All posts by Brianna Gunter

It ain’t easy being Green: farmhouse’s history with the College

The Green Farmhouse, located on the southern part of campus behind the baseball field and Townhouses South, is named for William Green, one of Ewing's earliest settlers. (Photo Courtesy of Bill O'Neal)

Green Hall, Green Lane, the Green Farmhouse … yes, the College is very green. As I mentioned in a previous “history mystery,” Green Hall was named in honor of James M. Green, principal of the New Jersey State Normal School at Trenton from 1889 to 1917. Green Hall and Green Lane however, do not bear the same namesake. Instead, they represent a person and an era dating back long before the College even existed.

William M. Green was among the early settlers in the area, coming to what is now Ewing Township around 1700. He was originally from England, and had sailed to the new land some time before that as a young man looking for new opportunities. Various sources say Green became a prominent citizen of Ewing and was one of the county’s first court judges. Green died in his 50s in June 1722, but his weathered but still-legible grave marker can still be viewed today near the left rear corner of the First Presbyterian Church over on Scotch Road.

The William Green Farmhouse, on the other hand, sits on the southern part of campus, behind Ackerman Park (the baseball field) and Townhouses South. For more information I spoke to Bill O’Neal, a College alumnus and member of the Friends of the William Green Farmhouse, a group of people who are “deeply concerned” about the building’s current state and its future preservation. Although the farmhouse is currently stable and could potentially withstand 30 more years without any major renovations, its future appears to be at a standstill.

“The biggest commitment we’ve had was a few years ago when (the College) decided to stabilize the house,” O’Neal said. This stabilization, he said, took place a few years ago (the Friends’ website says 2007) and was organized by the College. Nevertheless, there has been a lot of turnover among those in charge of the project, and there is both a lack of direction and funds for future plans.

“(The College) needs some kind of specific purpose, and right now there is none,” O’Neal said. “I think the best thing to do with it would be an alumni house or guest house.”

There have been a few other considerations for it, including a coffee house, but the building’s internal structure is another challenge. According to O’Neal, the house is actually made up of different additions that were built in different time periods, resulting in a basement divided into three sections and a maze-like arrangement of upstairs rooms.

Interestingly, O’Neal has personal connections to the house; he is married to a descendent of the Green family, though he said there are many others living today who can trace their roots back to William Green. O’Neal also said that although the College campus was formed from the land of three different owners, the Green family’s land was big, stretching from where Green Hall (again, not the same Green) stands today to what is now Crescent Avenue in the neighborhood across from the campus’s Green Lane entrance. Green family members also lived near the front entrance of the College until the mid-1990s O’Neal said, including one descendent who lived on Carlton Avenue until his death in 1979. His house is now owned by the College, which means some of you reading this may be living in it now!

The Green Farmhouse nevertheless remains the most visible remnant of this past era. Its boarded-up windows and surrounding fence (put there to prevent vandalism) make it a rather sad sight, however. Still, not every college can boast having such a landmark (the farmhouse is included in both the state and national registers of historical places), and I think we should all hope it will be here for years to come.


Architecture adventures: the faces behind the buildings

Marianna Packer, Fred Armstrong and James Forcina are the faces behind some campus buildings’ names. (The Seal 1936, The Seal 1937)

A common joke told by ambassadors to prospective students is that the College’s central building is named Green Hall because “it’s where all your money goes.” Though it’s humorous because financial services operates out of this building, it’s not at all true. Several weeks ago, I went over the various people that our residence halls are named after, but since campus tour season is upon us, I will now do likewise with non-residential buildings.

Let’s start with Green Hall, one of the oldest buildings on campus (a time capsule from 1931 was discovered this past summer in its cornerstone). This central campus building was named for James M. Green, principal of the College, then the New Jersey State Normal School at Trenton, from 1889 to 1917. In those days, “principal” was equivalent to president.

Another original building is Kendall Hall, which was named for Calvin N. Kendall, who created the Office of the Commission of Education in 1911. He also served as New Jersey state commissioner of education and later as the president of the department of superintendents of the National Education Association. Since 1985, new buildings on campus have been designed to reflect the Georgian Colonial architecture of original buildings like Kendall and Green.

This explains why the Brower Student Center, opened in 1976, does not match well with the buildings around it. It, too, however, was named for a College president — Clayton R. Brower. Brower was president from 1970 to 1980 and was a professor and department head before that.

Nearby Packer Hall was also named for a member of the College from the time in which it was constructed (1932). Marianna G. Packer was an instructor of physical education and hygiene and the head of the health and physical education department from 1932 to 1945.
Starting at the College a year before Packer was Armstrong Hall’s namesake Fred O. Armstrong, professor and chairman of industrial arts from 1931 to 1958. According to the College’s engineering website, a scholarship is presented in Armstrong’s name to certain incoming freshman engineering majors.

Not far from Armstrong is Bliss Hall, which saw many years as a men’s dormitory. Don C. Bliss was the principal of the College, then the Trenton State Normal School, from 1923 to 1930.

Although it is the former art building, Holman Hall’s namesake was not involved in this field. Alfred P. Holman was an English and speech professor from 1947 to 1975 and served as English department chairman.

