All posts by Emily Brill

Cromwell shutdown complicates housing

Cromwell renovations will begin toward the end of May 2012, ending by the fall 2013 semester. Plumbing and asbestos removal are some of the main improvements that will be made.

Cromwell Hall renovations will begin immediately after school ends in May, and the building will remain closed for more than a year, opening again for the Fall 2013 semester, according to Interim Director of Housing Ryan Farnkopf.

The main reason for the renovation is the building’s aging plumbing system, which Farnkopf said needs to be addressed “immediately.”

The building projects will also include the roof, a few other mechanical systems and an asbestos removal project, as well as a building “face lift,” according to Farnkopf and an official email sent by Vice President of Student Affairs Jim Norfleet to students on Nov. 22.

According to Norfleet’s email, the asbestos insulation in the building’s concrete walls — which he called “standard” for 1966, when Cromwell was originally constructed — poses no harm to current building occupants. According to the National Cancer Institute’s website, asbestos fibers only pose harm to human health when disturbed.

A renovation project, however, would disturb the asbestos fibers, releasing them into the air. The asbestos abatement project is therefore scheduled to be completed by July, before renovation begins.

With the news of Cromwell’s closure, housing has become a greater concern for upperclassmen, who already were placed on the waiting list in record numbers after the housing lottery last spring due to a larger-than-normal freshman class.

The freshmen that would have been placed in Cromwell in the next year — all of whom are guaranteed on-campus housing by College policy — will instead have to placed in residences typically reserved for upperclassmen, said Farnkopf.

This means that there will be approximately 300 fewer beds available for rising juniors and seniors in the upcoming lottery and room selection process this spring, he noted.

Farnkopf was unsure of where students in the first-year honors seminar, who traditionally live in Cromwell, will be housed for 2013, but said that Residential Education will likely meet with Academic Affairs to discuss this in the late spring.

The College also has not yet determined which traditionally upperclassmen residences will shift to become residences next year for freshmen and sophomores, who are also guaranteed housing, but some moves have been made to accommodate upperclassmen, said Executive Director of College Relations Stacy Schuster.

Local hotels are one option being considered, she said.

“The College has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking a hotel (or hotels) within a 10 mile radius of the College that would provide housing accommodations to between 150 to 300 upperclass students,” Schuster said in an email.
Student reactions were mixed.

Senior music major Allie Eichvalds said she’d have lived in a hotel if given the opportunity.

“I would say, ‘Why not?’” Eichvalds said. “As long as they’d provide bussing.”

According to a Trenton Times article, the College would provide bussing to and from campus for hotel residents. Not all students were thrilled with this option, though.

“I don’t know if I’d like the whole bussing thing,” said Gerard Tyrrell, freshman political science major, who expressed hesitance at living “on-campus” at an off-campus location. “It doesn’t sound horrible, but it’s not something I’d fully embrace.”

While Cromwell’s closure will pose an inconvenience for students in the upcoming housing lottery, freshman students living in the renovated building in 2013 can look forward to an enhanced residential experience, said Farnkopf.

The residential rooms will receive new bathroom fixtures, including a new toilet, sink, shower, counter and cabinets, as well as new overhead lighting, furniture and paint, he said. Furthermore, the main lounge, floor lounges and laundry rooms will be remodeled to increase their usablity as student-centered spaces by offering formal and informal places for students to organize events, gather as small groups, or study individually, he added.

“For example, we learned from previous construction projects that residents tend to prefer laundry rooms that incorporate study spaces,” said Farnkopf in an email.

According to Farnkopf, during the renovation’s design phase, a new building layout with traditional double occupancy rooms with communal floor bathrooms — rather than the three-room suite and bathroom configuration currently unique to Cromwell — was considered but later set aside after being deemed “too costly.”

“This plan … would likely have decreased the building’s capacity, resulting in less available beds on campus,” said Farnkopf.

In his official email, Norfleet noted that an attempt to renovate without a one-year shut down of the building is not a feasible alternative.

“All asbestos must be removed prior to the renovation, separate from any other construction work, and with special air monitoring procedures,” he said. “Alternatives to a year shut-down do not provide sufficient time to complete the asbestos abatement and renovation.”

In his email, Norfleet noted that the College has been experiencing a housing shortage for the past 12 years, which has necessitated the lottery. However, he assured students that expanding housing options for students is “central” to the recent decision to advance the Campus Town project, which may add as many as 400 beds for upperclassmen as early as fall 2013.

While Norfleet’s email was the first official message to the campus community about Cromwell’s closure, Farnkopf noted that students had ways to learn about the project before, which was advertised “typical of any
construction project.”

He said that the renovation is listed on the Campus Planning website, offering the community general information about the design team and project scope.  Additionally, the renovations are listed in the College’s Campus Master Plan, approved by the Board of Trustees in March 2008. However, this plan called for renovations in 2015, said Farnkopf, explaining that concerns about the building’s infrastructure  required the renovation schedule to be moved up.  Finally, the

Board of Trustees selected the architect in a December 2010 public meeting, he said.

According to Farnkopf, the College will be holding a series of information sessions to answer any questions students may have regarding the room selection process in the following semester. Before the end of this semester, Residential Education will advertise next year’s building configuration, lottery dates and times.

