Category CAMPUS

SFB’S STASH

By ROBERT HICKMAN

The Student Finance Board (SFB) is the governing body that determines which campus organizations are granted funding for events. The money they allocate is drawn from the Student Activities Fee, a component of tuition that all students must pay. It was recently brought to my attention that SFB currently holds a surplus of funds exceeding $1 million – a curiously large sum to simply be sitting around untouched. So I decided to investigate.

TCNJaded

Are you happy?  Visit The College of New Jersey’s homepage and it is impossible to avoid statistics advertising students’ undying love for this institution. One blurb boasts that “85% of TCNJ’s most recent graduating class rated their undergraduate academic experience as either excellent or above average”; another proclaims that TCNJ has an almost unrivaled sophomore year retention rate. Listen in on prospective-student tours led by glittering, striped-shirted “Ambassadors,” and you’ll likely hear that students are enamored with their campus, their professors, and their peers.

But potential TCNJ recruits are not getting the full story.

Now in my junior year, after five and a half semesters’ worth of parties, club meetings, and discussions with scores of TCNJ students, I have noticed an unavoidable undercurrent of antipathy – a sense of unexpected dissatisfaction, a reluctant acceptance of lowered standards, and perhaps even mild (yet unconcealed) resentment.

It may not be a sentiment held by the majority, and it’s not widely acknowledged or discussed, but this simmering discontent is too consistent and pervasive to be ignored.

At the heart of the issue, it seems, is an identity crisis. Much more complex and consequential than any petty “North vs. South Jersey” debate, there is a recurring, implicit dialogue going on at TCNJ about the kind of school this really is – and what we are collectively projecting to the outside world.

For one, students here are constantly defining themselves to others. Even within New Jersey, TCNJ remains somewhat unknown. Thanks to the not-so-distant name change of 1996, when speaking of where they attend college, students are often forced to explain what the TCNJ acronym actually stands for. And whether we refer to our school as the former Trenton State College or by its current name, neither typically rings a bell for those outside New Jersey. Even Trenton State alumni are sometimes incredulous that the “T” in our title really does now stand for “the.”

After the College has been identified, many students find that the next question is whether or not they are education majors. Sophomore Andressa Leite observed, “People, mostly older folks, know TCNJ as Trenton State – as a teaching school. I have been met with surprised stares when I mention that I am not majoring in education here.” All of us are plainly aware that TCNJ has only recently transformed itself into a credible liberal arts college – in stark contrast to its past image as little more than a first-rate teacher factory.

But aside from concerns of academic perception, students routinely grapple with more fundamental questions of our institutional character: How smart are we? How smart are we supposed to be?

Promotional material produced by the College’s Public Relations Department constantly reminds us that TCNJ is considered a “public ivy,” but anecdotal evidence suggests the label might not yet be applicable. One student, who asked to remain nameless, gave a harrowing account of an incident that for him called into question whether admission standards are truly as high as we are led to believe:

“Last semester in a political science class, the professor asked a girl whether the incumbent party’s candidate had won the last presidential election. She finally stopped texting on her Blackberry and replied, ‘Can you define incumbent?’ I just about slammed my head on the desk.”

Of course, antipathy toward the College does not stem purely from academic concerns. Many students here rightly find the classes valuable and the professors engaging, but are highly disappointed with the surrounding cultural and social atmosphere. Unlike Princeton or other places closely associated with a proximate university, Ewing is clearly not a “college town”; there is very little active nightlife and definitely no discernible downtown area. And unlike nearby Rider University, our fraternity housing is required to remain off-campus. To access nighttime entertainment or some kind of Greek function, we have to put in quite a bit more effort than those on other campuses, where by comparison social opportunities are seemingly limitless.

College administrators and other consultants are now smartly working on a “Campus Town Project” that could make TCNJ more active and inviting. In the meantime, however, students must make the best of what is currently available.

I have found that for some, what TCNJ most sorely lacks is not necessarily a vibrant ‘night scene’ but an interesting and varied social life more generally. Some find refuge in fraternities and sororities, others in solitude or smaller gatherings – but a noticeable portion of us are often stuck somewhere in the middle.

We are thus disillusioned that in order to meet people after midnight, one must typically shell out $5 for frat party entry; and to those underwhelmed by cheap beer, Greek-life stereotypes, and blaring music that defies conversation, the experience often leaves much to be desired. One student attempted to identify the problem with these parties: “They become such a routine,” he said. “The same rowdy guys hanging around the beer pong table, the same crew playing flip-cup, the same girls grinding on sweaty dudes – and one another. It becomes stale and predictable.”

