Category Archives: Opinions

Negative mindset prevents success

Students’ stress and negativity pushes them toward failure. (AP Photo)
Students’ stress and negativity pushes them toward failure. (AP Photo)

By Chelsea LoCascio
Opinions Editor

Negative reinforcement of ideas affect you more than you think. By telling yourself you’re an awful student or that you’re socially awkward only makes that idea come to life.

In a sociology class last week, I learned about sociologist Robert K. Merton’s concept of the self-fulfilling prophecy as discussed in his book, “Social Theory and Social Structure.”

“The self-fulfilling prophecy is… a false definition of the situation evoking a new behavior which makes the originally false conception come true,” Merton said. This self-created prophecy stemmed from the Thomas Theorem adopted by W. I. Thomas: “if men define situations as real, they are real in consequences.” Continue reading

Ignorance surrounding hip-hop fuels hatred

By Joanne Kim

Rap shares personal experiences of obstacles, such as police brutality. (AP Photo)
Rap shares personal experiences of obstacles, such as police brutality. (AP Photo)

There has been much controversy surrounding the issue of rap music and its role in society. To sum up the issue, Fox’s Geraldo Rivera said, “hip-hop has done more damage to young African Americans than racism in recent years.” Rivera made this statement in response to Kendrick Lamar’s song “Alright,” which alludes to police brutality and the constant struggle of growing up as an African American in the United States.

Police brutality has become a big issue that not many are willing to discuss, even after multiple unnecessary and preventable deaths in the black community. So why would we want to silence a song that realistically portrays the ills of our society? Continue reading

‘Every Choice’ training excludes men

By Jonathan Edmondson
Staff Writer

Earlier this month, TCNJ Anti-Violence Initiatives sent out a campus-wide email discussing a new program called “Every Choice.” In that email, the mandatory training was described: “During the program, you can expect to learn more about power-based personal violence and how to safely and effectively intervene in situations where violence may occur in an interactive and thoughtful curriculum.”

The interactive, 90-minute program must be completed by all students at the College by Thursday, Oct. 1. A few days after receiving the email, I sat down to complete the training, which had three major components: physical violence, sexual abuse and stalking.

For those of you who have not completed the program yet, the training features video testimonials, staged scenarios and quizzes to help educate students. When I first learned that the College was implementing this mandatory program, I was extremely excited. However, upon completion of the course, I was outraged and sent the following email to AVI.

“To Whom it May Concern —

First, I wanted to say that I’m very happy that this type of program is being required for students on campus. This is such an important issue that students absolutely need to be educated on.

However, upon completion of the program, I am so upset with the lack of male representation in the video. Not a single testimonial featured a story about a male being a survivor of rape, stalking or violence. Men’s struggles were merely mentioned in passing. Continue reading

Students long for library after midnight

Some students struggle to work during the day. (Some students struggle to work during the day. (Kim Iannarone / Photo Editor)
Some students struggle to work during the day.
(Kim Iannarone / Photo Editor)

By Kelly Corbett
Social Media Editor

Ah, we meet again, library. It’s been far too long. I miss your fourth floor scenic views of campus, your wavering Wi-Fi and the scramble to find an empty study room. Not to mention your super-cozy couches, your cafe that enables my coffee addiction and all the great reads you hold that I hope to check out this semester. Yet there’s one thing I don’t miss: your early closing time.

Our last encounter was finals week. It was past midnight and you were there for me as I read through my statistics textbook. You gave me everything you had, all four floors of you,  all day and night during one of my toughest weeks at the College. Then, you had my back — and now you don’t. Continue reading

Americans find an appropriate use for the flag post-banishment. (Illustration courtesy of  Raphaëlle Gamanho)

The Signal asks … If it were possible, should the Confederate flag be banned in the US?

Alessandra Testa, junior international studies major. (Chelsea LoCascio / Opinions Editor)
Alessandra Testa, junior international studies major. (Chelsea LoCascio / Opinions Editor)

“There needs to be a very clear discussion about the implications of (the flag). Since I’m not from the south, it’s not up for me to decide. People can use it for whatever they want, but not like the white supremacy (we saw) over the summer. We need to meet each other halfway, like not have it in public areas or in front of government buildings.”