TMT presents heartbreak, suicide and gay lovers, plus music

I saw TCNJ Musical Theatre’s production of “Bare” on Friday.

I almost went back Saturday to try to figure out how TMT pulled it off, but I didn’t know if I could put my emotions through the wringer again.

“Bare” broke my heart, and judging by the number of damp faces that left the Don Evans Black Box Theatre with me, it wounded quite a few others’ as well during its Nov. 16-19 run at the College.

“Bare,” here directed by senior special education and English major Mark Accardi, tells the story of two gay teenagers, Jason and Peter, attending a Catholic boarding school. They’re dating — in secret — as each grapples with his sexuality and fights (or succumbs to) forces trying to tear the couple apart.

The cast of ‘Bare’ puts on a drug-fueled rave, complete with glowsticks, during one of the musical’s scenes. (Janika Berridge / Photo Assistant)

It’d be heavy stuff without a script and a soundtrack. Add those, and it’s easy to see how “Bare” could veer into melodrama in the wrong hands.

It often did.

But although the play turned maudlin at times — it’s difficult to conduct a play about high-school students without frequent bursts of angst — it was carried by several on-point actors who lent nuanced voices to their characters.

This is particularly true for junior civil engineering major Joey Tible and junior religious studies major Chrissy Isola. Playing the charismatic but unsure Jason McConnell and his sardonic but wounded sister Nadia, respectively, the two delivered charming and humane performances in difficult roles. Their scene together, during which Nadia sings “Plain Jane Fat Ass” — a song about herself — was one of the lighter moments in a show characterized by histrionics.

Then there were junior economics major Joe Fillari (Matt Lloyd) and senior computer science major William West (Peter Simonds). As jilted lovers, the two weren’t given roles that endear them instantly to the audience. This was particularly true in Fillari’s case; in fact, he was saddled with a role that required him to shout an ugly epithet midway through the play, simply because he was angry about being second best.

But the pair carried the gloom of their submissive roles believably. Fillari’s Matt was jaded, skulking, angry — but also cowardly. Although in a lesser play he may have been cast simply as a villain, in “Bare,” he was more than that. This is a testament to Fillari’s portrayal as much as it is to the writing and directing. (It would have been nice to see more of Fillari in the play.)

West’s Peter was sweet, haunted, nervy and sad. One of the major characters, he appeared frequently. His character wasn’t as bright a star as his counterpart, Jason, but the sadness that came through his eyes was compelling.

West and Fillari shined while singing  the song “Are You There?” together. Sung after the characters had gone to a party during which each was left by his lover, it was poignant without being over-the-top.

Last of the lead characters was sophomore communications major Monica Blumenstein. She did a nice job as Ivy, the resident “hot girl,” but her character nonetheless occasionally lapsed into stereotype. Scenes in which Ivy ached alone while belting out wrenching songs (in a lovely voice) were meant to add depth to the character, but it still seemed like Ivy fit the “misunderstood popular girl” stereotype to a tee.

The ensemble parts fleshed out the play, adding the melodramatic backdrop against which scenes featuring individuals could shine.

“Bare,” a love story about two men, drew its tension from the fact that the lovers were cast against a disapproving crowd. That crowd needed to make an impression — to wield its power — to be believable as a force standing against the men. It made that impression during intense and occasionally overwhelming ensemble scenes (“Epiphany,” “Rolling,” “Two Households,” to name a few).

The two men themselves — West as Peter and Tible as Jason — were excellent in their scenes together, which came across as neither forced nor cliché.

Overall, the play was a well-cast, well-executed production — and one that left quite a mark on its audience.

More than a feeling: Felt show has wearable art

In the modest quarters of the Art and Interactive Multimedia Building’s student exhibition spaces, 10 students are staging a liberation of felt.

“Feel; Felt: An Exhibition of Wearable Fiber Art” debuted on Oct. 26 and will occupy Room 111 of the Art and IMM Building until Dec. 7. The exhibit, curated by senior art education major Diana Montano, features the work of Elizabeth Mackie’s Fiber Arts class.

The Great Barrier Reef inspired this Victorian-esque collar. (Photo courtesy of Eva Darron)

“To be in the class and have to reinvent something you’re so familiar with is really refreshing,” Montano said. “I guess it’s about adjusting stereotypes. It’s not just women’s work, not just crafts.”

The 11 pieces displayed in the gallery are anything but simple crafts. Although the student artists worked exclusively with wool, a respect for the textile as an art form seems imprinted on every piece. Here, felt (pressed wool) is more fine art than RoseArt.

At the north end of the gallery, a mannequin models a high Victorian collar embellished with coral, starfish and other deep-sea miscellany made entirely of felt. The piece, called “Barrier,” is by senior graphic design major Brittany Mastrostefano.

“The reason behind its name is twofold,” Montano said. “She was inspired by the Great Barrier Reef, but when you put it on, a lot of your peripheral vision is cut off.”

Across from “Barrier,” a black Spartan helmet tops another mannequin’s head. To its left is an intricately felted green vine, accentuated with felt flowers, by senior international studies major Bianca Brown, worn over the shoulder and down the arm.

Each piece can be worn. That was an important part of Montano’s concept.

“There’s a very big distinction between fashion and wearable art, and that’s something we explored here,” Montano said.

