Category Archives: News

News happenings at The College of New Jersey

Letterman leaving after 30 years

With Letterman retiring, the network will seek a younger host to reach youth demographics. (AP Photo)

With Letterman retiring, the network will seek a younger host to reach youth demographics. (AP Photo)

• Late-night TV is changing forever. Last week, long-time late-night television host David Letterman, 66, announced he would be retiring next year. After a 30-year run, the television icon will likely be replaced by a younger comedian, as the station aims to take a larger chunk of the 18- to 49-year-old demographic. This particular demographic is the most coveted by advertisers.

• Americans’ tastes and spending habits are changing, and it is forcing consumer-product companies to reevaluate what used to be consistent growth patterns that correlated with economic conditions. Over the past several years, there has been a decline in the purchases of basic products such as laundry detergent, toothpaste, razors, soda and cereal. In response, companies like General Mills and Proctor & Gamble Co. are promoting a greater number of deals and coupons.

• There is good news for cancer patients, survivors and pharmaceutical companies. Two new drugs being developed by Pfizer and Eli Lilly showed promise in slowing the growth of breast cancer tumors by targeting proteins that are used by tumors to grow and spread within the body. The drug, in pill form, would stop tumor growth so other treatments could be used to eliminate the cancer.

• More small banks are selling themselves to larger institutions. The cause of the increase in sales is the rising costs banks incur to keep up with recent regulations. Small banks cannot afford to put out funds to hire the number of employees required to handle the additional work created by post-2008 regulations. With record-low interest rates already hitting banking profits, any added cost is damaging.

•  Yahoo! is close to finishing a deal that would provide the company with four original 10-episode comedies. The shows would be streamed online, but many investors fear that Yahoo! isn’t ready to enter a market so already dominated by large players such as Amazon and Netflix.

Greek week sneak peak

In preparation for the upcoming Greek Week, the Inter-Greek Council was allocated $2,200 to bring a stage and equipment to campus by the Student Finance Board during their weekly meeting on Wednesday, April 2. The equipment will be used to host the annual Greek Week Airband.

Airband highlights the lip sync and dance talents of groups in the Greek community in the event that draws crowds outside of Greek life. The event is scheduled to be held in the Brower Student Center on Friday, April 18.

The second highest request came from the Black Student Union, hoping to host a roller-skating night for $1,910. However, as SFB typically doesn’t fund costs for admission on trips and only provides funds for transportation, BSU was allocated $910 for two buses that hold 50 people each.

The trip will take place at the Millennium Skate World at 9 p.m. on Thursday, April 17.

Following, the Pre-Dental Club was funded with $643 in effort to spread Oral Cancer Awareness. The money will be used to provide toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss picks, ChapStick and oral analgesic tubes during their awareness campaign on Wednesday, April 23, in the Brower Student Center.

In addition, Voice of Hope was fully funded with $250 to host its annual Voice of Hope Spring Concert, in which they will perform in the Education Building on Saturday, May 3.

Finally, the Senior Class Council was funded to host a cooking class to prepare students for post-graduate life by teaching them how to cook healthy meals on a budget. This event was funded for $300 to bring Chef Ott to campus on Thursday, April 10.

Disclaimer: Though SFB agrees to finance certain events, there is no guarantee these events will take place. 


A night of hope

Students volunteer based off personal experiences. (Courtney Wirths / Photo Editor)

Students volunteer based off personal experiences. (Courtney Wirths / Photo Editor)

One grandmother, one uncle and one close family friend (she calls him ‘uncle’) have all been taken away from her because of cancer. Her other grandmother is now currently recovering from chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

Breast cancer, lung cancer and lymphoma cancer are words all too familiar for freshman psychology major Emily Maragni. Maragni relayed for her grandma Babci, uncle Tommy and ‘uncle’ Bobby.

“He had three kids, the youngest 6 years old,” Maragni said on the passing of her uncle. “It took a toll on everyone. It was surprising — he got so sick so quickly. We didn’t expect it.”

Relay for Life, a team-based overnight fundraising walk that includes activities, games, entertainment and more, was held in the Recreation Center on Friday, April 4. Colleges Against Cancer, Student Government and Phi Kappa Psi fraternity sponsored the event.

Each Relay for Life team registered took turns walking throughout the entire night — from the Opening Ceremony with several inspirational speakers at around 8 p.m. to the balloon send off, during which Colleges Against Cancer announced that the event had raised more than $71,000, at  4:30 a.m.

The night began with a Survivors Lap — survivors of cancer led the first lap of the night. Students rose for the survivors and offered them applause and a standing ovation.