Next to Holman is Forcina Hall. This building’s namesake is James J. Forcina, who served in various administrative roles from 1959 to 1978, including professor of education, dean of instruction, vice president of academic affairs and executive vice president. Forcina was also an alum (class of 1937) and was involved with many clubs, including The Signal, as a student.

Although the Library has no namesake, its predecessor did. Roscoe L. West Hall was only recently reopened as a multi-purpose building. It served as the College’s library for decades, and it currently houses the Career Center and large conference and lecture rooms and is planned to be the home of the David Sarnoff Museum. Roscoe L. West was president of the College for 27 years and is also the namesake of Roscoe the Lion.

The most peculiar namesake on campus would appear to be Loser. I have to admit that I was a bit judgmental when I first saw Loser Hall, but like everyone else I quickly learned to pronounce it correctly with a long “o” sound. This building was named for Paul Loser, who served as superintendent of the Trenton Public School System from 1929 to 1954.

With so many buildings lacking proper names (just painstakingly obvious ones; I don’t think anyone mistakes what the Music Building is for), we have all the more reason to take pride in those with namesakes. Who knows? Maybe some of the people we know today will one day have a building named for them.


Grad student killed in Kendall in ’77, the unsolved story

When I was still a prospective student, a junior at the College told me Kendall Hall was haunted.

“A man was shot there in the early 1900s,” he said almost proudly. A week ago, a friend told me she heard the building was closed for a few years due to a murder, and just yesterday I read from a contributor on whose grandmother told him of a murder taking place there in the 1930s.

Yes, there was a murder in Kendall Hall, but most of us have only been told a warped version of it. Allow me to set the record straight.
This story, however, is not for the faint of heart.

Two days before classes began for the College’s (then Trenton State College) fall semester of 1977, the New York Daily News ran a rather shocking banner headline across its front page: “Police Find NJ Coed Slain on Stage.” This followed a summer of headlines about killings, but this one was different in that it had nothing to do with the infamous Son of Sam and took place on a tree-lined college campus in a New Jersey suburb rather than on the streets of New York.

Sigrid Stevenson was 25 years old when her body was found at approximately 11:30 p.m. on the main stage of Kendall Hall on Sunday, Sept. 4, 1977. According to a Signal article from Sept. 6, 1977, Campus Police officer Thomas Kokotajlo had been walking nearby when he noticed an unattended bicycle chained up near a side door of Kendall. The building had last been used by the cast and crew of a production called “J.B.,” but they had all left by 12:30 a.m. early that morning and all doors were locked. Kokotajlo entered the building and walked on to the stage, which he found covered with blood spatters with an increasingly bloody trail leading to the piano. It was here that he discovered Stevenson’s nude body, wrists bound and on the stage floor, covered by the piano’s white canvas dust cover.

A joint investigation was launched with Ewing Township police forces and Campus Police. It was quickly determined that Stevenson had been beaten to death with a blunt instrument, and even though I issued a warning at the beginning of this article, I won’t delve into the specifics of her injuries due to their overly graphic nature. To provide some perspective however, I will say that according to reports, the professor brought in to identify Stevenson’s body could only do so by looking at her student’s hair.

In the Sept. 27, 1977 issue of The Signal, an article explored the police’s silence regarding the investigation of Sigrid Stevenson’s murder. (The Signal 1977)

In 1977, there was no DNA analysis and the murder itself did not appear to have been the result of any common motive. The Mercer County medical examiner determined she had not been sexually assaulted, and her possessions had not been stolen. Using what they had, investigators questioned over 100 people and issued several dozen polygraph tests to students, staff and even some members of Campus Police. Two weeks after the murder, State Police divers combed Lake Ceva for the murder weapon but found nothing. A Dec. 20, 1977 issue of The Signal revealed that stumped investigators had even sought the advice of University of Pennsylvania psychologists and “noted psychic” Sidney Porcelian of nearby Princeton. Nevertheless, the murderer was never found and to this day remains unidentified.
Meanwhile, life continued at the College. A New York Times article described students walking calmly about campus, with a freshman saying she was unconcerned. Several performances even took the stage in Kendall throughout the year, including a concert by The Kinks (famous for their gender-bending hit, “Lola”) that November. By the end of the academic year, the only print reminder of the murder was a brief recap in the 1978 Seal— barely over a 100 words and with the victim’s name misspelled.

But who was Sigrid Stevenson? She was a graduate student at the time of her death and had come to the College to study her lifelong passion — music. Sources say Stevenson was known to be shy and was a bit of a loner on campus, but she had traveled much further to the College than many of her classmates; she came from Livermore, California, which is about an hour east of San Francisco. Her father, however, was a professor at Princeton University before making the move cross-country. Stevenson was described as pretty and blue-eyed, although there are conflicting reports over whether her hair was blonde or brown (and I have been unable to recover any photos).

A Signal article from the time reported that Stevenson lived in the nearby house of Stanley Austin, a supervisor of graduate music study at the College. Other reports say Stevenson had come back to the College after a cross-country hitchhiking stint, only to find that Austin and his family were not yet back from their summer vacation. Although Kendall Hall was locked, it was not very secure and Stevenson had been known to sneak in there to play the piano at night. She camped out in the theatre for several days before the murder, accounts said, and the details of the case suggest she had been playing the piano when she was attacked.