But for Andrew Kaplan, a freshman who transferred out of TCNJ halfway through this spring semester, more interesting frat parties would not have sufficed. “I felt disconnected with the student body – I felt a lack of intellectual stimulation. I felt trapped, so to speak, because of the location of the school. There are not many outlets outside of campus.”

Luckily for us, college students have endless ingenuity. Cluster enough people from our age bracket into a concentrated area, and some entertainment and camaraderie must inevitably result. But an environment more conducive to building meaningful relationships outside the dorms would nevertheless be a welcome addition. Too often it seems we must pursue substantive social lives in spite of our college’s atmosphere, rather than with assistance from it.

Of course, there is a context for these criticisms; most of us are happy with TCNJ. And after all, there is no school, regardless of prestige or endowment size, that is without faults. Every college or university – from Harvard, to NYU, to our humble suburban enclave – must deal with complaints from those who are dissatisfied for any plethora of reasons. That being said, we should not act as if these faults are nonexistent. Only upon acknowledging them more openly can we work to improve.

Sarah Burdick contributed reporting.

5 GOOD MINUTES

WITH MARTA PACZKOWSKA

FRESHMEN TAKE A STAND (SORT OF)

A PERSPECTIVE POLL

Can you name the current governor of New Jersey? How about the Secretary of Defense? When it comes to some of this era’s most contentious social issues, where do you stand?

In an attempt to take a snapshot of political and social values among the College’s freshman class, The Perspective surveyed eighty-five random residents of Wolfe Hall in early March. Participants remained anonymous.

FRAT PARTIES: CAUTION, FLAMMABLE

By ALEXANDRIA BACHERT

Whether or not you’re a fan, off-campus frat parties are an unmistakable part of the college experience. Indeed, many of us have taken that well-known trek to a sweaty, cluttered basement in search of some combination of jungle juice and promiscuity. But while the thumping beats and diluted alcohol may temporarily drown out any safety-related concerns, several people associated with Greek life, some of whom asked not to be named, have said that the massive parties they routinely host are major fire hazards.

COLLEGE’S DISCRIMINATION POLICY VIOLATED, CIVIL SUIT PENDING

Racial Tension, Lawsuit Beleaguer Campus Police Department

Three black members of the College’s security force are suing their white counterparts, as well as the College itself, for racial discrimination, The Perspective has learned.

Campus Police Officer Lorenzo Shockley, joined by security guards Wayne Evans and Armond Harris, claim they have been subjected to “a hostile work environment because of their race,” according to court documents. They name three white officers, Sergeant Raymond Scully, Officer C. Matthew Mastrosimone, and Sergeant Kevin McCullough as the primary perpetrators.

BRIAN R. HACKETT SPEAKS AT CPAC

TCNJ’s own Brian R. Hackett, senior political science major and former College Republicans chairman, addressed the annual CPAC convention in Washington, D.C. on Friday, February 19. Hackett was selected to appear alongside other young conservative activists from around the country. 

THE GIT ON TUCKER MAX

BY R. BARBARA GITENSTEIN

THE FOLLOWING IS FROM DECEMBER:

After reading excerpts from his website, I can fully understand why there are members of our community who are offended by Tucker Max’s language and attitudes. But whatever my judgment, it would be inappropriate for me, as president, to overturn the decisions of SFB and CUB. It has long been our practice at TCNJ to allow CUB to use its funds, which are generated by student fees, to attract speakers of their choice to campus. My interceding in this decision would be an undermining of the governance system that we prize on this campus, a governance system that values students as real partners in leading the institution. The decision to invite Tucker Max is CUB’s alone and it would not have been censorship had they decided NOT to invite him, but it would be censorship for me to substitute my judgment for theirs and bar him from campus. It is, of course, perfectly acceptable, for those members of the community who are offended by Tucker Max’s attitudes and language to express their feelings, as long as that expression takes a constructive and non-violent form.”

R. BARBARA GITENSTEIN is the president of the College

THE GIT ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

BY R. BARBARA GITENSTEIN

THE FOLLOWING IS FROM DECEMBER:

“I am always supportive of our students’ right and responsibility to express their political opinions, regardless of the issue under discussion or the stance they may take. Specifically, in regard to the “Freedom of religion and Equality in Civil Marriage Act” (S1967/A2978), I believe the question to be considered by the legislature is one of equality and civil rights.”