Gerard Giordano, freshman political science major. (Chelsea LoCascio / Opinions Editor)
Gerard Giordano, freshman political science major. (Chelsea LoCascio / Opinions Editor)




“You can’t be showing the Confederate flag on state grounds. Those should be kept in museums. We can’t forget history. We have to remember it so we don’t repeat it.”





Carly Mastrogiacomo, freshman nursing major. (Chelsea LoCascio / Opinions Editor)
Carly Mastrogiacomo, freshman nursing major. (Chelsea LoCascio / Opinions Editor)



“Just having one is not a problem unless problems arise from it. I was in Maine and I saw some of them. I wasn’t used to (that).”






Anna Prestera, junior special education and history double major.  (Chelsea LoCascio / Opinions Editor)
Anna Prestera, junior special education and history double major.
(Chelsea LoCascio / Opinions Editor)



“I don’t think it should be banned, but it’s disrespectful to our country now. The flag has no meaning anymore.”







Americans find an appropriate use for the flag post-banishment. (Illustration courtesy of  Raphaëlle Gamanho)
Americans find an appropriate use for the flag post-banishment. (Illustration courtesy of Raphaëlle Gamanho)

Life outside of US superior to life within

UK maintains land by valuing environment.
UK maintains land by valuing environment.

By Chelsea LoCascio
Opinions Editor

America claims to be the land of the free. While I respect  the country I grew up in, my perception of America changed when I flew back across the pond after studying in Scotland this summer. Instead of free, I could only see it as the land of crippling student loan debt, slow deaths from consuming genetically modified food, stifled student life and superfluous waste desecrating the environment. Continue reading

The Signal asks … What would happen if Donald Trump were elected president?


Kelly Adair, sophomore biology major.
Kelly Adair, sophomore biology major.


“I don’t know if we’d get any progressive changes, but he would structure us better. I don’t think we’d advance. We just had the gay marriage laws pass and I don’t think he would have gone for that. We wouldn’t advance in equality.”




Alex Cretella,  freshman computer science major.
Alex Cretella, freshman computer science major.



“I think it’s horrifying he’s leading the Republican candidacy. He likes causing drama … he’s a funny guy, but he says racist things. He’d go back to subjugation of the minority. We haven’t improved much, but he’d set us back by benefiting white people.”




Julia Lester, junior psychology major.
Julia Lester, junior psychology major.



“I would leave the country. It makes me so mad that (he’s running). We’re such a joke to other countries.”




Annie Elfers, junior sociology major.
Annie Elfers, junior sociology major.

“I would throw up.”

Trump builds a Mexican border with his elusive hair.
Trump builds a Mexican border with his elusive hair. (Illustration courtesy of Raphaëlle Gamanho)



Experience is worth more than money

Commuting and losing money is worth the invaluable experience.
Commuting and losing money is worth the invaluable experience.

By Kelly Corbett
Social Media Editor

During one of my early morning commutes to my unpaid summer internship, I squeezed through the rush of New Yorkers and found myself asking, “Is this really worth it?” I had already been on a bus for over an hour and the clock had not yet struck 9 a.m. I still had a 15-block trek from Port Authority to my office building and I couldn’t bear the thought of losing more money on much-needed coffee as I passed at least three Starbucks and two Dunkin Donuts. Continue reading

Jenner steps out as Caitlyn, wins courage award

Jenner introduces herself to the world on the July issue of Vanity Fair.

Since Caitlyn Jenner revealed herself to the world on the cover of Vanity Fair, she has received praise and congratulations from many, yet hatred and negativity from others.

Why can’t people just let others be whomever it is they want to be?

On Friday, April 24, Bruce Jenner confirmed in a two-hour television special with Diane Sawyer that he was in fact transgender and was beginning his transformation to become a woman. Continue reading

Letter to the Editor: TCNJ Students for Life display vandalized

To the Editor,

On the afternoon of Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at about 12:45 p.m., the TCNJ Students for Life erected a small display called “The Graveyard of the Unborn” on Quimby’s Prairie. The display consisted of a sign stating the organization’s name and the most recent estimate for the number of abortions that occurred in New Jersey in 2011 according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Alongside the sign were 47 small red flags that had been planted into the ground, with each flag representing 1,000 abortions, as explained on the sign. The Graveyard is a simple display that the club has erected annually for the past several years as an attempt to present these statistics visually to the campus community.