The event also consisted of a Luminaria Ceremony that included a slideshow of photographs of those who’ve lost the battle to cancer. The slideshow was followed by “silent lap” around the illuminated track. The track was illuminated by candles in paper bags that students wrote on the names of their family/friends affected by cancer.

After the passing of her uncle, Maragni’s mother formed the family’s first relay team for West Orange High School’s Relay for Life event. Maragni and her family have been participating in Relay for Life for five years now.

“I think it’s a really good cause and it’s important to know how serious cancer is,” Maragni said. “It’s good that people come together to raise money.”

Raising money for cancer research through the American Cancer Society and spreading awareness of the deadly disease were frequent reasons for those who participated in Relay for Life. Many students share stories similar to Maragni’s.

“I want to relay because I’ve had close experiences in my family with cancer,” said a student who chose to remain anonymous. “You don’t really realize how close it is to you. All your loved ones are affected by it.”

The anonymous student relayed for a cousin who was diagnosed with cancer at 17 years old. The student’s cousin is now recovering, but the journey has still been extremely difficult and overwhelming.

“When you have someone in your family that is diagnosed, there is a lot of negative thoughts in the beginning,” the student said. “But there is always hope. The most important thing is to be there for the person.”

The student explained that though his or her cousin wished to be treated normally, the request was challenging.

“Don’t say like, ‘Don’t touch them, don’t do anything!’ They want to feel the normalcy of their life,” the student said. “Of course be there for them, but let them be as independent as possible. Let them have control over certain parts of their life.”

The student’s cousin was involved in several American Cancer Society organizations, such as Camp Can Do. Camp Can Do, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, allowed children diagnosed with caner to have a “normal” and enjoyable summer camp experience, while still having the proper medical attention available.

“A negative experience opens your eyes to how valuable certain things are, what really counts in life — things you often forget,” the student said. “Despite the hardships of the situation, you always have to look for the positive. As hard as it is, you got to look for positive in it. But there is always hope — that is most important.”

Students relayed for the loss of their loved ones, to spread awareness of the negative consequences of cancer and to fundraise money for cancer research, hoping that the fight against cancer will soon end victoriously.

“I feel like if people haven’t experienced Relay, they don’t know how important it is,” Maragni said. “The event gets to you emotionally.”

Maragni urges those who’ve never partaken in Relay for Life to begin participating.

“People should know that they should go to one Relay in their life,” Maragni said. “Once they go to one, they will never want to stop going. It’s an amazing experience.”


ObamaCare: knowing the information

Approximately 900,000 people in New Jersey don’t have health insurance, according to Alescia Teel, the communications lead for the New Jersey chapter of Enroll America.

Many students ages 18 to 34 can be insured for around $50 a month. (AP Photo)

Many students ages 18 to 34 can be insured for around $50 a month. (AP Photo)

“That is a big number of people, and our focus is trying to reach as many as those 900,000 people as we can and help them get educated,” Teel said.

Researchers and educators from different nonprofit organizations across the country have been working to communicate with millions of uninsured Americans and inform them on the Affordable Care Act, the country’s new healthcare reform law. Enroll America, a national nonpartisan organization, has been extending its services to young adults and students, since they can be covered by the law.

Representatives of New Jersey’s chapter have visited institutions including Union County College, Camden County College, Montclair State University and TCNJ. They have spread their message to other public places as well.

“We’ve been at bus stops, Laundromats, churches, synagogues, food stores … Our mission is to bring information to people where they are,” Teel said. While the Affordable Care Act presents benefits to adults who enroll for insurance, it also presents benefits to children and young adults, including students of the College. For instance, young adults can be insured under their parents’ health plan until they are 26. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, insurance companies could once remove children from their plan when they turned 19.

Children covered under their parents’ plan can also have a pre-existing condition now. According to the ACA, health plans can no longer deny benefits or coverage for a child younger than age 19 because of a health problem he or she developed before joining the plan, a core motivation for passing the ACA in 2009.

Sophomore political science major Symone Yancey is signed up under her parents’ health plan, and she is very satisfied with it.

“It is nice to know that I am taken care of in that respect through law school,” Yancey said. “It lets me focus on other things, like my grades.”

According to sophomore accounting major Julie Ciak, 26 may be a little too old for someone to be covered under their parents’ plan.

“I can’t say I am aware of the specific ramifications for insurance companies, healthcare and the economy regarding this change,” said Ciak, who is also enrolled under her parents’ plan. “But 26 offhand seems very old to me, compared to something more reasonable, such as 23, for students who may just be obtaining full-time jobs.”

What about those students, though, who are not insured under their parents’ health plan?  They can enroll for their own health insurance, according to the ACA. Half of adults ages 18 to 34 who are eligible to purchase insurance on the marketplace could get covered for $50 a month or less, which is less than what students pay for their phone bill or even gas.

