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Month November 2009

A NOTE ON MARRIAGE EQUALITY

By M.C. TRACEY

There is little momentum behind the New Jersey marriage equality bill, The New York Times website’s front page curiously suggested this evening. Somehow, however, they’re not seeing what I’m seeing. In reality, we have plenty of reasons to be (cautiously) optimistic. The NYT’s claim, I would therefore argue, is unsubstantiated. But unfortunately we’re now seeing it being reported throughout the state.

I’m not quite sure how this media narrative first materialized — but it’s being widely propagated. And it needs to be stopped in its tracks, lest public opinion be damned.

Let’s look at the facts:

Sen. Steve Sweeney, who was today elected senate president, made comments last week that were interpreted by one PolitickerNJ reporter to suggest that the senator wasn’t in favor of bringing the marriage equality bill to a vote. But in the original PolitickerNJ article, Sweeney was never directly quoted as saying this, and quickly issued a statement affirming that same-sex marriage is “an important social issue” and would be on the lame-duck legislative agenda.

Sen. Loretta Weinberg intervened, calling on Sweeney to reaffirm his commitment to the bill’s passage. After the initial dust had settled, though, it all seemed like much adieu about nothing. Again, from PolitickerNJ:

Update, 9:42pm — Citing a miscommunication with Sweeney, Weinberg offered this revised statement:

“I think there has been a miscommunication between Steve Sweeney and myself. I look forward to talking to him personally. It really is up to Senate President Dick Codey to make a decision about pushing this bill forward, and the Judiciary Committee Chair [state Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge) has informed me that he will post the bill.”

This, along with just about every other development related to the prospects of winning marriage equality in New Jersey, is excellent news. The result of today’s lobbying in Trenton was invigorating; we vastly outnumbered the opposition, who were out in full force. I was personally able to hand-deliver a letter from the TCNJ College Democrats in support of the bill to Sen. Sarlo. TV, radio, and internet ads are now going on the air. Public opinion polls show a plurality of support for same-sex marriage. Garden State Equality has spent an unbelievable amount of time and energy organizing the LGBT community and its allies for this very moment. Democratic legislators are aware that by reneging on their commitments, they will be upsetting a very large proportion of their progressive base.

Further, college students (including myself) have organized a large rally in Trenton, scheduled for Saturday, December 5.

Please come, and invite your friends and colleagues. Let me know if you’d like to become an admin on Facebook (so you can invite people). This rally will likely closely coincide with the time around when the bill will have hopefully been brought to a vote, so a visible presence at the State House is vitally important! The opposition is sure to be out in full-force again. By outnumbering them, we are achieving a valuable psychological victory. And remember, changing trends in public sentiment are often much more consequential than the timing of arcane procedural votes. Legislators, especially state legislators, are very sensitive to the demands of their constituents.

These are the facts, despite the alleged doom-and-gloom reported by certain media outlets. Things, I can say with confidence, are looking up. No doubt, we have to keep vigorously applying pressure to our legislators, many of whom are endlessly frustrating with their ambiguously tenuous statements of support — if only there were more Loretta Weinbergs. But think of how far we’ve come, and how close to achieving our goal we now are.

Let’s kick it into high gear.

Crossposted at Blue Jersey.

POLICE SEIZE COMPUTER EQUIPMENT FROM SIGMA PI HOUSE

On Thursday, November 5, Ewing Township Police executed a search warrant at the house occupied by Sigma Pi — a TCNJ fraternity.

According to Lieutenant Gerald Jacobs, police seized electronic equipment related to a potential computer-related crime. Jacobs did not describe the nature of the confiscated equipment, but a source familiar with the situation told The Perspective that several laptops were taken from the house, located at 1694 Pennington Road.

Upon request for comment, Sigma Pi President Carlos Rosano, who spoke on behalf of the organization said, “The issue that you are referring to is one of a personal nature related specifically to an individual that this organization has disassociated from. We cannot comment further out of respect for that individual as this is an ongoing investigation.”

No arrests have been made as of press time.

ON BALLS

So I’m sure at this point that everyone has seen them; it’s kind of hard not to. They’re balls. Four of them. They are each bigger than a person, and they are sparkly and vaguely teletubby-colored. And apparently almost 1800 people are mad as hell about them.

