Fire Exit Fiasco
I am writing to report an experience I recently had at T/W that I believe exemplifies the fundamental flaws of the Residence Life leadership, particularly when it comes to dealing with emergency situations.
When I walked through the back doors of T/W, I heard a new-sounding alarm – not the typical high-pitched shriek, but a calm man’s voice saying “please exit the building.” I looked into the dining hall, and noticed that no one was moving. Apparently, the alarm system is not hooked up in T/W, which at the time was completely filled with people.
So, having been so thoroughly desensitized to the all-too-common occurrence of fire alarms, I entered and ate a leisurely 15-minute dinner before a Dining Services staff member announced that there was a building emergency and that we all needed to leave. As we were in the basement, we proceeded to the back door, where the automatic door was shut off. So then we went to the Fire Exit, only to find a “door broken” sign. We had to walk away from the closest, safest exit and go out the front door.
Isn’t there something very wrong with a system that trains students not to use the fire exits provided? Even moreso when those exits are broken? And most importantly, doesn’t it speak volumes that when confronted with a fire alarm I chose to eat a leisurely dinner rather than get to safety?
The Sesquicentennial Remembered
In early 2002, Dr. Gitenstein and the Board of Trustees recognized the imminence of the Sesquicentennial anniversary of the College in 2005. It was understood that we could either casually note this anniversary or celebrate it as an event to be remembered and cherished.
The decision was easy. A Sesquicentennial celebration had to be notable, and so it has been.
We determined to have some fun, and we did. Who can forget our torch run from our original site in Trenton, the ice cream tasting contest, the naming of our mascot, Midnight Madness, our appearance on The Today Show, the countdown clock and the Grand Finale fireworks?
We also created some legacies. With the active participation and generous financial support of the Alumni Association, the Alumni Grove and brick-naming project was developed and launched in November. We filled and buried the Sesquicentennial time capsule for opening at our Bicentennial celebration in 2055.
Perhaps the most important legacy of the Sesquicentennial, though, is the more silent but effective outreach that has been ongoing throughout the celebration. The College has reconnected with thousands of alumni, some perhaps unaware of the dramatic recent developments at their alma mater.
Our various events and achievements generated meaningful, deserved and regular publicity in newspapers circulating within this region and throughout the state.
The Sesquicentennial year saw the College recognized for the first time as a “most competitive” institution by Barron’s, placing us in the company of the most prestigious and successful institutions of higher learning in the country.
Thanks to students for your support. It is my sincere hope that you will remember the Sesquicentennial year fondly and support your alma mater as you move on to success in the future.
Thanks to our wonderful committee of dedicated faculty, staff, students and alumni. Thanks to Roscoe, our ubiquitous lion. And, finally, thanks to the moms and dads and grandparents and others who pay the tuitions to make this wonderful institution possible.
Will the College of 2055 be as special as it is today? Will it become even more exceptional, or will it decline? The answer is up to you, the students and future alumni of The College of New Jersey.
Robert A. Gladstone
Chair, Sesquicentennial Committee
I recently spent an hour talking with Tommy Trantino in the student center. He
was one of the most genuine people I have met in a long time. Shortly before this, Tommy had told his life story to my “Literature of the Prisons” class: Tommy was convicted of the murder of two policemen and was sentenced to death. After multiple parole attempts and 38 years in prison, Tommy was released. He now works for a Quaker organization that helps released prisoners find housing, jobs and restart their lives. He is remorseful. He is a different man. He is a good man.
Unfortunately, not all prisoners can change on their own; they need help. But the criminal justice system does not concern itself with rehabilitation. Incarceration will solve nothing if the criminal justice system releases the same people it brought to punish. Without rehabilitation, recidivism will only continue; crime is a cycle that the system needs to stop.
One key tool to rehabilitation is education. Why? Because with an education, ex-convicts are more likely to get a job. The success of education, among other rehabilitative practices, can occur within the prison population if it is given a chance.
Criminals are capable of change, but some cannot unless the system starts helping instead of simply punishing. Rehabilitation is not only possible but probable, but it has to start before it can work.
We, as college students, have a strong and powerful voice. Let’s speak.
Don’t Diss the ACLU
On Dec. 8, 2004 a busload of religious protesters arrived at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) National Office in Washington D.C. expecting to find a group of anti-religious nitpickers, but instead found the office’s staff waiting outside in the cold with cookies, coffee and Christmas carols. Yes, that’s right, I said Christmas carols.
Despite popular cynicism about the ACLU, it is one of the nation’s leading advocates for religious liberty. The ACLU has spoken out on behalf of people like the Rev. Jerry Falwell by challenging a Virginia law that blocked him from expanding the land holdings of his church, Christian students prohibited from distributing Bibles on public school grounds in Hawaii, and two women who were fired for refusing to work at a greyhound racetrack on Christmas Day.
In fact, our very own ACLU of New Jersey has recently taken action on behalf of a second grade student who was prohibited from singing the song “Awesome God” in a voluntary, after-school talent show. We are quite the “grinches,” aren’t we? I certainly admire Matt Esposito’s ambition of using his First Amendment rights, but he seems to have no shame at throwing cheap shots at the ACLU in his articles.