All posts by Matt Huston

Fiocco trial adjourned until May

A trial in the legal confrontation between the College and the parents of John Fiocco Jr. has been postponed until May 7, according to a court official.

The trial was originally scheduled to begin on Feb. 6.

Deputy Attorney General Karen Jordan planned to leave the state attorney general’s office, necessitating additional time to find new representation for the College, according to Terrie Cook, the judge’s team leader.

The trial is the latest scheduled proceeding in a three-year-old lawsuit over the 2006 death of Fiocco, who was a freshman at the time of his disappearance. The cause of his death remains unconfirmed.

The Fioccos charge the College with liability in their son’s death due to residence hall security gaps, which they say enabled an intruder to enter Wolfe Hall, where Fiocco was last seen alive. They allege that an unnamed College alumnus has privately admitted to murdering Fiocco. No criminal charges have been made in connection with the case.

OK Commuter: How a four-year alien found a campus home

Did you know there’s a special lounge for commuters? This is not a joke.

Commuters need not simply come and go in their cars — Editor-in-Chief Matt Huston explains how, as a commuter, he found reasons to spend time on campus. Tom O'Dell / Photo Editor

It’s in the student center. It houses a fridge, a little TV and a computer that barely works. It’s a glorified hole in the wall, but the people inside are awfully friendly.

When I was a freshman, I spent more than a couple afternoons there.

As a commuter, I missed out on the instant, floor-wide community that my classmates found in Cromwell, Travers and Wolfe. So, I made friends with a handful of other commuters — they were in the same boat. Years later, I still chat with them in the hallways.

But it wasn’t until I really jumped in, through extracurriculars, social sorties and an obnoxious amount of phone calls, that I began to realize there was a place for me at the College. I just had to search a little harder for it.

Take heed, young commuters.

In my fourth and final year of commuting to the College, I’m more than comfortable here. I don’t feel like an outsider anymore. I spend most of my week on campus. I bug friends for a place to crash. The College has become a second home, even if it took a bit longer for me than it did for most.

The following things didn’t hurt:

1. Adopt a floor. My FSP involved a lot of song-sharing and drum circles, so it wasn’t hard to get along with my residential peers. Wolfe 10 became my unofficial floor. When I was stuck on campus, I’d head to the towers for a glimpse of “the freshman experience.” It was sort of bittersweet, but it was nice to know that some small corner of the campus community knew I existed. Due to my thinly veiled obsession with Radiohead, some of them called me “OK Commuter.” I discovered this last weekend.

2. Join a club. The Signal became my most important link to campus life. I made some of my best friends there, I got along with the editors, plus reporting gave me an excuse to go to dozens of cool events I never would have bothered with. A club is a solid place to carve out your niche, because, after all, you’re surrounding yourself with like-minded people. And in my case, people with a similarly absurd sense of humor. And pizza.

3. Get a job. Working at the College gave me a legitimate reason to spend most of my weekdays on campus. The wandering ceased. I no longer felt like I was floating in and out of the College bubble. Whether you take a job in an office, the Library, the Rat or wherever, a campus job will give you a foothold you didn’t have before.

4. Don’t lose hope. It’s true. Commuters don’t get the same experience that residents do. But that doesn’t mean freshman year has to suck, either. There are thousands of interesting and fun-loving people at the College. One of them could be your new best friend. There are hundreds of groups. One of them shares your passion. Somewhere, there’s a place for you.

Judge rejects motion to end Fiocco suit

John Fiocco Jr.

A judge has denied the College’s motion to end a lawsuit over the 2006 death of freshman John Fiocco Jr. The case will go to trial on Feb. 6.

The Nov. 10 decision, issued by Judge Pedro Jimenez of the Mercer County Superior Court, asserts that a jury could reasonably conclude that security gaps in Wolfe Hall, where Fiocco was last seen alive, created a dangerous condition and reflected gross negligence on the College’s part.

John Fiocco Sr. and Susan Fiocco filed suit against the College in 2008 for liability in the March 25, 2006 disappearance of their son, whose body was found weeks later in a Tullytown, Pa. landfill.