At first glance, some pieces don’t appear to be something someone would sling on every day. Some don’t have any obvious utility as a “wearable” piece.

But they all can be worn, Montano assured as she explained the more abstract pieces.

One was her own: “The Canyon.” Spread on the floor of the north end of the gallery, it looks like a blanket or an irregularly shaped doormat. It’s constructed entirely of wool — a sea of orange peaks and valleys mounted on a dismantled sweater.

“The way you actually wear it is you lie under it,” Montano said. She lay under the piece on the gallery’s opening night. For a video project in which she displays the piece, she plans to lie under it in “her birthday suit.”

Montano was inspired by “the topography of a woman’s body,” she said.

“When you lay under it, you lose your body’s topography, and (the piece) loses its topography,” said senior art education major Allison Tumminia of her classmate’s piece.

Tumminia also has a piece in the gallery: she created tiny stuffed rats out of wool, pillow stuffing and fishing wire. The tiny rats are mounted on the wall of the gallery. But can these also be worn?

Yes, Tumminia said. In fact, she wore them on opening night.

“Basically, the idea behind this was when I was little … my sister would tell me, ‘Your hair looks like a rat’s nest,’” said the curly-haired Tumminia. “I wore two in my hair during the opening.”

Radiothon Don: A conversation with Kyle Smith

In hour 22 of his 24-hour broadcast, WTSR-FM 91.3's Kyle Smith DJs at the Brower Student Center. (Photo courtesy of Melissa Virzi)

Kyle Smith finished the broadcast as he began it – with a Mountain Goats song.

But on Friday, Oct. 28, Smith wasn’t wrapping up the weekly two-hour arts and entertainment radio show he co-hosts with senior English secondary education major Taylor Boyle. Nor was he broadcasting from the cozy confines of WTSR-FM 91.3’s basement studio in Kendall Hall.

The junior communication studies major was perched on a stage in the Brower Student Center, surrounded by cough syrup, stray dollar bills and friends, completing his 24th straight hour of DJing for WTSR’s fall pledge drive.

Smith had cracked the mic on Thursday, Oct. 27 at 6 p.m. By Friday at 6 p.m., he had lost his voice, conducted more than five hours of interviews with artists, writers and musicians, played hours upon hours of music (including a dubstep interlude during Meal Equiv) and raised more than $500 for the station.

“It was scary and it was exhausting and my throat hurts and I’m sick and my voice may never be the same, but I would do it all again in a heartbeat,” a still-hoarse Smith said during a Sunday, Oct. 30 phone interview.

Below are excerpts from The Signal’s conversation with Smith, during which he talked about cross-country cycling, his ego and what writer Jimmy Chen said about him on Formspring.

Tell me how the Kyle Smith and the 24 Hours Of… broadcast came about.

I think it was sometime last year and I’m almost positive it started as a joke. It was definitely me being kind of an asshole and super egotistical and saying, “Aw, wouldn’t it be so cool if we did a radiothon of just me? And it was just me, talking? Twenty-four hours? How great would that be?” I don’t remember if I got serious about it or if someone actually kind of liked the idea … (but) that’s when we started pulling everything together. …

I’ve always wanted to do it. I remember as a kid listening to public radio and watching PBS. They’d always have these telethons or radiothons, and people would stay up for ridiculous amounts of time, and people would call in and they had all these phone banks and everything, and I always thought it was really glamorous.

Tell me who you interviewed during the 24 hours.

OK. I hope I remember everyone! I’m going to go chronologically. First we had Edith Zimmerman, (editor of online magazine The Hairpin) … and then we had Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu. Then we had Owen Ashworth, who used to be in Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, but now he’s in Advance Base. We had Julian Lynch. He’s a clarinet player. He does this really interesting, almost psychedelic pop music on the clarinet … Aly Spaltro, who’s in a band called Lady Lamb The Beekeeper … and we had Jimmy Chen.

Who is he?

He’s one of my favorite writers. He writes solely on the Internet. He writes on, like, ThoughtCatalog and HTML Giant. He uses – you remember Formspring? He uses Formspring, and people send him questions, then he answers their questions, but the way he answers their questions is really lyrical and literary and it’s actually really amazing. And someone asked him, “How was your experience with Kyle Smith?” and he answered it. But I haven’t read it yet, because you called right when I clicked on the link.

Read it! Tell me what it says.

OK, all right. So we’ll experience it for the first time together.

So the question is, “How was your experience with Kyle Smith?”

Jimmy Chen says, “i was surprised and touched at how much he knew about my online activity; it felt natural and fun, and i think i only ‘went off’ on/at him a few times. they were very good questions. i called from a hotel room with a friend who had ordered room service (grilled cheese sandwich, fries, ‘fresh’ berries, H20, milk) so it seemed romantic i guess like maybe the way slash or keith richards w/ stevie nicks gets tanked and pisses off the balcony kind of stuff but i need to decide if i was slash or keith richards.”

And that’s it. I really like that.

I’m trying to answer your question as quickly as possible. …

Yes, go on.

After Jimmy Chen, Zac Pennington called in at 2 a.m. He’s from the band The Parenthetical Girls. Then the next morning at 8:30 a girl … from the band Buke and Gass (called in). … My last interview was in the student center and that was Emile Klein.

Who’s he?