R. BARBARA GITENSTEIN is the president of the College

TCNJ FOR FREE SPEECH: Support, Oppose, or Feel Apathetic Towards Tucker Max

By GLENN EISENBERG

Members of our campus community have been flinging around the terms “freedom of speech” and “censorship” without much thought to what they truly entail—rendering them nothing more than buzzwords and diminishing their actual meaning.

TCNJ ACTIVISM RECAP: FALL ’09

BY GLENN EISENBERG

Last semester was an undeniably exciting one for activists at the College of New Jersey. We organized a panel on healthcare reform, took sixty students to Washington DC for a 200,000 person march for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) equality, hosted discussions on the War in Afghanistan, counter-demonstrated homophobic street preachers, and organized many other events.

However, some activists on campus have begun to feel cast aside by some of their more radical classmates—who have, intentionally or not, belittled the efforts of their peers.

REPORT FROM THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES

BY THOMAS LITTLE, ALTERNATE STUDENT TRUSTEE

Report from the Trustees Disclaimer: The information in this article is subject to change without notice. If you have any questions, please contact the Alternate Student Trustee at little8@tcnj.edu; NOT the Student Government Association.

Development of the Campus Town. Over the past few years the College has been in the process of designing a Campus Town. Now, we can start informing the students about our plans for this project. The goal would be to have a mix of residential and commercial development near the College to give students a reason to stay on campus. That would mean the town would have some student housing, but it would contain stores and other businesses like a Barnes and Noble, or a Gold’s Gym. We hired consultants to do an initial review of Carlton Ave. and Pennington Rd. as potential sites for this Campus Town.

After a preliminary review, we determined the creation of a Campus Town on Carlton Ave. would be difficult due to the wetlands surrounding the area. Carlton Ave. would also be too distant from the College to attract successful business. Therefore we think Pennington Rd. would be a suitable place for a Campus Town. We envisioned a Campus Town near Loser Hall. That’s right, this development would be near the entrance of the College. Another reason for this Campus Town was giving the citizens of Ewing a reason to visit our college whether for shopping or entertainment. We’re still deciding if TCNJ wants to be the primary developer for this project. Thanks to the NJ Stimulus Act that was passed this summer, we could enter into public/private partnerships with private developers so we could attract more established business while still maintaining control over what stores we would accept for the Campus Town. We only have a limited amount of time to take advantage of this, but were still in the process of analyzing our current options.

Alumni Giving Campaign. Despite our high rakings in several publications like Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report, we still have a very small endowment for a state college. Aside from a lack of state funding, there’s also the problem of alumni giving. Too many students, both current and the former, do not donate to the College for many reasons. Some alumni had a poor experience during their time here, or in the case of the balls, there’s no mechanism for students to provide feedback on the College’s decision-making process for its activities. Either way the college recognized these problems and the Trustees spent a great deal of time in researching this problem.

In an effort to increase Alumni giving for the College, the Trustees discussed several options for addressing the problem. This will be approached in two ways. For current alumni, they should be awarded for contributing to the college. This could be done in several ways; one of which could be providing a book on those that not only contributed, but also what they donated to instead of putting it all on a web page. Other ideas include inviting alumni to campus, or having them meet current students to get their perspective on the College. For current students, we will be encouraging our class officers (freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior class councils) to participate in several activities for fundraising such as going to alumni meetings, or promoting student travel. Of course, we don’t always have the best ideas. If you would like to participate in this endeavor or explain why you may or may not plan to donate to the college contact us at little8@tcnj.edu.

Preparing for a New Governor. One of the big discussions during the retreat was the arrival of a new governor in Chris Christie. The funding of higher education has always been a problem for New Jersey. Tuition for state colleges is the second highest in the nation due to a lack of funding and the state’s failure to pay for mandated costs, especially labor contracts. Support for TCNJ is no different. In 1999, financial support from the state was about 53% of TCNJ’s revenue, but in 2008 state support was about 37%. Obviously, the lack of funding has a trickle down effect on everything we do from providing financial aid to expanding our capacity and resources for students. It shouldn’t be surprising that our state ranks first nationally in loss of college-bound students (close to 30,000 annually), which leads to a loss of about six billion per year in terms of revenue for the state.

