Click here for figures — as obtained from College spokeswoman Stacy Schuster.
COLLEGE STATEMENT EXPECTED LATER TODAY.
Stay tuned for further details.
Three black College security personnel, who allege they are victims of racial discrimination and harassment perpetrated by white colleagues, have expanded on the details of their lawsuit in a court brief obtained by The Perspective.
During the recent boil water advisory, I cowered in fear of what mysterious death-inducing microbes might be lurking in the innocuously clear water flowing readily from my faucet. My housemates and I threw huge pots of water on the stove and hoped for the best. Using boiled water to drink, wash dishes, and brush my teeth was extremely inconvenient — but it made me think about people who do not have access to clean water (let alone a running faucet) as a fact of life. Water has been declared a human right by the United Nations, and yet over a billion people lack access to clean water. It is staggering that so many live without one of life’s most basic necessities. Americans easily forget that the municipal water system we so readily take for granted would be considered an unthinkable luxury for a large proportion of the globe. While we should be thankful for what we have, it seems callous not to make an effort in assisting those who are so dramatically less fortunate.
Americans spend around $10 billion on bottled water every year. We are paying for water in a form that is not only environmentally irresponsible but also unnecessary health-wise. In most communities in the United States, municipal tap water is of the same quality as bottled water. For those not convinced, buying a water filter will further purify their tap water. Drinking Water for India, a Lawrenceville-based, student-run nonprofit, builds wells in Indian villages for $1,000 each, serving some of the 200 million in the country who do not have access to clean water. If instead of spending $10 billion on redundant water we shared this disposable income with those who actually are in dire need of water access, 200 million Indians’ water needs would be met — using only a one hundredth of the money we spend unnecessarily on bottled water.
*Please visit DrinkingWaterforIndia.org or find a member of TCNJ’s Amnesty International, or Water Watch to donate the dollar you were about to spend on a bottle of water to someone in genuine need.
BY ANYA SARETZKY
An overwhelming depression accompanies the end of Homecoming. Members of Greek life prefer to attribute this phenomenon to the return to normal life; but let’s be real, everyone knows it’s the startling lack of alcohol in their system.
Homecoming is an escape; everyone involved in this week of debauchery and mayhem is simply reliving his or her childhood.
We all know, cuts abound: money continues to be surreptitiously funneled away from public education reserves, putting desperate strain on K-12 school districts throughout the state, as well as on our own college. So where has all the aid gone? Yes, everything is being cut – ostensibly because New Jersey is trying to close an $11 billion budget deficit.
Troublesome economic times call for more careful prioritization of public funds, not aimless dismantling of any conceivable program. Education – an indispensable investment in the future – should be the last stock from which to divest.
In this spirit, a coalition of students, faculty, union leaders, college staff, and parents have joined to form FIGHT BACK TCNJ, an advocacy group aiming to build a democratic, grassroots, activist movement in defense of public education and in opposition to Governor Chris Christie’s budget cuts. Awareness, discussion and support is mediated largely through its interactive web site, FIGHTBACKTCNJ.org.
Their first major initiative was a “teach-in” on April 21, an educational event intended to increase awareness of ongoing class-oriented struggles that have culminated in Gov. Christie’s unprecedented withdrawal of state education funding.
Why care? To assume that everything will be accounted for would be naïve; to assume we can have no impact on the policy-making process is only more so. Having money is the only way to make our values correspond with concrete services and activities – whether we like or not, money is the privilege to do things.
Many of the College’s programs will inevitably have to go, and student groups face a voting process to determine what TCNJ can afford to keep. This may not be the worst of all consequences,and college students may not feel the full force of the financial burden now, but the old strategy of divide and conquer is at work.
The reality is that this burden is merely being paddled back and forth; right now high schools face the deepest cuts, but in years past higher education bore the brunt of the burden. Rather than disregard the severity and relevance of current cuts for K-12 schools and playing into the government’s stratagem, it is imperative that New Jerseyans unite to defend public education. A strong showing of elementary and secondary education majors attended the sessions, but they should not be the only ones to care about the welfare of the future. April 21 was an all-day kickoff of five sessions and an evening plenary designed to understand current budget woes within the context of a broader social narrative.