Fiocco’s parents allege that a College alumnus, referred to only as John Doe, privately admitted to murdering Fiocco. The Fioccos argue that the College is responsible for allowing him to enter Wolfe Hall, citing evidence that non-residents were routinely able to enter Wolfe Hall through propped-open doors and without signing in.

“(The College) enhanced the risk of danger to its residents by inviting third-party criminals, including John Doe, into Wolfe Hall,” a brief on behalf of the Fioccos states.

Fiocco was last seen sleeping in a friend’s unlocked dorm room at around 3 a.m. after he had been drinking, according to court documents. Two days after his disappearance, authorities discovered traces of Fiocco’s blood surrounding a dumpster in the Wolfe Hall basement.

The cause of the death remains unknown, and no one has been indicted in connection with the case.

The judge ruled that a combination of factors, when viewed “in the light most favorable to the non-moving party,” could lead a jury to find that the College was at fault in Fiocco’s death.

These include: 16 daily hours of open access to Wolfe Hall; failure to ensure the doors to Wolfe Hall and its compactor room were locked; open access to the compactor room; and allowing individuals to enter Wolfe Hall without signing in at the front desk when sign-in was required.

“The existence of gross negligence is a question reserved for a jury,” the judge’s order says.

The order also states that a jury could conclude that the College had “actual and constructive knowledge” that leaving the doors to Wolfe Hall and the trash compactor room open created a dangerous condition.

“Importantly, (the College) was aware of crimes being committed on the campus,” the document says. It notes that 25 violent crimes — including rape, robbery and aggravated assault — along with a number of burglaries were reported on campus between 2001 and 2006.

“We are pleased with the Court’s decision and that we will have the opportunity to present all the evidence to a jury at a trial,” Christine O’Hearn, the Fioccos’ attorney, said in a statement. “The family looks forward to a fair resolution of this case.”

The College motioned for a summary judgment on Oct. 21, contesting that it was legally protected under The Charitable Immunity Act, which protects nonprofits, and The Tort Claims Act, which immunizes state entities under certain circumstances. In denying summary judgment, the court stated that potential dangerous conditions ruled out The Tort Claims Act and that the charitable immunity law deals only with “simple negligence,” not gross negligence.

In response to the College’s Oct. 21 motion, the Fioccos brought allegations that an unnamed College graduate killed their son.

At the time of incident, John Doe had been diagnosed with bipolar and manic depressive disorders, and he was involuntarily committed to a mental health facility weeks earlier, according to a brief in opposition to the motion.

The alumnus was reportedly on campus the night of Fiocco’s disappearance and had a history of unauthorized entry to College dormitories. He was involuntarily committed a second time two days after Fiocco’s disappearance and death, according to the brief.

Court document gives brief history of Fiocco case

Click to read this document.

In 2008, almost two years after John Fiocco Jr., a College freshman, died by an undetermined cause, his parents filed a wrongful death suit against the College. Nearly four years later, the suit is scheduled to go to trial on Feb. 6, 2012.

Judge Pedro Jimenez’s Nov. 10 decision to deny the College’s motion for summary judgment was accompanied by a procedural history and statement of facts. These ten pages detail the Fiocco case and the beginning of the lawsuit.

The history was followed by the legal analysis behind the judge’s decision to bring the suit to trial. The analysis is detailed in this week’s coverage of the lawsuit.

Trial date set for Fiocco v. TCNJ

UPDATE: According to The Times of Trenton, Judge Pedro Jimenez announced on Nov. 10 that the Fiocco case will proceed with a trial. (Nov. 11, 2011)

The first trial date in the court dispute between the College and the parents of John Fiocco Jr. has been rescheduled to Feb. 6, according to Dawn Ritter, civil division manager of the Mercer County Superior Court. The trial was originally scheduled to begin Monday, Nov. 7.

Judge Pedro Jimenez has not yet issued a decision on the College’s Oct. 21 motion for summary judgment, Ritter said on Monday.

A decision in favor of the College would end the case without a trial.

