Is the College crazy?!

The following is an e-mail I sent to commence@tcnj.edu regarding Chris Smith as an honorary degree recipient at the 2006 commencement ceremony. I expected some type of answer.

“I can’t believe that (the College) is giving an honorary diploma to Rep. Chris Smith. I am outraged! My friends and I are boycotting the terrible choice and don’t even want to be a part of your ridiculousness. I demand a response to this by somebody in charge.

Aren’t you aware that the majority of college students, professors and teachers support progressive policies, including the right to choose? Chris Smith is a complete ignorant disgrace to (the College’s) name.

Why do we not have a choice in this decision? Aren’t we paying enough tuition? To boot, I paid enough tuition for undergrad here at the college. My fellow alumni are dismayed and shocked.

Chris Smith refuses to support contraceptive access for women in developing countries. I refuse to support your decision.”

Needless to say, no one has contacted me. I truly am upset with this terrible choice the College has made. You better believe that I will be there that day, along with several classmates, friends and family. You’ll know who we are – we’ll be the ones standing with our backs turned to Chris Smith as he speaks.

Jillian Baden

Class of 2006

Beliefs clash at intelligent design lecture

I would like to apologize for a comment made by William Dembski on March 28 when responding to a criticism from a student during a question-and-answer period after his lecture on intelligent design (ID). He said that he views the Christian community a “much more enlightened crowd” than the scientific community. For this I apologize, because Dembski’s comment gives the horrible impression that Christians view non-Christians as stupid people.

I do not believe that Dembski truly believes that Christians are more intelligent than the scientific community, but it must have been hard for him to field so many questions that had nothing to do with what he lectured on that night. It was not the purpose of the lecture to support one religion over another, nor to pit religion against science.

I personally think Dembski did a very good job in explaining his scientific position without ever mentioning or even hinting to a Christian worldview that God created the universe. He even said, “I don’t remember ever using the ‘G’ word.” But we all soon realized that most of the questions from the audience dealt with their animosity against Christianity and ID.

Although I am a very conservative Christian, I am also a biology major, and therefore I must agree that as of yet, ID is really an infant theory that might or might not be supported in the future by Dembski’s and his colleagues’ approaches to testing the theory.

I wish that when events such as this take place, people would be a bit more open-minded, instead of being so hostile. I really enjoy when people with different theories and different religious beliefs can calmly and respectfully talk about things and not be amazed that some people don’t believe in what they believe.

Of course, we all believe that our beliefs are the truth, or at least part of the truth, but as we all continue to disagree, it would be incredible if our dialogues, arguments and debates remain civil and respectful.

Peter Pak

Our society is ‘scientifically illiterate’

Intelligent design (ID) and evolution were discussed at two separate lectures on March 28. One was given by William Dembski, a leader in the ID movement, the other by Lawrence Krauss, a physicist and a critic of ID.

In his talk, Krauss claimed that the whole ID/evolution controversy exists because our society is “scientifically illiterate.”

According to him, the “problem” would go away if the “illiterate” masses would just listen to enlightened scientists like Krauss. As an example of this ignorance, Krauss cites a national survey which showed that “only 50 percent of American adults knew that the earth orbits the sun.”

However, another recent survey showed that only about 10 percent of American adults believed that “man has developed over millions of years from less-advanced forms of life” and that God had no role in this process.

From these two surveys, we can reasonably infer that physical science teachers are more talented educators than biology teachers, and/or evidence from physical science is more compelling than evolutionary evidence.

There is a big qualitative difference between these two claims: “A water molecule consists of one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms” and “Undirected natural processes changed primitive one-cell organisms into people capable of doing calculus, writing poetry and pondering the meaning of life.”

The first claim is easily scientifically verifiable. The events mentioned in the second can never be repeated, making the claim speculative at best.

If you’d rather not take for granted that finch-beak variations illustrate how you get finches, trees and scientific observers in the first place, Dembski recommends you read the following books, in this order: “Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds” by Philip Johnson, “Darwin’s Black Box” by Michael Behe, “The Design Revolution” by Dembski, “Icons of Evolution” by Jonathan Wells, and “Uncommon Dissent” edited by Dembski.

Danielle Dalafave

professor of physics

As a recent proud graduate of the College, I am deeply saddened not only by the horrible events that have unfolded regarding John Fiocco Jr., but also the way that the College, its administration, faculty and staff have been portrayed as not doing their jobs.