He trained in Europe as a portrait painter. Then he came to America and he’s cycling around the country … and going to weird little towns and weird little subcultures and painting people from it and trying to get a sense of what the real America is. It was really cool. … He has a website that he posts this stuff on.

Are there any particularly interesting or surprising things that you learned about the people you interviewed that you’d want to share?

One thing I thought was really interesting was with my Jamie Stewart interview. Xiu Xiu’s music is really dark. It’s really dirty sexually, and it’s a little bit inaccessible, so I don’t think it was a huge leap to think that maybe Jamie Stewart would kind of be like that. But he wasn’t at all. He was warm, he was funny, he was interesting. …

With Owen Ashworth, he had tweeted at the station’s Twitter account and said “I’m going to be on WTSR tonight, tune in if you want to. I’ll reveal one secret.” And I thought that was really funny, and obviously he meant it as a joke, but I ended the interview by saying, “Oh, so what’s your one secret?”

And what he said was that for him, making music is his biggest fear. So every day, every song he produces, he’s constantly and viscerally facing his fear of putting his work out there and being judged and everything. And I thought that was actually a really amazing answer, and he came up with it off-the-cuff. So I thought that was really special.

What was it like to DJ for 24 hours straight?

The whole 24-hour thing took on a life of its own. I couldn’t expect what would happen. I didn’t even know who was calling in when at some points because people kept forgetting, so throughout the night it was just so spontaneous and weird. …

And I think that was amazing and made for a really enjoyable show, because I didn’t know what was going on. The listeners didn’t know what was going on. It felt so much more real. … Some radio shows can feel so planned and kind of boring because of that. But this was so unexpected for me.

Kyle Smith’s weekly A&E show with Taylor Boyle runs from noon to 1 p.m. Fridays on WTSR-FM 91.3.

Kadyhrob is fit to stand trial

Kadyhrob

The man who was banned from College property last year after attempting to lure a Rider University student into his car has been deemed mentally fit to stand trial, a judge announced Thursday.

Tony Kadyhrob, 68, was also offered the chance to plead guilty to attempted kidnapping, The Times of Trenton reported. Kadyhrob will receive a prison sentence of 10 years if he agrees to the terms of the arrangement. He will then become eligible for parole after serving at least eight years of the sentence.

Kadyhrob’s attorney said her client will have an answer for the court in December, Casey DeBlasio, spokesperson for the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, confirmed.

Although Kadyhrob was deemed fit to stand trial, his sister has claimed he has suffered from paranoid schizophrenia for nearly 40 years, The Times reports.

Student arrested for assaulting Ewing police officer

*Editor’s note: Since publication of the article, the arrested student’s case was dismissed and expunged. 

A College student was charged with the aggravated assault of a police officer on Saturday, Oct. 8 after a skirmish with Ewing police on Browning Avenue.

The 19-year-old student was also charged with resisting arrest, obstructing the administration of the law, underage drinking and consuming an alcoholic beverage in public. One of his companions, an 18-year-old female, of New York, was also arrested and charged with underage drinking and obstructing the administration of the law.

The incident arose after Officer Nieves Mendoza stopped the students and two unidentified young men walking along Browning Avenue at 11:15 p.m. on Saturday. The 19-year-old male was carrying an unlabeled water bottle with red liquid inside, said Sgt. Dave LaBaw of Ewing police.

Mendoza asked the four individuals for identification. After surrendering his ID, the student tried to grab it back from the officer, LaBaw said.

Mendoza grabbed the student’s wrist and told him he was under arrest, planning to take him to the station for possession and consumption of alcohol, police said.

At that point, the student allegedly pulled away and shoved the officer. The two then fell to the ground and wrestled, LaBaw said.

While two of the students struggled, the male student’s three companions grabbed their IDs and took off.

The student broke free and started running toward the College, police said. Mendoza began to chase him and called for backup.

Officer Andrew Condrat chased the student into a patch of woods near Green Lane and arrested him, LaBaw said. Condrat sustained a sprained thumb after tripping during the chase.

After the officers took the student to headquarters, the police dispatcher received a call about the student from a young woman who didn’t give her name. She then told police that she didn’t know the student, LaBaw said.

When the dispatcher returned the call, the woman said police had the wrong number. The dispatcher called again and reached a voicemail identifying the phone as belonging to the female student, LaBaw said.

Campus Police officers located the female student in her dorm, LaBaw said. Ewing police took the student into custody and released her on a summons after processing.

The male student was taken to the Mercer County Corrections Center after being processed, reports said. He was released on bail on Sunday, Oct. 9.

LaBaw told the Times of Trenton that Browning Avenue has had trouble with student parties in the past. Mendoza was patrolling the neighborhood when he stopped the students, police said.

Ewing police made two other arrests for underage drinking in the area that night, LaBaw said.

Matt Huston contributed reporting.

Norsworthy basement fire strands students for nearly two hours

A fire truck from Ewing Township parked outside Norsworthy Hall on Monday after responding to a fire in the residence hall's laundry room. (Tom O'Dell / Photo Editor)

A small fire broke out in Norsworthy Hall between 8 and 8:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 27. Although Campus Police and ResLife declined to comment on the situation, residents said that the fire sprung from a dryer in the sophomore residential hall’s basement laundry room.