Fiocco lawsuit update: College’s motion hinges on judge

John Fiocco Jr.

The future of a three-year-old civil suit against the College by the parents of John Fiocco Jr. rests on an impending decision by the case judge.

The Fioccos are suing the College for liability in the death of their son, a freshman who disappeared from his Wolfe Hall dorm in 2006 and whose body was discovered in a Pennsylvania landfill weeks later. The College has motioned for a summary judgment to end the case.

If Superior Court Judge Pedro Jimenez decides to grant the College’s motion, on grounds of charitable immunity and lack of evidence of the College’s liability, the Fiocco suit could end without a trial. However, there is no set date for his answer.

“When the judge issues his decision is when the judge issues his decision,” said Terrie Cook, the judge’s team leader.

At the Oct. 21 motion hearing, the Fioccos’ lawyers opposed the motion, supporting their theory that a College alumnus, referred to as John Doe, was enabled by lax security measures to enter Wolfe Hall and murder Fiocco. The alumnus allegedly had a history of mental illness, was on campus the night of Fiocco’s disappearance and told people he was involved in his death, the lawyers said.

“There’s still a lot of missing parts to this,” Jimenez told the attorneys, regarding the uncertainty of the events, stating that the theme of the case is “We just don’t know.”

“The one thing we know for certain is that Mr. Fiocco is no longer with us,” he said.

The court’s report that a hearing was scheduled for Nov. 18 was the result of a clerical error, according to Cook. A trial in the civil suit is scheduled to begin on Nov. 7, though Cook noted that there is a pending request to adjourn the proceedings.

If the judge rules against the motion for summary judgment, the trial date may be rescheduled for January, she said.

Aug. 31 alleged assault case dropped due to ‘inconsistencies’ in student report

Authorities have closed their investigation of the alleged Aug. 31 sexual assault of a College student, according to Casey DeBlasio, spokeswoman for the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office.

The female student, who initially reported that she was attacked at knifepoint near Forcina Hall, has revised her statement, saying that the incident actually occurred in an off-campus car and that there was no weapon involved, according to Matthew Golden, vice president for College advancement.

“The story has changed dramatically from the beginning,” Golden said on Friday, Sept. 30.

DeBlasio confirmed on Monday that her office, which had been investigating the case with Campus Police, has halted its investigation in light of “inconsistencies in (the student’s) statements to police.”

The Aug. 31 report, announced to the College at 5:44 a.m. that day — about five hours after the alleged incident — triggered safety warnings from the College, concern among students and a public admonishment from Ewing Councilwoman Hilary Hyser, who said the College should have notified Ewing police sooner about the report.

“It’s important for people to know that there was not a violent crime that took place on campus,” Golden said in a phone interview.

BREAKING: Story changes in Aug. 31 sexual assault report

A female student who initially reported that she was sexually assaulted at knifepoint on Aug. 31 near Forcina Hall has told authorities that the incident occurred in an off-campus car and that there was no weapon involved, according to Matthew Golden, Vice President for College Advancement.

“The story has changed dramatically from the beginning,” Golden said on Friday.

The Aug. 31 report, announced to the College at 5:44 a.m. that day — about five hours after the alleged incident — triggered safety warnings from the College, concern among students and a public admonishment from Ewing Councilwoman Hilary Hyser, who said the College should have notified Ewing police sooner about the report.

An email sent by Golden on Friday indicated that the student had altered the details of her account: “Campus Police has been advised that the individual who made this report has since revised her statement and now indicates that the incident took place off campus and did not involve any weapon.”

“It’s important for people to know that there was not a violent crime that took place on campus,” Golden said in a phone interview.

Ten years after

As the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 passes us by, Editor-in-Chief Matt Huston examines what it means for our generation.

It’s difficult to say something about the Sept. 11 attacks that hasn’t already been said.  Like other students who had no personal connections to the tragedy, my understanding of the decade-defining event has always been purely observational.

