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News happenings at The College of New Jersey

Skateistan assists to empower youth

By Carly Choffo
Correspondent

Last Wednesday, April 9, many students gathered in the Library Auditorium for the presentation “Skateistan: Using Skateboarding to Empower the Youth of Afghanistan,” which displayed skateboarding as a platform for learning in Afghanistan.

The lecture was presented by Benafsha Tasmim as part of the College’s “Art Amongst War: Visual Culture in Afghanistan.”

“It’s been extraordinary,” history professor Jo-Ann Gross said as she introduced Benafsha Tasmim. “I’ve learned so much.”

Tasmim gave a presentation of video representations and slideshows displaying the life of the skateboarders at Afghanistan’s first skateboarding facility: Skateistan.

Skateistan, founded in 2007, aims to provide education for youth, foster relationships and communication amongst kids in Kabul, and build confidence in kids and give a voice to both boys and girls living amongst war in Afghanistan.

Skateistan is essentially a school. Skateboarding lessons are what keep the children coming to the facility, but the main goal is to educate them with an art-based curriculum.

Skateistan’s mission, as told by Tasmim, is to use skateboarding “(as a) tool for empowering youth, to create new opportunities and the potential for change.”

Every day, 400 students — 50 percent former street workers — attend Skateistan. Of these students, 40 percent are girls. Thus, Skateistan is currently the largest female sport facility in Afghanistan, Tasmim said.

When creating Skateistan, founder Oliver Percovich realized that even if they’re taught at a young age, girls stop skateboarding at a certain age because it’s socially unaccepted in Afghanistan, Tasmim said. So, he created Skateistan, a gender-neutral place where girls can learn to skateboard because they like it.

Every year since 2009, the children of Skateistan showcase what they learn during an event they have created called “Go Skateboarding Day.”

Besides skateboarding, Skateistan aims to build community, education and leadership through their art-based curriculum, Tasmim said.

“We have very different students, but art is something everyone can do,” Tasmim said.

Skateistan believes that art is the best way for these children to express themselves and to bridge gaps between students of different education levels.

Skateistan also has a “back-to-school” program for street-working kids. This is a 12-month program that teaches kids three grades of school in one year so they can attend school with their age group.

One of Skateistan’s other extraordinary programs is the Children’s Shura, which is a mock council meeting where children are allowed to discuss and propose solutions to their daily problems.

Skateistan is not just skateboarding. Skateistan fosters positive growth for the youth of Afghanistan because the youth is the future of their country, Tasmim said.

College contaminated by chemical spill, one student transported

Emergency vehicles and Hazmat teams arrive at the Library and Eickhoff Hall. (Photo courtesy of Summer Nest)

A female College student was exposed to dangerous chemicals on Friday, April 11, at about 1:10 p.m. while working in a Science Complex research lab. As a result of the accompanying chemical spill, the buildings were evacuated while emergency services responded.

According to the College’s Emergency Alert system, the student had come into contact with benzyl bromide, a colorless liquid that can cause irritation of the eyes, skin and mucus membranes. It has also been used militantly in weapons such as tear gas.

The student immediately rushed from the Science Complex to the Library and then into Eickhoff Hall where Health Services is located. Consequently, all three areas were quarantined by Campus Police and the environmental health and safety department, according to the media alert.

On arrival, the student told health officials of a strong odor and a “strong tingling feeling in her arm,” according to David Muha, vice president of Communication, Marketing and Brand Management.

A small brigade of police units, ambulances, helicopters and fire engines — courtesy of the Ewing Fire Department — were quick to the scene. All students inside the Science Complex evacuated the building at approximately the same time as the spill was reported and were told to remain around the fountain until further cleanup procedures had taken place.

According to sophomore biology major Lauren McKay, firemen alerted students that they might be quarantined outside from anywhere between 30 minutes and two to four hours.

Several students also reported to have received pictures from the female student of her condition, confirming their suspicions.

At 1:29 p.m., Hazmat teams successfully cleared the Library and Eickhoff Hall of any contamination, according to the media alert. Twenty minutes later, the Science Complex was declared safe as well, with students permitted to re-enter not long after.

Though her current condition remains unclear, the female student was transported to Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton, Muha said.

 

Russian club storms campus

Two new clubs were approved by Student Government and the decision on a third was tabled at the general body meeting on Wednesday, April 2.