What do we expect from our new governor? We don’t expect an increase in funding; in fact, the likely scenario is that we’ll face more cuts in funding. Our goal will be to encourage the state to maintain the current funding instead of cutting it. Where there is common ground is Christie acknowledging the need to fund higher education, and one of his proposals was the reinstatement of the Outstanding Student Recruitment Program (OSRP). Our advocacy isn’t limited to the governor. The legislature will be our main focus because the College is battling an image problem of being a wasteful spender even though we don’t receive that much money from the state. Everyone agreed that we must continue to foster relationships with our lawmakers by inviting them to campus, or having students testify in front of the Budget Committee on behalf of the college. Either way, we are expecting a productive and cordial relationship with our new governor.

Note from Mr. Little: “Want to get involved in our lobbying efforts? Sign up for the New Jersey College Promise Action Network; a database of over 3600 members committed to advocating for New Jersey’s nine state colleges. The website is www.njcollegepromise.com.”

FIVE GOOD MINUTES WITH DON JUAN

Beginning his collegiate career in 2002, Donald Tharp is currently pursuing a double major in philoso­phy and psychology.

During a four year leave of absence from TCNJ, Tharp found work as a field hand and yard boy for a construction company. The South Jersey native then worked his way “into the office” as a junior estima­tor, eventually becoming a project manager for small jobs, and finally earning the big bucks as an assis­tant project manager for multi-million dollar projects. Now 25, he returned to TCNJ in the spring of 2008.

Tharp sat down with The Perspective for five good — nay, great — minutes.

 

What’s your full name?

Donald Burton Tharp, Jr. — better known as Donny, Don Juan, Old-Timer, and Blue.

If you wanted people to know one thing about you, what would it be?

It’s never too late.

How do you approach living life?

If something bad can happen, it probably will happen, so it’s not about avoiding it, it’s about overcoming it, learning from it, and coming out stronger.

What are your initial thoughts about this last decade?

It’s amazing how relative time is. And though at moments, it seems to creep by — but in retrospect, it’s gone in an instant.

How will the 2000s be remembered?

Two steps forward, one step back… I believe there’s been prog­ress. That’s a net gain of one step. But pessimists will always see the negative — what’s that gonna do for you?

What did you do over winter break?

Finished up working on my loft… should be able to move in shortly after finals. I look forward to living on my own again.

Who did you do over winter break?

My girlfriend of four years, and probably wifey, sooner rather than later.

Where do you see yourself in 2015 or 2020?

By then, hopefully back at this school as either a philosophy or psychology professor. I’d want to create a hybrid of the two.

You’re speaking to the people of the future. What are your most insightful words of wisdom?

What you know as fact now has a good chance of being fic­tion later. Never stop questioning why and how. Never stop seeking knowledge.

Other than R. Barbara Gitenstein, who is your fa­vorite Lion or Lioness and why?

Any of the faculty in the philosophy department. They’re un­der-appreciated and seem to not care less about it.

Who is your least favorite Lion or Lioness, and why?

The Sodexo people who charged me $7.80 for a Sunday brunch.

What’s currently spinning in your iTunes?

“Proud to be an American” by Lee Greenwood.

Shout-out time. Go.

To all the interesting characters and brilliant young minds wandering around this campus… this world is ours, shitty as it may seem at times. If change is inevitable, and it is the fruit of our hands, never let anyone tell us that that change cannot or will not be for the better.

THE MORALITY OF TUCKER MAX

By NICHOLAS A. PELULLO

“My name is Tucker Max, and I am an asshole.”

Tucker Max is an asshole. He is a self-proclaimed asshole, and seems to be proud of it. No one denies this. Currently, the merits of hosting a self-proclaimed asshole at an academic institution are under heavy debate. One side seems to think the asshole’s right to free speech gives the college justification to present him, the other claims that it is morally culpable to willingly endorse and financially support such an asshole. I, however, am not interested in a debate over how many assholes we can bring to TCNJ. Rather, I feel that an element of Tucker Max’s persona remains unaddressed, and is representative of a key dilemma in American culture: The Success of the Asshole in Western Society.

What is an asshole? If we accept Tucker Max’s definition, in his own words, from his own website:

“I get excessively drunk at inappropriate times, disregard social norms, indulge every whim, ignore the consequences of my actions, mock idiots and posers, sleep with more women than is safe or rea­sonable, and just generally act like a raging dickhead.”

An asshole, it would appear, is someone who has cast the founda­tions of Western virtue to the wind. Such a person, according to this definition, has lost all control over his or her physical desires, to the point that these desires are no longer checked by any higher mental capacity. This person has acquired a complete disregard for the ef­fects of his or her actions on his or her fellow human beings. Truly an asshole, indeed.