What I can say is that there was something exceptional about this particular anniversary. Though some may argue that anniversaries are artificial — 9 years, 10 years, there is little difference — they nonetheless serve an important purpose. Though the pain of 9/11 will remain 11 years, 20 years, 50 years on, the tenth-year anniversary was a call on Americans and the world at-large to reflect in a way that wasn’t possible in 2002 and won’t be possible in 2051.

The first important anniversary, in 2002, was a marker of the fortitude with which America had emerged from a terrible year. But the wound was still fresh. The war in Iraq had not yet begun. Osama bin Laden still haunted the United States.

In 2002, America lacked the historical perspective it has today. The terrorist attacks left an indelible mark on most Americans — whether the damage was personal or psychological. A decade later, however, we have the advantage of reviewing that day in the context of what followed. How has the 9/11 decade changed you? What lessons can we learn now that we could not nine years ago?

In 2051, fifty years after the attacks, some will feel the burn of 9/11 as acutely as they did in 2001. But others will have grown up without having known any of the victims or having seen the live TV images. Some young Americans may not even know what, exactly, 9/11 meant — just as some of today’s students may fail to describe the significance of the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor.

We will, on the other hand, have a richer historical perspective. But some of the emotional impression will have faded. This, then, is an important time.

The Signal hopes to give readers an opportunity to reflect on 9/11 in a special way this week. On the opposite side of this page, we’ve printed the front page of The Signal’s Sept. 18, 2001 issue. Reading it in 2011, you may recall the state of harried confusion and the bewildering introduction to a now-familiar foe. You may wonder how your reaction would have differed (or not) if you were in the shoes of those College students on 9/11.

On tcnjsignal.net this week, News Editor Emily Brill speaks with College professor Emilie Lounsberry about her memories of 9/11. Lounsberry reported on the tragedy for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Also included are clips of speeches made by President R. Barbara Gitenstein and Student Government President Olaniyi Solebo at Sunday’s memorial gathering.

I was 11 when the Twin Towers fell. I wasn’t told what happened until I came home and saw it on television. I cried that day, but my understanding of the attacks is much better now than it was then.

Sacred Harp and leaving the comfort zone

Sacred Harp singing is an American musical tradition, stemming from colonial New England, designed to teach beginners how to sing. (AP Photo)

This wasn’t like any punk show I’d ever been to.

The sound was dense and bold — a wall of voices slipping and climbing and interlocking in weird, immense harmonies. And I was singing, too.It wasn’t terribly difficult to pick up. That was the point.

As one of these engrossing hymns came to a close, the bald guy sitting next to me in plastic-rimmed glasses indicated his satisfaction: “Rock the house.”

At my first ever Sacred Harp singing a couple Sundays ago, I was very much out of my element. I was not there for religious or historical reasons, although this American musical tradition is deeply rooted in both. My curiosity was purely musical, and the experience — a crash-course in what is also known as “shape note singing” — was, well, out of the ordinary.

The lineage of Sacred Harp singing, which stretches back to England and colonial New England, is rich and complicated. The main idea is straightforward. According to fasola.org, a website for Sacred Harp, “the tradition was born from colonial ‘singing schools’ whose purpose was to teach beginners to sing.”

As one of the dozen or so singers at Lawrenceville’s Edith Memorial Chapel told me, this full-throated, minimal style of choral music was designed to be accessible to “musical illiterates.” In other words, it was spiritual punk rock for the pilgrims.

Yes, it is as awesome as it sounds.

Men and women ranging from college-aged to gray-haired sat in a square that Sunday and, united by their enthusiasm for an art form that many Americans have never heard of, sang their hearts out. Every singer cradled a song book filled with musical staffs and foreign-looking symbols. We took turns picking from the hundreds of dated songs. I had read music before but not this kind of music. I had sang before, but not the way these people were singing.

And yet I managed to (start to) get the hang of it, with some moral support from junior political science and philosophy double major Matt Janansky — who invited me out of my comfort zone to begin with — and another tenor who seemed relatively uncomfortable with the music but no less eager to sing along.

Most of the singers weren’t exceptionally talented. Some of the voices were pretty rough. But it didn’t matter. Sacred Harp is about everyone’s inherent power to express themselves through singing — “Sacred Harp” refers to one’s given instrument, the voice — and it’s strength in numbers. The most unpracticed voices lock together in impressive arrays and make you wonder how music made for beginners could sound so deeply beautiful.

