Celebrating CCM’S 50th


Members of CCM’s campus community form a “50” on the lawn outside the Student Community
Center. Photo courtesy of: CCM

College cancels congressional candidate coming to campus

Administration says Mikie Sherrill welcome to visit after election

By Brett Friedensohn

Adam Gentile
Features Editor

Less than 24 hours before her scheduled appearance in professor Mark Washburne’s history class, New Jersey 11th congressional district Democratic Candidate Mikie Sherrill was disinvited by County College of Morris administration. As for why, the reasons vary depending on who is giving them.

Dr. Bette Simmons, vice president of academic affairs, sent an email to Washburne, the Democratic candidate for mayor of Mendham Borough, and Interim Dean of Liberal Arts Dr. James Hart Oct. 15 to notify them that the visit was postponed. On that email, sent to the Youngtown Edition, she copied History Department Chair Dr. Michael Parrella and Communication Department Chair Dr. Matthew Jones.

The email chain started Saturday, Oct. 6, when Washburne notified Simmons, Hart, and Parrella that he had heard from the Sherrill campaign that the candidate was available to visit Oct. 16.

Washburne said that he sent a text message to Sherrill after she beat him in the Tuesday, June 5 Democratic primary for the 11th district seat, congratulating her on her victory and invited her to speak in his classroom. He said that after not hearing a response on the matter, he met her again at a September Democratic fundraiser and again extended his invitation, and sent the email within minutes of hearing from Sherrill’s staff.

Parrella emailed Washburne back Oct. 6 saying that he had spoken with Hart and was unsure of the college’s policy on inviting candidates to speak in classes and that Hart will speak to Simmons when she returns Tuesday, Oct. 9. Simmons later said to the Youngtown that she was on vacation during this time.

She replied to Washburne Oct. 9, saying that he needs to reach out to Webber to invite him,  and she advised him to wait until after the election to host Sherrill. Later that day, she sent another email saying that he may host Sherrill even if Webber declines the invitation, but Washburne will need to invite him  nonetheless.

“It would be most appropriate – and in keeping with college expectations – that you reach out to Mr. Webber’s office and invite him to participate as well,” Simmons said in the email. “If he declines, you would still be able to host Ms. Sherrill as the offer had been extended to her opponent.”

Washburne replied that day saying that he had reached out to Webber’s office. He later told the Youngtown that he would have been happy to host the Republican state assemblyman but had emailed and called the office multiple times but heard no response.

“The time to bring her in is before the election, and if they want to be fair, let’s bring in whoever wants to come in as well,” Washburne said.” Jay Webber hasn’t responded, but he could have come in. Nobody was saying he couldn’t come in.”

Youngtown staff had been in contact with Sherrill’s staff over the week leading up to the scheduled visit to organize an exclusive interview with Sherrill before she spoke to the students. Since the cancellation, Sherrill and Webber’s campaigns  have not responded to requests for comment.

Washburne has in the past hosted in-class visits by 11th district incumbent Republican Rodney Frelinghuysen, and in October 2016, organized a debate between representatives for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Simmons said Wednesday, Oct. 17 that it was Washburne’s responsibility to notify the department of public safety as well as the office of marketing and public relations about the scheduled event. The next day, the professor said that none of his supervisors told him this was his responsibility but that would have alerted these departments had he been instructed to. This matter never was mentioned in the email chain.

“That never even came up in conversations at all, so I find it odd that it’s coming up now in conversations,” he said. “I don’t know where it’s coming from. There wasn’t any part of our conversation at all that I didn’t notify any of these people. I was trying to figure out whether we could even do the program, so we never got to that stage.”

Simmons said that Washburne needed to notify public safety about the matter because Sherrill is running for federal office, and therefore, the college would be at a higher risk level if she is on campus.

“She may have been bringing her own security staff, but that still means that we have to do some things, making sure the facility was the proper facility to host her,” Simmons said. “So all of those housekeeping items needed to be taken care of, and unfortunately, they were not taken care of. And then the other part of the issue is again, because she is running for a political office, we need to make sure that the college had extended an offer to the other candidates that were running  for that position, that they were given an equal opportunity to have access to our students and our employees, and that had not been done either. And so, to do all of that in the very short period of time from the moment I found out that the event had been scheduled, we just felt that wouldn’t be County College of Morris at our best, so we asked to have it postponed.”

Kathleen Burnet Eagan, CCM’s public relations director, said that if Washburne had notified her office of the event,  she would have reached out to the candidates’ staff to find out what they need the college to do to help and if they need publicity assistance.

“It’s just part of the logistics, and this is when it went from solely a classroom event to a larger event,” Burnet Eagan said. “There’s a lot of pieces to take care of, and you need some time.”

Washburne said that Simmons had changed her mind on the rules regarding the steps he needs to take to host Sherrill.