By laying out the details of what really happened in Kendall Hall many years ago, I can only hope that I have humanized what has otherwise become nothing more than a ghost story. We must remember that Sigrid Stevenson, who would have been 59 this year, was a student with her own aspirations, just like those of us today. Her life, although cut short, was still a life. Rest in peace, Sigrid.


Stop before you make assumptions

Now that Amanda Knox has been acquitted of murdering her roommate, Managing Editor Brianna Gunter says people shouldn’t be so quick to jump to conclusions.

Ever hear the saying, “when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me?”

It’s a good saying.

Over four years ago, an American college student studying abroad in Italy was arrested for the brutal murder of her British roommate. In what seemed like an instant, the media exploded with stories of the accused’s sex and drug escapades around the Italian city of Perugia, her dishonest nature and, most importantly, her moral conflict with the innocent victim. It was all too scandelous not to be true.

And we all agreed, at least at first.

Now that Amanda Knox, 24 years old and with four years of her life wasted in a foreign prison, has been declared innocent, it is so easy to say that we knew it all along. For most of us however (including yours truly), this would be a lie.

On a much smaller and more personal scale than the Knox case, recent events at the College prove even further that some opinions are just made too hastily without a lot of input from the other side.

The day after a student was reported to have been sexually assaulted on Sept. 28, 34-year-old Sak Chow was taken into custody and subsequently banned by the College. Students everywhere began declaring that A), the student was stupid for getting into a car with her assailant, and B) that they were glad Chow had been banned from campus.

I’m not necessarily saying Chow did not commit the offense, but I am saying that the man is innocent until proven guilty. Furthermore, none of us can possibly know what exactly was going through the student’s head at the time; it is foolish of us then to instantly say that the young woman was stupid.

Then of course there’s the fact that the “victim” of the sexual assault case from Aug. 31 recently changed her story drastically. The case has been dropped, but now any future sexual assault victims (which hopefully will be very scarce) run the risk of others assuming they are also lying. Moreover, we can speculate all we want about what why the original story may have been fabricated, but because we don’t have all the facts, this would again be jumping to conclusions.

On a different note, many of us have by now seen ABC 6’s video on students of the College and their affect on local residents living near campus. It is unfortunately rather one-sided.

Local residents who do not personally know students may assume that they are detrimental to their personal lives and therefore may not be able to see all the good students do for the community. Likewise, the same goes for students who are not too familiar with local residents. The whole situation seems to be getting a bit tense, and all because those on each side have not bothered to get all the facts, much less take into account the opposing view.

As challenging as it can be sometimes, we do have the capacity to form our own unique and educated opinions. Let’s not rush to make assumptions.


It was always 5 o’clock somewhere at the College

A sign above the counter at the Pub advertises an upcoming event and low prices, compared to the cost today which is approximately $4. (Jeff Reiner / The Seal 1979)

Last week I had my first beer from the Rathskeller, or as many people would say, my first “Rat beer.” For a lot of us upperclassmen, the ability to enjoy Rat beers is a sign of our seniority and also of the short time we have left at the College. There was once a time, however, when this was not the case — when almost every undergraduate student could legally go and have a beer on campus. These were the days of the Pub.

In the mid ’70s to early ’80s, the Pub was the place to be. When it opened it November 1973 in the original Phelps Hall (a student union building), it gave students a place to go and be social. Many photos in editions of The Seal (the College yearbook) from those years show that the place was frequently packed full and lines would form outside the door with students waiting for a spot inside. According to an article from The Signal during that time, the Pub was able to comfortably seat about 450 people, but often seated “closer to 700 or 800,” particularly on Thursday nights (the “going out” night).

The Pub was not a place for students to sit around drinking, however (well, it wasn’t just for that). There were performances as well, which weren’t limited to just students. Most of these consisted of small musical gigs, but others were of a different nature. For example, a young Billy Crystal once showcased his comedic talents at the Pub.

While there were other campus eating locations before the Pub (which, along with drinks, served food similar to that found in the Rat today), its true predecessor was the Hillwood Inn. According to “Ewing Township,” a history book by Jo Ann Tesauro, the Inn was purchased in 1928 as one of the original buildings on the campus’ current location. Located next to the lakes, it had a small boardwalk in addition to the sprawling restaurant and dance hall inside.

For almost 25 years, the Inn was the social hub on campus. Students went there to eat, drink and associate with others outside the classroom. Once it was replaced by Phelps in 1955, its loss was bemoaned by many, including the 1956 Seal editors who sadly wrote: “That atmosphere of friendliness once conveyed by its deep brown wood and rough brick fireplace is absent from our evening meals these days.”

The line to get in went far outside the Pub, located in the original Phelps Hall (a student building). (Jeff Reiner / The Seal 1979)

Today we have multiple dining locations and campus social areas. Nevertheless, the Rathskeller remains the closest thing to the atmosphere once provided by the Pub and the Inn. Opening in 1976 (inside the recently constructed Brower Student Center) the Rat actually coexisted with the Pub for several years. During those years, however, many states were raising the drinking age. In 1983, New Jersey decided to join in, which drastically decreased the amount of students on campus who were legally able to purchase alcohol. As a result, the College could no longer afford to keep two campus bars open and running. The Pub was shut down the following year, and the original Phelps Hall has since been demolished.