Even students who just graduated from an institution and are not committed to an employer can be insured.

“If you’re a freelance writer, you can be covered,” Teel said. “In the past, you didn’t have that ability.”

Junior political science major Nick Simonelli said that while the monthly premiums would be low, a trip to the doctor’s office could be costly as a result.

“I think this low fee sounds like a great idea, but it might increase out-of-pocket costs and co-pays,” Simonelli said. “However, it’s still better than paying the mandatory fee for people who choose not to purchase health insurance.”

While the March 31 deadline of enrolling for insurance has passed, students will have another opportunity in November to enroll for 2015. They can also enroll by visiting or by dialing a toll-free number that will direct them to the Health Insurance Marketplace.

However, if students are not insured under their parents or do not have student health insurance with the College, they would have to pay a fee each month they are without insurance.

For this reason, Teel and representatives of Enroll America are reaching out to students in multiple ways to inform them on the ACA. Students are able to follow the organization on Twitter at GetCoveredNJ or GetCoveredUS, as well as other social networks. According to Teel, celebrities are also pushing for young adults to enroll through their Twitter handles.

“T.I., Mindy Kaling, Janelle Monae and other huge names are giving their voice and emphasizing the importance of ACA and why it matters for young people,” she said.

According to Yancey, the negative opinions people have about the healthcare law hinder them from taking an in-depth look at it.

“I definitely think that more people should be aware, because ignorance is one of the biggest reasons people oppose ObamaCare,” Yancey said. “You can’t support what you don’t understand or even bother to think about.”

Teel said that it’s important for young adults to think ahead when it comes to considering health insurance.

“Everyone needs healthcare because anyone can have an accident,” Teel said. “If you have a broken arm and are uninsured, it could cost you $7,000 in the emergency room. We all have to get started somewhere.”

Outside the bubble: Is it safe?

New text message from TCNJ Emergency Alerts.

It’s a message most students at the College have received at one point or another during their time here. Usually, the message behind the text is something innocuous — this year was dominated by the friendly reminders that classes were cancelled due to ice and snowstorms.

But, on occasion, there’s something more serious within the texts and emails. A student missing, a bear on campus or a burst water main are all examples of messages the College has sent out to its students in

A cop pulls over a driver on Browning Ave., just outside of campus. (Photo courtesy of Peter Peliotis)

A cop pulls over a driver on Browning Ave., just outside of campus. (Photo courtesy of Peter Peliotis)

the last three years that qualified as emergencies.

The third, perhaps more sinister category of these messages, relates to crimes committed against students here, and some of those concern events that don’t happen in the bubble of the College’s campus. It begs the question: Just how safe is it to live off campus in Ewing, as many members of the College community do?

By looking at data from the New Jersey State Police’s Uniform Crime report and comparing that data to the College’s own Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, the difference between the number of reported crimes in Ewing and on campus vary greatly.

In 2012, the most recent year in which these statistics are available, a total of 83 violent crimes were committed in Ewing. Falling into this category was murder, with two in Ewing, rape with six, robbery with 35 and aggravated assault with 40. According to the College’s numbers, the on-campus numbers for violent crime had a grand total of one offense in 2012, with a single forced sexual assault. Even looking back a few more years, the College’s on-campus numbers do not change too much, also reporting a single forced sexual assault in 2011 and two such instances in 2010.

In terms of how many violent crimes are reported, living off campus is a more dangerous place than on campus. Looking a bit harder at the data, however, those simple numbers are not the most accurate telling of the information. When you factor in that Ewing’s violent crime rate is just 2.3 per 1,000 — which means that approximately one in every 500 people in Ewing will have a violent crime committed against them — the situation does not look quite as bleak, especially when compared to more dangerous areas. Trenton, for example, has a violent crime rate of 14.9 per 1,000, making Ewing much safer in comparison.

Other towns similar to Ewing, such as Hamilton, also have similar numbers in this area, with Hamilton sporting a violent crime rate of 2.2 per 1,000.

Not much of this seems to matter to many students at the College, however — they seem to go by how Ewing feels in terms of safety rather than the hard data. In fact, most of the students who lived off campus declined to comment for this article, with one student in particular citing an event of vandalism that occurred at his or her off-campus house.

Those off-campus students who didn’t move here, however, seem to be much less frightened by Ewing than those who did.

“I’ve lived in Ewing for 21 years,” senior physics and secondary education dual major Michael Wijkowski said. “I feel very safe here, yes, and I’d walk around here by myself at night.”