More importantly, it wasn’t a performance. It was an exercise for the dozen people in the chapel. It was basically all for fun.

In that sense, these regular gatherings — held on the second Sunday afternoon of each month — aren’t so different from my ninth-grade band practices in my friend’s basement: a bunch of (mostly) novices getting to know each other and themselves a little bit better through song. And like those crucial high-school jam sessions, the experience reminded me how important it is to step outside the box.

Matt Huston can be reached at huston4@tcnj.edu

Man barred from campus is suspect in Rider incident

Tony Kadyhrob, charged with accosting a Rider student, is barred from the College. (campuspolice.pages.tcnj.edu)

A man who allegedly attempted to lure a Rider University student into his car last week was sighted at the College on Friday, April 1 and was barred by Campus Police on penalty of arrest, according to Stacy Schuster, executive director of College Relations.

Tony A. Kadyhrob, 68, is currently free on bail after allegedly accosting the female Rider student on Monday, March 28. According to The Rider News, Kadyhrob, who was arrested the next day, approached the 19-year-old victim as she was walking from her car to Rider’s campus, initially making “small talk” before grabbing her arm and demanding that she get into his car.

Kadyhrob “was ejected and barred from campus” on Friday, according to an official College e-mail, sent to students at approximately 5:20 p.m. that day as part of a warning system that also includes automated phone and text messages. A full notice on the Campus Police website indicated that Kadyhrob — identified by photos and physical descriptors — “has been known to frequent college campuses.” It asked students to call Campus Police in the event of an on-campus sighting and warned: “If you see this individual on campus, do not confront him.”

The College did not immediately provide Kadyhrob’s name, but College officials stated that he had been arrested earlier in the week in connection with an “attempted abduction” in Lawrence Township.

Though Kadyhrob is still free on bail, Schuster said, the nature of his alleged offense is grounds for his ban from campus.

“The College bars people from campus when there’s reasonable belief that they pose a threat to the safety of the campus community,” she said.

According to Schuster, Kadyhrob was confronted at approximately 12:30 p.m. after an anonymous caller informed Campus Police that

a man who matched the description of the suspect in the Rider incident was present in the Brower Student Center.

Brittany Gilbert, junior psychology major, observed Kadyhrob in the student center before he was told to leave.

“He was sitting in the area where sororities and frats sit and looked rather old,” she said. “He was wearing a black wife-beater and a black beanie. I saw two police officers keeping an eye on him. I knew something was suspicious, as he seemed misplaced among the swarm of students.”

Two Campus Police officers asked for Kadyhrob’s ID and escorted him out of the student center, according to junior English secondary education major Micaela Ensminger, who witnessed the event.

Kadyhrob appeared in the Administrative Services Building at approximately 2:15 p.m., where he attempted to speak with police and was informed his presence would be considered trespassing. At approximately 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Kadyhrob was delivered a written notice indicating that he will be arrested if he returns, Schuster said.

On Saturday night, Ewing police and Campus Police responded to a report that Kadyhrob had been spotted off-campus in the vicinity of the College. Schuster said the report was a “false alarm.”

Kadyhrob is thought to be driving a red Toyota Yaris rental, according to Schuster.

Campus Police has declined to comment on Kadyhrob to The Signal.

Some students have spotted him on campus before. Senior communication studies major Andrew Pietranek said he saw Kadyhrob in the Rathskeller two weeks ago at a Student Band Night.

“It was towards the end of the show, and his presence was definitely strange to me…,” Pietranek said. “It clicked in my head right away that I’ve seen him on campus before when I saw his picture.”

Danny Pazos and Jamie Primeau contributed to this report.

Matt Huston can be reached at huston4@tcnj.edu

Campus Police remove man suspected in abduction attempt

The man removed from campus today was arrested this week in connection with an abduction attempt, an official College message said. (campuspolice.pages.tcnj.edu)

A 68-year-old man arrested after an attempted abduction in Lawrence Township this week appeared at the College earlier today, April 1, and was removed by Campus Police this afternoon.

