Category CRITICISM

SIGNAL IN THE RED¹

By M. POLIZZO

SFB recently retreated to an off-campus location, as they do every spring, to determine the following year’s SAF (Student Activities Fund) budget. This is the time when each club and organization (including SFB) is given their fiscal horoscope: requests of each group are voted on item-by-item; allotments are allotted; the lines are drawn. Ideally, respective budgets are proportional to group size, spending history, and the benefits derived through said groups.

Ideally.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

TCNJ Repents ’09

At about 11:45am on September 23rd, I was walking out of the Student Center only to be greeted by a booming voice shouting, “Homosexuals must repent!” I then noticed a man fashioning a “Jesus Saves From Hell” shirt and army fatigue pants. He was toting a large sign reading “WARNING: GOD HATERS, FORNICATORS, DRUNKS, MOCKERS, ADULTERERS, GREEDY, THIEVES, LIARS, HOMOSEXUALS, JUDGEMENT” in one hand and a Bible in the other. He was accompanied by a stocky man who greatly resembled Michael Moore.

Shocked, I immediately stumbled through my cell phone contact list to call every TCNJ activist I could think of and tell them what was going on. Before I knew it, a small hoard of students gathered at the scene, proudly standing in front of the Student Center with pro-gay rights signs.

As the group began to grow, we were approached by Sgt. Joseph Skrajewski. He informed us that the two men had not obtained permission to be there and that they would be moved. The sergeant also said that in order to continue our counter-demonstration, we would have to speak with Tim Asher, Director of Student Activities, to get his approval, a process that ordinarily takes about a month. This would have meant a counter-protest was not permitted, period. Beyond violating unabridged free speech, this would have been outright censorship and sets an intolerable precedent for the future. Carol Bresnahan, the openly gay Executive Vice President of TCNJ, who had joined the counter-demonstration, stepped in and requested that Skrajewski let us continue to protest. From that point forward, Sgt. Skrajewski dropped the issue and only idly watched. We were lucky that Vice President Bresnahan was present and supportive, as the empowering demonstration was almost destroyed by banal bureaucratic technicalities.

As time rolled on, the “born-again” demonstrators became increasingly outnumbered as more and more students noticed what was going on and joined the counter-protesters. The protest group grew to over 100 students, professors, and faculty.

The two men preached their hatred, claiming that homosexuals are better off killing themselves than living as themselves, women belong at home cooking and cleaning, our professors were brainwashing us by teaching “evil-ution,” and that it is morally acceptable to sell one’s daughter into slavery as condoned in the Bible. One of the men also made the claim that President Obama was going to put us all in concentration camps by the end of his term. “This is good, free country, you’re saying what you want…no martial law yet…no camps yet…” one muttered. This begs the question: what kind of delusional racist hysteria would lead someone to believe Obama will have us all in Gulags?

The preachers’ voices were drowned out by the demonstrators, who chanted, “Gay, straight, black, white, same struggle, same fight!” and “Homophobic and anti-gay! Right-wing nutjobs, go away!”

A highlight of the demonstration was when several female students held a “kiss-in” while a tour passed by. The students walked up right next to one of the homophobic Bible-thumpers, paired off, and started making out. This was followed by a male couple walking by holding hands. Both displays were met with loud applause and cheering from the sea of demonstrators.

The two men were eventually surrounded by chanting students and rainbow flags. Evangelical junior biology major Paul Soon, armed with his Bible, stood in front of the men explaining the context of their Biblical references, correcting some of their alleged misinterpretations. Matt Hoke, Perspective Editor, told the story of the Stonewall riots of 1969 and their role in the LGBT movement. One student mocked the men, preaching about his fictional bout with homosexuality. Adam Engel, senior English major, brought further levity by playing “Amazing Grace” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” on his trumpet. David “Border Patrol” Michelson, junior political science major and an active member of the College Republicans who wore a “Friends don’t let friends vote Democrat” shirt, gave a short speech on the importance of gay rights; he said the issue is “something we should all agree on.”

Many of the students who no longer saw anything productive coming from engaging the Bible-thumpers led a march to the alumni grove, leaving the men with little audience.

Some believe that the demonstration last Wednesday, and by extension the tactic of protesting in general, has little impact on public opinion. However, the LGBT community at TCNJ certainly felt the effect of the demonstration. Perspective contributor Dena Lagomarsino, a junior secondary ed. and English major, said, “In flyering for the [National Equality March] in the weeks leading up to the impromptu protest, I was discouraged at times when students told me they didn’t believe in same-sex marriage—but the protest really turned that around.” When discussing the number of heterosexuals at the demonstration,

Lagomarsino said, “it became clear that there were a lot more straight allies from all walks of campus life, which was really elating.”

