyler Silverio: [00:00:27] Hi guys.

Tom Breen: [00:00:28] Julie Bartucca. 

Julie Bartucca: [00:00:29] What’s up.

Tom Breen: [00:00:30] And Ken Best.

Kenneth Best: [00:00:31] How are we doing?

Tom Breen: [00:00:32] Doing good.

Got a lot of fun stuff for people today. I think it’s going to be a good episode. Um, thanks to everyone who has been tuning in and interacting with us on the internet, or, I mean, I guess you could interact with us in a variety of ways, but the internet is probably the easiest. What’s happening around, uh, around the University these days.

What kind of news do we have? Ken? You’ve got some good news for a change. The pandemic has not ended one feature of fall life.

Kenneth Best: [00:00:56] I believe we’ve mentioned that the Benton Museum of Art has gone [00:01:00] online with some of its exhibits. Now the Connecticut Repertory Theater will have two virtual online productions for the fall season, using the Zoom platform.

The first production will be Jaclyn Backhaus’ “Men on Boats” running for nine virtual performances live from October 8th through the 18th. The play centers on the exploration of the Colorado river in 1869 by a crew of men. However, the cast for the CRT production will be an all-female troupe directed by Beth Gardner.

The performances will be complete with background set, graphics and costuming. The second production will be the first ever radio play for CRT, the classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The script was adapted from the original 1946 Frank Capra film and will be presented from November 12th through the 21st.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” will be a prerecorded show, much like we do here, directed by UConn professor, Jennifer Scapetis-Tycer who is a specialist in voice and dialects. [00:02:00] For more information, go to CRT.uconn.edu.

Julie Bartucca: [00:02:04] That’s really cool.

Tom Breen: [00:02:06] Julie, any news you want to report?

Julie Bartucca: [00:02:08] No.

Tom Breen: [00:02:11] Well. I have. Okay. I have some news.

Um, people probably know this by now, but, uh, US News and World Report ranked UConn at the top 25 of public universities for the ninth consecutive year. We are number 23 this year. That’s one up from last year. Um, as usual, these rankings are very subjective and they are like, frustrating to everyone who works in higher education.

But, uh, when the news is good, where we, we, yeah.

Julie Bartucca: [00:02:37] We’re proud of it. Absolutely. Go UConn.

Tom Breen: [00:02:41] Go UConn. Uh, speaking of cool things happening at UConn, uh, we had talked about this in our last episode, the Brave Space project that, Julie, you’ve been involved in, and today, this week, whenever you’re listening to it, uh, we have the first installment of that. Tell us what we’re going to hear.

Julie Bartucca: [00:02:57] We do. So we have a special guest [00:03:00] interviewer who’s uh, Jes Zurell from the School of Fine Arts, who’s a member of this Brave Space team. And this week she’s talking with Kelly Ha, who is a second year Master of Social Work Student in the individuals, groups, and family practice concentration.

Kelly is also a student in the certificate in foundations of public health program. She is the daughter of a Vietnamese refugee and the first person to attend college in her family. On our podcast today, she addresses her experience as an Asian American student on UConn’s campus and talks about what she’s done to rally her peers behind the #IAmNotAVirus campaign, which brings awareness to the anti-Asian violence that accompanied COVID-19.

Jesele Zurell: [00:03:40] Hey there, this is Jes Zurell and you’re  listening to Brave Space, the platform for honesty and presence, where we can invite diverse guests to share perspectives on how the University and our society can do the work of becoming a truly welcoming environment, not just on paper, but in practice.

Today, we’re talking to Kelly Ha, who is a graduate [00:04:00] student in social work. And she wants to talk to us about her experience as a Vietnamese American student on campus and her experience with the #IAmNotAVirus campaign. Kelly. Why don’t you introduce yourself? Tell us a little bit about who you are, just a quick overview.

Kelly Ha: [00:04:16] My name is Kelly Ha. I am a second year Master of Social Work Student at the University of Connecticut. I am hopefully going to be a medical social worker one day, but right now I am dabbling into some macro work with #IAmNotAVirus. #IAmNotAVirus is this campaign that Mike Keo found, and we are an anti-Asian discrimination, awareness, campaign.

