Misconceptions concerning Muslims

Features Writer

There are many people, including a few County College of Morris students, who are understandably unaware of true Islamic beliefs. Misrepresentation of Islam, the second largest religion in the world after Christianity, are spreading rather than being corrected.

Furthermore, Islam is the fastest growing religion according to Pew Research Center, a “nonpartisan fact tank.” There are approximately 1.6 billion Muslims. The number of Muslims is predicted to exceed the number of Christians by the end of this century if the current demographic trends of Muslims continue to increase.

“I feel like there are a lot of misconceptions about Islam,” said Rachel Miller, a psychology major at CCM. “People should be more open to understanding [Islam] the way they are open to understanding most other religions.”

Miller said that she respects Islam just as any other religion in the world. She believes that Muslims, the followers of Islam, should be respected like everyone else.

Of course, some common falsities of Islam continue to create confusion. A couple of the misconceptions are regarding Jesus and his importance in Islam and the impact of feminism in Islam.

In fact, Jesus is considered to be a prophet in Islam. Unlike Christianity, Jesus is not believed to be God’s son in Islam. Some people think that Muslims do not accept Jesus, however, Muslims believe him to be a messenger of God.

In addition, one of the ways these misconceptions can be erased, or at least decreased, is by spreading knowledge and the truth.

“Islam has such a negative connotation in the media these days, and it’s a shame,” said Christine Quigley, a liberal arts major at CCM. “I feel that it is such a peaceful religion.”

Quigley said that she learned about Islam in her middle school world history class. The knowledge she gained led her to view Islam as she said she views every other religion, with respect.

Dr. Milton Bennett’s Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS) helps explain the significance of moving from ethnocentrism (believing one’s own beliefs and values are superior) to ethnorelativism. One who is ethnorelative would be open to and respectful towards other religions and cultures. Becoming ethnorelative is the last “step” to Bennett’s DMIS.

“The first thing I think of when I hear the word Islam is Muslim women,” Quigley said. “A lot of people think that Muslim women are oppressed because of how the media portrays them, and I learned that Islam actually preaches feminism. I think people fail to recognize the strength and capacity of Muslim women.”

Approximately six-in-ten Muslim American women say they wear the headcover, or hijab, at least sometime according to Pew Research Center. Some people mistake the hijab for oppression while many view the hijab as a symbol of feminism.

All in all, the fact is that Islam is growing, and the number of Muslims are increasing. There are approximately 3.3 million Muslims of all ages in the U.S. as of 2015 according to a survey done by Pew Research Center.

“I think people need more knowledge about the religion of Islam,” said Muhammad Bilal Ahmad, a business administration major at CCM. “It is not a religion of hate and racism. It is the religion of peace.”

Ahmad said that some people have asked him strange questions in the past regarding his religion, Islam. He has gotten questions such as, “Are all Muslims terrorists?” Even though this question was asked in a joking manner, it was disrespectful toward Ahmad.

Nearly half of the Muslims in America fault their own Islamic leaders for the lack of condemning extremism, according to Pew Research Center. Approximately 48 percent of Muslim Americans say Muslims leaders have not done enough.

In any case, knowing the facts and spreading knowledge is key. As said by Martin Luther King Jr., “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

President’s Corner

Dr. Tony Iacono
College President

I have always loved reading as long as I can remember. Growing up, our home was filled with a variety of books, magazines and newspapers.  My parents were big readers. They liked contemporary biographies, any topic in history and, in the case of my dad, any book related to baseball. In addition to the shelves of books around the house, trips to the public library and my school library were regular events that I relished. In second grade, I discovered Roald Dahl and read every one of his books with tremendous enthusiasm. If memory serves, I even faked illness to skip school and finish Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It was a good choice. I have no memory of the school work I had to make-up but I do remember spending a really good day living vicariously through my hero Charlie Bucket. Somewhere around fourth grade, I discovered C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. Six books loaded with fantasy along with issues too complex for me to understand at the time. Lewis stirred my imagination for many years and gave me much to contemplate.  Unlike my parents, I spent most of my time reading fiction but I also enjoyed biographies of presidents, inventors and explorers. I’m not sure my parents were always aware of what I was reading but they always indulged me when I asked for a quarter to buy a comic book or even a dollar for two paperback books that could be purchased at the annual school book sale. When quarantined to my bedroom with chicken-pox in the fourth grade, my dad cheered me up by bringing me a copy of Rolling Stone magazine. This “life changing” moment introduced me to modern American culture and writing more colorful than I had previously encountered in the stories of Roald Dahl and C.S. Lewis.