Some of these past images can of course be compared to scenes that we see today with the Rat. On most afternoons around lunch time — or for many underclassmen, the bewitching “meal equiv” hour — the place is overly crowded with students clamoring to place orders. On certain nights, performances on the Rat stage still bring decent crowds.

So my classmates, keep the social spirit of the old days alive and take your friends to grab a meal or see a show at the Rat sometime before the inevitable day of graduation is upon you. Oh, and be sure to enjoy a Rat beer before you go.


Developer chosen for $50 million Campus Town project

Sketches of the planned Campus Town, provided by PRC Group, brings life to the project, which could reach completion by fall 2013. Retail stores, restaurants, a gym and new student housing all are included in the plans. (Images courtesy of College Relations)

Plans for Campus Town are picking up speed. Organizers of the proposed project, which consists of an on-campus shopping, dining and living center, announced on Sept. 21 that a private developer had been selected and that the proposal will be submitted to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority in October for review.

The PRC Group, a multi-faceted real estate owner, developer and construction management company based out of West Long Branch, N.J., has been selected by the College to take on the $50 million project, the College announced in a press release. PRC will assume all financial obligations and will manage the development.

Campus Town has been a project in consideration for several years, and an initial planning study was done in 2007, according to the project’s official website. However, it wasn’t until a new state law was passed two years later that College officials found a way to afford it.

The New Jersey Economic Stimulus Act of 2009 allows public colleges to bypass public bidding laws and make deals with private developers. The College has decided to use this law to make Campus Town a reality.

If the New Jersey Economic Development Authority approves the construction proposal, the College will become only the second school to make use of the act. Montclair State University was the first, opening a $211 million privately owned and operated residence hall complex this fall.

“Campus Town will expand the high-quality environment of the campus and further strengthen (the College’s) commitment to the learning and living community,” said College President R. Barbara Gitenstein. “The ability to pursue this project as a public-private partnership is a wonderful opportunity for the College and (College) students will benefit from our ability to utilize this forward-looking option for generations to come.”

Currently, students of the College must look to Route 1 for the majority of their shopping options, and those without cars must rely on friends or public transportation to get there. College officials said Campus Town is meant to give the campus community a much closer alternative locale where students can go shopping and hang out with friends.

PRC Group Vice President Greg Lentine said the project will consist of 80,000 square feet of commercial space and 216,000 square feet of residential space that will be leased to the College for at least 50 years. Lentine added that they could be applying for building permits by spring 2012, and the project itself could reach completion by fall 2013.

Although there are currently no specific businesses lined up for the new commercial buildings, there are many plans for what they will be.

In addition to retail stores and restaurants, Campus Town will be the location of the new campus bookstore, which will free up some space in the Brower Student Center,
said Stacy Schuster, executive director of College Relations.

A fitness center is also planned to be included in the project, but unlike the bookstore, this will not replace the current campus gym. Instead, Schuster said, students will be offered a discounted membership.

But the massive construction project isn’t meant for just the College to enjoy. Rather, it is designed to allow for more interaction with the local community by being open to the public and, according to Lentine, to “stimulate the local and regional economies by creating new jobs, bringing in businesses and generating local tax revenue.”

Because Campus Town is currently slated to be built along part of Pennington Road directly south of the campus’ main gate, some demolition needs to take place before construction can begin. According to Schuster, this includes the Bonner Center, which will be relocated, and the adjacent parking areas.

Information and updates can be found at


I’m not paying to live in a sauna

Tim Lee / Staff Photographer

Last October, while I was living in Phelps Hall, there came a day when the heating malfunctioned and indoor temperatures soared to about 100 degrees. Although it lasted only about 24 hours, it was a terrible 24 hours— my makeup melted, plants withered, posters fell off the wall due to melted adhesive and every surface was hot to touch.

That was last year, but lately memories of it have been triggered every time I’m in my current apartment in Hausdoerffer. Yes, the heat has gone up once again, only this time it has been up for days. Granted, it isn’t exactly malfunctioning and is nowhere near as bad as last year, but it remains extremely uncomfortable. Just because we had a few cold days the other week is no excuse for the heat to have been turned on this early in the year. Basically, somebody somewhere made a bad decision, and now all of us in Phelps and Haus have to literally sweat it out.

The worse part of all is that this is the actual heat system that has been turned on and therefore the problem is in no way a result of the weather. As a result, there is no escape (the freshman towers can be quite miserable in warmer months, but at least the air has more mobility). Because the problem is coming strictly from within, opening windows and taking other measures has little to no effect in apartments. Ironically, these are the newest and supposedly the most advanced residential buildings on campus.

I’m speaking out because frankly, I’m tired of certain needs going ignored, or if not exactly ignored, then brushed aside as if they were nothing. We residents received an email that not only didn’t apologize for the conditions, but told us in more words or less to just deal with it.

Hypothetically, if members of the College administration lived in apartments, this would more than likely not be the case. It is very understandable that there are of course more serious issues campus officials must deal with, but all the same it is very hard to ignore the fact that one’s room is slowly baking them to a crisp.

As much as I am giving my personal feelings here, I am speaking on behalf of my fellow residents of Phelps and Haus; one of my roommates has two fans running in her room, and it’s still a bit on the warm side. A friend of mine in Phelps has been freezing bottles to use for heat relief, and I’ve encountered more than a few people from either residence hall escaping the heat by spending long hours in other buildings. Others have expressed concern that the heat is not doing any wonders for their computers and other electronics.