Students were evacuated at approximately 8:30 p.m., according to Norsworthy residents, and stood outside while emergency personnel — including firemen in Ewing Township fire trucks — tended to the blaze. They were re-admitted to the building at approximately 10 p.m.

While they waited to be re-admitted, students swapped stories, rumors and conjecture as they tried to determine the source of the fire.

“At 8:15, I walked by and there were a bunch of police cars and stuff, and then at 8:45, I walked back again, because originally I had thought it was a fire drill, and I realized that fire trucks were there,” said Jency Mathew, sophomore biomedical engineering major.

Initially, residents told The Signal, they were told little about what was going on.

Sophomore civil engineering major and Norsworthy resident Max Schisler thought the fire might have originated on the third floor.

“We definitely saw smoke coming out of the top of (the building),” Schisler said.

Word gradually began to spread that the fire had originated in the basement.

Although no CAs spoke on the record, several of the residential advisors were heard telling residents as early as 9:15 p.m. that the fire had come from the laundry room.

Students gathered outside Norsworthy Hall after being evacuated at 8:30 p.m. due to a small laundry room fire. (Tom O’Dell / Photo Editor)

Sophomore technology education major and Norsworthy resident John O’Leary said a “defective” dryer may have caused the fire. O’Leary said he noticed a dryer malfunctioning in the laundry room about a week ago. The dryer heated up clothes but failed to spin — like an “electric fireplace,” O’Leary said. He added that the dryer had not been labeled as defective.

All residents were eventually informed by their CAs that the fire had originated in the laundry room, though they were told little else.

“I don’t think anybody’s communicating very well,” Mathew said.

The last of the fire trucks and emergency personnel pulled away at 9:30 p.m., and Norsworthy was cleared for re-entry around 10 p.m.

Students who had been doing laundry before the alarm went off were instructed by CAs and ResLife personnel to visit the hall office, residents said.

Visit tcnjsignal.net throughout the week for updates on this developing story.

Inquirer reporter recalls the chaos of 9/11

Before coming to teach at the College, assistant professor of journalism and Signal adviser Emilie Lounsberry worked at The Philadelphia Inquirer for more than 25 years. On Sept. 11, 2001, she was driving to Camden to cover a jury selection when she heard news of the attacks. She immediately reversed her course and headed for New York City.

There, she interviewed “between 50 and 100 people,” staying in the city for several nights in a hotel so close to Ground Zero that it had no power. She spoke to EMTs, rescue workers and the friends and families of victims over the course of three days, reporting their stories back to the Inquirer.

Below are audio excerpts of Lounsberry’s own 9/11 story as told to Signal news editor Emily Brill.

  1. On a journalist’s responsibility
  2. On getting into Manhattan
  3. On finding her first sources
  4. On interviewing 9/11 victims
  5. A mother’s story

SG creates new Cabinet seat: VP of advancement

Student Government President Olaniyi Solebo calls SG’s first meeting to order. (Tom O'Dell/Photo Editor)

Student Government introduced a new Cabinet position during its first general body meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 31, in the Library Auditorium.

The position, vice president of advancement, was established over the summer via online vote. Junior marketing and Spanish double major Christina Kopka was appointed to the position by SG President Olaniyi Solebo, senior political science major.

The VP of advancement will deal with marketing SG to students and helping to “get its name out there.”

“She’s been working hard on some of our marketing work,” Solebo said.

Solebo closed the meeting by reading his Welcome Back address. He was scheduled to read the speech during Convocation, which was originally slated for Monday, Aug. 29. The annual ceremony for incoming freshmen was canceled due to Hurricane Irene.

Two smart cookies open baked goods delivery business

Customers enjoy their custom-made cookies at Lovin’ Cookies (left) as others wait in line to place their orders (right).

Lovin’ Cookies sits inside an unassuming plaza on Scotch Road in Ewing, doling out joy to the masses for a nominal fee.

OK, so that’s a little grandiose; it’s just a cookie shop. But when Robin and Laurie Vitullo opened Lovin’ Cookies last May, looking for a creative outlet and a new career, establishing the build-your-own cookie shop and delivery service made them quite happy. And it’s probably not too much of a stretch to say the recipients of their warm, homemade cookies are feeling the love, too.

Students can call or order online — even late at night — to customize a batch of cookies to be delivered hot to the College. Students can order three ($4.50), six ($8.50), nine ($12.50) or 12 ($15.50) cookies, choosing the dough and ingredients from drop-down menus online, but they will get more flexibility over the phone. (Larger, custom orders are welcomed.)

Orders usually take approximately 30 minutes to arrive.

Available doughs include plain (the type used in chocolate chip cookies), oatmeal, peanut butter, chocolate and red velvet. All doughs are made at Lovin’ Cookies daily.

“Some of the (cookie) companies around the country do it like a Domino’s — they’ll get their dose from a huge manufacturer. They’ll shape it into patties and freeze it and ship it out to these stores,” Robin Vitullo said. “We want customers to know if they show up here, we’ll be way ahead of them in terms of quality.”

This commitment to quality spills over into the Vitullos’ ingredient choices as well.

“We made a determined effort to use only great ingredients. We use real vanilla as opposed to imitation. Belgian chocolate, real eggs, real butter,” Vitullo said.

“Moms wouldn’t cut corners when making cookies and neither do we,” Lovin’ Cookies’ website’s About Us section reads.