I didn’t know it at the time but my love for reading was helping me develop a strong vocabulary, introducing me to complex and intriguing ideas, and allowing me to meet extraordinary people and creatures scattered across continents over eons of time. Granted, some of these beings never existed; yet I still counted them as my most adventurous friends.  In sixth grade, my teacher Mr. Shirer introduced me to local color through the writings of Mark Twain and, in a less definitive way, Theodore Taylor. I loved the hours he spent reading to his students and the way he brought Huck, Tom, Timothy and Philip to life. New characters to meet, new places to travel, and new words and pronunciations to master. My seventh grade year afforded me the opportunity to enroll in a humanities literature course taught by Mrs. Morganroth. The standout book that year was S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. High school exposed me to Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. All were lost on me at the time. I instead gravitated toward Stephen King, a writer my high school teachers apparently found unworthy of attention. As a freshman in college, I took another humanities literature course over a summer semester. Through an exceptional professor, nineteenth century poets and writers who had previously escaped my attention came to life and have remained important to me ever since. It was also during this remarkable summer course that I discovered one of my two favorite books, the Odyssey. This summer course also introduced me to the Age of Enlightenment and the Romantic Era; and thus I found the second of my two favorite fiction books, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Imagine the power and influence of one professor during a short and well spent summer semester. Remarkable.

The opportunity to have read many books and articles over a period that spans a little more than four decades is not rooted simply in the previously mentioned acquired skills or the overwhelming joy of reading itself, but also in the ability to continuously improve my understanding of people, diverse cultures, organizational systems and more by studying history, literature, math, science, the arts, technology, anthropology, psychology, economics and more. Today, I continue to read both fiction and nonfiction. I begin each day by reading several online newspapers and a number of articles related to education, diversity, global and local politics, business, and innovation.  Since last summer, I have enjoyed and learned from numerous books including Edward O. Wilson’s Meaning of Human Existence; Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind; Bailey, Jaggers and Jenkins Redesigning America’s Community Colleges, James Donovan’s A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Battle of Little Big Horn The Last Great Battle of the American West,  The Third Wave by Steve Case, Geoff Emerick’s Here, There and Everywhere, and am finishing Susan Butler’s Roosevelt and Stalin: Portrait of a Partnership. In between, I snuck in a few fiction reads including One-Hit Willie by Daily Record columnist William Westhoven, Mitch Album’s The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, and the William P. Young’s The Shack. Spring is here and for me that means Hemingway while summer almost always includes a reading of the Odyssey, a book so rich that I always discover something new. I still have a great library in my life and so do you. Just visit the amazing staff in the Sherman H. Masten Learning Resource Center. If they don’t have something you want, then ask them. They can probably find a copy for you. I’ll be visiting soon to request Agustin Fuentes’ new book The Creative Spark: How Imagination Made Humans Exceptional.

I hope you’re considering enrolling in classes this summer and I hope that at least one will have as deep an impact on your life as my freshman literature course continues to have on mine. More so, however, if reading is not a big part of your life, I encourage you to develop this habit until it becomes a passion. The benefits are overwhelming both personally and professionally. By the way, thanks for reading the Youngtown. I love this paper and am continuously impressed with the faculty and students who have made it a tremendous success and an indispensable resource at CCM. Congratulations to the Youngtown staff for winning numerous journalism awards recently.  I am hardly surprised but deeply proud of them. To learn more about the energetic and impressive team that produces the Youngtown, checkout my interview with them at: https://youtu.be/Y8nVP660LZ8 and while you’re at it follow me on Twitter @CCMProud and share what you’re reading. I’m always looking for something new!