The apartments are now in their third year of being open, but so far Housing has not seemed to figure out an appropriate time to turn on the heating, much less how to operate it properly. Those of us living in Phelps and Haus don’t really care who keeps enacting their poor judgement; we just want to be comfortable in our own residences.

—Brianna Gunter, Managing Editor


Where the sidewalk ends

Illustration by Brianna Gunter

Like many students seeking a more interesting running route than the treadmills in the Packer Gym (which, by the way, could really use some TVs or motivational posters in front of them), I turn to the Loop. With its scenic views and length of nearly two miles, the Loop, aka Metzger Drive, seems at a glance to be the ideal place to go for a run, bike ride or at times even a leisurely walk with friends.

Still, the lack of sidewalks in most areas and other safety concerns make it far from ideal. Just the other week, I was rounding the corner near the Forcina parking garage (Lot 12) when I suddenly was forced to jump out of the way of an oncoming car. I had been running very close to the curb in an attempt to avoid such a situation, but it happened nonetheless.

The speed limit around the Loop is only 25 miles per hour, but most drivers I’ve seen appear to ignore this—  particularly when no Campus Police vehicles are in clear sight. Even so, trees and buildings make it difficult even for drivers going the speed limit to spot runners around bends until they are practically right on top of them.

As many of us frequent Loop runners are all too painfully aware, sidewalks only run along less than half of Metzger Drive. The rest of the route is filled with very uneven terrain, rocky areas and weird combinations of thick grass and dirt that are unsuitable for running. At one spot near the Science Complex, one has to either dash up a grassy mound and jump off a small stone wall, or run straight out into the road where there is literally no shoulder.

The option of running in the road is always there, of course, but here there is the risk of being mowed down by passing vehicles like I almost was. I understand that installing more sidewalks would result in more construction costs, but is saving money really worth skimping on basic safety?

There are various signs that have been posted along the Loop in recent years that urge runners to stay on the side facing traffic for safety purposes, but most people with common sense already know to do this. And because of the various conditions I listed earlier, running facing traffic doesn’t necessarily make you safer. Yes, it is still a good thing that these signs are posted, but a far better investment would just be to install more sidewalks. In the meantime, drivers, please be a little more mindful of those of us on our feet.


1996: College paved paradise and put up a parking lot

The ecological trail located behind Bliss Hall (left) was the root of controversy on campus and the subject of a Signal political cartoon back in 1996 (right). (Brianna Gunter / Managing Editor; The Signal March 5, 1996)

Tucked away in the wooded area between Bliss, Armstrong and Kendall Halls is the “Ecological Study Forest & Nature Trail.” A second part of this trail — much more overgrown and hidden than the first part —  actually extends through the forest behind Bliss. It does not appear to be of much focus for the general College community now, but in 1996, this small forest was suddenly thrust into the spotlight. For a brief few months, it was caught in a major controversy.

The parking garage next to Armstrong, otherwise known as Lot 20, was the source of the conflict. On Feb. 29, 1996 Peter Mills, vice president of Administration and Finance, and Gregory Bressler, associate vice president of Facilities Management and Planning, announced to the College’s Board of Trustees plans to construct a new parking garage between Armstrong and Bliss halls. To build this garage required the destruction of 60 square feet of the three-quarter acre forest between the academic buildings.

The first objections came from then associate professor of biology Edward Rockel, who said he was already circulating petitions to protest the construction of the garage. Rockel’s main issue was that the woods were being used by his department as a hands-on forest study area.

“I’m not a tree hugger,” he told The Signal the week following the announcement by Mills and Bressler. “There are no other nearby forests we can use. We have mainly flood plain forests. They’re mucky or have poison ivy.”

Things escalated quickly. Within the next month students passed out petitions against the parking garage, and a “Save the Forest” committee was formed. On March 13, the faculty senate joined in the fight by unanimously voting in favor of a resolution requesting a new site for the garage.

Of course, the College was in need of additional parking. Plans had already been made for the construction of what we now know as the Science Complex, which would result in the loss of a small faculty parking lot on the other side of Armstrong. Mills and Bressler responded to the protests by explaining that other locations for the garage would not suffice due to land formation, cost and overall convenience.

On Earth Day of that year (April 22), a rally consisting of both students and faculty was held. The protestors lit candles and signed another petition — this time specifically urging the Board of Trustees to vote against the garage construction during their meeting that coming Thursday. Mills himself attended the rally, but only as an observer, and he did not speak to anyone.

Almost two months after the initial construction announcement, a compromise was reached. The Board of Trustees authorized the construction of a 147-vehicle parking garage that would be built more around the forest than in it, cutting the necessary deforestation in half, to 30 square feet. It was not a complete win for the protestors, but the protest had not gone unnoticed.

This all happened 15 years ago — the garage has since been built and the study forest itself has undergone changes. It should never be forgotten, however, that you, the members of the College community, do have a voice around here. Use it loudly, and you will be heard.