Lovin’ Cookies offers 21 choices of “fixins” — toppings and ingredients such as marshmallows, Reese’s cups, chocolate chunks and caramel syrup customers can elect to add to their dough.

Some of the most popular selections include the red velvet cookie with white chocolate chips and anything made with the plain dough. Red velvet cookies come with a complimentary cup of icing created by Laurie — it’s composed of cream cheese, cinnamon and vanilla.

“We put it on the side so if you want it, you want it. If you don’t you don’t. What’s great about that in terms of its development is it’s the only thing we made when we were experiencing with recipes where the first version was perfect,” Robin Vitullo said. “I tasted it and I said, ‘Don’t do anything to this. This is perfect.’ The other stuff we messed with.”

Students can also order beverages (milk, chocolate milk, soda, tea, coffee or water) and pints of ice cream (Ben & Jerry’s) with their order. Lovin’ Cookies also offers a special called “Cookies and Cream,” consisting of two cookies a la mode (served with three scoops of chocolate or vanilla ice cream).

“The drivers have an insulated pack so it stays cold,” Vitullo said.

Lovin’ Cookies serves neighboring universities Rider and Princeton as well. Vitullo plans to expand the store’s offerings to include brownies.

“Starting the first week of September, we’re going to introduce a line of brownies,” Vitullo said. “There are four types of brownies — one is a basic brownie and then there are three varieties. One is going be a walnut caramel, the other is going be the regular brownie with peanut butter inside and Reese’s cups on top, and then we’re going have the chocolate brownie with white chocolate and raspberry inside and out.”

The store also continues to mix it up monthly by offering a “cookie of the month.” Past cookies offered include s’more, peanut butter and jelly, and lemon, almond and cranberry.

“And then (for) one cool one — it was either a love-it or hate-it kind of thing — I did a dark chocolate cookie with cherries and chipotle salsa,” Vitullo said. “So it was a hot-sweet thing.”

As the business continues to expand and experiment, one thing seems clear: this lovable shop is here to stay.

For more information about Lovin’ Cookies, call 609-323-7546 or visit lovincookies.com.

Hurricane Irene disrupts Welcome Week, move-in

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The College braced for the worst, but from the moment Category 1 storm Hurricane Irene hit campus on Saturday night to the moment it cleared as a tropical storm Sunday morning, it spared the College much of the impact felt by other regions.

The storm’s primary effects on campus were the cancellation of some Welcome Week events — including Convocation — and the postponement of upperclassman move-in day and the first day of classes. Classes were postponed until Wednesday, but officials changed their mind Monday afternoon and postponed classes until 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

“The campus did not sustain any significant damage as a result of the storm,” Stacy Schuster, executive director of college relations, said in an email.

No injuries were reported from the storm, said Lions’ Emergency Medical Service (LEMS) training captain Manil Shah, junior biomedical engineering major.

Other areas of the region were not so lucky, The Times of Trenton reports. A Princeton First Aid and Rescue squad member died Monday from injuries sustained while searching a submerged car during the hurricane. The Trenton Transit Center flooded, and all service was halted as of Monday. Large swaths of the state are without power, including sections of Ewing Township.

“Our house is without power for the next week,” said Brian Guo, senior finance major, who lives off Green Lane.

Students on campus during the hurricane were instructed not to leave their dorms from 11 p.m. Saturday until approximately 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, when Sean Stallings, executive director of Residential Education and Housing, sent out an email lifting the “shelter in place” order.

ResEd instructed students to notify student staff if they planned to leave the building during the storm. Students were also told to sign out on a sheet provided in their residence hall and note when they left and where they were going.

Hallway signs advised students to take precautions when leaving the dorms. A student (right) walks the boarded link between Travers and Wolfe halls. (Matthew Mance and Tim Lee/Staff Photographers)

Police were stationed outside freshmen buildings — Cromwell Hall and Travers and Wolfe Halls — during the worst of the storm to ensure freshmen didn’t venture into the hurricane.

“We went outside and hung out on the steps and talked to the cops outside, because it’s unbelievably hot on the floor,” said Jacob Andriola, freshman communication studies major and Wolfe 10 resident, who left the building at about 2 a.m. with friends from his floor.

Beyond that, “we kind of camped out in my room,” Andriola said.

“We watched three movies in a row,” added Mariah Black, freshman psychology major.

Students were provided with two meals Saturday night to sustain them for the duration of the “shelter in place” order. Students could pick up their meals, which consisted of bagels, turkey sandwiches, fruit, juice, water and snacks, at T-Dubbs.

Six EMTs were stationed at the LEMS response room in Decker Hall for the duration of the hurricane.

“We were prepared for the worst. We were prepared for any emergency to happen on campus,” Shah said.

For more than 24 hours, the EMTs stayed in the response room, equipment fully charged in case of power outages, waiting for emergency calls that—by and large—did not come.

“Playfair was probably more dangerous than Hurricane Irene to students on campus,” said EMT Megan Wyles, sophomore biology major.