First session speaker, Trina Scordo, introduced us to the theoretical and historical basis for the existence of unions. I’ll admit I never allotted much thought to or care for unions. As far as I was concerned, they simply exist; you join a profession, you join the corresponding union – standard operating procedure. However, many people are rightfully suspicious of unions. Scordo addressed this distrust and how it came about when the bargaining process was formalized. In stuffing the working class into suits and setting them opposite the table from business officials, the working class should expect the unfortunate results – no concessions from higher-ups. Once union representatives enmesh themselves too deeply in the process, they become removed from the constituents they are supposed to represent.
But she asked us instead why, rather than being angry at government employees who receive good benefits and pensions, as Christie is encouraging the public to do, we don’t make demands and work for ourselves: for better education and better benefits? A striking point, she made. Truth is, we are tentative to make demands; the concept of “to each his due” comes under fire. What one deserves by right (as opposed to what one is entitled to by merit) conflicts with the individualism and capitalist ethic, which America holds by the claws. It is not something I could easily let go, but working from an agreed rather than decreed baseline is an attractive idea.
Students have the right to demand the highest quality teachers and professors; however, it is difficult to reform a system that does not take student complaints seriously. The session revealed the relevance of unions and how students can harness their voices. The process of how we are allowed to make change says just as much, if not more, about how much leverage we really have.
One of the second session pairs was a throwback to the 1960s: lessons from movements. One student brought up the hippie culture associated with the activism of which we tend to think – what came first, the culture or the reform? Second opinions emerged from faculty as to which historical organizations best represent the current situation and if they failed, how and why. Here’s an easy SparkNotes version: activism spreads when people who care about one issue are apt to see the struggles of another group. Every issue relates in some way to nearly every other issue, and the synergy created by individuals and groups working collaboratively makes for substantial accomplishments on all fronts. No lecture attendance necessary.
Students don’t have the power to shut anything down in order to prove a point, but they have always been the passion behind a tired work force that can do so. Even there we may be proving them wrong with recent high school walkouts – hello, empowerment.
Reactions are proof; Michael Drewniak, Gov. Christie’s press secretary, hoped to dismiss the walkouts as “motivated by youthful rebellion or spring fever – and not by encouragement from any one-sided view of the current budget crisis in New Jersey,” and said students “belong in the classroom.”
Governor Chris Christie was no more pleased: “The schools did a lousy job in really permitting…students to walk out in the middle of the school day. Their parents send them there not to protest.; they send them there to learn. And I have no problem with students protesting. They have absolutely every right to exercise their first amendment rights. But they should exercise their first amendment rights either before school or right after school.”
Drewniak wasn’t wrong, and said himself, “Students would be better served if they were given a full, impartial understanding of the problems that got us here in the first place.” Why are the details of the budget cuts, then, not more public than they are?
Gov. Christie has a point, students are sent to school to learn; but what drove scores of high school students to walk out on their classes? One might consider that they saw walkouts during the school day as more effective than before or after-school rallies. Regardless, having to demand an explanation for the budget cuts is as good as hiding it, and protesting in such a manner casts doubt on the willingness of school systems to listen.
Drewniak seemed to suspect students were motivated by a biased, narrow-minded understanding, and it feels that students have somehow been pitted against the rest of the state. Yet the 15 sheer scope of the budget crisis should be regarded as the real problem.
The remaining attendees gathered in the Social Science Atrium after dinner for a small but powerful rally cry to close the divide between students, faculty, and legislators. Nearing the end of the night, senior Matt Hoke made an interesting point: colleges and other institutions churn students out to replace the infrastructure of the country as we know it.
We as students are both customers and products of schools; then why are we paying so much money – money we have no power over – if the stability of the work world depends on us equally as we do on it?
The origin of unions may not appear relevant, yet as one of the last session speakers, Nagesh Rao, said, “You can’t take a snapshot of how things are today without looking at where things are and how they got there.” We may just be in the same predicament as those workers today. It may not be a comfortable thought, but there is a lesson to be learned: stagnant apathy is no way to work toward a better status quo.