It can also be noted when comparing the dangers of off campus and on that there is a difference in the number of police per square foot available between a relatively small campus and a larger town like Ewing. Ultimately, the police presence could certainly be a contributing factor in why students are inclined to consider the campus a much safer environment.

“I see policemen more often on campus than I do off campus,” Wijkowski said. “I think I hear sirens maybe once a month.”

No matter how many more crimes are reported per year in Ewing than on campus, one set of sirens per month most likely doesn’t have much of a major impact on the day-to-day lives of students who live within a few miles of the safety and security of the campus boundaries. It might not be strictly as safe living off campus as it is living on, but the chances are 499 out of 500 that an individual student will not see a difference.


Funival planning

Student Government President Tyler Liberty announced at the general body meeting on Wednesday, March 26, that Funival planning is in the works.

Funival is one of the most anticipated events of the year, falling on Friday, May 2, the day following the last day of spring classes. There will be games, rides, good music and tons of fun food vendors selling carnival favorites.

Early in the meeting, speaker Devin Dimmig introduced a new bill that affects the distribution of class council seats.

Dimmig explained that the position of Senators at Large has been eliminated, so Student Government has three extra spots available that will be put toward the sophomore, junior and senior class councils.

The bill was passed and will go into effect for the upcoming elections, so as of next year, there will be seven freshman class council seats and five per each of the other class councils.

“This makes the class council a more dynamic part of SG,” Vice President of Governmental Affairs Alex Brown said. “It provides more leadership opportunities to students who want to get involved.”

Later, Vice President of Academic Affairs Adam Bonnano talked about the new wall that is outside the Brower Student Center.

Inside a magnifying glass pained on the wall, it says “Do you have a clue about TCNJ’s academic resources?”

“It is part of the NORM campaign to increase the use of academic resources on campus,” Bonnano said. “These resources are so beneficial in so many ways. The stats on the board prove it.”

The board includes statistics from the Tutoring Center, Career Services and Counseling and Psychological Services, or CAPS.

Vice President of Equity and Diversity Sadia Tahir proudly announced that the second issue of Diversity University is officially out as of Tuesday, March 25.

This issue talks about the history of the black freedom movement, Queer Inclusive Bible Study, Students for Disabilities Awareness as well as several other groups and events on campus that celebrate diversity.

Funding for ‘Copa Night’

SFB allocates money to hold the annual ‘Take Back the Night’ and ‘LEADWeek.’ (Courtney Wirths / Photo Editor)

SFB allocates money to hold the annual ‘Take Back the Night’ and ‘LEADWeek.’ (Courtney Wirths / Photo Editor)

The annual “Copa Night” is ready to go after receiving funding from the Student Finance Board at their weekly board meeting on Wednesday, March 26.

Union Latina was allocated $3,445 to host this event in the name of celebrating Latino Awareness throughout the campus community.

It will include a live performing band presenting traditional Latino music to allow students to experience the culture. It is scheduled to be held on Thursday, April 24.

In addition, the month of April will kick off with a series of activies that recognize leaders and highlight leadership potentional on campus after the Leadership Development Program was funded to host its annual LEADWeek.

Originally requesting a speaker for $3,510, SFB tabled the event as they felt it was too expensive.

However, LDP was able to find a cheaper motivational speaker and was funded with $2,515 over an email vote.

The activies are scheduled to be held during the week of April 7.

The final request was presented by the Women’s Center for their annual “Take Back the Night” event.

SFB fully funded the group with $2,900 to bring Crystal Leigh Endsley to campus for the event. Endsley has had a credible reputation in the field of women’s studies and has earned several honorable mentions and made other “Take the Back the Night” appearances.

It will be held on Thursday, April 17, at 6 p.m. outside of the AIMM building and will include a walk around Metzger Drive.

*Even though SFB agrees to finance certain events, there is no guarantee these events will take place. The approval only makes the funds available.

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Popping tags while raising funds

With clothes strewn on racks and accessories placed neatly on shelves, students were able to find hidden gems amongst all of the donations that were given to the College’s first-ever on-campus thrift shop.

WILL and FYE hope to make thrift shopping an annual event. (Courtney Wirths / Photo Editor)

WILL and FYE hope to make thrift shopping an annual event. (Courtney Wirths / Photo Editor)

The “Be the Change” clothing exchange turned a cold, rainy day into a creative and interactive way for students to enjoy themselves, recycle clothes and benefit a good cause simultaneously, right on campus in the T/W lounge on Saturday, March 29.

“The purpose of this event was to teach kids that they can let go of things,” sophomore CA Jennie Sekanics said of the event, which was hosted by WILL and FYE. “(We) definitely wanted to emphasize that you can reuse things and you can recycle and that one person’s trash is a next person’s treasure.”

