Special to The Herald
NEW BRITAIN - After a Central Connecticut State University professor was placed on paid leave Wednesday over allegations that he made inappropriate sexual advances to students and staff, several students at the school told The Herald they have found the news of the past two days shocking.
A story in this week’s edition of The Recorder, CCSU’s student newspaper, detailed incidents in which female students and staff complained about the inappropriate behavior of Joshua Perlstein, a theater professor.
The story, written by the paper’s managing editor, Ruth Bruno, was posted on the The Recorder’s website Monday night.
University President Zulma Toro announced Tuesday that the school would be investigating the allegations against Perlstein.
“I just transferred to CCSU this semester. I didn’t know this guy, but I’m just shocked,” said junior Dominic Swalinski. “There’s been so many complaints throughout the years, and the school did nothing but hide it. It’s embarrassing, but at least they’re investigating it now.”
Christian Bulley, a freshman business management major said, “There are so many stories of situations like these coming out in the news. It’s sad and, hopefully, it ends soon. I think they should fire the guy, and that CCSU should have more campaigns to raise awareness about assault.”
A few students said they believed the CCSU campus is safe, but found the story unnerving.
“My first reaction was disbelief and shock,” Mary Shane, a senior communications major, told The Herald. “This campus feels like a safe place, and the fact that it’s been happening for many years is very unnerving. I saw President Toro’s email that it’s being investigated, and hopefully, if it comes back true, that professor will be terminated.”
“As students, we always have this idea that it won’t happen where you go to school. You hear about these things at other big schools, but never would you think that it happens here, too,” Jailene Flores, a sophomore, said. “I think President Toro is doing a good job of keeping everyone in the loop. She’s keeping us updated and I like that. I still feel safe here, but I think it’s important that people continue to go out of their way to talk about this.”
The students most stunned by the allegations against Perlstein were among those who have taken a class taught by him or have had direct contact with him.
Jess MacLean, a sophomore theater major, said, “I was really shocked. My first class with Josh Perlstein was script analysis. I didn’t know this side about him. He was a great actor and director to work with. I wish President Toro could come and talk to us about it. I think she needs to speak to the theater department. We’re students, too, and she needs to help us.”
“I’ve known Josh Perlstein since my first year here. I took his high-impact theater class, and he always seemed like somebody I could trust and believe in,” said Patryk Mathieu, a senior theater major.
“He cast me in my first lead (role) in his show ‘Earthquakes in London’ in the fall of 2017,” Mathieu said. “When I woke up in the morning, I read the article and I just felt so heartbroken. I didn’t go to class. I just stayed in the Maloney (Hall) lobby and discussed the situation with friends. None of us in the theater department condone these sorts of actions. Actions are needed to be taken if the evidence is proven. We don’t condone this. I used to respect and admire Josh Perlstein. Now I just feel disgusted.”
Kayla Murphy is a CCSU student and a news intern at The Herald.