I’ve rarely seen such an eruption of dialogue on this campus (and no lie, it brings me great glee), and certainly never over anything so innocuous. But there’s an incredible deal of anger about them, ranging from the money spent on them to their clash of aesthetics with the architecture to just that they look like aliens landed on the grass. So I figured, being a senior art major at this school, I might as well clear up a few things:

First, the money. That seems to be the biggest problem everyone has; but what they don’t realize is that the money spent on them could not legally have been spent on anything but public art. Not elevators, not computers, not scholarships, not art supplies for students. It’s part of a program called Percent for Art. Check out New Jersey Statute 52:16A-31. According to this, any new public building created at the expense and for the use of the state must incorporate a fine arts element, costing no more than 1.5% of the total cost of the construction of the building. The four balls are only about .67% of the cost of the new Art and IMM building. Furthermore, there are some other things to consider: these are a permanent installation, not a limited-time exhibition or one-time performance. Read over the SFB article every week in the Signal; the price of the balls has been far exceeded by one-time several-hour concerts – for example, the allocated total funds for this year’s three concerts and four comedy shows came to $225,000 and $120,000, respectively. Keep in mind that while everyone pays over $200 a semester for activity fees, only a limited portion of the campus community attends any of these given shows – under a thousand people, in fact, because Kendall Theater and the Mayo Concert Hall can’t accomodate any more than that. Meanwhile, these are pieces that are permanently accessible to everyone, at all times.

Which brings me to the next point of contention, which is that they are an eyesore. Honestly, I feel no sympathy for people tooting this horn. I’m sorry, is your Disneyland campus ruined now? (And that’s only half-sarcastic – TCNJ boasts in its prospective student brochures that they consult extensively with designers from Disneyland to craft their campus aesthetic.) Is the subtle balance of pseudo-colonial architecture constructed within the last fifty years and recently lead-free astroturfed sporting fields that severely interrupted? Does glitter really piss you off that much, make your blood boil and your pulse throb in your temple? Were you previously reveling in a joyous bubble of red brick, twiggy trees and shrubs, an experience now forever lost? (And on that note – do you know how much those pretty little trees cost?)

Another point to keep in mind is that this is the first piece of public art on TCNJ’s campus. The first. Ever. For all that it boasts of its fine reputation, even deigns to call itself a “public ivy,” it is the only college in the state that I can think of that has been up to this point art-free – take a quick drive down 206 to Princeton and witness the multiple pieces strewn amongst a campus even more firmly set in its historical aesthetic. My younger sister goes to school at Stockton, a more humble college, and yet they too put us to shame – for all that their buildings look like college-ized high school buildings, their campus has seen fit to make a point of including statuary. Fuck, Panera Bread has more public art than we do. As far as looking out of place goes, they’ll have a more logical context with future pieces of art to come.

Meanwhile, Willie Cole is an internationally-renowned (far from unknown, as some have been claiming) prominent African-American artist, a recipient of numerous awards who very recently had a solo show of his work at the Met in New York; he has work in the Met, at MoMA, at the Whitney.

As far as I’m concerned: I like ’em. I’ve never been a big fan of the pretentious super-collegiate architectural facade this school so values, and I love that these pieces are such a departure and contrast. Sure, I think the justification sent out by John Laughton (Dean of the School of Art and Communication) is a bit of a stretch; I get what they’re going for conceptually, with the spheres representative of a basic shape which forms the armiture of more traditional work in drawing, painting and sculpting, and the individual colors representative of individual pixel colors which together comprise a digital work. But I don’t think it needs to rest on that; I think the real strength of this work lies in the fact that something so innocent, so innocuous, so utterly harmless and uncontroversial has created the biggest uproar in my time here. They are far from aesthetically unpleasing art – gosh darn it, they’re down right… pretty. Just straight-up pretty. I’m not sure how much further one can push the concept of “pretty” than sparkly purple, pink, yellow and blue. Trust me, there’s plenty of more traditional art that’s just downright fugly (while you’re in Princeton checking out their outside public art, stroll into the gallery, up the flight of stairs, and spend a little time in contemplation in front of “The Pasta Eater” by Luca Giordano.)