The next day, at some point between the times 9:15 a.m. to 1:45 p.m., the entire display was torn up from the ground, quite possibly lasting less than or slightly more than 24-hours. The display was later found in a nearby trashcan at about 2:45 p.m., where the sign was partially forced into the can and covered in mud, along with its metal stand. The 47 red flags were soaked with coffee from cups that had been tossed into the can, as well.

All the parts of the display were collected and brought to the first floor men’s bathroom of the Science Complex, where they were all washed. This incident was reported to student activities at the College, who investigated the matter. After the investigation, they found no evidence that any personnel working for grounds and maintenance were responsible, making the only logical cause of the incident vandalism.

TCNJ Students for Life is not the largest organization on campus or the most well-known, but it is a secular, non-partisan organization representing a group of individuals who believe that all lives have meaning. For a rogue individual to have the audacity to vandalize the display of such an organization in broad daylight just because the display does not agree with his or her own personal beliefs is a major cause for concern that threatens everything that an academic institution is supposed to stand for.

An academic institution is supposed to be a place where all ideas can be exchanged and discussed in a free and open atmosphere. TCNJ Students for Life asks that the right to freely and openly express our opinions without the expectation of harassment, violence or acts of vandalism – the same treatment expected for all other points of view. Unfortunately, the TCNJ Students for Life has come to expect that our liberties will be denied, as similar acts of vandalism have occurred against the organization every year for the past three years (counting the present one).

If a student organization cannot expect this fundamental human right to be respected on our very campus, then the College is not fulfilling its own mission statement to be “dedicated to free inquiry and open exchange.”

To all the members of the College’s campus, please stand and speak up to ensure that the College continues to be an institution of high learning, where the expectation that someone’s free speech will be protected has no exceptions.

Thank you very much for your time and best of luck with finals,


Alexander, Suitovsky,  Secretary of TCNJ Students for Life

Dean Rifkin justifies email

Gitenstein announces the College’s Comprehensive Campaign.
Gitenstein announces the College’s Comprehensive Campaign.

Dean Rifkin sent this message in response to Holzman’s email.

To the Editor:

If every student were to contribute $5 or even $1 to the College’s Comprehensive Campaign, the total dollar amount raised would not be transformative for the campus: no new buildings would be built, no new faculty or staff would be hired, no new scholarships established, no expansion of our college’s financial aid program. But it would mean that we would have a 100 percent participation rate of our current students and that is an extremely powerful statistic to take to other donors and to foundations. The same is true for the participation of other stakeholder groups, such as alumni, parents of current or former students, and faculty and staff.

When we have high participation rates from our stakeholder groups, our campus is better positioned to attract donations from individuals and foundations that can transform our community. Such gifts could build a new building, hire new faculty or staff, establish new scholarships for study abroad or undergraduate research in the summer, and expand our college’s financial aid program to make it possible for students to graduate with less debt.

My request to our community to consider giving to the College through the campaign comes from a shared vision of the College with more budgetary resources to help all our students achieve their goals: attend small classes with talented and caring faculty in state-of-the-art facilities with opportunities to participate in our signature experiences without financial barriers and with a reduced debt burden.

I believe in the mission of the College and I believe in the College’s community.  I give to the College myself and urge others to give as well.


Benjamin Rifkin

Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences

Spokesman Dave Muha raised the following concerns in response to Holzman’s email:

Holzman said that the College’s endowment comes from taxes, but all of it comes from private donors who support the College’s mission and students. Gitenstein spoke about the importance of supporting students, which is why the campaign aims to raise 20 million dollars for scholarships. One of the first donations, The Helene Fuld Charitable Trust, is valued at 6.6 million dollars and will aid nursing students.

Cruz believes same-sex marriage is a states’ rights issue.

Conservatives slow to support same-sex marriage

Cruz believes same-sex marriage is a states’ rights issue.
Cruz believes same-sex marriage is a states’ rights issue.

By Alyssa Sanford       News Assistant

Republicans are fighting a losing battle.

In 38 states and territories, same-sex marriage is legal, according to Freedom to Marry, a marriage equality campaign. The Supreme Court is currently hearing arguments for the legalization of gay marriage at the national level.