So, what we want to do is really bring awareness to the oppression, discrimination Asian community has been going through and hopefully, you know, educate and make people aware. Cause I feel like that’s a topic that we don’t really talk about.

Jesele Zurell: [00:04:53] Why don’t you tell us a little bit about your experience as a student at UConn?

What are some of the things that [00:05:00] you’ve experienced or witnessed while you’ve been on campus or even off campus? Just in general.

Kelly Ha: [00:05:05] Lately a lot of things have been going on, off campus, such as on social media, which has been amazing. We have a lot of advocacy groups coming out like Black At UConn, BIPOC UConn, um, UConn Survivor, and it’s been amazing.

I think it really brings attention to the fact that we do lack a lot of BIPOC resources that really do need to be created. You know, as a social work student, we really talk about cultural competencies and why it’s so important for students. We do need to have these resources that are created specifically for BIPOC communities in response to COVID.

I think a lot of people, a lot of families are obviously being affected financially, academically. And we think that, you know, there’s needs to be resources for them to assist them.

Jesele Zurell: [00:05:50] It seems like you’re in a very unique spot, with a background in social work and going into social work. So, your perspective as especially kind of [00:06:00] informed by what types of things, people will need to help themselves and help their families and help their children.

So, I think, um, It’s really great to hear your perspective on this whole thing. Not only for your involvement in, I Am Not A Virus, but also just because you have this background of social work, which is really cool. Tell us more about your involvement with I Am Not A Virus.

Kelly Ha: [00:06:21] Initially #IAmNotAVirus was a response to the racism that was going on and it’s kind of COVID-19, but lately we’ve been, you know, progressing towards a more allyship advocacy group and, you know, advocating for other groups as well than just ours, because maybe we leave that, you know, we need to work together.

We need to advocate for each other in order for all of us to progress. So, my work with I Am Not A Virus. I am the campaign manager and I also lead that mental health part of it, mental health part, obviously with, you know, the Asian community, there’s a lot of things that we don’t talk about, we don’t talk about mental health.

We don’t talk about it, which help, which doesn’t help us get through [00:07:00] our issues. So what I wanna do is, you know, really normalize it and have those conversations about intergenerational trauma. I think a lot of us are first generation Asian Americans. And I think for me, you know, growing up, my parents didn’t talk about the trauma they face.

You know, I come from a family of Vietnamese refugees. They survived the Vietnam War. My grandpa was in prison and education camp and we don’t talk about it. And that is a very traumatic experience. He shared that, you know, he was starved. He was beaten sometimes, but. He didn’t talk about the effects of it.

And I feel like those kinds of things really does take a toll. So, what I want to do, with my campaign is that I want to normalize mental health. Cause it’s still a very taboo topic, even in Asia right now. You know, the term social worker is still very new in Vietnam. I asked my mom, I was like, “Mom, what’s a direct term for social work, you know, in Vietnamese?”

And she’s like, “Oh, I actually have no idea.” So that’s kind of what I’m [00:08:00] doing now. I think my work is definitely a homage to my family and what they’ve given for me.

Jesele Zurell: [00:08:06] That’s amazing. And it’s funny, you mentioned that I do think that’s definitely a generational difference as well. And between cultures you notice, like there are some languages out there that have a dozen different words for very specific different types of anger. And yet we can’t even seem to get to the point where we talk about it openly.

Kelly Ha: [00:08:26] I know with my campaign; we are definitely trying to make these resources assessable in different languages. So, we have one of our amazing people on our international coordinator, Kenny, who is trilingual, and he’s been translating things in Spanish and Vietnamese for us.

So, a lot of our materials, you know, we’re really pushing for that. So, you know, the older generation can understand and better grasp these concepts.

Jesele Zurell: [00:08:49] So let’s segue a little bit to your experience at UConn, as a student and observing everything that’s gone on, especially over the past year. [00:09:00] What are some of the less obvious ways that you think the University either succeeds or fails at supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion?

It just seems like there are a lot of missed opportunities, maybe, that the administration might not catch. Let’s talk about those successes and failures.

Kelly Ha: [00:09:18] I obviously love UConn. I wouldn’t come back for my graduate degree if, I didn’t appreciate the institution itself, but I do think there’s a lot of things that we do need to work on.