However, regardless of whatever criticisms we may make of this particular asshole, there is one undeniable affirmation: he is ridicu­lously successful. Despite, or perhaps because of, his being “a raging dickhead,” Mr. Max has made himself a much-lauded figure in soci­ety. Why, one might ask, does someone who indulges to admittedly unhealthy excess and has no concern for other people garner such success?

The answer, I believe, lies in one key issue: pride.

Self-worth, or pride, is inherently attractive, both in terms of social and interpersonal relationships. It shows that the person who knows you best – you – recognizes and acknowledges that you are “worthy.”

Our society, however, has arbitrarily aligned “pride” with what is considered to be morally bad, and the opposite of pride – humil­ity – with what is considered to be morally good. As a result of all this, people who want to be virtuous tend to strive toward the ideal of humility over pride, artificially devaluing themselves. People who do not wish to see themselves aligned to virtue (such as Mr. Max), on the other hand, are free to indulge in pride, and, as a result, possess a degree of self worth, albeit excessive.

Therein lies the success of all assholes. For all their faults, social forc­es have left them as one of the only groups possessing at least an ap­propriate amount of self worth, leaving the majority of non-assholes with an undue dearth of self-value.

The solution to the proliferation of assholes in Western culture, therefore, is for good people to reclaim “pride” as a moral virtue. When you get right down to it, it’s a matter of honesty. If you’re a good person, you should recognize that, if only to be truthful to yourself and the world. In fact, you should thrive on it. That’s right – thrive. Too long have I seen good people not value themselves ap­propriately, with sorry consequences for themselves and the good of the world around them. The success of this one asshole, which our college so willingly endorses, is not a random anomaly; instead, it represents a systematic failure of our society to properly value its members.

WILLFUL WASTE

Et tu, Mr. Higgins?

By ANYA SARETZKY


An anonymous source from within So­dexo management told The Perspec­tive that the Library Café throws away “at least ten pounds” of uneaten food each evening, while across campus, dining services as a whole wastes over 150 pounds on a daily basis. The source would be fired if he or she were to give students free food after closing – and has been reprimanded in the past for at­tempting to do so. The source points out the glaring hypocrisy in Sodexo’s enthu­siastic promotion of canned food drives while, simultaneously, unspoiled food that could easily be sent to local pantries is intentionally wasted.

Though The College of New Jersey has distanced itself from Trenton by name, we nevertheless reside mere blocks away from a city in which nearly one in four indi­viduals live below the poverty line. Throughout the nation, the effects of the recession have re­sulted in a greater dependency on food stamps; today, an eighth of Americans and a quarter of children rely on government aid to feed them­selves. To those of us with unlimited college meal plans, our most pressing food-related problem may be the soggy quality of Eickhoff’s grilled cheese. But hunger is a constant concern for millions of Americans, many of them TCNJ’s close neighbors.

John Higgins, general manager of So­dexo Dining Services, once again de­clined to comment for this article. Thus, the official rationale for allowing this shameful amount of food waste could not be ascertained; one might argue, however, that liability issues could arise if unused food were to be donated. But such objections have long been rendered obsolete. The Bill Emerson Good Samari­tan Act provides legal protection to donors that contribute food to nonprofit organi­zations in good faith. As our anonymous source rightly wonders, “what are they los­ing by letting someone eat a meal?”

To be sure, Sodexo is not alone in wast­ing food. Nationally, forty to fifty percent – over twenty-five million tons – of all food produced is never eaten. The United Nations Food Programme estimates that this waste alone could feed every hungry person in Africa. Considering that over a billion people in the world are living in hunger, with 3.5 million dying as a result of under-nutrition every year, it seems of little inconvenience to send a few dozen paninis to the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen.

Apart from the ubiquity of unnecessary hunger that could be easily remedied with the elimination of waste, guided food management is crucial in staving off cli­mate change. Indeed, the production of meat alone creates more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined, and the United States could cut its environmental impact in half by elimi­nating food-related waste.

By redirecting these pounds of perishables from the garbage can to the mouths of hungry people, TCNJ could also limit its contributions to toxic landfills, where food cannot decompose sustainably. What is the most sustainable way to dis­pose of food, you ask? Return it to the earth by composting. Unlike Princeton, Brown, Cornell, and Harvard, our “pub­lic Ivy” condemns all of its food waste to landfill doom. As TCNJ’s paninis rot in heaps of garbage, they exude methane gas, which is twenty times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide.