Even staunch conservatives — like presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio — are admitting that while they don’t think same-sex marriage is a constitutional right, it should be a states’ rights issue, and not up to the federal government to decide.

According to the New York Times, Cruz recently remarked that he would be okay with his daughters being gay. NPR reported that Marco Rubio, a self-described “new-generation Republican,” said that he would attend a gay wedding, and that he doesn’t think homosexuality is a choice.

Even so, some 70 percent of Republicans are opposed to gay marriage, according to NPR. The same polls find that 60 percent of young Republicans, however, are in favor of gay marriage, suggesting that the Republican Party is clinging to its socially-conservative, old-fashioned roots.

It is ridiculous to pander to party-line ideology over something like same-sex marriage. In past months, state courts have been ruling in favor of marriage equality and amending controversial laws that would allow business proprietors to deny services to gay couples on the basis of religious beliefs. Though conservatives hold majority rule in Congress, their outdated social views do not rule the land.

Nor should they.

Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., challenged attorneys defending the interests of same-sex couples during arguments in Supreme Court on Tuesday, April 28, saying, “Well, how do you account for the fact that, as far as I’m aware, until the end of the 20th century, there never was a nation or a culture that recognized marriage between two people of the same sex?”

Perhaps there was little precedent for same-sex marriage, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth legalizing. There was little precedent for women’s suffrage, but eventually that was deemed constitutional.

To uphold every outdated law and social view would be unconscionable. Imagine if outright segregation was still on the books, just because that’s the way things were always done in the past. Opponents of gay marriage continue to cite Biblical “laws” as evidence that gay marriage shouldn’t be permitted, but there are other things that the Bible explicitly outlawed that are acceptable today. Why not this?

Of course, the age-old argument is that gay marriage undermines the institution of marriage. Hillary Clinton used to think so, in accordance with her husband’s passage of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996. But, as the New York Times noted, Clinton’s standpoint on the issue has shifted dramatically over the last 20 years.

Does that mean that Clinton is a hypocrite? Or, is she simply adjusting her viewpoint as she becomes more informed on the topic? Did she realize that her adherence to the political current of a bygone era didn’t make sense anymore and gradually abandoned it over time?

Maybe Clinton isn’t entirely forthcoming in everything that she does, but I can respect her changing attitudes toward gay marriage, and her transparency in doing so.

Republicans who are actively resisting the legalization of gay marriage must be afraid. They’re losing their grip on an issue that everyone used to agree on, almost unanimously. They must recognize the futility of their efforts in opposing gay marriage when there’s no evidence that it undermines “traditional” marriages between a man and a woman. But, for fear of seeming hypocritical, they cling to an untenable position.

It’s time for Republicans to concede. The Supreme Court is closer than ever to making a decision in favor of marriage equality. If conservatives want to continue to have influence in national politics, they need to recognize that the tides are changing and flow with them instead of thrashing against the current.

Campaign co-chair Barbara Meyers Pelson, second from left, donates  one million dollars to the College.

Rifkin’s weekly message offends student

Campaign co-chair Barbara Meyers Pelson, second from left, donates  one million dollars to the College.
Campaign co-chair Barbara Meyers Pelson, second from left, donates one million dollars to the College.

The following message was sent out to students in the School of HSS in Dean Rifkin’s weekly email.  April 26, 2015

Dear Students: 

I hope you enjoyed at least some of the festivities yesterday during our alumni reunion and, especially, the launching of the College’s first comprehensive campaign. I enjoyed chatting with some of our alumni, learning about their lives and careers since graduation. One recent alumnus I spoke with is working in the office of a New Jersey state senator, another in a law firm, and a third completed a master’s degree and landed a new job with the Securities & Exchange Commission. I also had the pleasure of talking with alumni who graduated 10 or more years ago, including one woman back for her 65th reunion!  Everyone had beautiful stories to tell about the impact of their education at the College. In short, HSS alumni continue to be happy and super smart after graduation!

As a public institution, The College of New Jersey, of course, depends on the support of the people of the great state of New Jersey. Unfortunately, New Jersey, like many other states, has been reducing its financial support of public higher education. The most recent information on the budget proposed for the next fiscal year, as reported in The Signal last week, would suggest a reduction of over 8 percent in state support of our college. 