Time capsule provides glimpse of College in 1931

During the renovation of Green Hall, a time capsule from 80 years ago was found, containing items such as an old copy of The Signal. (Photo courtesy of Brianna Gunter)

Many details of the College’s history have not been well-preserved over the years, but the recent discovery of a time capsule from 1931 proves this hasn’t been for lack of effort. The items in the small metal box (found in the cornerstone of Green Hall by construction workers over the summer) have suffered decay, but the time capsule itself still provides a rare firsthand look back in time.

Alongside what appears to be the construction plans for Green Hall and an annual report for the College, a scroll thanking the State Board of Education for the name “James M. Green Hall” was discovered in the time capsule. Head of Reference Librarian Patricia Beaber said the scroll appears to have been entirely hand-printed and painted.

Perhaps the item students today can relate with most of all is a copy of The Signal from May 6, 1931. One of the top headlines is appropriately the announcement of the Green Hall cornerstone being laid that upcoming Friday. The laying of the cornerstone was quite a big deal at the time, particularly because esteemed Columbia University professor Nicholas Murray Butler and then governor of New Jersey Morgan F. Larson were in attendance.

The year 1931 was a big deal for the College. The Hillwood Lakes campus (our current campus) had been purchased three years earlier in 1928, and the College was in a time of transition from old to new. The academic year ending in 1931 was the last time the entire College community was based in Trenton. That September then became the first time the new campus was occupied by students; half of the freshman class went to Hillwood Lakes and the other half joined the older classes at the Trenton location on Clinton Avenue.

A newspaper clipping, featuring a photo of the corner-stone laying ceremony, is displayed along with the items of the recently discovered capsule. (Photo courtesy of Brianna Gunter)

Although the campus was still under construction and had primarily dirt roads, instead of paved ones, the State Teachers College and Normal School Report of 1930-1931

reflected excitement about the move to a place where “the noise and dirt of city surroundings will be entirely absent.” Within a few years, the former urban campus was entirely vacant.

Anyone who wishes to view the time capsule display can find it in a glass cabinet in the reference section of the library. Go quickly, however. According to Beaber, the display will be taken down after another week or so, and the scroll will be sent to a restoration business in Philadelphia so that it can be restored to its original state and preserved. Beaber said it will then be put on a more permanent display, likely in Green Hall “where it belongs.”

Definite plans have not yet been made for the other items, although The Signal issue will likely be thrown out as the library has a much better-kept copy of it in its archives collection.

While the unexpected discovery of the time capsule suggests there could very well be similar boxes hidden within the walls of the College’s other buildings (Beaber said there may be one in Roscoe L. West), the most recently installed time capsule is in the library’s basement lobby. Look for the circular metal seal in the floor, and you’ll see the cover of a capsule placed for the College’s sesquicentennial in 2005 — just another reminder that we are all part of a long history that will endure many years into the future.


Confessions of an ex-concert-venue employee

Working at concerts teaches that looks can sometimes be decieving — even the most heavily-tattooed metal fan might be an environmentalist at heart. IIllustration by Sandra Thomson)

I’m not an overly musical person. I like songs but don’t have any band obsessions. I played clarinet for years yet never learned to read music the right way. My eyes glaze over when someone starts talking about the new insertweirdnamehere album they just downloaded. Nope, I’m certainly not the person to run to for music knowledge. Nevertheless, there’s one part of the music world I do know better than a lot of people — concerts.

I’ve seen over a hundred concerts, having worked at the PNC Bank Arts Center (formerly named the much prettier Garden State Arts Center) for four years. I’m no longer an employee, but I’ve had some truly memorable experiences,  both good and bad.

Every summer, the Arts Center hosts North Jersey/ New York radio station KTU’s “Beatstock,” an all-day festival of people like Pitbull, Kat Deluna, Enrique Iglesias (who, surprisingly, sounded awful in person), Kelly Rowland and more dance-pop gods. “Beatstock” feels like a club, packed with guidos who rub their self-tanner on you while grabbing your arm to ask a question and then yell at you for touching them. “The Jersey Shore” and “Real Housewives of New Jersey” cast members were even in the audience one year, and I spent much of the night ushering Teresa Giudice’s daughter down to the front. Perhaps the most memorable occurrence though was when then “JS” castmember Angelina (remember her?) appeared onstage and was booed off.

The worst series of shows I ever worked, however, was the Jonas Brothers. As performers, the brothers themselves aren’t at all bad — even if they did spend one sound check practicing more cartwheels than vocals—but the audience, excuse my language, SUCKED. Thousands of screaming fans packed into an oversold amphitheater was literally deafening after an hour (particularly those sobbing about their tickets not letting them backstage). Furthermore, numerous mothers purchased cheap seat tickets for themselves and up-front passes for their small children, only to be shocked that their kiddies would have to sit alone. One of them even hit one of my coworkers in anger.

By contrast, the best concerts I’ve ever worked were those of Judas Priest. The band really knows how to cater to their fans, and the theatrics of the show (fire, motorcycles and all) are just as energized as the music. Furthermore, the concertgoers at their shows are awesome. I’ll never forget the time a particularly large bald man, covered from head to toe in piercings and skull tattoos, came up to me with his arms full of plastic bottles and asked “Excuse me, where is the recycling? I’d hate to leave these lying around.”

I have equal respect for Green Day, who in 2010 played for three-and-a-half hours straight and never once let up on the energy. Those guys even brought particularly enthusiastic audience members on stage and gave away one of their guitars (not a mere pre-signed guitar from backstage — the one Billie Joe Armstrong was playing) to a woman who signed the entire show for her deaf friend.