Besides the obvious success of uniting students and getting others interested in the issues raised at the demonstration, the protest also succeeded in affirming to the LGBT community at TCNJ that their classmates stand with them.

The born-again protesters managed to act as a galvanizing force, bringing together many students of all political persuasions in solidarity.

To those who say that it is better to ignore those who spew hateful rhetoric, I can assure you that the feeling and tangible progress achieved from acting in unity far surpasses anything that can be gained from turning the other cheek. Because of the protest, over 30 students signed up on the spot to get involved in LGBT activism.

A rainbow wave crashed over TCNJ last Wednesday and washed away with it any doubt that this campus will stand up against homophobia, sexism, and right-wing extremism.

THE UNIVERSE WE CALL HOME?

In this week’s Signal (link), Managing Editor Bobby Olivier delivers what may or may not be a rebuke to the criticism of his newspaper that can be found in The Perspective’s inaugural issue.

Frankly, our staff is genuinely confused about the message Olivier is attempting to convey. His editorial begins with the flippant suggestion that the College should no longer construct buildings that will not be utilized by its current generation of students. It then goes on to list farcical ideas for new construction projects from which students could presumably receive instant gratification.

His message would be all well and good—if it made any sense. What argument is Olivier attempting to counteract? Who has suggested that the College should not be constructing new buildings, a suggestion he appears to be satirizing? No doubt, sarcasm can be a valuable vehicle through which to deconstruct fallacious arguments; anyone who seriously contends that the College should withdraw funding for all its “future-oriented” construction projects deserves to be derided. But whatever point Olivier is trying to make becomes lost in the fray of a bizarrely incoherent diatribe.

It is not particularly noteworthy for a Signal editorial to be poorly written and puzzling—this we have sadly become accustomed to. But Olivier takes an unusual step by hurling an unveiled barb at our infantile magazine, calling on students to “hit up the frivolous observatory” that he facetiously claims the non-forward looking among us would have built, “and discover which alternate universe The Perspective’s editors call home.”

Say what?

The Perspective editorial board has poured over Olivier’s rant, trying earnestly to decode whatever criticism of our publication might lie beneath its unintelligible prose. But we have thus far been unsuccessful. The Perspective values input from its readership – critical or otherwise – and is perfectly willing to engage with The Signal if it so chooses. But Olivier’s underhanded denigration, the motivation behind which is indecipherable, leaves no room for a response on our part. Even so, if you think you can figure out what Bobby meant, email us, or better yet email The Signal—they may be interested to know that their editorial is utterly incoherent.

—— —– —– —–

ON THAT NOTE…

In their September 30 editorial, The Signal praised student protesters for confronting the born-again preachers who invaded our campus two weeks ago. They wrote:

“The point of this editorial is not to disagree with what the demonstrators were saying, but to commend the student protesters…”

The Signal was right to applaud the protesters, whose impromptu display of solidarity was both invigorating and cause for accolade. But their bizarre refusal to condemn the preachers’ hateful and deranged rhetoric was nothing less than shameful.

The entire campus community banded together in opposition to the abominable message that was on display: Republicans joined Democrats, libertarians joined socialists, and faculty joined students to stand against the rabidly offensive preachers. There is no cause easier to rally around than such unabashed bigotry and vitriol.

Yet The Signal, a publication that is supposed to be the voice of the College, could not muster the courage to denounce the words of the hate-mongers, which included “Women should stay in the home,” “Gay people should kill themselves,” and “Obama will have us all in concentration camps.” Their rhetoric was akin to that which might be spewed by Nazis or the KKK; it was the lowest of the low, and at times seemed like fodder for a comedy routine. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine how an unequivocal denunciation could have even been up for debate. But at least we now see The Signal’s true colors—and its silence amounts to nothing less than cowardice.

Rest assured that The Perspective will never hesitate to condemn what deserves condemnation, and will never fall victim to The Signal’s self-imposed and artificial standards of neutrality.

Concluding Thoughts and a Signal Critique


Many reading this inaugural issue of The Perspective may wonder: why start a publication at a time when it is clear that the newsprint business model needs refining, and sustaining a periodical is becoming exceedingly difficult? How will our organization spread our message and reach our audience with assumedly limited financial backing? What do our contributors want to write that can’t be written in The Signal—an established media outlet? Is there something wrong with The Signal?

SODEXO

How Your Eickhoff Cheeseburger Fuels Immigrant Deportation