What is particularly tragic is that climate change, exacerbated by needless food waste, will actually worsen the problem of food insecurity in the developing world. By 2050, cli­mactic shifts will be responsible for decreased agricultural yields of up to twenty-two percent in Sub-Saharan Africa alone. As a result of this global decline in food produc­tion, ten to twenty percent more people worldwide will go hungry, with an estimated nineteen mil­lion children suffering from malnourish­ment.

As evidenced by its emphatic calls for canned food donations, Sodexo is clearly well aware of the needs that exist with­in our community. Unfortunately, the huge amount of food waste generated by dining services belies whatever com­mitment they purport to have made; So­dexo’s claim that “Dining Services at The College of New Jersey is on the forefront of implementing sustainable initiatives into its operations” seems laughable in light of these ongoing practices. With each sandwich it sends to rot every eve­ning, Sodexo is carelessly throwing away its potential to facilitate positive environ­mental and humanitarian change.

“MY MOM IS RACIST”

By CAROLINE BACHMANN

For the typical white, middle-class, college-aged American, the concept of con­temporary racism seems foreign — or even extinct. But for one TCNJ student, the bitter reality of racial prejudice in America today has become a fact of life. A short while ago, Aaron*, a student raised in a conservative Jewish household, began seeing an African American girl named Jessica. After happily dating for a few weeks, Aaron called home to tell his family the pleasant news: he was in a new relationship.

He never could have anticipated his mother’s reaction.

“It was nauseating,” Aaron told The Perspective. “She said, ‘I don’t want you in my house; I don’t want to pay your tuition; I’m cutting you off; I want nothing to do with you.’

Aaron is “a white Jewish boy,” his mother lashed, “and should be sticking with his own.”

Aaron said, “she feels like I’ve somehow betrayed our people, like I’ve spat on the graves of our ancestors. It’s not something I feel like I could combat with logic. It’s emotion; it’s ignorance; it’s hatred. I’m not going to be able to sit down with her and talk her out of it.”

Aaron’s mother, however, claims not to be a racist. “I’ve worked with black peo­ple,” she reportedly said to her son. “I don’t dislike black people. But I don’t want them in our family, and I’m disgusted by the thought that our son is with one.”

Recalling a dispute he and a professor had had not long ago, Aaron reflected: “He was telling me ‘You’ve been sheltered; you’re white; you’ve never experienced rac­ism. You don’t know what racism is.’ I said by and large, racism was dying out. But then I come home and find out it’s in my own house.”

“Looking back,” Aaron added, “he was right.”

“I’ve been sheltered from it most of my life by virtue of being a white, Jewish boy,” Aaron said. “But there is more hatred in society and even within my own walls than I ever could have possibly conceived.”

“Our relationship is never ever going to be okay with her,” he said, “but Jessica and I are going to stay together. I love my mom as much as the next person, but if respect for her means I have to accept racism into my heart, I’m not going to do it. I do not want that to be a part of me.”

He explained further, “I’m sickened by it; I’m sickened that the woman who birthed me thinks this way. I cannot bear the thought that I came from a racist mother. That’s in me now – that hatred is in me. Even if I don’t think that way, whatever it was about her upbringing, her life experience – that’s in my blood.”

“Remnants of racism still exist in society,” Aaron concluded. “And they need to be pointed out and fought wherever they are found.”

*Names changed

LET JOY BE UNCONFINED

Do you yearn to be quipped at cleverly while feeling your self-esteem evaporate? Is your fascination with English Pleasure Gardens undying? Do you long to hear the phrase “things look bleak for you” said with the dulcet tenor of a London accent? If you answered yes to any of these, then you are mad. But you are also a perfect candidate to become a pupil of the enigmatic James Stacey Taylor.

He is ironic, intelligent, and breathtakingly tall. Early American fables claim he carved the Grand Canyon by dragging an axe across the desert – the name was later changed to Paul Bunyan for legal reasons. Now, he enjoys a quiet life of educating young minds in the Philosophy Department of TCNJ.

Dr. Taylor was kind enough to answer several questions for The Perspective – and even suggested a few him­self when he discovered the interviewer was woefully incapable. Now sit back, secure tongue firmly in cheek, and enjoy the musings of a delightfully sardonic Brit.

Where did you grow up?

Mainly in the Bedford Park area of London; this was the first planned Garden Suburb, dating from the C19th Arts and Crafts movement in England, and so was a very pleasant place to grow up. Yeats lived a few houses down from the house I grew up in, and wrote several of his major poems there. Not when I was living there, of course—he was dead by then. Or so his biographers would have us believe.