As great as a lot of shows are, however, they all must end at some point. Ever been to a concert that was awesome, yet suddenly an old crooner song interrupts through the air like an elderly man coming out to yell at kids to get off his lawn? Well, the venue employees are the old man, and happy as they are for your experience, they’re tired and would really like you to get off their lawn now (I now must point out that at PNC, there literally is a lawn section).

One evening, during seat checks — where employees check for seats broken during the show — I came across a man slumped down in his seat with his eyes shut. “Show’s over, sir,” I said. There was no reply, and after a few further attempts I realized he was dead. Just kidding, but it was soon determined that he was passed out cold. The man regained consciousness with the help of some EMTs, but only long enough to be informed that his friends had left and he was headed to the hospital. The lesson? Don’t ever leave a friend behind and don’t drink more than you can handle.

If there’s anything I’ve taken away from my job, though, it’s a better appreciation for all the work that goes into a concert. So many people work tirelessly to make everything run smoothly, even if that includes forcing a band out of their trailer to perform (I once worked a Stone Temple Pilots show where if it wasn’t for some persistent employees, the band would have never come out).

So the next time you go to a concert, be kind to the workers. It isn’t their fault your ticket doesn’t scan quickly, that you can’t sit in a certain area or that the headliner isn’t as good as he was years ago. Just relax and enjoy the show! Oh, and make sure your group’s all there when you leave.


What’s in a name? Discover the people behind the residence halls

Michael A. Travers (left), Naomi Norsworthy (center) and Vernetta F. Decker (right) are a few namesakes of the residence halls on the College’s campus.

As someone now on my final year at the College, I recently decided it was time to put to rest a question that has been nagging me for quite some time: What on earth is a Norsworthy? The history behind our residential buildings’ names simply isn’t common knowledge. (I should know: I’m in my fourth year of living on campus.) It may seem trivial now, but many buildings have namesakes who were at one point very important to our school.

Naomi Norsworthy was a revered researcher and psychology professor at Columbia University and is remembered still through many websites and books on psychology and feminism. Decades after she graduated from the College in 1896, her alma mater honored her with a residence hall bearing her name.

In addition to Norsworthy Hall, many sophomores live in Decker Hall. Vernetta F. Decker remained at the College from 1926-1957, first as a teacher of speech and then as dean of women (back when each gender had their own dean). The 1939 edition of “The Seal” was dedicated to her.

Next to Decker is Cromwell Hall, named for Agnes W. Cromwell. A member of the State Board of Higher Education in the early 1900s, Cromwell was influential in planning the College’s current campus.

Further over are Travers and Wolfe Towers. Michael A. Travers served at the College from 1928-1969 as a faculty member, dean of men and chairman of the business department. Contrary to the belief of one of my freshman floormates that we lived in a building commemorating an animal, Wolfe is named after Deborah Partridge Canon Wolfe. Wolfe served as a congresswoman and member of the New Jersey State Board of Higher Education. In addition to many other accomplishments, she was the International President of Zeta Phi Beta sorority (which has a chapter at the College) from 1954-1965.

As for New Residence Hall, I’m afraid that its title doesn’t fit at all anymore because it was constructed 26 years ago in 1985. Along with College Houses and Townhouses, it is one of the few residence halls without a proper name.

Centennial Hall also lacks a namesake, but “Centennial” is self-descriptive. This building was named in celebration of the College’s 100th anniversary in 1955. Yet “Cent” isn’t the oldest residential building on campus.

The oldest is actually a tie between Allen, Brewster and Ely halls. These petite buildings are now connected to one another, but were built separately in 1931 as women’s dormitories and were named for Elizabeth Almira Allen, Alice L. Brewster and Sarah Y. Ely. Allen was a teacher and started the State Teachers Pension and Annuity Fund in the 1800s, while Brewster was a teacher in the Department of English. Ely was a teacher and supervisor of the girls’ department.

The newest residential buildings are Phelps and Hausdoerffer halls. William F. Phelps was the College’s principal (a position that no longer exists) from 1855-1864 and established the initial curricula. William “Bill” Hausdoerffer was actually in attendance at the inaugural opening of the apartments in Fall 2009, but he passed away earlier this year, leaving behind a long legacy at the College as a student (Class of 1936), faculty member and generous alumnus.

The person for which Eickhoff Hall is named, however, is still here at the College, although the building did not adopt its current name until 2001 (it was “Community Commons” for nine years). Harold W. Eickhoff served as the school’s president from 1979-1998 and since then has been a member of the College’s faculty. Spend some time on the first floor of the library and you’ll probably see him in his office or walking around.

More information can be viewed online at the College’s virtual tour website at (although as the website has not been updated; information on Phelps and Hausdoerffer Halls is missing), or within the residential facilities themselves. Aside from Norsworthy, Cromwell, Brewster and Ely Halls, plaques commemorating the buildings’ namesakes adorn the walls near the front doors.


Time to reevaluate off-campus partying

Managing Editor Brianna Gunter suggests that maybe the College and Ewing Township officials should take a different look at students and off-campus parties.