The comprehensive campaign is designed to help the College be more resilient to reductions in state support.  With the support of donors, the College can build its endowment and, thereby, sustain and perhaps even increase financial aid for students who face increased costs of attendance when the state reduces its contribution.  Increased financial support for the College from donors also means more money for students traveling to conferences to present their research and more money for student scholarships for study abroad, for example.  Indeed, the theme of our comprehensive campaign is “innovate, inspire, engage” because the additional financial support the College is seeking will help us continue to innovate in the design and delivery of the educational opportunities that change our students’ lives, inspire our students to attain the highest levels of achievement, and engage our students not only in the classroom, but all over campus and in the communities beyond Metzger Drive.   

The other theme of our comprehensive campaign is “all in.”  This means that all of us who are members of this community should be “in” in demonstrating our commitment to the College we love. 

As your dean, I ask you, too, to be “all in” by making a donation to the College, no matter how small, every year. By giving even just a few dollars, you add your name to the list of donors. This increases the percentage of students who are contributing which helps the College make the argument to other prospective donors:  if 80 percent of our current students and 90 percent of our alumni are contributing to the campaign (no matter the size of their gifts), we will be more successful in bringing in gifts from other donors who see that rate of participation as compelling evidence of our community’s belief in the value of a TCNJ education. 

So, please, make a gift – and you will make a difference.  The cost of your education exceeds the amount of tuition charged to you, even if you pay the non-resident tuition. By contributing to the College, even just a few dollars, you are saying to prospective donors everywhere that they should be “all in,” too.  When we increase the percentage of students (and alumni) contributing to the College, our rankings rise.  This makes your diploma more valuable, while allowing the College to attract the best qualified students, faculty, and staff.  Again, it’s not the size of the gift you make, but rather the fact that you made one at all.

I also ask you to ask your parents or other family members as well as any friends who are alumni to make a gift as well, again, no matter what size.  It’s not the dollar amount that matters for this aspect of our campaign: it’s the rate of participation for these groups – students, family members, and alumni – that makes a difference in our College’s rankings.  Faculty and staff are also making contributions for the same reason. 

It’s easy to give: just go to and click on the button marked “donate.”

And, yes, I’m “all in” myself:  I contribute to the College every month with an automatic payroll deduction and I make additional periodic contributions as well.


Your friendly neighborhood dean,


This opinion piece was written in response to Dean Rifkin’s April 26, 2015 Weekly Message.

Dean Rifkin,

I have always appreciated your presence in both the HSS and the College as a whole. I have shared lunch and dinner with you, attended plays alongside you and have been very nearly inspired to consider the Russian language thanks to your recommendation and the prospect of having you as a professor. In short, you have had my respect for the entirety of my two years at the College, and I was genuinely disappointed to hear that you were leaving us at the end of this semester.

That said — and indeed because of that — I sincerely hope that the content of last Sunday’s weekly message does not reflect your personal beliefs. Despite its superficially good intentions, your email and its takeaway was patronizing, myopic, brash, naive and, as you can hopefully imagine, downright offensive. I read your email in an airport while traveling during my term of study abroad, a time of personal and intellectual expansion, and I was struck by its utter banality. Perhaps I had simply forgotten about the recurrent solipsism of the College’s administration, but I would like to take the time to offer proof of the existence and myself and my peers.

I, admittedly, have not been on the College’s campus this semester, and as such, was not aware of the College’s new “comprehensive campaign.” Without laboring on the exact nature of this initiative, its implications appear deeply disturbing. In particular, this concept of being “all in” concerns me. In your email, you ask that we students do our part to be “all in” and commit ourselves to the College and its future. In fact, you ask that we become all in, “too,” implying that we ought to be following some moral/social/communal paradigm set forth for us. You then go on to suggest how we too can achieve this state: by giving the College money.

I am perfectly aware of the reductions in state budgets for the College and all public educational institutions. Both of my parents are/were public school teachers, and many of my closest relatives and family friends also have careers in the New Jersey public education system. I am more than empathetic and sympathetic to the cause of raising more money and more support for our public schools, at the college and lower levels.