And if you’re one of those people who, infuriated by the presence of the balls, has come to question the need for artists in society, and has even been driven to advise them to “get a real major, like accounting”: first of all, back away from your computer, throw out your iphone, rip off your clothes and run out of your house – sorry, none of those products you’re surrounded by would exist without an artist in charge of their design. You’ll have to take to foraging hunter-gatherer style, unless you don’t mind touching that artist-designed food packaging; and once you get to the register, you’re screwed. That stuff you’re pulling out of your wallet? That stuff that accounting revolves around? You know, money? That’s the most art of all – the grandest of conceptual art pieces! – simply a piece of paper with some carefully arranged lines, with absolutely no inherent value (unlike clothing, or food, or shelter), just that which everyone has decided to agree on and honor in daily trade. Suck it up, bitch! We live in a visual culture.

And as a Dutch lady once said, “Since when is having some balls a bad thing?”

TCNJ AT WAR (OVER BALLS)


Photo by Ron M. Seidel

The campus is in ruin… everything is aflame; the stately clock spire which once stood proudly atop Green Hall is no more. Over a period of months, the students of TCNJ have divided themselves into factions divided over one issue: Balls. It began with Facebook groups and polite comments concerning the art installation, but quickly turned into a war of ideals and prerogatives of both pro and anti-art spheres. A small protest against the balls slowly turned into a campus wide conflagration, splitting the student body into two parties whose sole purposes we re to ensure the destruction or preservation of the balls. SGA president Billy Plastine made every effort to tame and appease his constituency, while at the same time recognizing that the balls seemed “unnecessary and frivolous.” This effort fell to ruin after the February assassination of President Plastine, which was linked to the insurgent group “The Sparkly Hand.”

The week after President Plastine’s assassination was tense, as all campus organizations weighed in on the matter. While political groups were divided internally, many athletic groups and Hellenistic organizations took opposing sides over the balls, and the majority viewed the assassination of President Plastine as a necessary “terroristic” method to convey the student body’s utter disgust.

Following the division, those known to be ball supporters were victims of hate crimes and attacks; most notably the lynching of Nat Sowinski and Kate Whitman in front of Green Hall, which posed a violent warning to all ball supporters. The college attempted to maintain order in vain, for a divided campus ensured that a civil war was slowly brewing within the quiet brick walls.

In the oncoming weeks, acts of violence increased in both frequency and ghastliness, serving only to exacerbate existent problems; known Socialist Matthew Hoke beheaded the leader of the College Republicans, Brian Hackett, with a Swiss Army Knife. Local newspaper editor Michael Tracey, along with his female lover Anya Saretzky, was kidnapped and hobbled by the Campus Catholic Ministry. (Note: they may have been planning to attack him far before the balls were constructed, but this was considered the catalyst to finally paralyze Mr. Tracey and his companion.)

The turmoil culminated on Wednesday, March 17, 2010, at a meeting convened by the Student Government Association, in what became known as the Saint Patrick’s Day Massacre.

This meeting began as others before it, with Senator of Culture and Society Sean Parsons making efforts to calm the turmoil. He began his infamous address to the General Assembly by saying “Balls are not what divides us, but rather the manner by which the balls were imposed.” Moments after this utterance, Senator Parsons was shot in the arm – the bullet narrowly missing his chest – by a rebel assassin who had taken advantage of the SGA’s open invitation attendance policy for meetings. The gunman then shot all the members of the Executive Board execution-style, crippling the Student Government’s ability to effectively govern. Before collapsing, Senator Parsons brandished his derringer and shot the vigilante in the face, instantly killing the rogue who was later identified as political deviant Ron Seidel. The bloodshed was the greatest this campus has seen since the butchery at Lake Silva in 1901, in which 55 students were summarily drowned for rejecting the school’s policy on columns, earning it the title “The Wet Slaughter.”