In a recent letter to the editor, a concerned mother said that “the College needs to rectify its unconscionable lack of security immediately and permanently.”

I lived on campus for four years and never once felt unsafe. Security was always visible, and all students had options, such as the available College police escorts. Of course, there is only so much that can be done, and I do understand parents’ concerns, especially at a time like this.

However, what should be mentioned is the fact that this is an institution of intelligent, young adult minds. Perhaps it is not a fault of the College that students are not watched as closely as they might be at home. Perhaps, instead, it is a luxury afforded to a population of people that the College sees as responsible enough to utilize the security offered and also take their own safety measures.

This is not to say that Fiocco was irresponsible in his actions that night. I am merely saying that this is an isolated incident that is no reflection on the College. This case has not yet been closed. Therefore, to say that the College is unsafe is simply based on the assumptions made. The College should not suddenly be reprimanded for policies that have worked well for so many years.

My prayers are with the Fiocco family, that John is safe. My thoughts are with the administration, faculty, staff and students of the College that I love and believe in so much.

Lauren Brescia

Class of 2005

I graduated from the College in 2003 and counted it as one of the happiest times of my life. I learned a lot of lessons inside and outside of the classroom.

I have been following the recent case of John Fiocco Jr., and my prayers and support go out to his family, his friends and the entire campus community.

In conjunction with my sadness over this unresolved situation, I find myself disappointed in all who are jumping to conclusions in regards to the safety on this campus. I can completely understand parents’ and students’ fears over “the unknown” – mainly, what exactly happened to Fiocco – because if I was a student or the parent of a student, I would be losing some winks throughout the night as well.

It is a tremendous shame that such a situation happened in the first place, but I urge everyone to keep their heads about them and remember that speculation is not fact until proven. It upsets me to see my alma mater trashed in regard to safety on campus, and what the school could have done to prevent what might have happened to Fiocco.

I have always felt safe on the campus of the College. I’m not going to sit here and tout all of the “wonderful things” the school has to offer – you and I both know that there is room for improvement in several areas of the College. However, one thing that I have always felt about the campus is that it is safe. The College is no different from any other campus in the entire country. There is drinking. There is partying.

There are fraternities and sororities. There are late night 7-11 runs. There are 2 a.m. study sessions at the library, because you “just don’t have the time during the day.”

There is also rational thinking. As a college student and as a woman, I am proud to say my parents instilled in me a good grasp of common sense, balanced with a healthy dose of reality and worry, when they dropped me off on Wolfe 6 the first day of freshman year. They were very pragmatic in their thoughts that I would probably drink alcohol before I was 21, or go to a frat party or meet tons of new people.

Within my first year and thereafter, several important facts came naturally to me as I observed the campus and what I could do to keep myself safe:

1. Don’t walk around in the dark (yes, 8 p.m. is dark) alone.

2. Don’t allow anyone to “piggyback” on your ID when you swipe in late at night.

3. Watch out for your friends if and when they drink.

4. Think before you act.

Now, I am not saying that anyone involved or having some part in the Fiocco case is guilty of not doing anything listed above. I cannot pass an opinion without knowing the truth.

While I completely understand the cause for concern by parents and students (I know that I would be hesitant if I was a student or a parent), one must keep reality and their nerves in check. Every single negative situation that could befall a campus cannot be prevented. There is only so much a campus can do to protect its students.

I recall a letter from a mother of twin students at the College from the April 5 issue of The Signal. I identify with her worries and completely sympathize, but I also urge her to think about the situations and solutions she poses. Would a 24/7 gated campus really solve the problem? There are plenty of students on campus that have the capability to commit theft, rape or murder – it has happened before, not only at the College but at hundreds of colleges across the country. A gate would not stop this.

Also, while 24/7 security access to the dorms be ideal, tuition would skyrocket as a result of the need to pay salaries for said security workers. No price is too high for the safety of a college’s students, but that doesn’t prevent students already inside residence halls from causing problems.

I do not believe that the solution of arming students with knowledge will eradicate all the problems either. A conglomeration of the two, perhaps, might aid in the problem.

However, as previously mentioned, not every negative situation can be prevented, no matter how secure the College attempts to make its campus through physical means.

I am merely spouting my opinion – take it as you will. I’m not trying to belittle the Fiocco tragedy or blame anyone in particular or suggest an all-encompassing solution. I feel it necessary to urge the campus community to keep their wits about them, when it comes directly to the Fiocco case, as well as about behavior around campus.