I think, you know, the cultural centers are great resources and a great place for people to find a safe space and find community. I think those need to be advocated for more, but I do think that we can do a lot better with our mental health. And not just that, but making sure that we have, you know, people who are culturally competent working with our community as well.

I think we need more resources. I think we need more therapists and I think that it stands for all UConn, um, campuses as well. And, you know, as a [00:10:00] UConn Hartford student, I didn’t know that we had, you know, a clinician come to us every Friday. I think those resources need to be put up front and tell us that like, “Hey, it’s here, please use them.”

But also, we need to better the resources as well. That goes for all schools though, we don’t invest enough in our mental health resources. And as college students, we are overly stressed. We are overly tired, and we need that support.

Jesele Zurell: [00:10:27] I love that you mentioned cultural competence, especially in mental health and clinicians and therapists.

Can you talk about, about what that would look like if you had a pie in the sky, perfectly run and mental health unit in all universities, what would that look like to you?

Kelly Ha: [00:10:43] I think if it’s not, you know, BIPOC clinicians, it would be consistent diversity trainings, social work, and therapy. You know, these subjects are evolving constantly.

And in order for us to know, to be good clinicians, to be good counselors, to be good for our [00:11:00] clients, we need to keep learning and that’s through mandated diversity trainings or just sensitivity trainings as well. I feel like, obviously you’re not going to understand every single experience that your client’s going to experience, but it’s good to, you know, have a sense of it and try to have some compassion.

If it’s not understanding, maybe it’s compassion. I think we need to advocate for more compassion.

Jesele Zurell: [00:11:25] I agree, especially now I think it’s been the perfect storm of situations, you know, everybody’s at home with the pandemic and there’s been a lot of political and uprising around the country and everyone is at home staring at their phone all day or a screen all day kind of unable to escape it.

So, I think you’re right. I think compassion would be a key word especially now.

So, we’re calling this interview series, Brave Space. Um, And I’d like to ask you who you admire as a model for bravery.

Kelly Ha: [00:11:59] Honestly, [00:12:00] my mom, I know that’s like the cheesiest answer, and everyone goes there, but it really is my mom.

We grew up low income, single mom. And she is, you know, a first-generation immigrant. Like she immigrant she’s a Vietnamese refugee and she works so hard. You know, she worked 12 hour days to make sure we had a roof and it wasn’t for her and her now supporting me and really advocating for against generals because traditional world view, typical generals, she was like, yeah, no, that’s not going to happen here.

You are going to college. You are going to have your own finances. You not need a man. And I absolutely adore that. I think that if it wasn’t for my mom, I wouldn’t have the opportunities or the mindset that I do now.

Jesele Zurell: [00:12:37] Yeah. I imagine it must be amazing for her too. Look at where you and your siblings are now and think about where she came from too.

Kelly Ha: [00:12:45] Absolutely. She would be like eight years old going down the market and she would sell, you know, cups of tea for like 25 cents. She was pulled out of school when she was in seventh grade. Cause it wasn’t typical for kids to go and continue on. [00:13:00] And for me, like, you know, be in my master’s program, it’s very humbling seeing the sacrifices she really made for us.

Jesele Zurell: [00:13:07] That’s amazing. Well, I’m sure she’s very, very proud. What do you think the future looks like as compared to today?

Kelly Ha: [00:13:15] I’m hoping for a more compassionate world. I know I’m throwing that word a lot, but I really want more compassion in this world, I feel like that would be the answer to the root of the issue to be honest.

I feel like we have compassion. We have empathy. We have understanding. I want that for our tomorrow. I want a more accepting place. Like if you don’t agree with something, if it affects someone’s rights, maybe reflect on that. I think we really need to be open to understand these perspectives and realizing like, “Hey, does it affect someone’s life and their happiness because people deserve to be happy.”

Jesele Zurell: [00:13:49] And I think that’s one of the, the concepts that you don’t really get to in a lot of situations, but higher ed in college definitely puts you in this Petri dish [00:14:00] where you’re sort of forced to look at different opinions and question why you think the way that you think or question why someone else thinks in a different way than you and really dissect that and see what happens if you both decide to just figure out where your common areas are.

I know it’s a little bit optimistic, but it’s just, um, it’s kind of the perfect space. To really ask the tough questions.