Campus-wide search for student vaping between classes

Satire Editor

County College of Morris security officials began a massive campus-wide manhunt on Feb. 21 for a rogue student caught taking hits from a vape pen between classes.

“This is a dangerous individual who shows a flagrant disregard for the rule of law,” said an unidentified campus official. “Without rules, we’re no better than the animals. We may as well be geese. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a world we’re all vaping geese.”

The search for the student has already injured several campus security officials who inhaled some of the vapor trails while in pursuit of the student. As tens of officials scramble to find the fugitive vaper, officials advise that students who encounter him to be on guard as he is “mildly dangerous.”

The as-of-yet unidentified student was caught on security footage across campus releasing trails of vapor on his journey between classes and appears to be a 5’10” male in an Avenged Sevenfold hoodie.

“See, the problem you have there is that you just described every vaper on campus,” said Tom Cloudston, a pro-vaping rights activist. “It’s a slippery slope, you know, stopping every guy who’s 5’10” in an Avenged Sevenfold hoodie and searching them. It’s profiling, is what it is.”

Cloudston has advised vapers on campus to be on alert and remember their rights. In an effort to self-police the community before further regulatory restraints are put in place, he is calling for the vaping community at large to report this individual if they see him.

Vaping is a serious offense and individuals convicted of vaping on campus face prison terms from 15 years to life and a fine of up to $12,000. Students charged with vaping who have successfully avoided conviction are often still subject to social ostracization.

“I used to vape from time to time on campus,” said Johnny Jabro, a student who was charged with vaping. “Even though they couldn’t prove it and let me go, my friends wouldn’t even look me in the eyes after that and we just drifted. Now I wander the halls alone, left to repent for the error of my ways.”

Jabro advised vapers to “leave their vaping days behind them” and that “vaping ruins lives.”

President’s Corner

College President

It is amazing to think that the semester is approximately half over. We are at the point where, for many students, walking across the graduation stage is a rapidly approaching reality. I truly enjoy that day. It is wonderful to celebrate with so many great and hard working students. It is also the time of year when some students are thinking about transferring out of CCM before earning their associate degree or, worse, stopping out or even dropping out of college. Whether you are considering withdrawing from a course, transferring out of CCM before earning your degree, stopping out or dropping out, I urge you to consider the long term advantages and drawbacks. Most of all, I urge you to avoid making these decisions without talking to your professors, your adviser or someone from CCM who is able to help you make the best decision based upon your concern, i.e. a financial aid counselor.  

I recently had a good conversation with a group of students and I asked them why they thought students transferred to other schools before completing their associate degree at CCM. They responded that it was due to a number of reasons, including the fact that some students enrolled at CCM with the original intent of staying for only one year. For others, it was the opportunity to move away to an environment they envisioned as more exciting. There are many reasons students leave CCM before finishing their degree and, in some cases, it may make sense but a few things to consider that my student discussion group felt most students did not know before deciding to leave early. First, approximately 80 percent of students who complete their associate degree transfer successfully to a school of their choice. Second, the graduation rate of CCM students who transfer after earning their associate degree are equal to or greater than native university students. Third, students who transfer without completing their associate degree first have baccalaureate graduation rates that, at some schools, can be as low as 30 percent.  This is due to numerous conditions including credits that are lost during the transfer process. Lost credits can set students back a semester or more and cost them significantly more money than they would have otherwise spent had they remained at CCM. Increased costs are related not only to direct educational expenses but also to lost wages due to delayed graduation. Since the average starting salary for a baccalaureate graduate is somewhere in the neighborhood of $45,000, an extra semester could add $20,000 or more to a student’s educational expenses due to delayed entry into the workforce.  Remember, the goal of college is to learn, earn a degree with as little debt as possible, launch your career and enjoy the fruits of your labor – not pay as much money as possible, incur more debt than necessary, and make payments on a student loan that is literally the size of a small mortgage. In many cases, loans may be a practical solution to reaching your educational goals but keeping them as small as possible should be paramount.  Finally, students who complete their degrees before transferring often receive generous academic scholarships. CCM has many articulation agreements with colleges and universities across NJ and around the nation. Consider Rutgers on our campus or our many agreements with Montclair, NJIT, Rowan, and other fine schools. Think about Farleigh Dickinson where CCM graduates receive a 40 percent tuition discount upon transfer. Explore your options by scheduling an appointment with transfer advisor Kari Hawkins to find a transfer option that is best for you. My student friends tell me she is amazing and really helped them.