Ewing mayor Bert Steinmann announced this past summer that authorities would be cracking down on college parties, and so far has proven himself serious with the recent series of busts made at off-campus houses. Personally, I agree that this area is no stranger to house parties. On my way to a friend’s house the other night, I passed by a rather loud house party. Actually it was so loud that I could still hear it faintly once I reached my destination about two and a half blocks away.

Annoying as it must have been to surrounding residents, this was no student party. Instead I glanced over and saw a backyard filled with older adults as I rounded the corner, even though it was approaching midnight. A couple of children (whom I’m assuming had parents at the gathering) even ran screaming and laughing from the house down the street as older voices and reggaeton music blasted through the air.

That kind of non-college party is not the first I’ve seen around Ewing, particularly since they tend to be far louder and more visible than college student ones. Ironically, however, it is the college ones that Mayor Steinmann and the College seem to be focusing in on.

Students of the College usually go to great measures to ensure gatherings at their houses keep noise levels to a minimum, and free rides by sober people are offered to partygoers for safety reasons as well as noise-dimming ones. The reality is that parties here are far more respectful of local residents than those at many other colleges (and I’ve been to a lot of parties at other schools). Many students go further by getting to know their neighbors and being friendly with them.

The occasional bad relationship does happen, but there are always two sides to every story. Government leaders of Ewing should not forget that off-campus college students are also residents of their town and as such have the same rights as others.

Yes, underage people in the presence of alcohol is illegal. From this viewpoint, I understand the township’s desire to lessen illegal activity in the area. But really, this area is afflicted with so many arguably more frightening forms of crime.  In my past three years at the College there have been numerous thefts (11 vehicles were stolen from students my freshman year alone), a shooting, house invasions and burglaries, a potential predator (Christopher Stalkin’ anyone?) and multiple sexual assaults. This list doesn’t even begin to cover the various crimes not affecting students that occur yearly in Ewing and surrounding areas.

Additionally, the administration should not ignore that one of the factors potential students look for in a college is a party/social scene. Even the most studious of students enjoy the occasional party outing, and applicant levels could very well drop once it spreads that college parties are a no go. Academics are very important and there’s so much to be proud of about this school, but we all need to go out and have fun sometimes. That being said, students should respect those around them wherever they are, and when going out, know their limits.

College parties are and always will be a part of college. Furthermore, anybody purchasing property near a college campus and who’s been to college, knows someone who’s been to college or knows anything about college life is aware that parties are bound to take place nearby. Take it or leave it, but that’s life.


Ch-ch-changes: the evolution of the College

Horses and carriages were a mode of transportation back in 1897, as seen circling student housing above.

The College you know today consists of 39 major buildings (excluding affiliated off-campus buildings) nestled together on 289 acres of land in an area of Ewing Township known as Hillside Lakes, with almost 7,000 students enrolled. This would all be unrecognizable to the College’s original students and faculty however — our school has a long history of change.

The original campus was not at 2000 Pennington Road in Ewing, but at what is now 159 North Clinton Ave. in Trenton. The old buildings have since been demolished, but the location can easily be found at what is now Grant Elementary School, constructed in 1938. If you’ve been to the Trenton Transit Center on South Clinton Avenue, you’ve been near this area.

It is common knowledge that “The College of New Jersey” is not the school’s original name, but did you know that there have been six names? The first was the New Jersey State Normal School. At the time, “Normal School” was the name given to teaching schools in the U.S., and Trenton’s was the first in the state and among the first 10 in the nation.

According to the Trenton Historical Society, the Normal School opened its doors on Oct. 1, 1855 at Trenton City Hall, quickly moving to temporary accommodations at a building on the corner of Hanover and Stockton Streets. Meanwhile, the Normal School’s first building was constructed on North Clinton Avenue, costing $17,000. The new building’s first class consisted of only 43 students, and there was no tuition fee for those who agreed to teach for at least two years in N.J. after graduation. Records show this policy remained for decades.

Additions were made to the campus during this time, including boarding halls, a gymnasium and auditorium. In 1908 the school’s name

The College is barely recognizable from its days as the State of New Jersey Normal School.

was elongated to New Jersey State Normal School in Trenton after other normal schools were established in the state. In 1929, however, the school began offering a B.S. in education, and the name was accordingly changed to State Teachers’ College and State Normal School at Trenton. This name was even shorter-lived, being changed again in 1937 to New Jersey State Teachers College at Trenton. Normal schools were becoming a thing of the past.

While the College underwent name changes, the board of trustees decided it was time for a bigger campus. The current location in Ewing was purchased in 1928 with construction beginning right away. By the mid-1930s, the former campus was vacant.

In 1958 the board decided to change the school’s name again — to Trenton State College. “TSC” was a well-rounded college by this point, offering more than just teaching degrees. Nevertheless, in 1996, the name was at last changed to The College of New Jersey (despite protests from students, alumni, faculty and others). Officials at the time said they wanted to embrace state pride and become less locally focused. Various personal websites and bloggers claim that the real reason was to separate the school from the negative reputation the city of Trenton had developed by that point.

Today you can still see remnants of the past: Many alumni lovingly refer to the College as Trenton State, more than a few Trenton State shirts show up on homecoming and numerous books in the library are stamped with former names of the College (depending on when they were put in circulation). Feel pride in your school and treasure your time here, for you too are part of a history that will continue long after you have graduated.