Kelly Ha: [00:14:24] No, it really is. I feel like I was challenged a lot as well. Maybe it’s just cause I was at a school of social work or something, but I have had so many uncomfortable conversations and it really made me reflect on myself and my implicit biases.

And I had one professor, especially in my, all my professor, Stephanie Harris, she really, you know, challenged us to really reflect on us, to be, you know, better clinicians and no having those uncomfortable conversations as uncomfortable as it may be, are so necessary for our progression.

Jesele Zurell: [00:14:54] Just to wrap it up one last question, we’re trying to end with a last word for [00:15:00] all of these interviews in this series.

So, if you could sum up the conversation that we’ve just had in just one word, what would it be and why?

Kelly Ha: [00:15:08] Like, I can’t use the word compassionate anymore unless, you know, I can definitely, go on.

Jesele Zurell: [00:15:13] That was the one I was going to guess. I was like, “Oh, I bet she’s going to pick this up.”

Kelly Ha: [00:15:16] I don’t know. It’s definitely going to be compassion.

I think that that’s, what’s rooted in a lot of my work, you know, compassion, having heart for other people, other groups as well, because you’re in this together.

Jesele Zurell: [00:15:28] This has been so, so great. And I’m deeply grateful that you took the time to chat. This is really amazing. I’m looking forward to talking with the people you referred me to and just keeping the conversation going.

So, thank you so much, Kelly. I really appreciate your time.

Kelly Ha: [00:15:42] Thank you so much for having me. I really, I really appreciate the space.

Tom Breen: [00:15:47] Well, that’s great. Uh, and if you want to read more about Brave Space, you can visit today.uconn.edu.

Ken, uh, you know, a lot of people are thinking about the Supreme Court these days.

I understand there’s been some news on that [00:16:00] front. I don’t really follow the news, but, uh, you know, I pick things up.

And we are fortunate to have, uh, a leading national expert on the Supreme Court here at the University of Connecticut. Ken, uh, tell us about that.

Kenneth Best: [00:16:12] Yes, David Yalof is the chair of the political science department here at UConn.

He’s also an expert in the relationship between the executive branch and the judicial department. And he’s written a book on the selection of Supreme Court justices over the years. We’ve just had an announcement about an opening on the Supreme Court due to the passing of justice Ginsburg. So, he and I sat down and we discussed the situation.

It’s not the first time that a nomination is coming close to election, but this follows the last nomination where the Senate leader, Mitch McConnell said the next president should make the decision on the nominee with the voters in mind. But now he’s changed his [00:17:00] mind about that. This happened previously in the very early on and in our history, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson having a bit of a, a dustup when we voted for the president and the vice president, not at the same time on a ticket, but whoever finished second became the vice president in those days.

Adams nominated somebody before Jefferson was inaugurated the next time and that caused a bit of a dust-up as well. So, this is not unfamiliar territory for the history of the presidency.

David Yalof: [00:17:29] When you’re talking about Jefferson and Adams, of course, you’re talking about a lame duck period after Adams had lost to Jefferson in the presidential election of 1800, there was a fully, four to five month period between that election and the inauguration of Jefferson, back then the inauguration wasn’t until March. We now do it as you know, in January. And so, during that period, Adams rammed through a whole bunch of, uh, Federal judgeships with Federalists placed in there. And there wasn’t a [00:18:00] lot that Jefferson could do until he took office.

And he decided, well, it, those who don’t have, they have their money yet might not get paid. But, uh, that was the, that was a lame duck period issue. And we’ve certainly seen that in the past. What we’re dealing with now is the lead up to a presidential election and signed issues like the US Supreme Court and dealing with the pandemic and dealing with the economic recession, all of those issues end up being swallowed up by the presidential election.

Everything is thought of in, in those terms and it makes it hard to have a genuine full throated, honest debate, no surprise. Those are the issues that I think we’re seeing now with the Supreme Court nomination.

Kenneth Best: [00:18:43] I went back and listened to our last discussion about it, this, uh, during the Kavanaugh nomination.

And you brought up the point that while we’ve got a 2020 election coming up in, uh, with all the things that were going on with impeachment at the time, you said people  will vote their pocketbook, [00:19:00] will vote their views on things like immigration. And I think about this, meaning the impeachment. Well, we’ve come a long way in that very short period of time.