This tragedy could have taken place on any campus. Please stay safe, keep your common sense and keep the Fioccos and friends in your prayers.

I am sure this situation will be rectified and people will once again recognize the College not as a den of unsafe and dangerous criminal and alcoholic mischief, but for what it really is – an excellent learning institution, providing lifelong educational and emotional experiences.

Chrissy Kosturski

Class of 2003

I graduated from the College in 2004 and now teach sixth grade Language Arts, but my original major was journalism. I loved to write, and that’s why I thought it was the field for me. What better place to be able to express my passion for writing day in and day out, right?

Then, all of a sudden, during my sophomore year, it hit me: it’s not just about the writing, but many times, it’s about sheer disregard for people’s privacy, emotions and personal wishes.

After covering a story on election day (where I stood outside of the polls in the pouring rain and tried to get people to stop and tell me who they voted for and why), I realized: why am I trying to make someone talk about something they don’t want to talk about? The thought of shoving a microphone in the face of some grieving mother who just lost her child in a brutal murder and asking, “Ma’am? How do you feel about this?” was revolting. My God, how do you think she feels?

So now I put my passion for and enthusiasm about writing to use in a way that better suits me and what I believe I stand for. Now there are, no doubt, some respectable journalists out there who are only in search of truth, and my hat goes off to them.

And if it’s truly your passion, then by all means, pursue it. But just be prepared for the fact that, for the most part, it is a job that very often requires you to bury your human side, and for me, that’s something beyond of what I am capable.

My heart and prayers go out to the family and friends of John Fiocco Jr.

Chrisha Hall

Class of 2004

I was completely appalled by something very small in the April 5 issue of The Signal – something I almost missed. In the snippet regarding prospective students’ and their parents’ views on the recent events affecting the College, Holly Kane, mother of an accepted student, stated that she’s not concerned about her daughter attending the College even after John Fiocco Jr.’s disappearance because “bad things happen to people who drink too much.”

I literally became sick to my stomach after I read this. In this time of disarray on our campus, seeing such an insensitive and asinine response to a criminal investigation involving an innocent student was completely disgusting to me. It was reminiscent of the WB11’s horrific portrayal of John as a wild partier with no agenda at college other than getting wasted.

Parents and media need to face facts: many college students drink. The insinuation that John’s drinking was asking for something terrible to happen to him is cruel and dimwitted. If you think all people who drink have “bad things” happen to them, check on the other millions of college students around the nation who drink. I’ll bet you that not all of them are suffering right now.

I can’t even imagine what John’s family and friends are going through right now, and my heart goes out to them, especially after reading this foul comment. This quote made me so angry I could spit. Holly Kane, you should be ashamed of yourself. I don’t want someone like you in my college community.

Lili Daniel

I am writing in response to mother Sheila Cavallo’s letter from the April 5 issue of The Signal. I respect and agree with many of Cavallo’s concerns; however, her specific concerns require remedies that are unrealistic.

At the College, and anywhere in life, security depends largely on trusting your fellow man. When you walk down the streets of Philly late at night, there’s really nothing to protect you from that thuggish-looking gang across the road other than to trust that they have no malicious intent.

On our campus, we trust that our visitors and students don’t have indecent intent, but this trust may have been exploited the night that John Fiocco Jr. disappeared, and that is a terrible thing.

As it is now, any person from any walk of life can walk into any residence hall free of swipe access between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. This issue should be the main focus of fixing security. Cavallo complains of a student who could innocently swipe an unknown guest into a building, but the way it is now, unknown guests have free access to the dorms 13 hours a day.

Additionally, Cavallo wonders what would happen if someone accosted a student and forced their way into the building when key checkers were not present. Where would we be without Captain Key Checker? These little girls and boys who check our keys aren’t going to stand up to anyone who’s got the accosting mindset. Key checkers exist to boost the College’s on-campus employment statistic, and that’s about it.

Bottom line: cut the key checker positions, put the money toward the Campus Police force and demand 24-hour swipe access to every residence hall.

We can all agree that what happened to John is terrible. But we don’t know what kind of a security breach, if any, occurred that night. As a campus community, we cannot allow one exploitation of the trust we give one another on and off this campus to stir our imaginations to unrealistic demands of our campus security.

Steve Cooney