I noticed during this finale, a few onlookers leaning over the second floor balcony with cool removal, crossed feet and suited, presumably for another event. I became aware of the disconnect, and it took me out of the teach-in’s warm enclave. I am sure that they only heard something about unions and students among the echoes of shouts. I am not even sure if the thought that the ensuing noise pertained to them, had even crossed their minds. Whatever your views, watch your allocation of funds, and you may be able to return to business as usual.
When a contentious journalist and social critic spoke at the College in early March, few could have anticipated the reaction that would ensue. Ours is a decrepit, dying culture, Chris Hedges insisted, shackled by corporate titans who profit from our endless, gullible consumerism. Our infatuation with celebrity, lack of critical self-awareness, and blind deference to institutional structures have systemically lulled us into a complacent malaise, thereby allowing the privileged elite to maintain their tyrannical grip on power.
We are being fed illusions, Hedges charged, which serve only to distract us from what truly demands our attention, including economic injustice, political corruption, and imperialist conflict. The once mighty vessel that is America, Hedges prognosticated, is accelerating on its inevitable descent into watery oblivion.
TCNJ STUDENTS HONORING GOD’S CALL TO MARRIAGE
Jolynn and Matt Graubart, both graduating from TCNJ this spring, met and began dating when they were fourteen years old. As a hardened cynic, I was shocked, amazed, and slightly disappointed to learn that no family feuding or double suicides had occurred along the way. Imagine my further surprise, then, when I was informed that this undergrad pair had in fact been married – and happily so – for the past year and a half.
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.
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.
Mercer County Sheriff Kevin Larkin has betrayed the public trust, and must resign from office.
Reports indicate that the sheriff interrupted a political science class at nearby Mercer County Community College when he learned that the professor, Michael Glass, made remarks about him that Larkin claimed were erroneous.
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.
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.
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.
By CAROLINE BACHMANN
In July of 2009, a few months after Adriana Silva first moved into her rented house in Ewing, she received a call on her mobile phone from an unrecognized number. Adriana took the call, as most of us presumably would – with a hint of cautious curiosity.
A man with an oddly conspicuous Indian accent greeted her. “Hello, is this Adriana?” he asked, to which she ambivalently affirmed.
“This is Jasdesh (pronounced Yash-Desh) Patel,” the man said, “calling on behalf of Jasdesh Patel.”
He abruptly claimed to have taken quite a liking to her Facebook photos – though they were not confirmed friends. “Jasdesh” offered his finest compliments, calling Adriana a “voluptuous woman” who should expect his friend request. Tentatively, she awaited the caller’s electronic entreat, hoping to no sooner discover him to be a jokester with poor taste.
After indeed receiving and accepting the man’s request that night, but only allowing restricted access to her information, Adriana perused his profile. She noted an especially generic default image that seemed as though it were extracted from a cursory “Indian man” Google image search. Doubtful that there was anything of substance to be found about him on Facebook, Adriana resolved to permanently block the apparent charlatan.
After removing him as a Facebook friend, Adriana received multiple calls and voicemails from unknown numbers – all of which proved to be the work of Jasdesh. He called to extensively lament her deletion of their friendship.
The man, whose identity is still a mystery, also wanted to let Adriana know that he was not going to leave her alone.
The calls continued, and Jasdesh’s inquires became more explicit. He asked Adriana whether she was “DTF” (see: urban dictionary) and shelled out additional sexual advances.
The situation intensified when Jasdesh announced that he had Adriana’s address – and would soon be paying her a visit.
Now fearing for her safety, Adriana did not appreciate Jasdesh’s offers of “private computer lessons” – despite his supposed credentials as an Intel employee. In an attempt at what he considered humor, Jasdesh implied that like his company’s graphics chip, his nether-region featured a “Pentium Processor.” Jasdesh was fond of making jokes, though most were likely funny to him alone.
Then the jester got creative. Adriana received a call from a different man who said he had been instructed, via Facebook message from Jasdesh, to call her. The confused man believed he was given the number of a long-lost cousin. These blatant invasions of privacy, troublesome in their own right, kindled greater trauma for Adriana and her housemates. Whatever the culprit’s motive, she felt threatened. Collectively unsettled, Adriana’s housemates began to speculate about who was really on the other end of the line.