The man is believed to be Tony A. Kadyhrob, 68, who allegedly attempted to lure a female Rider University student into his car on Monday, March 28. Though the College did not immediately provide the name of the man blocked from campus today, College officials stated that he was arrested earlier this week in connection with an attempted abduction in Lawrence Township.

He was “was ejected and barred from campus,” according to an official College e-mail, sent at approximately 5:20 p.m. A full notice on the Campus Police website indicated that the unnamed 68-year-old — identified by photos and physical descriptors — “has been known to frequent college campuses” and warned: “If you see this individual on campus, do not confront him.”

Kadyhrob is currently free on bail after being arrested on Tuesday, March 29, for his alleged abduction attempt the previous day. According to The Rider News, he approached the 19-year-old victim as she was walking from her car to campus, initially making “small talk” before grabbing her arm and demanding that she get into his car.

According to Stacy Schuster, executive director of College Relations, the man removed from campus today was confronted after an anonymous caller informed Campus Police of the presence of a man who matched the description of the suspect in the Rider incident. Shortly after 3 p.m., she said, the man was instructed to leave.

After attempting to remain on campus to speak with police, he was told his presence would be considered trespassing and has since received a written notice barring him from the College.

The man depicted on the Campus Police website has been spotted on campus before, according to some students.

Senior communication studies major Andrew Pietranek said he saw the man in the Rathskeller two weeks ago at a Student Band Night.

“It was towards the end of the show and his presence was definitely strange to me…,” Pietranek said. “It clicked in my head right away that I’ve seen him on campus before when I saw his picture.”

Campus Police could not be reached for information this evening.

Danny Pazos contributed to this report.

BSC getting bathroom makeover, computers

Tim Asher, director of Student Activities. (Tom O’Dell / Photo Editor)

The Brower Student Center will receive several upgrades within the next year, including the addition of computer kiosks and classroom technology and the renovation of four bathrooms, Student Activities director Tim Asher announced on March 3.

Asher joined James Norfleet, vice president for Student Affairs, and Olaniyi Solebo, executive president of Student Government, at a lunchtime ceremony in the student center held to thank a number of College staff for their work on recent improvements and outline the College’s near-future plans for the building.

The student center was constructed in the 1970s, Norfleet said, as a gateway that, in keeping with the trends of the time, catered to a largely commuter population.

“The good news is that the College will be revising its master plan,” he said.

Asher explained that this summer, the coming changes to the bathrooms — the two near the food court and the two above them — will replace the fixtures, ceiling, tiling and lighting. He said the College is “hopeful” that the remaining six student center bathrooms will be updated next year.

Two computer kiosks will be added to either side of the atrium and will allow students to access the internet and check e-mails.

“Smart” classroom technology will be installed in room 202. Asher said the room will receive a motorized screen, a projector and internet access.

Asher also said that the center’s “leaky roof” would be repaired within a year.

Asher, Norfleet and Solebo thanked College technical, administrative and managerial staff members for their work on a variety of upgrades, such as reworked and expanded electricity, a new audio system, repainting, concrete cleaning, new furniture and renovations to the food court, bookstore and Rathskeller.

“None of these changes happened overnight,” Asher said. “They took a great deal of planning.”

Matt Huston can be reached at huston4@tcnj.edu.

Housing lottery leaves some students ‘up in the air’

Approximately 200 rising juniors and seniors discovered last week that they had not received a time slot for campus housing selection. These students are left with a handful of options: sign up for a wait list and hope a space opens up, search for a place to live off campus or plan to make the commute from home.

But not all of these students are satisfied with the choices they have been given or with the randomized process that dictates who gets a spot and who does not.

Students like Courtney Mulligan, a waitlisted sophomore music major who lives on Long Island, have fewer options than most. She said the drive from home can take up to four hours, so “commuting is out of the question.” She plans to study abroad next spring, which will complicate any off-campus housing contract.