Students who donated clothes to the cause received tickets in exchange to use at the thrift shop to purchase other clothes there. Others were able to sift through the clothes, shoes and accessories with prices ranging from $3 to $8, with all money going toward funds for WILL’s community service activities.

“It’s not about the money aspect and it’s not about the people who did it,” Sekanics said. “It’s really about (knowing) we can let go of things, but we can pick up new things, too.”

As this event was the first of its kind here on campus, FYE and WILL are looking to make it a legacy alongside the help from other organizations on campus.

“We have such an overwhelming support with other organizations on campus that makes our job so much easier and makes events like this so much more enjoyable and fun to do,” said Eddie Easse, a sophomore CA who planned it alongside Sekanics.

“I think it’s something cool when you co-sponsor with different groups. You get to see everyone’s assets,” he said in response to the efforts of their co-sponsors Delta Phi Epsilon and Delta Lambda Phi, who helped in advertising and collecting clothes to make the event a success that raised over $500 in the name of community service.

“I think it really shows that a lot of people don’t realize that there are resources we can reuse and re-purpose,” Easse said. “We can really make people aware that you can reuse and you can recycle clothing and you’re doing a really great service to yourself by recycling and collecting donations for a charity.”

As students walked in and out of the secondhand boutique with bags full of new clothes, they have not only participated in an environmentally friendly act and donated to a good effort, but now have also allowed retired clothes to continue their journey with someone else, in an innovative way to re-purpose materials.

“I think what’s cool about this is that you’re buying it from other students, so everything is in style,” Sekanics said. “Everything is super cute and so much fun and usually super expensive. It just goes to show that we can all use each other and all benefit from each other.”

‘Golden’ lessons

If tomorrow was your last day on Earth, what would you say today?

That is the question Benjamin Rifkin, Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, discussed in the second annual “Last Lecture” on Wednesday, March 27.

Rifkin calls on students to be ‘golden,’ just like his dog Webster. (Courtney Wirths / Photo Editor)

Rifkin calls on students to be ‘golden,’ just like his dog Webster. (Courtney Wirths / Photo Editor)

Rifkin gave his lecture with inspiration from his beloved golden retriever, Webster, who passed away last summer.

He said that he learned “the six C’s” from Webster: curiosity, communication, compassion, community, caring squared and carpe diem.

“We don’t have to understand everything, but let’s try to be curious. Marvel at the cultures of the world,” Rifkin said. “No matter what culture you are in, a smile is still a smile. A tear is still a tear.”

Webster did not understand many things during his time here on Earth, but Rifkin said that he never stopped being curious.

Rifkin went on to explain that Webster often communicated to him by howling with happiness.

“I think we need to do that too,” Rifkin said. “Howl with happiness. Whether you’ve fallen overwhelmingly in love or you’ve made a new friend that you know you will have for life, howl with happiness!”

Rifkin compared compassion to an overflowing sink and encouraged the audience to “keep it running. Let your compassion overflow onto those around you.”

He recalled one particular example of compassion demonstrated by students from the College that brought him to tears.

When a group came to campus with a giant sign reading “WARNING TO GOD HATERS, FORNICATORS, HOMOSEXUALS,” students reacted by peacefully surrounding the group and holding up rainbow flags.

“Our students responded to anger with compassion and love,” Rifkin said. “I wept.”

Part of Webster’s lesson to Rifkin on community came from spending countless hours with students from the College.

“I used to bring Webster to campus once in the fall and once in the spring,” Rifkin said. “Then, I started bringing him around during exam time, so students could stop by to pet him to relieve stress.”

Soon, other faculty joined in and the movement grew from a few students to a dozen dogs and over 600 students.

Finally, Webster taught Rifkin that he needs to seize each and every day as if it were his last.

“Find your inner tortoise,” Rifkin said. “Slow down. Recognize what’s unfolding right in front of you and you will find happiness.”

He ended by explaining that to his family, Webster was not a golden retriever.

“Webster didn’t like to fetch,” Rifkin said. “He wasn’t going to fulfill the ‘retriever’ part of his name because it didn’t make him happy.”

Webster was simply the Rifkin family Golden.

“Give up the thing that people expect you to do if it doesn’t make you happy,” Rifkin said.

Muha takes College by storm

David Muha’s name is infectious. It’s been stitched to T-shirts and chanted through Twitter. The sound of Muha alone soothes students with their eyes on the weather, hopeful for yet another snow day salvo from the man behind the emails, the name that cancels class.

