By Julie Kayzerman & Tom Kozlowski
Nation & World Editor and A&E Editor
In the midst of the College’s Campus Town groundbreaking ceremony last Friday, Sept. 27, the words of Gov. Chris Christie were underscored by the chants of students and local protestors outside the fenced-off event.
The activists, in a series of loud messages, advocated for issues such as school funding, a ban on fracking and gay marriage.
“For Trenton High School, release the funding” was among the several repeated unified pleas of the rank and file protesters.
They even echoed one teacher’s grievance, “Trenton Central High School makes me wanna vomit.”
According to The Trentonian, Trenton High School social studies teacher Nicholas Cirillo said this while testifying to the Trenton Board of Education about the conditions of the school.
“But with the kids in school, I don’t think (Christie) cares,” said Trenton resident Miriam Martinez. “The building needs to come down. The time is now and he should act on this now before the building will collapse.”
The 81-year-old building is plagued with “abysmal, deplorable and dangerous conditions,” including a leaking roof, mold and asbestos, according to the Trenton Times. While funding has been allocated to repair the high school, Christie has not yet released it, with exterior and interior work to begin no sooner than 2014.
However, school funding was not the only policy issue contention of the day. Rotations in advocacy jumped from education to the environment with protests requesting to “Ban Fracking Now.”
Joanne Pannone of Robbinsville stressed the need for clean water and energy resources for generations to come, including the construction of Campus Town.
When asked if she of approves the plans for Campus Town, Pannone said she is in favor of its construction — as long as it is not built with “today’s technology, but rather tomorrow’s.”
The protesters themselves were impressed with the turnout of supporters for the cause.
“I think that if anyone comes out, it’s a success,” senior women’s and gender studies major Remy Lourenco said. “But I’m still floored by the amount of support that’s been here. People on the inside are coming over to us and asking us what we’re here for.”
While some students found the protests to be inappropriate and poorly timed given the nature of the event, many supported their right to express themselves, including Tyler Liberty, the Student Government president.
“I think that everyone no matter what always has a right to protest,” he said. “People are passionate about different issues and they have a right to speak their peace. Do I think it took away from the event? Not at all, and I think they were perfectly entitled to it.”