Where did you go to university?

At St. Andrews University, in Scotland, and UC Berkeley, for my undergraduate work and first postgraduate degree; then Bowling Green State University in Ohio for my further gradu­ate studies. And, no, I don’t play golf; it is a silly game. There are far easier ways to get that little white ball into those small holes.

When did you move to America, and why?

I spent a year at UC Berkeley, as part of my undergraduate degree. I moved more permanently in the mid 1990s, to con­tinue graduate work in philosophy. At the time the chances of securing an academic job in America were much higher than in Britain—there were simply more available—and an American degree was considered advantageous. Plus, I was misled—the man who recruited me to study in Ohio claimed that the Midwest was just like California. It isn’t.

Have you seen much of America?

I’ve lived in the Midwest, the Deep South (Louisiana), the Shallow South (Virginia), and on both West and East Coasts, so I’ve experienced quite a wide variety of American life. In­cluding line dancing and tractor pulling, both of which I ob­served from a safe distance.

What do you like about America?

The general friendliness of people, and gas station hotdogs. These are probably the most important contribution America has made to the culinary arts. (The hot dogs, that is.) They’re absolutely wonderful, and so cheap! Plus, you can load up on vegetable-based condiments, and so they’re healthy, too.

Do you like horror movies?

Why does this question follow questions about America?

Of course! I used to live in a town that was the set of a recent horror film, whose working title was Backwater. (It was re­leased as Venom, and is terrible.) When you’re living in a town that’s being filmed as the backdrop to a horror film called Backwater things look bleak. Especially if the film crew have to spruce the place up so it doesn’t look too creepy. I recom­mend Spoorlos and Anatomie as terrific horror movies—al­though stop watching Anatomie after the first scene. It goes downhill rapidly. And is mean to utilitarians.

How did you get interested in philosophy?

The school I went to (i.e., for the equivalent of high school) had a very good Sixth Form Library, and subscribed to aca­demic journals in philosophy and classics, among others. I was browsing through the philosophy journals, and found the articles in them fascinating, especially those to do with theo­retical ethics. Unfortunately, this happened after I’d been ac­cepted to read for a Law degree at an English university. So, I gave up my place there, took a year off, and applied to read philosophy at St Andrews.

What are your interests in philosophy?

I’m interested in medical ethics, especially the morality of us­ing markets to procure human transplant organs. I’m also in­terested in the related questions of whether death is a harm to the person who dies, whether the dead can be wronged, and whether the dead can be harmed. (The answers are no, no, and no. The dead would be very lucky indeed, were they to exist to instantiate such a property.) I also work on theories of personal autonomy—what it is for an action or a desire to be correctly attributable to one as one’s own. And I have interests in the work of Descrates, Berkeley, and nineteenth century utilitarianism.

Do you have any other academic interests?

Yes—history (especially medieval English history), and clas­sics (especially the Epicurean school). I’m also keenly inter­ested in plagues, especially the Great Mortality of the C14th. That was a real disease—not like the weak-kneed stuff that’s around now.

Do you have any pets?

Three Catahoula hunting dogs, and an embarrassingly large number of cats. An embarrassingly large number of cats is any number above zero.

CHECKBOOKER COMES TO COLLEGE

THE CORY BOOKER STORY — A TALE OF LUST, INTRIGUE, BROKEN DREAMS, AND OTHER THINGS

In the November 3 edition of The Signal, Newark native Delisa O’Brien praised the Honorable Mayor Cory A. Booker for his dazzling address to TCNJ students in the Mildred & Ernest E. Mayo Concert Hall: “I’m proud that he takes the time,” she remarked. Many were indeed proud that Booker took the time. But were they aware that he also took the money?

Photo by Brandon Rodkewitz

According to Corey Dwyer, Sophomore Class Vice President and leading organizer of the mayor’s October 27 talk, the Student Government Association (SGA) received $11,000 from the Student Finance Board (SFB) to fund the event. Dwyer explained, “Some of this was used to cover administrative costs… and the cost of booking the Concert Hall.” The rest went into the mayor’s pocket. “We did not inquire as to what Mayor Booker intended to do with his portion of the money,” Dwyer said. “It’s not really our place to do so.”

But it is our place to do so, really.

After all, is it customary for sitting elected officials to accept such large payments for speaking engagements at colleges? Not for Cory Booker, at least. Just one day prior to his TCNJ appearance, the Newark mayor delivered a strikingly similar lecture at neighboring Rider University. That engagement fee? $0.00.