Seven tips for a good college life

Having fun yet? News Editor Emily Brill encourages newbies to the College to explore campus, open their minds and perhaps most importantly, avoid floorcest. (AP Image)

Sup freshmen. Unless you write for The Signal or happen upon me during your cross-campus travails, you’ll probably never meet me. This makes my advice all the more worth listening to. Don’t you love taking advice from strangers? No? Well, then — first rule of college: Unlearn everything you know. That’s not actually my advice; Ralph Nader said that when he appeared on campus last year. Below, you’ll find a couple words I didn’t steal from a beleagured third-party presidential candidate.

Though my hunched stance and grizzly demeanor may suggest otherwise, I was once a freshman. These are the lessons I took from the FYE, which I pass on to you now:

1. RESIST THE URGE TO BANG YOUR NEIGHBOR. It’s called “floorcest,” and it can result in some messy situations.

2. OPEN YOUR MIND. It’s college. And it’s also the motto of WTSR. What’s WTSR? There’s your first mind-opening mission – go find out.

3. DO SHIT. Although it’s never safe to make assumptions in journalism, I’m going to ignore that rule of thumb and assume that since you’re in college, you have done shit at least once in your life. Continue to do so here. “Get involved,” yadda yadda — but really.

4. TALK. Find out fun facts about your new friends. What are they all about? What languages do they speak? Do they like to color? Do they have any communicable diseases? (This could also be useful information if you choose to ignore No. 1.)

5. DON’T JUDGE TCNJ BY YOUR WELCOME WEEK T-SHIRTS. Self-explanatory.

6. EXPLORE CAMPUS. Swim in the fountain. (You didn’t hear it from me.) Climb a tree by the lake. Sneer at Centennial Hall. Heck, swim in the freakin’ lake. (Actually, don’t do that one.)

7. ENJOY YOURSELF. You’re not in high school anymore! Even if things feel strange at first, cling to that golden nugget of truth and you’ll be fine. Freshman year is a wonderful, weird time. Everything’s up in the air, everyone (well, almost everyone) is hot and tan and right now, and the world is under your 17- to 19- year old thumb. Go do something about it.

PS: WRITE FOR THE SIGNAL! (Shameless plug, but I had to.)


SG lobbying efforts spur N. J. legislation, student activism

Brian Block, chair of SG’s Legal and Governmental Affairs committee, testifies for A-3417, a bill the College’s lobbying efforts helped introduce to the state legislature. (Photo courtesy of Brian Block)

Her words spoke volumes, but she wasn’t there to say them.

Instead, a sign bearing her message stood where she might have. On the path beside the Brower Student Center, her words braved the rainy mid-April afternoon.

“I’d like to say to the state, ‘Thanks for raising tuition to the point of making it impossible to attend a four-year university,’” the sign read. “I know that even after death, the only thing that will remain are my student loans.”

Signs dotted the pathway displaying stories similar to that of the former College junior, who had dropped out after failing to scrape together enough money to pay for another semester.

On Wednesday, April 13, the signs represented part of the Student Government Legal and Governmental Affairs (L&G) committee’s efforts to herald the first Statewide Day of Action for Public Higher Education.

“(We’re doing this) to raise awareness of the cuts that are happening to higher education and to really make students’ voices heard,” said L&G chair Brian Block, senior political science major. “Higher education is not seen as a priority in the Garden State as per 14 years of cuts or flat-lining … so we’re trying to make an impact.”

L&G launched a comprehensive lobbying campaign last semester to urge New Jersey legislators to “prioritize higher education,” according to Block. Since then, the committee has met with 26 legislators. Its nine members have also helped found the New Jersey United Students (NJUS) activist coalition and push two bills through the legislature.

L&G was also partially responsible for the Day of Action. The statewide event, held to raise awareness about cuts in higher education funding, was sponsored by NJUS.

“(At) the first meeting (NJUS) had, we kind of had this idea of what to do … We decided that day that April 13 would be our day, but it culminated in various conference calls and lobbying actions,” Block said.

NJUS was established in February as a “coalition of interested student groups” from 11 public colleges and universities in New Jersey, including the College. All groups expressed the desire to further their schools’ lobbying efforts.

With help from a summit held at the College in March, all NJUS member schools adopted the College’s lobbying model.

“We had a summit here because we’re the most experienced at lobbying,” Block said. “We taught … how to lobby, how to use technology to your advantage, how to portray yourself, how to get your message across, everything you need to know to be a good student lobbyist.”

L&G’s lobbying strategy has served it well over the past few months, though Block maintains that the model is a work in progress.

“We’re still tailoring and developing to this day,” he said.

The committee set aside several months to prepare for its first lobbying meeting and then hit the ground running.

“First semester was really plan-
ning — planning our strategy, tailoring what we need to do, and the first meeting … was in December,” Block said. “Second semester was all lobbying, all the time — testimony and budget testimony, legislative meetings … It’s gotten to the point where sometimes it’s four per week.”

L&G bases its strategy around the “Tell It Like It Is” campaign, which it has employed to collect stories such as the one featured during the Day of Action.

The committee sifts through these stories to find quotes that will stick with senators. According to Block, L&G uses a mixture of student stories and statistics to advocate for a 5 percent increase in aid to public colleges in New Jersey.

“We sell ourselves as much as we sell facts and figures,” Block said.

The committee has employed the model at meetings with 26 legislators since Decem-ber. L&G’s final legis-lative meeting, scheduled for Thursday, April 28, will bring that number to 28 by semester’s end.