I’m wondering what you’ve been thinking about with the election, less than a month away as we’re speaking and all that’s happened. And especially the last 48 hours here, the revelation of President Trump’s tax history and how little he paid and how much he dodged the tax system, which of course is a whole separate issue about the income tax system.

David Yalof: [00:19:32] Well, of course, when we were discussing impeachment, there was no pandemic, at least not yet. There was not the economic crisis that we suffered through the second quarter of 2020. Uh, certainly there was no Supreme Court vacancy that the Republicans were eagerly, hoping to fill before the election.

And I gotta tell you, talk of impeachment just seems years ago. And I think that a large chunk of Americans may have even forgotten that [00:20:00] he’d ever been impeached. Because so much has happened since January of this year. I don’t know if you remember also, Ken, there were a lot of fires going on in California.

Well, that we still have, but it seems like everything else from before the pandemic has been forgotten and all we’re focusing on now, of course, is this battle for 270 votes. We have a Supreme Court vacancy going on. The pandemic continues with record numbers of deaths. We have five times that many COVID cases, so we’re not doing well as a country.

And all of that has to be accounted for while the two candidates can’t even campaign in a normal way. Because of the socially distancing and all of the problems caused by the pandemic. It’s really quite an amazing period.

Kenneth Best: [00:20:49] The history of these conflicts in Supreme court nominations really in modern times goes back to Lyndon Johnson and the Abe Fortas [00:21:00] nomination when he wanted to elevate Fortas to the chief justice and that went down. Robert Bork nomination followed the Watergate scandal where Bork ended up being third in line in the Attorney General’s office after Elliot Richardson and William Ruckelshaus refused to fire the special prosecutor and Bork did it.

And then he comes up for nomination and he gets knocked down. So, there’s been a history of this in the mid to late 20th century. You have articulated as have others about the contentiousness in the, in the system and in the country, it doesn’t look like this is going to get any better anytime soon. But after the Kavanaugh situation, people seem to maybe want to step back a bit now with the Amy Coney Barrett nomination and some of the things that she’s written about and some of her positions in writing, which is always another [00:22:00] place that gets, uh, examined during the reviews, uh, by the Senate. What are your thoughts on where we are now given all that history?

David Yalof: [00:22:09] Well, of course, the Abe Fortas nomination, which was Lyndon Johnson’s attempt to replace Chief Justice Warren with, uh, Chief Justice Fortas. Fortas of course, was already on the court is an associate justice. Uh, Lyndon Johnson wanted to promote him. And I think that’s a very good, uh, way, uh, to consider a baseline for what we’re going through today. Cause that was during a presidential election.

Uh, it was, you know, back in July, but, but it was in the heat of uh, of an election that obviously had the vice president under Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, battling it out with Richard Nixon. How it was different of course, was that Lyndon Johnson was not going to be the president after that election. He was not running, no longer running for election.

But it should be said, Ken, that the process did go forward. Unlike with Merrick Garland, there were hearings [00:23:00] held and those hearings were obviously fully held that Republicans couldn’t do much about it. Just like the Democrats couldn’t do much about it cause they didn’t control the Senate, but the Republicans did force a filibuster of a sort.

They were able to avoid, uh, the Democrats making, invoking cloture. And so, as a result that Fortas nomination died, and the next chief justice did not become a stalwart democratic liberal friend of Lyndon Johnson. The next chief justice became Warren Burger, uh, Richard Nixon’s choice. So, power matters, elections matter, but right now the current election does not matter for what’s going on in American politics.

The Republicans hold, uh, the presidency, they hold the Senate. And so, so long as there is a vacancy, they’re going to go forward with it. And this is really an important point, Ken. The Republicans by denying Merrick Garland did not violate the law or violate the constitution. And by running Amy Coney Barrett through very quickly, they’re not violating either of those either.

[00:24:00] What they are doing is violating norms. And these norms kind of date back for over half a century, if not three quarters of a century that during a presidential election, you don’t ram these through, you play it out and possibly letting the next guy decide who gets to be that, uh, nominee. You don’t have this whole thing happened in such a short period of time.