The events of that fateful Wednesday afternoon sparked a chain reaction which eventually led to the suspension of all organizations on campus. With no club constitutions binding their behavior, the pro-ball faction, or Ball Backers, unleashed a torrent of violence, which in turn provoked a vicious anti-ball response. On March 23rd, the anti-ball group, known as the Ball Busters, destroyed the Blue Ball in front of Paul Loser Hall. The Ball Busters rolled the sphere down Pennington Road, through Trenton, and in a victorious display of defiance, drowned it in the Delaware River. The Ball Backers were in frenzy; enraged, they began the systematic removal of all known Ball Backers from campus. Going from residence hall to residence hall, the group rounded up every “Buster” and caged them in front of the Clayton Brower Student Center. In a horrifying display, all those who refused to renounce their allegiance to the Ball Busters were burned at the stake. The National Guard stood hopelessly by, unable to begin an attempt at rescue. Those who had maintained neutrality on the ball issue were enraged; the once powerful Ball Backers were now the targets of random acts of violence. On April 15, 2010, now known as the Tax Day Revolution, the Busters destroyed the three remaining balls. Deciding that a campus which supported the balls was not worthy of existence, the Busters burned each academic building to the ground during afternoon classes, leaving over 1,800 dead and the campus in ruin.

In a bold yet tragic display of patriotism, TCNJ President R. Barbara Gitenstein, as one witness described, “Brandish[ed] two military assault rifles, while at the same time throwing, at random, homemade explosive devices towards anyone who stood in her way.” The late President Gitenstein killed over 350 students with a flamethrower, and successfully defended Paul Loser Hall before being ruthlessly drawn and quartered. The hall, now renamed “Savior Gitenstein Hall,” commemorates her valiant efforts, as well as her unsanctimonious death.

Let the brutality of these events give us pause as we reflect on our actions and the actions of those close to us. It was a situation similar to the peasant revolutions of 1848; cities blockaded, divided by ideology which threatened to wipe them from the annals of history. The College of New Jersey may have had the best of intentions by installing these balls, but the nightmare which accompanied them can never be wiped from the memories of those who lived and survived the episode.

COLLEGE DEMOCRATS DIVIDED

Having missed the last few College Democrats meetings, David Chapman was surprised to learn that the group had voted to no longer actively support Jon Corzine in the upcoming gubernatorial election. But despite the unexpected revocation, Corzine/Weinberg signs still hang

Eickhoff: Hero or Tyrant?

SHOULD WE HERALD EICKHOFF?

On average, college presidents spend about eight years in office. The figure was even lower – hovering around six – when Harold W. Eickhoff took over the reins of Trenton State College in 1980. By the time his not-so-voluntary retirement came into effect, the seminal figure had been at the helm of what is now known as TCNJ for nineteen years.

RAO

Dr. Nagesh Rao is a professor of literature at the College. Nagesh, as he prefers to be called, is a proud member of the International Socialist Organization, and encourages his activist students to follow suit.

Let Them Sit

It’s only 4:00pm, and a dull pain is already starting to work its way up Yolanda’s lower back. She may only take two breaks over the course of her eight-hour day, one ten minutes long and the other thirty, so timing is key; the chastened Sodexo employee must choose wisely. Soon, a barrage of hungry students will queue in the Eickhoff Hall vestibule, their faded identification cards in tow, and Yolanda will provide them with access to the eatery. By way of distraction, the pain will be temporarily alleviated. But it will still be there, lingering, and Yolanda will still be standing.

TCNJ ACLU REVIVED

After being dormant for nearly two years, TCNJ’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is being restored. Perspective executive editor Glenn Eisenberg, with the assistance of the ACLU-NJ, has begun organizing meetings for ACLU-TCNJ. The club has had several meetings and has established the long-term goal of getting an overbearing TCNJ policy or New Jersey law changed. The club meets Fridays at 3:30 on the second floor of the Student Center above the Rathskeller.

A NOTE FROM THE EDITORS

From its outset, The Perspective never sought to engage in an arbitrary tit-for-tat with The Signal. The two publications have different aims, different journalistic standards, and different target audiences. Our relationship can be one of coexistence and supplementation, not incessant quarreling. That being said, we will not hesitate to criticize The Signal if, in our opinion, it has failed to provide the wider campus community with quality content and reporting. In last month’s inaugural issue, The Perspective called attention to the flaws that we found to be pervasive at the publication.

SINGER SPEAKS

By M.C. TRACEY

Princeton professor and noted philosopher Peter Singer visited TCNJ on October 20 to discuss his new book, The Life You Can Save. His 1975 manifesto, Animal Liberation, is widely credited as the touchstone of the modern animal rights movement. Singer sat down with The Perspective to discuss vegetarianism, politics, and the rights of non-human animals.