As previously stated, this is the time of the semester when students begin to withdraw from classes, stop out and even drop out. Before you withdraw from a course, be sure to talk with your professor and decide together if that option really makes sense. If you are receiving any type of financial aid, loans, scholarships, work study funding, etc., you should consider the impact of withdrawing from even one course. For those not familiar, stopping out is when students decide to take a semester or more off with the intent of returning in the near future. Every situation is different, but in my case I remained in college from associate degree through doctoral degree. I worked lots of different jobs and made loads of sacrifices. My fear was that if I stopped, life would present distractions that would prevent me from completing my education. I was determined to earn my degrees and refused to let anything stop me. As a student, I was always worried whether or not this approach was a good choice. At times this was a hard decision and the temptation to stop out was occasionally tempting. But it was more than worth it. The struggle taught me how to persevere through challenging times and taught me to never, ever, ever give up on myself. I did it and so can you. I was the first person in my immediate family to go to college and, although I was not as well prepared academically as I should have been, I had a dream and was willing to work hard. Luckily, I also had the support of family and friends, exceptional professors, a terrific advisor and patient tutors.

When you came to CCM, I hope you came with a dream just as I did when I enrolled at Indian River Community College almost three decades ago. If you didn’t, seek and find your passion. The world is a big place with lots of distractions and the journey to the graduation stage takes a lot of focus and grit. That is why I am so proud of those who will soon walk and earn the appreciation and respect that they deserve. Each of our future graduates could have dropped out but they followed their dreams and I encourage you to do the same. So, before you drop a class, stop out or drop out, talk with your professors, your advisor, a department chair, a financial aid staff member or someone in Campus Life. Talk to me or any member of our administrative team. Let us help you finish what you started. Let us help you fulfill your dreams. I did it and so can you. And, yes, it really is worth it!

Trump’s first weeks in office: Immigration, economy are among top concerns

By Marisa Goglia
Copy Editor

At 11:59 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 20, when Donald John Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States of America and immediately set the tone for his administration with a flurry of hyperbole and action.

Thus far in Trump’s first 100 days he has worked at a consistent pace on putting pen to paper on a plethora of executive orders. Through the hallways and cafeterias at County College of Morris these orders have sparked conversation.

Mark Washburne, an associate professor of history and political science at CCM, said it is not unheard of for a president to take swift action once entering office.

“Most presidents try to get things done in their first 100 days when their popularity is usually at its peak,” Washburne said.

Washburne cited Franklin D. Roosevelt as a president who took advantage of those first 100 days in 1933.  

“During FDR’s first days in office,” Washburne said. “FDR along with Congress enacted legislation to deal with some of the problems the nation was facing during the Great Depression.”

Serving three consecutive terms in office, FDR managed to sign 3,721 executive orders. That is more than any other president, according to the American Presidency Project, a database of presidential documents hosted by the University of California, Santa Barbara.  During President Barack Obama’s first two weeks in office he signed a total of eight executive orders in 2009 and his successor is following a similar path with a current total of eight actions, according to the LA Times.