Russian Club and Kappa Pi, an art honor society and fraternity, were unanimously approved by the Governmental Affairs Committee.

Phi Delta Epsilon, a medical fraternity, was tabled until SG could learn more about the processes in which a fraternity goes through to become a legitimate chapter of an organization.

“Russian club aims to enhance conversational skills in Russian and to highlight Russian culture,” Senator of Humanities and Social Sciences Jessica Glynn said.

A typical meeting of the club would ideally be set in a laid-back environment, with cultural food and activities to accompany the events.

“The student who presented to General Assembly was so incredibly passionate about this club,” vice president of Governmental Affairs Alex Brown said. “I’ve never seen anyone that passionate about Russian in my entire life.”

The second club to be approved, Kappa Pi, serves as an honorary art fraternity as well as an art honor society.

“Any art student with a 3.6 GPA will be notified by the board of their induction as an honorary member,” Glynn explained, but any student can join as a general member.

Glynn added that General Assembly has faith in the sustainability of Kappa Pi.

PhiDE gets tabled until more information is provided. (Courtney Wirths / Photo Editor)

PhiDE gets tabled until more information is provided. (Courtney Wirths / Photo Editor)

The decision on Phi Delta Epsilon, however, was tabled because the Inter-Greek Council lacked the necessary knowledge about the organization.

“We wanted to check with Dave Conner (assistant director for Fraternity and Sorority Programs) and Inter-Greek Council before we fully approve them,” Glynn said.

PhiDE is an international medical fraternity that currently has chapters in every state, including chapters at Rutgers and Rowan.

Some of the fraternity’s philanthropies include combating child abuse and illiteracy.

If approved, the chapter at the College plans to collaborate with the chapters at Rutgers and Rowan to expand events and reach out to more students.

Pro-life demonstration trashed on Kendall lawn

On Saturday, March 29, at 1:49 a.m., a student was arrested by Campus Police for punching and breaking a window on the second story stairwell to Lot 11. According to Campus Police, a student approached an officer on patrol and pointed out two passing students, saying of the first, “He broke that window.” The officer then approached the suspects, observing blood on both the first student’s hand and clothes. The odor of alcohol was present on both students as well, Campus Police said. When the officer asked the first student about the blood, he responded, “My friend threw up in my car. I got upset. I hit the wall. I hit the window.” As the second student was indeed observed to have consumed alochol that evening, Campus Police arrested the two students and escorted them to headquarters.

Several items were stolen from the Social Sciences Building on Monday, March 31, at 8:30 a.m. A faculty member observed a missing Keurig B31 Mini Plus coffee machine, worth $120, a Clorox liquid dish soap, worth $4 and a ring of four to five keys taken from a drawer behind her desk in room 317. According to Campus Police, all items were present the previous day at 3 p.m. when the faculty member left the buildling.

A trespasser was reported in the Administrative Services Building on Thursday, April 3, at 10:35 p.m. A building services employee noticed a suspicious man in the basement of the building, according to Campus Police. When asked what he was doing, the man said that he was merely “looking for the bathroom.” The employee pointed him in the proper direction before notifying Campus Police of his intrusion. Further investigation uncovered that the man had been arrested on Feb. 29, 2012, for similar charges of trespassing on campus and was consequently banned from the College. Campus Police said the man was then arrested and released with a court date scheduled.

On Friday, April 4, at 3:55 p.m., a member of the Students for Life club reported that a public demonstration by the club had been taken down without permission. According to Campus Police, the demonstration, which represented a cemetary of unborn children, was intact when the student left for class at 12:30 p.m. When she returned several hours later, the demonstration was gone — the 235 flags were removed and the sign was missing. After searching the area, the student found several flags in the trash to the north of Kendall Hall. Campus Police said that the club ultimately found 172 of their flags and their broken sign, but no suspects were listed in the act.

On Saturday, April 6, at 12:37 a.m., a CA on the fifth floor of Wolfe Hall reported an intoxicated student to Campus Police. The male, who was sleeping in the hallway, appeared to be breathing and uninjured, but was unresponsive to verbal commands. According to Campus Police, Lions EMS was called to treat the student. When he awoke, he declined to tell emergency respondents how much or where he drank that evening, but he remained unable to walk or stand without assistance. Campus Police said the student was transported to Hopewell Medical Center for further treatment.

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. 

relay

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.”

thisaca

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 healthcare.gov 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.

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 6.17.19 PM

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.