As the snow season clears, Muha forecasts his new agenda. (Tom Kozlowski / News Editor)

As the snow season clears, Muha forecasts his new agenda. (Tom Kozlowski / News Editor)

On Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, Muha stepped into the role as the College’s new vice president for Communication, Marketing and Brand Management. It’s a position that requires more communicative clout than having a catchy name, and yet Muha has accomplished so much with even just that.

“It’s surprising that my name has caught on in the way it has,” Muha said. “My feeling was, we’re a small college talking about personal relationships and attention, and yet when we send messages, they come out from an office. Offices don’t send messages, people do. So pretty much since the first messages I was sending, I signed them.”

Then he grinned.

“I signed quite a few snow messages this year.”

Muha isn’t just channeling his own name through those messages — he’s putting a face to the identity of the College en masse. And for a transition period so evolutionary in the campus’s physical, academic and stylistic appeal, Muha has become the transparent, administrative vanguard to champion a new era, the man not only behind the emails, but at the forefront of change.

Though coming in fresh, Muha is no stranger to the state. He’s a Jersey boy raised in Piscataway. From 1983 to 1986, he attended Georgetown University, earning a bachelor’s degree in history and graduating magma cum laude. Living in the hub of national politics, Muha went on to work as a communications representative for Republican Congressman Jim Courter, spending six years on Capitol Hill and returning to New Jersey to follow Courter’s campaign for governor in 1989. Courter may not have won, but ever-transitioning, Muha decided to make a new leap: representing institutions from the N.J. Chamber of Commerce to Rutgers Business School. To some, the move was unexpected.

“I would say my career has been a very liberal arts career,” Muha said. “I remember people asking me if I was going to be a history teacher in college, and I said that if you can think critically and write well, you can take your career in any number of directions.”

And so it went. Muha mastered his communications posts, leaving indelible marks wherever he went. For Drew University, where he served prior to the College, this meant a personal advocacy for “Full Impact Learning,” a program designed to highlight the school’s distinctive features and “make (the) case to parents and prospective students.” Occasionally, he even played drums for a faculty band, an instrumental passion on the sidelines of his career. But when Muha felt his impact was complete at Drew, a place at the College loomed on the horizon.

“I thought TCNJ looked like a great opportunity, and yet, as an outsider before I started here, you didn’t hear enough about the College,” Muha said. “There was an opportunity for communications to play a role to help with people unassociated with the College, to really get a sense of why this is a great institution, why third parties think so highly of us … I felt like it was a good match for what I had done professionally.”

On Tuesday, Oct. 1, Muha and his staff hit the ground running. Behind the scenes, Muha was involved in the testing and recent implementation of the new College seal, a bold redesign meshing elements of the past and visions of the future. He has a litany of goals on his personal whiteboard: website redesigns and enhanced fundraising efforts. But his most important mission was unwritten. According to Muha, his job is “to establish the visual identity of the College.”

Fortunate for Muha, his backstage work was complemented by the timely volatility of Mother Nature.

“The biggest surprise of my tenure here has been the reaction to the snow messages,” Muha said.

They’ve worked effortlessly in his favor. By pinning his name to the weather closings that have given students such quasi-religious enthusiasm, Muha has successfully built a bridge between the administration and the students. Naturally, he remains modest.

“Really, the Provost and the VP of Administration are the ones doing all the hard work here,” Muha said regarding the process of declaring school closings. “They’re the ones getting up at four in the morning and consulting the weather forecasts, what’s happening with state government … checking in with folks on campus and clearing the sidewalks. All that work is happening well before I get any call from Curt Heuring saying, ‘Here’s what we decided.’”

Yet, Muha’s humility will do little to quell the student-sparked cult of personality in his name. His impact echoes across campus on parody social media, of which he’s been made keenly aware.

“I have a good sense of humor — I grew up in a family with a good sense of humor,” Muha said. “So I’m aware of the Twitter account. I can laugh alongside everyone else.”

As for the Freshman Class Council’s recent fundraising efforts, which have created T-shirts declaring “I snowflake Muha,” they have a new base of support: Muha’s entire family, all of whom want to purchase Muha merchandise.

“But more importantly, I’m happy to lend my name to a fundraising effort by the freshman class,” Muha said. “The junior class has asked me to help judge the ‘TCNJ’s Got Talent’ competition too, and wherever I can help, I’m happy to do it.”

Muha has immersed himself in the evolving narrative of the College and its students. There’s a mingling, back-and-forth dialogue between himself and his new campus that’s approachably down-to-earth, easily distorting his six-month transition as years of association. Muha’s popularity has indeed become a tall tale unto itself. Not coincidentally, his favorite component of a job in communications is its interpersonal magnitude to tell great stories.