“A lot of the (legislators) are very enthusiastic about higher education,” Block said. “A lot of times they’re very impressed … with our breadth of knowledge.”

L&G has garnered more than just praise for its lobbying efforts, however. Two bills might be cycling through the legislative process a little faster due to a push by L&G members.

L&G played a crucial part in the introduction of S-2830, which allows for a three-year extension of the public-private partnership bill’s Sunset Clause. The clause grants public colleges access to funds in order to undertake large-scale building projects such as the College’s Campus Town project.

“We (had) been pushing it … when we met with Senate President (Stephen) Sweeney, who is an original supporter … It was introduced a week after we met with him,” Block said. “It should speed through, especially after the budget hearings that are going on right now.”

According to Block, the extension would give colleges until February 2015 to submit their projects if it is passed.

He was pleased with the bill’s introduction, particularly because it showed a step toward accomplishing goals laid out by former N. J. Gov. Tom Kean in his Higher Education Task Force report.

“(S-2830 is) probably the first proposal to come out of the Higher Education Task Force report that’s been put into bill form at all, and it’s kind of through us that that happened,” Block said.

L&G was also instrumental in pushing A-3417, a bill that would eliminate tax on commuter parking passes at certain state institutions of higher education, including the College.

Much of L&G’s work takes place quietly. Sometimes, brief legislative meetings and modest letter-signing tables in the student center seem to go unnoticed. Block hopes to change this.

“(We want) to make students aware that they have a team of students lobbying on their behalf,” he said. “To make students aware that we’re working for them is really our first goal.”

Emily Brill can be reached at brill3@tcnj.edu.


Voting rights bill denied, motor club approved

The rights for student trustees to vote in both general body SG meetings and at the Board of Trustees meetings have been absent since the 1990s. (Tom O'Dell / Photo Editor)

A bill granting voting privileges to the student trustee and alternate student trustee of Student Government sparked an animated debate among members of the general body during last week’s SG meeting. The bill ultimately failed.

SG also passed a bill increasing its oversight of clubs and granted club status to TCNJ Motor Club last week, during its final business meeting of the semester.

Bill S2011-09 met contention from the general body after being introduced by its author, senior political science major Thomas Little, student trustee.

Vice President of Legal and Governmental Affairs Brian Block explained the bill.

“This act gives the student trustee and alternate student trustee the right to vote on anything that comes before the general body,” said Block, senior political science major.

Currently, Little and Randi Lynn Veenstra, junior history major and alternate student trustee, only hold voting privileges at Board of Trustees meetings.

According to Little, student trustees originally had the ability to vote on issues that came before both SG and the Board of Trustees. However, their SG voting privileges were rescinded in the 1990s due to a perceived conflict of interest.

“If there was an issue that came before the general body and the Trustees, it was seen as the trustees getting two votes,” Little said.

Executive Vice President Corey Dwyer, junior political science major, argued that restoring the trustees’ right to vote at SG meetings would give rise to the same issue.

“There is something very important to be said for the trustees to be neutral,” Dwyer said. “The trustees are by nature supposed to be independent of a lot of other aspects of SG.”

Little argued that the student trustees, who attend both Board of Trustees meetings and weekly SG meetings, should be allowed a voice in both governing bodies.

“I feel that the trustees have a say in (SG) as long as they attend general body meetings,” Little said.

Vice President of Community Relations Trish Krug, senior early childhood education and Spanish double major, agreed.

“If they’re a member of this organization, they should be allowed to vote as an elected member,” Krug said.

Block dissented, holding that student trustees are not elected for the same purpose as senators and class council members.

“A (student trustee) is not a representative of students. We just elect the trustee. A trustee would not be voting for any constituency on an issue,” Block said. “(Trustee voting is) not allowed in government right now, and it shouldn’t be allowed in SG.”

Bill S2011-09 required 75 percent of SG to vote in its favor in order to pass. The bill failed after receiving 31 votes for it and 30 against it.

Before consideration of S2011-09 split the general body, SG unanimously passed a bill to hold clubs to firmer standards and subject them to additional oversight.

The bill requires organizations attempting to obtain club status to contain a minimum of 10 members and plan to sponsor at least one event open to the student body.

To maintain club status, existing clubs now must complete an SG survey delineating their purpose and goals as an organization. The survey will be released next year, according to Senator of Culture and Society Amanda Esposito, senior history major and co-sponsor of the bill.

“We need to look at clubs a little closer,” said Senator-at-Large CJ Gutch, sophomore finance major.

SG also passed a club during last week’s meeting. TCNJ Motor Club gained club status by a unanimous vote. The club sprang from its founders’ interest in cars and motor sports and hopes to provide an outlet for other enthusiasts.

“We want to do things like start a defensive driving course on campus. We’d also like to hold off-campus events ranging from … going go-carting … to going to motor sports parks in New Jersey,” said junior economics major Daniel Japa, who spoke on the club’s behalf along with junior accounting major Chris Piccione.

SG members familiar with the duo commended their passion for cars.

“They’re two of the biggest car freaks I know,” said junior class vice president and junior economics and political science double major Robert Poss.

Veenstra praised their plans to initiate a defensive driving course.

“That is going to be extremely useful for (students) on our campus,” Veenstra said.

Emily Brill can be reached at brill3@tcnj.edu.