A few of Trump’s orders brought to fruition include, defunding sanctuary cities, increasing border security and to begin construction on a U.S.-Mexico border, according to FOX News.

Construction on the U.S.-Mexico border was a prominent campaign promise made by Trump during his campaign for president last year.

“I think Trump is doing a pretty good job,” said Billy Gleason, an information technology major at CCM. “Trump has come through with just about everything that he said, whether it’s building the wall, he’s putting that in place…I believe something needs to be done about immigration in this country”

With the U.S.-Mexico border stretching 2,000 miles long, Trump is concentrating on erecting a wall towards the southern border, according to CNBC. While a cost has not yet been announced, it may cost up to $21.6 billion according to Reuters.

Wyatt Wiegman, a liberal arts major at CCM, would also like to see Trump deal with immigration, but he finds the funds for the wall should be allocated towards another area.

“I would like to see Trump deal with immigration,” Wiegman said. “But not in the way that he is doing it by building a wall. To me, building a wall seems like a waste of taxpayer money. Most immigrants are not coming in through the border, they are coming in through flights and boats. Trump should go through the airports and find a way to check for fake passports and visas”

On Jan. 27, Trump signed another executive order pertaining to immigration that has ignited conversations on both sides of the aisle.  The action states for 120 days the U.S. Refugee Admission Program is suspended and anyone arriving from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen face a 90-day visa suspension, according to the British Broadcasting Company.

“Presidents have done this before from Bush to Reagan,” Gleason said. “I don’t think it’s unreasonable that Trump put the suspension in place just to try to figure out what to do with the problem. The countries that Trump has listed, there have been known terrorists that have come from these countries. It is not like these people are not allowed to come to America. You can still come to America; you just have to go through an interview process and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. My mother came from England and my father is from Ireland and they came through the right way.”

Wiegman said his main argument is the United States of America is a country established on immigrants and feels President Trump acted hastily.

“I’m not a big fan because we are a country based and built off immigrants,” Wiegman said. “We can’t really deny a group that are being religiously persecuted in their own countries and are seeking to get away from that… I think President Trump should have made this order more specific. I don’t exactly agree with the way it’s worded. I do agree that Trump is trying to make it work, but it’s turning away a lot of people who don’t deserve to be turned away.”

According to the Pew Research Center, 76 percent of people surveyed say that defending the country from terrorism and 73 percent of people surveyed say that strengthening the economy should be a top priority for the president and Congress.

Gleason who is currently serving in the Navy reserves applauded one of Trump’s first executive orders where he imposed a federal hiring freeze.

“Trump stopped civilian employment and is continuing with military,” Gleason said.  “I can still get a federal job. A lot of the civilians that were hired were under qualified, whereas you have military personnel who are still trying to find jobs and this will just give them a great opportunity.”

Trump stated that he vows to create 25 million jobs during his years as president, according to his campaign site.

Gleason said Trump’s job creation goal is not out of reach while he president.

“I do believe Trump will bring jobs in,” Gleason said. “Stopping certain trade from other countries and bringing it back to America whether it will be steelwork or in another way.” However, Washburne said there are positives and negatives to Trump renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, a trade deal between the U.S., Canada and Mexico which eliminates tariffs on imported and exported goods, according to the Business Insider.

“Free trade agreements have been good for our country’s economy as a whole,” Washburne said.  “This is not to say that free-trade agreements are not without their faults. NAFTA did lead to some manufacturing jobs leaving our country for Mexico, where the cost of labor was cheaper. On the other hand, the agreement also helped create a stronger middle class in Mexico, who went on to buy other American goods that were of a higher technology and profitability for our companies…It is in the best interest of the United States to see Mexico and other Latin American countries succeed. When these countries succeed, people find jobs in their own country and do not try to enter our country without proper documentation.”

While Trump’s first weeks in office have come, and gone, one will have to wait and see what the next four years will bring.