“I love the role of storytelling in my job,” Muha said. “I think that what the students do in particular is always amazing to me. The talent that’s present here on this campus is staggering, so being there to help celebrate that is really rewarding to me … and for me to do my job, the closer the connection with students and faculty, the better.”

Now Muha, unconsciously or not, is a fundamental actor in the story of the College. Pushing for a more vibrant identity, lending his personality to student projects and laughing when the snow comes down. For all the bitterness in weather, Muha’s made this the warmest winter in quite some time.

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Library’s function not an open book

As one walks up to the College’s library on a weeknight, the impressive five-story building glows warmly through its many windows and just slightly illuminates its red-brick exterior. Inside, the first floor hums with group projects, whispering study partners and the coffee makers in the café. The scene is straight out of Hollywood or a college brochure. Though something is missing from the classic tables and desks: books.

The café is a signature hangout spot, but students may not be so academically inclined there. (Courtney Wirths / Photo Editor)

The café is a signature hangout spot, but students may not be so academically inclined there. (Courtney Wirths / Photo Editor)

The library is home to just under 600,000 books, not including periodicals, according to the library’s website. Books in the collection, according to the site, have been “selected by faculty and subject specialist librarians to support course offerings of the College and to provide a broad representative collection of titles across many disciplines. This growing collection includes fiction, non-fiction, and children’s/youth books.”

On average, approximately 134 of these books are checked out each day, which translates to about only 0.02 percent of the library’s collection being checked out daily, according to 2012-2013 data on total library checkouts. The infrequency of books being checked out begs the question: What is the primary purpose of the College’s library for students?

Lifting up a large red book from a table in the library café, junior psychology major Dan Czarnowski laughed, explaining that it was coincidentally the first library book he has ever used.

“I technically haven’t even checked it out yet,” he said.

Most of the books that are checked out are for classes in some way, sophomore finance major and library assistant Scott Savage said.

“People check out a lot of books to use as research references,” Savage said. “There’s also a lot of fiction and children’s books checked out, but it’s mostly for class. From what I have seen there are not many people that check out books for pleasure reading.”

Students who do decide to use the library to find pleasure reading may have some trouble finding a good contemporary read, however.

“Currently in my backpack, I have plays by Tom Stoppard and Salman Rushdie’s ‘The Satanic Verses,’ sophomore chemistry major Dylan Nguyen said. “You can reliably find classics, but you may have trouble finding other contemporary books unless they are relevant to a specific course.”

In contrast to the relatively low number of checkouts, the library sees an average of 3,475 students every day, according to the library’s door count, done daily by library staff.

“I usually study in the biology building, but I like going to the library cafe at 7 a.m. right when it opens — it’s quiet in the early morning and there’s coffee,” sophomore biology major Kajal Shah said.

Students at the College find their way to the library to do homework and study when it becomes distracting to do work in their rooms or if they want to be around people.

“Normally when it’s too loud in my dorm, I’ll come to study,” freshman journalism major Beth Strumpf said.

Strumpf explained that she only checks out a book from the library about once a semester and feels that most students are underutilizing the resources available to them.

“(Students) can also check out markers, headphones, ethernet cables and a laptop that comes in a case with a charger and ethernet cable,” Savage said.

These items are in addition to media items such as DVDs and music.

These unconventional loans are even less frequent than book rentals. According to library checkout data, a total of 1,828 DVDs were rented in the 2012-2013 academic year, as well as 1,183 laptops, 1,943 Ethernet cables and 1,246 sets of headphones. This is compared to the 31,206 books checked out during the same academic year.

While many of the College’s books may stay put on their shelves, the library still plays an important role as a destination for studying, seeing friends and escaping from campus distractions.

‘Secret Annex’

By Adam Braun

The virtual musuem of Anne Frank’s “Secret Online Annex” was explored by Alison Landsberg, associate professor of history and art history at George Mason University, in the Business Lounge on Thursday, March 27.

“Virtual museums create the conditions for historical thinking,” said Erika Schultes, a senior English major who assisted Lisa Ortiz-Vilarelle of the English Department in bringing Landsberg to campus.

Landsberg opened her presentation with some comments about the nature of history and physical museums. She suggested that “any representation of the past that hopes to promote historical thinking must continually assert its own constructedness.”

Physical museums and heritage sites, she said, can lure the viewer into believing he or she has a complete understanding of the historical situation they represent, which cannot be attained.

In any historical representations, “even with ample sources, what’s left is partial,” Landsberg said.

Hence, Landsberg put forward that virtual museums are an excellent way for historical learning to take place. Use of virtual museums “produces its own distinct kind of knowledge,” she said.

Virtual museums undercut the pervasive sense of the viewer’s presence in the past, and that is a positive, according to Landsberg. They also bring their own unique positives to historical learning.