And that was a period when the Senate was a, a different body than it is today, there was much more comedy. There was much more collegiality. Nobody wanted to shake everything up because they knew they might be on the wrong side of it the next time. That doesn’t matter anymore. This is too important to Mitch McConnell.

And I think his and the Republicans support for Amy Coney Barrett and for moving this process is based on one thing, Ken, it’s based on the fact that this is a high priority for them and they’re going to make this happen and the consequences, let them be the consequence. It’s an amazing thing.

Kenneth Best: [00:24:55] Evidenced by the recent comments by President Trump, about how many judges he’s put on the [00:25:00] court, uh, compared to President Obama.

But of course, Obama’s, uh, lack of ability to get judges through is simply because the Senate controlled by McConnell wouldn’t allow that to happen. It was completely different.

David Yalof: [00:25:13] It is a different situation. Now, if you ask McConnell, what he’ll tell you is that at the time of Merrick Garland, you had a split in power.

You had the Democrats controlling the White House, the Republicans controlling the Senate. Thus, you let the presidential election make the decision. Whereas he’s arguing that right now, there is no such split. And so, it’s a different situation on the other end. He didn’t really emphasize that at the time.

So, it’s a convenient way to distinguish, obviously, between these two things. But I think there is an important point, Ken, which is that pushing this through is certainly going to get people on the Trump side very excited. What I think is interesting about this situation, Ken, is that for the Republicans and the conservatives who already support Trump, they love the fact that he’s pushing this through, but they’re already [00:26:00] voting for Donald Trump and for the liberals and the Democrats who hate Trump, they are angry at him, but they’re already voting against Trump.

The real question is what about the 7% who amazingly remain undecided? How do they feel about it? Do they feel there’s a lack of fairness and the polls would seem to indicate that they do have a problem with rushing this through so quickly and maybe to an independent, who’s not on one side or the other.

There is something that feels a little unfair that Obama only got two in eight years. Whereas Donald Trump gets three in less than four years. That’s the real question. Could that actually influence the election? And it may not be the way Mitch McConnell wants it to be influenced, but for him and his party, this is a priority.

Tom Breen: [00:26:49] Very nice. Uh, that’s an interesting story and I’m sure there’ll be some more news out of that as we go along.

Julie Bartucca: [00:26:55] That you won’t pay any attention to. You’re a very offline person.

[00:27:00] Tom Breen: [00:27:00] I’ll find out about it from bumper stickers. That’s how I get my news. Yeah. Um, this month, October marks the 98th anniversary of a beloved UConn Storrs, landmark: Mirror Lake.

Julie Bartucca: [00:27:12] My favorite.

Tom Breen: [00:27:14] It wasn’t a Lake originally. It was, uh, described, um, in, in language at the time, writing at the time as, uh, more like a swamp, apparently it was essentially wetlands on land that was privately owned. The University bought from the Whitney family in 1918, it was fed by a brook and there was a wooden dam and the place where Mirror Lake is now was apparently like a marsh essentially, which was a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

So after the University acquired the land, it replaced the wooden dam with a soil dam. They cleared weed, this is all work by students, uh, cleared weeds away, moved earth to build up the island that’s in the middle of the lake, uh, and planted pine trees that were later replaced by spruce trees.

And by 1922, it was [00:28:00] an actual, well, okay.

Julie Bartucca: [00:28:02] It’s not really a lake. It’s a pond.

Tom Breen: [00:28:04] Yeah. Yeah, but we call it a lake, uh, and it became instantly became a centerpiece of, uh, University life. There was, starting in 1908, there was a rope pole between the freshmen and sophomore classes. But it was over at Swan Lake, which is near where our building is.

Um, and they moved it to Mirror Lake because it was much bigger and more capacious. Interestingly, I always thought it got the nickname Mirror Lake because of the Arjona and Monteith buildings being identical.

Julie Bartucca: [00:28:31] That’s what I thought too.

Tom Breen: [00:28:32] But I was doing some research and the newspaper had a contest at Interlake in the 1930s and Mirror Lake was the winner.

Julie Bartucca: [00:28:38] Oh wow. A lot of, a lot of our big, big names come from newspaper, student contests.

Tom Breen: [00:28:44] It’s true. The Daily Campus should start having contests of  naming more things. I’m just gonna throw that out there. But anyway, uh, so the, the rope pull lasted in the 1950s and uh, Mirror Lake became the centerpiece of campus life it is.