‘The Little Mermaid’ coming to CCM newspaper


“The Little Mermaid” is coming to the County College of Morris this spring. A Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, which is mystical and magical in essence, is much more than just a fairy tale, according to Professor Marielaine Mammon, the director of the play and chair of the performing arts department at CCM.

“It’s a relationship between a father and a daughter; a father and a son,” Mammon said. “It’s about how you handle a family, and it’s also about two different worlds and two different cultures; two different backgrounds, two different races.  It’s the culture under the sea, and the culture that’s on land.  It’s the understanding, and it takes the diversity and the understanding of two different worlds and two different cultures.  It’s much more than a fairy tale.”

There were 62 students that auditioned, and there is a cast of 48.  Mammon is double-casting some of the roles in order to give students a broader opportunity.  The opportunity to participate allows performing arts students to put what they learned in their classes into a practical outlet.  The orchestra, made up of both professors and students, also plays a huge part in the production.

The play will be held Wednesday through Saturday April 5-8, with a matinee on Saturday in the Dragonetti Auditorium, and it is open to the public, including children from ages five and above. This is a perfect opportunity for the campus community to come together.  The subject of the musical draws an audience of broad ranges in age and interests.

“I try to do something for everyone, each show,” Mammon said.  “I wanted something light and magical, and what better than ‘The Little Mermaid’.”

President’s Corner

College President

Less than a month into the spring semester and already much is happening.  Whether you are a new or returning student, I’d like to thank you for choosing County College of Morris.  As a community college graduate, I can say first-hand that you’ve made a great choice. By working closely with your professors and the support staff at CCM, you can expect to receive a lifetime of rewards that come with a high quality education. I often reflect on my first two years of college as the time when I learned the most and, in some ways, worked harder than any other point of my college career.  Like many of you, I found my classes academically challenging but making the adjustment to college was even more rigorous. It was a new environment with new rules, a language of its own, and culture that took some time to understand.  What I did grasp quickly is that my professors wanted me to work hard and be successful. They genuinely cared and worked alongside me to guide my progress and introduce me to new ideas, helped me to sharpen my critical thinking and communication skills and, in general, ensure I had opportunities to experience strong academic growth. I was also fortunate enough to have an exceptional adviser and to have made some really good friends along the way, one of whom is now my wife.  

While it’s difficult to know how important these years can be, the key to getting the most of your time at CCM is getting involved. If you’re not accustomed to “putting yourself out there,” let me suggest some things you might consider. Take the time to visit your professors during office hours. Our faculty are exceptional and you are certain to discover they have rich backgrounds. Many are nationally recognized, continue to engage in research and publication, are active in their fields in many other ways, and belong to a world you are only now discovering.  It is with great fondness that I recall spending time with my professors outside of the classroom. Often, they provided additional opportunities for me by recommending or sharing books, allowing me to work with them on research projects and helping me learn how to apply what I was learning.  In addition to spending more time with your professors, get to know the staff at CCM. They are also extremely dedicated. Take the time to visit the library, learn more about clubs and activities at Campus Life, find out how the Health Services office can support your well-being, learn more about the universe in the Longo Planetarium and more. Attend a play, concert or dance recital, enjoy an art exhibit by some of the most talented people in the country, or cheer the men and lady Titans at sporting events. There is almost always something happening at CCM on any given day including weekends and nights. At the very least, take the time to introduce yourself to your classmates. You never know who you might meet. My point, as you have probably surmised, is get involved. Join a club, participate in an activity, consider sharing your talents on one of our athletic teams, in theater, dance or music. Just get involved. Make this a year to broaden your horizons, learn more, work harder and have more fun!

To help get the ball rolling, I invite you to meet with me on February 8 at 12:30 p.m. in the Learning Resource Center LRC 121 and/or February 14 at 5:30 p.m. in the Student Community Center Davidson Rooms to learn about the development of CCM’s next strategic plan.  I encourage you to share your ideas and help shape the future of our great college where we’re connecting learning and life! And, by the way, follow me on Twitter @ccmproud.