It should be noted that Rider is a private institution. And considering his rhetoric, which emphasized the importance of universal education, it seems a bit contradictory that the mayor would require taxpayer-funded TCNJ to hand over thousands of its scarce, tuition-garnered dollars for a ninety-minute presentation – especially in the midst of an ongoing recession that has forced the College to furlough professors and cut services.

Tim Asher, Director of Student Activities and Leadership Development, is the college administrator most responsible for coordinating the logistics of Booker’s appearance. Asher described his role as “basically a negotiator.” Having haggled the original price-tag from $20,000 down to $11,000, it would seem Asher has some skill in the craft. Booker was able to do “better” for the College because of its “proximity [to Newark], and other things of this nature.” But Asher said he was unaware of any attempt to secure an engagement gratis, as Rider apparently had received. “I didn’t know anything about that until I read your email,” he said. “I believe that avenue had been exhausted by the time Olaniyi came to me.”

Booker’s pricey visit was the brain-child of SGA Vice President of Legal and Government Affairs Olaniyi Solebo, who was most closely associated with the process of procuring the mayor’s talents. Solebo said he received a rough estimate of “around ten thousand dollars” from someone in Booker’s office over the summer – a figure that was then submitted for SFB approval. According to Solebo, Booker appeared at Rider without charge for two reasons: 1) Booker considered the Rider visit a campaign event on behalf of Gov. Jon Corzine; and 2) Rider is home to the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics. “The Institute does a lot of work for New Jersey politics,” Solebo said. “Among other activities, it gathers polling data. This gives them a bit more leverage in booking New Jersey politicians as speakers.”

But should Rebovich’s “leverage” affect the monetary terms of speaking engagements by public officials? Could this be considered an attempt on the part of Booker to appease a New Jersey political enterprise? Would TCNJ have received a freebee if it was home to a comparable entity? Before tossing around thousands of dollars, should we not expect the SGA to explore whether less expensive alternatives are available? These are questions that deserve answers.

Furthermore, an unattributed article found on Rider’s official Web site casts some doubt as to whether Booker’s appearance there was merely a campaign stop. According to the article, the mayor spent his Rider lecture discussing the history of Newark’s Brick Towers, his relationship with the wise Mrs. Jones, and the city’s coming renaissance.

Sound familiar? It certainly should if you attended Booker’s TCNJ event, as the topics appear identical. The Rider article also makes but a single passing reference to Gov. Corzine, suggesting that the mayor spent about as much time discussing the gubernatorial election there as he did at TCNJ (not very much at all). Assuming the talks were the same, is there any logical reason that a private university should have free access to a speaker who charges TCNJ thousands?

This is not to say that anyone expects Mayor Booker – whose commendable activities in Newark are undoubtedly time-consuming – to travel the land as an altruistic troubadour of inspiration. But as any campaign strategist could attest, Booker’s New Jersey engagements pay non-financial dividends in themselves. Upon being reminded that he could potentially win the Democratic nomination for governor in 2013, Booker never discounts the idea. He has consistently responded by maintaining that he is focused on the affairs of Newark. Coy deflections aside, the political reality is that Booker could very likely seek the governorship at some time in the near future. If this proves to be the case, surely the mayor’s university touring is a sound investment in his electoral fortunes.

Was anyone in attendance not impressed by his style and story? Won’t everyone who listened feel a little less fidgety about visiting Newark in the future – perhaps to peruse the booming downtown area Mayor Booker was so keen on promoting?

Booker could not be reached for comment on the ultimate destination of the thousands he reaped from the event.

We would hope, though, that TCNJ tuition dollars did not directly or indirectly go to funding the mayor’s 2010 reelection bid. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, one could speculate that Booker instead steered the revenue to his Newark Now! nonprofit – an ostensibly laudable endeavor. But according to State Sen. Ron Rice (D-Newark), even a contribution to that outwardly neutral organization could be considered a campaign contribution; the nonprofit serves to bolster Booker’s image around the city as a steward of good works. And in Newark, where gritty, machine-style identity politics still dominate – publicity is everything.

No one will refute that the mayor proved himself to be an adept orator – one who preaches with passion about his commitment to public service. But after all is said and done, did he really practice what he preached? If Mayor Booker is genuinely invested in the public good, his investment should not be bound by the beltway of Newark.

Cory, thanks for coming. But next time, cut us a break – don’t make us cut you a check.

UPDATE: PolitickerNJ follows up with the mayor…

By GARY EDWARDS BETHEA

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.