Immediately coming to mind was their passive-aggressive neighbor, Don, who regularly displayed contempt for having to live across the street from college students. Not long ago, out of pure spite, he defiantly threw one of the housemate’s garbage cans down a hill. Don’s grievance, they said, was related to some alleged violation of property line adherence. Don actually called the TCNJ administration to complain about the girls, which suggested a strong commitment to making their lives unpleasant. Though he didn’t strike them as particularly tech-savvy, the girls said, Don could not be ruled out as the man behind Jasdesh.
Another plausible suspect was a young man who sublet one of the rooms in Adriana’s house for a short time over the summer – and then vanished. He refused to pay his share of the utility bill, and then subsequently taunted Adriana with text messages about getting off scot-free. With apparent enemies such as these, the perpetrator’s motive is potentially not as innocuous as that of the run-of-the mill creepster across the ocean.
For a time, the phone calls stopped, leading Adriana to believe that there was an end in sight.
One night, as Adriana sat in her living room, her phone began to vibrate: Marcella, her BFF, was calling. This would not normally be cause for concern, of course, but Marcella was sitting right next to her.
The two scrambled to find Marcella’s phone and confirmed that she was not, in fact, calling – they let the call go through to voicemail. But seconds later the individual purporting to be Marcella called again. This time, Adriana answered, and was greeted with a familiar line: “This is Jasdesh Patel, calling on behalf of Jasdesh Patel.”
They decided to contact the police.
But the girls’ report wasn’t met with the judicious vigor that they had anticipated. One particularly unsympathetic officer rolled his eyes and dismissively exclaimed “Oh, God” when Adriana and Marcella tried to explain their situation. At one point the officer interrupted them, saying that they “did this shit to themselves” by making their information available online. He posited that Adriana probably had posted her phone number on Facebook, giving access to anyone with a computer and a motive. Admittedly, there did not seem to be much that the police could do at the time, unprofessional attitudes or not. But still, a bit of sympathy for what was undoubtedly a form of harassment would have been appreciated.
This much is clear: what may have started out as a lame attempt at a prank soon turned into a stress-inducing nightmare. Adriana has already taken a hiatus from Facebook, having only recently returned with a disguised name. The girls also plan to change their numbers and are looking into using their cell phone providers’ records to track down the pursuant. It is difficult to say, however, whether any such investigation would put an end to Jasdesh’s advances.
To be sure, technology allows for the potential of self-perpetuated isolation. Physical “facetime” has for many turned into “Facebook time” and for still many more, texting and email have replaced all other forms of communication. The argument can certainly be made that the rise of the Internet has brought with it a rise in reclusive behavior – or, at least, a rise in the number of excuses one can conjure up to justify staying holed in a dark room.
But in Adriana’s case, and others like it, the problem isn’t that we are becoming disconnected, it’s that we are becoming too connected. The allure of the Internet, and of social networking sites in particular, is the phenomenon of simultaneous connection and disconnection; without leaving our pajamas, we can know what millions of people across the world are doing. In most instances, those who surf over to our profiles do so benignly. And even among hackers, trolls, and other commonplace Internet villains, their antics rarely result in any lasting damage. Typically, the havoc they wreak stays confined to the virtual world.
But what can be done when disturbances transcend the cyber realm, when our screens can no longer be our savers? What happens when electronic threats become dangerously real, and how are we to know what to take seriously? Though it is difficult to imagine an individual with both the mental capacity to track down a foe’s personal information and the level of immaturity to use it as a means of harassment, such antagonists are certainly out there. I’d postulate that this sort of pithy troublemaker is similar to the kid who puts gum on the underside of door handles and unscrews the caps on salt and peppershakers.
So carefree Facebookers, be warned! Whether they reside across the ocean or across the street, the enemy you cannot see is often the most dangerous enemy of all.
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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
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.
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.
Sen. Loretta Weinberg, Gov. Jon Corzine’s running mate and Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor of New Jersey, personally voiced concerns to her running mate over their campaign’s use of negative advertising.
Tis the season for local produce in New Jersey!
The benefits of foods from local farms are manifold: transporting fruits and vegetables fewer miles results in less transportation-related carbon emissions, and food from small farms is less likely to be tainted with pesticides.