Although it was endangered in the seventies and eighties because of [00:29:00] ducks and Canada geese. People, uh, students liked to feed the birds. And this meant that so many birds were congregating on the Lake, that there was so much bird excrement, the Lake was actually drying up. So, the, the feeding, the birds was, was actually, it’s actually illegal. Although I think people still do it sometimes.

Um, and game wardens came in and moved the waterfowl to other locales. There’s still a bird population there, but it’s not what it was in the seventies and eighties where apparently it was like hard to move around that area for all of them.

Julie Bartucca: [00:29:30] And geese aren’t really, very nice. They usually like, chase you.

Tom Breen: [00:29:35] And uh, you may have noticed there are fish living in mirror Lake. There are fish. I’ve seen them. They are the descendants of abandoned pet goldfish from students.

Julie Bartucca: [00:29:47] Oh, that’s kind of cool. Are they gigantic?

Tom Breen: [00:29:50] They’ve gotten pretty large.

Kenneth Best: [00:29:51] I think he’s making that up.

Tom Breen: [00:29:52] Nope. No, it’s true. Absolutely true. Go see for yourself. They’ve gotten quite large cause goldfish-

Julie Bartucca: [00:29:57] How many-ish?

Tom Breen: [00:29:59] I don’t know. [00:30:00] I don’t know.

Julie Bartucca: [00:30:00] Lot or like a small number?

Tom Breen: [00:30:02] I mean, I’ve seen a few, but I don’t know how to count.

Julie Bartucca: [00:30:06] “I don’t know how to count.”

Kenneth Best: [00:30:07] He doesn’t count. That’s why he writes.

Tom Breen: [00:30:10] I don’t follow the news and I don’t know how to count

Julie Bartucca: [00:30:14] Trusted source.

Tom Breen: [00:30:15] But I do know that, uh, Mirror Lake is still a beloved part of campus. And I, it was interesting to me to find out that there was a time actually for most of its history when it was not a Lake at all, it was just sort of a damp marshy ground.

Julie Bartucca: [00:30:26] Hmm. I really, the tidbit about the, uh, the mirrored buildings not being the source of the name is very interesting to me. That’s what I always thought.

Tom Breen: [00:30:35] Yeah. I wonder if they just, I mean, cause it kind of is a common name for bodies of water.

Julie Bartucca: [00:30:39] It makes sense, like a lake is a mirror.

Tom Breen: [00:30:41] So maybe that’s why they chose it. Well, that’s it for another exciting week of UConn 360.

If you enjoyed this and go ahead and give us a follow @uconnpodcast or @Main_Old, I’ll find some old pictures. I don’t know if I have any pictures of what the area looked like before there was a pond [00:31:00] there, but I’ll, I’ll see what what’s in the archives. Um, you can follow me @tjbreen, if for some reason you want to do that.

Um, Tyler, is there anything you want to plug or let people know about?

Tyler Silverio: [00:31:11] Um, last time I did uh, my Twitter, but, um, like I said, I don’t actually have any tweets, but, um, so this time I’ll actually uh, plug something I do post to, um, is actually the, the @uconnfasa, um, account. Um, that’s the social media I run, um, for our Filipino, um, student organization. So, if you’re interested in that, give that a follow.

Tom Breen: [00:31:28] Check it out.

Julie Bartucca: [00:31:29] And Tyler is going to be running our social media a little bit more. So we’ll have some more frequent tweets and maybe some other social accounts coming soon. Um, I’m @juliebartucca on Twitter. 

Tom Breen: [00:31:42] Ken you’re, uh, now that TikTok has been banned you’re off that app, but, um, what, where can people follow you on the air or on the internet?

Kenneth Best: [00:31:51] Well, you can follow my exploits online, of course at today.uconn.edu. And then of course, um, [00:32:00] Saturdays from three to 6:00 PM on WHUS 91.7 UConn Sound Alternative Streaming online at whus.org. And then on Friday mornings at 11 o’clock, you can listen to the special episodes that we provide from the podcast too. WHUS Radio.

Tom Breen: [00:32:17] Alright, well, thanks for listening everyone. And let’s meet back here in two weeks.