Besides, said Melissa Tomlin, sophomore early education/MST major, students seeking to live off campus, including her former roommate, signed housing contracts as early as November, leaving waitlisted students at a disadvantage.

Unlike the initial lottery, the order of the wait list is made with consideration to students who live farther away, according to an e-mail from interim housing director Ryan Farnkopf.

“So I guess I’m just going to really hope that I’m high up on the list,” Mulligan said. “It’s kind of up in the air right now.”

She and other waitlisted students said they are concerned that they may not have as much time as they would like to make a decision for next year. Mulligan said an employee in Residential Education and Housing told her that she may not find out if she gets a spot until after the end of the semester.

Farnkopf said the wait list should be organized by April, and the College is typically able to provide most students on the wait list a space over the summer — though in the past, students have entered housing in the second or third weeks of the fall semester.

“If I’m not going to get housing, I need to make other plans … I need more advance than finding out in the summer,” Mulligan said.

Iris Tian, junior health and exercise science major, said that since she didn’t receive a time slot, she is now going through the “stressful” process of looking for housing off campus. She knows other students who are doing the same.

“They’re all struggling to find housing around here,” she said.

One of her complaints relates to ResEd and Housing’s extension of the housing application deadline — the original window, Monday, Feb. 7 to Friday, Feb. 11, was expanded through Sunday, Feb. 13, without a clear explanation, according to Tian.

“We did not offer a justification to the entire residential population,” Farnkopf said, “but those students who needed to resubmit an application or deposit payment because of a transaction error or denied credit card were notified in advance and informed of the necessary steps separately.”

Farnkopf said the extension was necessary to deal with pending applications from rising sophomores.

“Since rising sophomores are guaranteed housing, and this is their first time going through the process, we are typically a bit more lenient with their applications,” he said. “Unfortunately, the portal does not allow us to restrict rising juniors and seniors while permitting rising sophomores.”

The dates by which students applied, as long as they met the extended deadline, did not influence the lottery results, according to Farnkopf. He said the weekend deadline extension happened last year, as well, but that most students probably do not remember this because there was no housing cutoff.

Tian, Mulligan and Tomlin are among those who met the original deadline and did not receive time slots.

Tian attributes this to a flaw in the process: “I just don’t think it’s fair that the people who really wanted housing and actually got the money in time had, I guess, the same chance of getting housing as the other people who missed the deadline,” she said.

She is not the only one who has expressed this sentiment. On Feb. 22 — the day that rising juniors and seniors learned whether or not they had time slots — Tian and a few other students left comments on the TCNJ Housing Facebook page complaining that students who met the Feb. 11 deadline deserved to be given preference.

At first, the TCNJ Housing administrator responded, “Thanks for the feedback, everyone. We will certainly take this into consideration for next year.”

As of Feb. 23, however, the comments had been removed.

Farnkopf said he was not aware of the Facebook thread, but he noted that deletions had been made in the past.

“Our Facebook page is a means of answering questions and disseminating information,” he said. “We have deleted comments and threads in the past if people posted inaccurate information, hostile, derogatory or inappropriate remarks or were using the forum to vent their frustrations.”

Tian was skeptical. “I feel like they’re trying to hide the fact that they did something wrong and didn’t tell the students why they extended the deadline in the first place,” she said.

Farnkopf defended ResEd and Housing’s non-preferential policy.

“If we began taking application date into consideration, the lottery cutoff would be first-come, first-serve rather than a randomized process,” he said.

Yet to Mulligan and Tomlin, who will live in Norsworthy Hall until the end of the semester, a randomized process may not be the best process.

Mulligan said she thinks the distance of a student’s home from campus should be taken into account from the beginning. Tomlin suggested a merit-based system of preference that takes into account, for example, whether or not students have been docked.

Both agreed that the quality of students’ accommodations one year should affect their housing status the next.

“There are some people that go through it getting the best dorm every year and getting housing, going from living in Eickhoff or New Res, to next year, getting apartments,” Mulligan said. “And then there are people like us, who go from Norsworthy to nothing.”

Matt Huston can be reached at huston4@tcnj.edu.