That said, I have to ask: just how many times do my peers and I have to pay the College to be considered “all in?” Did the designers of this new campaign forget that not only do students here at the College pay upwards of $27,000 per year to attend, but also that the College’s students and their parents also pay taxes that continue to make up the majority of the College’s endowment? Has the administration forgotten that the College has raised its tuition prices year after year, while keeping its financial aid offerings woefully lacking for all but the most impoverished of students?

I understand there are restrictions on how money can be raised and spent by public schools. I understand the longitudinal strategic goals of the College as a “school to watch” and such. But the College’s administration, and too often even its academic faculty, has become blind to the stark reality of what college truly is: a financial investment. I appreciate education as both a pragmatic advantage and as a philosophical endeavor, and I can understand the administrative tendency to downplay the chill of the former while exaggerating the idealism of the latter. But it is disingenuously bordering on dangerous to be so blind to the practical, tangible, life-altering burdens a college education represents, and to then shamefully add more.

My family is lower middle class, with my mom teaching special education and my dad having recently retired with meager disability benefits. They had no way of knowing that the costs of college would skyrocket by the time it was my turn to apply, and even if they had such foresight, they never had the means to offer me any substantial savings. I came to the College knowing that I would be entirely reliant upon scholarships and student loans. I came to the College because it is a decently well-respected and competitive school at supposedly competitive prices. I knew the concrete costs, I knew the theoretical rewards, and I made my decision knowing the potential consequences. After interest is considered, I currently owe over $50,000 in student loans.

I do not blame the College for my situation. I have faith that the College sets its prices to what it needs to survive.

What I do blame is the College, its administration and you, Dean Rifkin, for is the implication that if I choose not to give the College even more money that I am somehow less of a member of its “community,” somehow a less valuable student, somehow less “in.”

How dare you. How dare you patronize me by offering sappy stories of alumni with “master’s degrees” and jobs “at the SEC” and “a law firm” as justification for my blind and ultimately financial faith in this institution and its offerings. How dare you say that the “costs of my education exceed the amount of tuition charged” with absolutely no concrete idea what kind of long-term benefits and detriments my degree might hold. How dare you imply that even if I did donate money that its primary purpose would only be to “make an argument to other prospective donors.” How dare you put out a call for unity and obligation in this time of supposed crisis when you yourself are leaving the College to hold a loftier position at another university, while assuring us that monthly payroll deductions constitute your being “all in.”

I am a student at the College. I am a member of the Honors Program and two academic honor societies; I am a host of a WTSR radio show and a recurring contributor to The Signal; I belong to the Pre Law Society, Parliamentary Debate Team and Aikido Club; I hold a place on your very own Dean’s List; I work in both the College library and as a legal intern in the Office of the General Counsel; I am soon to be an alumni of the College’s study abroad program, having studied at the University of Oxford. My peers and I have been “all in” since the day we matriculated simply because we could have never been anything less. Yet despite the countless things my peers and I have accomplished, all of which helps make the College what it is and what it could be, the College now sees fit to launch a campaign that has at its core a greedy and dichotomizing sentiment.

We see past the kitsch, vapid anecdotes and embarrassingly aphoristic slogans like “innovate, inspire, engage.” We know that our school is both so much less and so much more than the imaginary contrivance you have helped to erect. At this point, the towing of this line has become more tiresome than anything else. It has made me cynical and skeptical, and yes, has led to my pursuing a college transfer. It has made me genuinely question whether a college community can even exist in the first place, or if any bits of uniqueness in a population will immediately be put to use as marketing tools or, as in this case, emotional leverage in fundraising campaigns. But I digress. I suppose that all I ask is that we students are shown respect not only as budding scholars or future workers, but first and foremost as intelligent and capable adults; that the administration that supposedly works for us act with dignity, sincerity and self-awareness; that we are treated not as a means to keep the school solvent, but as the entire reason for the school’s existence.

Do not scrounge your active students for extra cash, Dean Rifkin, and certainly do not extort our fondness for and appreciation of the College. No matter my opinions on the College, the HSS, you, the administration or the state of New Jersey itself, I continue to believe that we are all above that.

With respect,

Alex Holzman

Alex Holzman is a sophomore, double major in political science and psychology. He also serves as a TCNJ General Counsel Legal Intern and is a TCNJ Honors Program Scholar.