SAVE YOUR ENERGY

In 2006, the overwhelming majority of emissions on campus came from heating and electricity, creating 39,649 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents. This figure is equal to 87,412,096 pounds, or the amount of greenhouse gases generated by 7,625 cars in an average year. What can be taken from these statistics? The simple act of turning out the lights when leaving a room or shutting down a computer when logging off will have marked positive effects on our college’s contribution to curbing climate change. While this may seem obvious, an evening stroll through campus or a visit to a deserted computer lab reveals that many individuals are not cognizant of the benefits of reducing energy use. Lights can be seen shining from windows every night and throughout the weekend in empty academic buildings and barren residential common rooms. Additionally, it is an anomaly to sit down to a computer that has to actually be turned on, even early in the morning when presumably no one has used it all night. After a recent Saturday visit to three of Holman Hall’s computer labs, I found that only two of the sixty-one computers not in use had been shut down. Not surprisingly, the lights were on in two labs with no occupants. Judging by the energy usage in Holman, one would think there was a band of ghostly graphic designers in the building, working furiously to meet otherworldly deadlines. With the pressing need to act promptly to halt climate change, it is not much to ask to switch off lights and shut down computers.

A DARKER SHADE OF GREEN

By JILLIAN STARK

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – the environmental ethos that has been etched into our minds since elementary school. More recently, these words or other derivatives have been appearing on t-shirts, cosmetics, and even coffee cups. But how much thought is actually given to the actions that they purport to suggest? Does the mass production of “environmentally-friendly” t-shirts realistically help to reduce over-consumption? Are cosmetic companies actually putting reusable shampoo bottles on the market? Is 10% of that Starbucks cup really post-consumer recycled material?

AN ANONYMOUS AAA INVOCATION

On September 23, 2009, torrential rains slammed the Philippines, as Typhoon Ketsana ravaged the small island country. Hundreds were left dead or injured. Not even a week after Ketsana dissipated, Typhoon Parma formed and struck the same area. Still reeling from the first shock, hundreds more fell victim. Many organizations have helped the Philippines in its time of need. Celebrities, too, have done their part.

THE GOOD, THE BAD, & THE THIRD PARTY


Boris Spektor Illustration of Three New Jersey Gubernatorial Candidates

Illustration by Boris Spektor

As New Jersey’s gubernatorial contest draws to a long-anticipated close, there are lessons to be learned from what has been another nauseating campaign season. We are not terribly surprised that the two major candidates, Jon Corzine and Chris Christie, have been relentless with their asinine attack ads and trivial barb-throwing. But we are surprised at how low they have stooped, and the extent to which they have disillusioned the New Jersey electorate.

WHISTLE (WHILE YOU WEB BROWSE)

“You know how to whistle, don’t you Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.” Lauren Bacall crooned this to Humphrey Bogart in To Have and Have Not in 1944, and although the same instructions would likely still apply, perhaps now no one would be listening to them. The act of whistling doesn’t seem to have aged as well as the film. In fact, whistling seems to have all but disappeared from modern society, particularly among our generation.

whistle cartoon

HOMECOMING

RoscoeROSCOE WOULD BE PROUD

By SCOOTER

Once a year, the inhabitants of suburban New Jersey gather together in celebration of that most joyous of autumnal days: Homecoming. On drizzly fall afternoons, as birds warble and leaves float gently to the grass, in the distance the sound of revving engines and pumping subwoofers disturbs the bucolic atmosphere, announcing the arrival of the Homecomers.

A long caravan of every imaginable sport utility vehicle emerges, each equipped with infinite trunk space and a sturdy tailgate, for it is known that on this day no man shall be without these essentials.

The wagons purr to a stop and their brood spills out, busying themselves with tent poles and hammers. Within moments, a canvas city is erected and the day’s festivities can begin. In play, children scramble through mud while their parents spit-roast the heartiest of Oscar Meyers. It is reminiscent of a renaissance fair.

During this charming harvest festival, the people share all manner of delicacies painfully acquired through a season’s toil. The revelers usher in the colder months, enjoying the last of their summer bounty before winter’s frost makes Cheetos and Miller Lite scarce.