“The problem with (physical museum objects) is they are dumb,” Landsberg said. “They don’t speak.”

Such problems are avoided in virtual museums.

To prove this point, Landsberg provided examples from Anne Frank’s Secret Annex Online, found at

As soon as the webpage opens, the viewer is greeted by a video explaining how the Frank family ended up in hiding in the secret annex in the Netherlands. This immediate rush of informative content could not be found in a physical museum, Landsberg said.

The site’s main attraction is a 3-dimensional re-creation of the secret annex that the Frank family hid in alongside the van Pels. The content and style of this feature represent the positives of the virtual museum, according to Landsberg.

When the viewer enters a room in the virtual annex, they first see it empty, as the rooms remain in the present, at the wishes of Otto Frank. Then furnishings are added into the picture, giving a representation of how they looked while the Frank family was in hiding there.

Landsberg says this is a perfect way to remind viewers that they are detached from what they are seeing, while still providing excellent historical information.

She complimented the resource, saying it is “more like an encounter than a simple pointing and clicking on objects.”

Landsberg concluded her remarks on the Secret Annex Online and virtual museums as a whole by saying that they are not totally immersive, “but that is a good thing.”

College and community connect

The College opens a satellite office in Trenton (Google Satellite).

The College opens a satellite office in Trenton (Google Satellite).

In an effort to enhance community engaged learning and give students a desired taste of urban life, the College has opened Trenton Works, a satellite office in downtown Trenton.

“I’ve really been amazed at the interest that we’ve had,”  said Madeline Bell, policy and public relations coordinator for the Bonner Center.  She is “very impressed that TCNJ is coming back into the community.”

The Trenton Works building is situated on the two floors above the Dunkin Donuts at the intersection of State Street and Broad Street, about 10 minutes away from campus. According to a March 28 article published in The Times of Trenton, the College partnered with the Trenton Downtown Association to find and lease the site.

Through Trenton Works, students, regardless of major, will have the chance to work with faculty and participate in various programs.

“It will open up the opportunity for students both in the Bonner program and outside to connect with the community,” Bell said.

Projects that have already taken place at the satellite include film screenings, guest speakers, citizenship assistance for immigrants and student entrepreneur programs.

“We really envision it also being a meeting spot for students,” Bell said.

The second floor of Trenton Works has desk spaces and a conference room, which can be converted into a classroom if the need arises. The building also has a new multimedia design lab. But the couches on the third floor have “a kind of coffeehouse lounge setup,” which can serve as a welcoming rendezvous point for students, Bell said.

Rajashekar Manimaran, a sophomore interdisciplinary business major and a Bonner scholar, said that the Bonner program hopes the College’s efforts, through its new downtown setting, will help restore the capital to its former beauty.

“Having an office downtown not only shows that TCNJ is committed to Trenton’s transformation, but it is also an opportunity with endless possibilities because we are now at the center of rebuilding our capital city,” he said.

Trenton is a city burdened with political scandal, crime and poverty. But Manimaran believes the College community can make a difference.

“There are crime issues, a recently convicted mayor and more abandoned buildings than anyone can account for,” he said. “But in reality, the closest synonym to Trenton is and should be: potential.”

Twitter plans music strategy

• Regulators are demanding changes in the agriculture industry. The Obama administration called for regulatory agencies to increase limitations on methane emissions. The agriculture industry accounts for 36 percent of all methane released. In a separate movement, the FDA has asked for a reduction in the use of powerful antibiotics for farm animals. The movement’s purpose is to hinder the growth of dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria in livestock such as pigs and cattle.

• While revenue from box-office sales rose again this year, the number of tickets purchased is shrinking. The increase in sales is due solely to higher ticket prices. Theater owners, in collaboration with movie chains and studios, have an experimental plan to increase theater traffic with discounted tickets on a specific day of the week. The discount would be greater than the typical matinee discount and would be offered all day long.

• Though ticket prices are high, Paramount Picture’s “Noah” had no trouble pulling in viewers this past weekend. The dramatic retelling of the classis Genesis story grossed $44 million, beating out initial estimates. The film has received attention for its nonconventional take on the biblical tale. Due to certain liberties taken by director Darren Aronofsky, there has been continued discomfort within the religious community and lead to a lack of support from conservative groups.

• It’s been a week since Twitter pulled its less than successful music app from Apple’s App Store. Now, the social-media giant is bringing out a new music strategy. The company now plans to partner with music services such as SoundCloud and Beats Music to create a streaming element, while Twitter is also in talks with Billboard to create charts that report the most-talked-about tracks and artists on Twitter at the moment.

All information from the Wall Street Journal.