Despite their differences, many N.J. legislators from both parties agree on an issue this Election Day.
According to Senate President Steve Sweeney, the Building Our Future Bond Act is an initiative the state’s Democrat and Republican leaders support.
On Nov. 6, New Jersey residents will have the opportunity to vote on this referendum, which would invest $750 million in the state’s higher education system. It is estimated that $22-$26 million of that amount would be invested in the College.
If passed, this bond will represent the first time in 24 years that the state has made such an investment in higher education. It also will benefit the state’s economy as a whole, creating labor and construction jobs.
A campus press conference was held on Wednesday, Oct. 24, where Senator Sweeney joined President R. Barbara Gitenstein in discussing the potential positive impact of passing the bond.
Before speaking in front of students, Gitenstein took Sweeney on a tour of Holman Hall.
“This is an ugly building,” Sweeney said, upon seeing Holman.
“It’s also inadequate,” Gitenstein quickly added.
Built in 1973, Holman would be demolished if the bond passes. While the building still holds offices and some classrooms, it is underused and outdated.
It would be replaced by a new building, focused on science, technology, engineering, mathematics and health science. It would promote interdisciplinary studies and feature cutting-edge research facilities, Gitenstein explained.
Throughout the press conference, speakers highlighted the high quality of the College’s students, but noted that in order to keep up with competition across the country, better facilities are necessary.
Each speaker brought a distinct reason why supporting the bill would be beneficial to the campus community.
Tom Bracken, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce president and former member of the board of trustees, commented on how the bond would be a worthwhile investment, noting the economical advantages.
“This from a financial standpoint should be considered a slam-dunk,” Bracken said. “We need to enhance the quality of the work force by enhancing our college facilities. This bond act will do that.”
Debbie Hart, president of BioNJ and a College alumna, shared how the biotechnology industry is growing in New Jersey, but emphasized that in order to remain competitive, students need the most innovative equipment.
By passing the bond, students would be able to be equipped to compete on a national level and retain the College’s great reputation for chemists and other science majors, according to Hart.
Student Government President Christina Kopka spoke about her pride in the school and why this bond would allow the College to further flourish.
“Students here at TCNJ and across the state have lobbied our legislators for years about the need for state support and funding at our New Jersey colleges and universities,” Kopka said. “It’s an incredible privilege and honor to see the fruits of our labor on the ballot this year.”
“This also means a restoration of faith in our legislators, to come together over what is truly important,” she continued. “Transcending party lines for the greater good of our students, our educational system, and most importantly our state.”
The main message conveyed by the speakers was that the future of the school’s enhancement lies in whether or not people answer “yes” to public question one on the ballot.
Because of the direct impact it would have on the student body, Sweeney urged the campus to be active on Election Day.
“It’s called Building Our Future, right? It is your future,” Sweeney said to students as he concluded the press conference. “The sky’s the limit for you.”