Yes, the onlookers eagerly stuff themselves with meat and mead in anticipation of the day’s sporting events. A pastime whose spectators can gorge themselves while watching others exercise is a great pastime indeed.

The day’s climax manifests in the crowning of the Homecoming king and queen, figureheads of fruitful farming. Both are perfect physical specimens, the best the human race has to offer, and were selected using the same process as prizewinning pumpkins. The attendees feel secure knowing the fate of the human race is saved with the pairing of these two thoroughbreds.

As the day winds down, the steel caravans head back to their homesteads. They leave in their wake muddy lawns, a plethora of refuse, and happy memories of living the American Dream.

SFB: A UTILITARIAN CRITIQUE

By JACK MECCIA

$209 per person – it’s the current student activity fee. The figure that, every semester, funds undergraduate entertainment and extracurriculars. If the number is aggregated, there’s certainly a hefty sum of money to allocate and manage. Sure, it costs $209 on average to pay for all these expenditures, but let’s make things interesting by examining another aspect of that number’s meaning; namely, the benefit. Weigh this consideration in a practical sense: if you had the choice, would you pay $209 (excluding ticket prices, etc.) for the overall value the student activity fee provides?

I suspect that, in many cases, the response will be yes. For the typical student, clubs and school-funded activities are probably worth it. Understand, however, that whether or not you would give that $209 to the Student Finance Board is an entirely separate question. There’s a compelling alternative here that needs to be explored.

FIVE GOOD MINUTES WITH NAT SOWINSKI

By KYLE TOMALIN

Nat Sowinski

So what made you pick those glasses?
This may sound ironic, but I got them out of irony. I also want to look as punchable as I can – and I think I’m succeeding.

I think you’re failing. People seem to like you. Why do you go by Nat and not Natalie?
I’m not sure. That’s how it’s always been.

Can you give a funnier answer than that?
Nat sounds manlier.

So you’re intentionally manly?
Ever since I asked for GI Joes and bacon for Christmas when I was five. True story.

To make things even, does your boyfriend try to keep it girly?
My boyfriend IS the girly one. We balance each other out.

Boxers or briefs?
His boxers are the manliest thing about him. Then again, I’ve known some pretty manly men who wore briefs.

I was asking about you.
Boxers. Boxers with bacon on them.

SEPARATE BUT EQUAL?

By SARAH K. BURDICK

Take a stroll through the Brower Student Center this time of year, and an array of colorful flags and flyers will more than likely meet your gaze, signifying that the ever-frivolous season of Homecoming has begun for fraternities and sororities. In total, there are 31 Greek organizations recognized on campus: 16 sororities, 14 fraternities, and one co-ed organization. Together, they comprise the TCNJ Inter-Greek Council, whose mission statement professes to “strive to exude and abide by the values of fairness, integrity, and loyalty so as to enable growth and for the betterment of the community.” Yet amongst the Greek letter artwork displayed throughout the Student Center, there is a noticeable absence of any advertisement of the multicultural fraternal organizations, of which there are 14 out of the total 31.

HEALTHCARE SHENANIGANS

By DAVID B. MICHELSON

In the ongoing debate over national healthcare, it is of utmost importance that we reject the speechcraft of politicians and focus instead on the merits of the programs they would impose upon us. The argument put forth by the White House is that America’s current healthcare system is broken. Any opposition to the president’s healthcare agenda may therefore be dismissed as irrational support for the status quo. I reject the premise of this argument for reasons I hope to make plain.

SHAKES THE DOG


Advancing towards the beige house at Four Bittersweet Road in Ewing, I received two warm greetings. The first was from Mike Bottino, brother of TCNJ’s Phi Tau chapter; the second was from the fraternity’s newest and only non-human member, a playful Jack Russell Terrier mix named Shakes. The dog’s story, I have heard, is one of trial and triumph. I was ushered inside with Shakes in tow and, as instructed, “popped a squat” on one of the large, extraordinarily squishy pleather couches in the upstairs living room. Not a bad place to live for a dog, or for anyone else. After a few exchanged pleasantries and some more of Shakes’ own salutations, Mike began telling the fortuitous canine’s tale.