“Dr. Simmons changed her mind on Thursday and said we had to hear from Jay Webber. And so, we never heard back from Jay Webber, so and I don’t know, I haven’t been in touch with the administration since Thursday on the matter, but I got an email on Monday saying that they were cancelling Mikie Sherrill coming to the class,” he said. “To me that would be great, if we were to invite Jay Webber. I said, ‘What if we invite Jay Webber?’ She said, ‘Sure.’ And that’s what I did.”

Simmons said that the college made its instructions to Washburne clear and consistent.

“I can’t respond on how he interpreted the message that I gave,” she said. “Knowing that there were other people that were a part of that conversation, I would say that it was really clear with what the college expected of him.”

While he is a Democratic politician, Washburne said that his purpose of bringing Sherrill to campus was not to promote his agenda but rather to educate his students and engage them in their elections.

“I love controversial topics to bring in. I want to engage my students, so for me, it’s not a big deal to bring in a candidate, or a few candidates,” he said. “I want to get them excited about the election, so that’s really the reason why I invited her and I have invited other people in the past, just to get students excited about it. They wanted, the administration wanted her to come in after the election. So I said, ‘This can’t wait. My students won’t be able to ask their questions about her positions.’”

Mike Velasquez, a fine arts major, does not agree with the schools decision to cancel Sherrill’s visit.

“We have these signs out in the student center that tell us to vote, but when we have a candidate coming to talk to us they just turn her away, that’s not right,” Velasquez said.

Alexa Cacchila, a nursing major, said that with Sherrill being unable to show up students lost a valuable opportunity to be encouraged to vote.

Robert Osewalt, a liberal arts/criminology major, was disappointed in the action that the school took.

“She should’ve been able to come, isn’t the school supposed to teach their students about the world?” Osewalt said.

Sophie Connell and Lianna Del Corpo contributed to this story.

Active Minds advocates for De-Stress Fest Week

Students unwind with relaxing activities

By Anthony Ingham
Sports Editor

County College of Morris’ Active Minds club wrote chalk messages on the pavement path outside of the Student Community Center Tuesday, Oct. 9 to encourage students to reach out for help and become aware of mental health issues.

“No one shames a diabetic for taking insulin when they need it,” said Lisa Volante, a CCM counselor. “Unfortunately, it’s the exact opposite when people with mental health issues whenever someone tries to talk to someone else about it. People tell you to just ‘be happy.’”

Active Minds is a group made with the intent of helping those with mental health issues, and trying to champion the fact that people who live with with these problems are the same as anyone else, and can be just as successful. Volante said there is no fundamental difference between someone with a mental health problem and someone without one, except for the way they’re treated.

According to a study done by Chadron State College’s Behavior Intervention Team, college counseling centers have observed an increase in the prevalence and severity of mental health issues experienced by students. The study also finds the number one reason students refuse to get the help they need is because they feel there’s a stigma around both asking for help and mental health.

Due to a large amount of media consumed by students portraying people with mental health issues as ‘deranged’, or ‘crazy’, and the way that parents view the problem, many students have a negative opinion of them, Volante said-. She also says that this fact is made worse by students refusing to get the help they need due to feeling like their struggle is normal, or that they will get over them eventually.

Sthefani Camacho, president of CCM’s Active Minds said that students aren’t even willing to admit that they have these issues.

“In my experience, only a small minority know how to handle their own mental health issues,” she said. “In fact, most either don’t know that they have an issue or deny them outright.”

Camacho says that most students are incredibly unwilling to talk about their mental health because they feel like people will see or treat them differently, like they’re someone they’re not, or in worse cases discriminated against. According to the Mental Health Foundation’s “Stigma and discrimination” article, many people don’t even understand the struggles their fellow students may be going through due to a plethora of misinformation. But there are people willing to help, and Active Minds is living, breathing proof of that.

The Counseling Center’s De-Stress Fest Week starts Monday, Oct. 22, and has activities  such as yoga and meditation until Thursday. For more information on the events, email counseling@ccm.edu or look around campus for flyers with descriptions of the weekly activities being offered.

Writers’ club promotes literacy with book drive

By Adam Gentile
Features Editor

The CCM writers club ran its first book drive Tuesday, Oct. 9 at the Student Center in an effort to encourage literacy for underprivileged children.

In the United States childhood illiteracy in 4th grade is around 35 percent; however, for lower income families the illiteracy rate is at 82 percent according to the Reading Partners, an organization dedicated to stopping childhood illiteracy. Illiteracy also follows the child later on in life as the U.S Department of Education reported that 60 percent of inmates are illiterate and 85 percent of juvenile delinquents are illiterate.

Marcos Mirlas, president of the Writers Club, organized the event and was in the student center running the book drive.

“The goal was to get books appropriate for children for ages 3-17, and we were trying to give them to children in need,” Mirlas said.

The writers’ club did not work with any established charity or children’s organization, however, Mirlas plans on donating them to a social service office inside his town that will ensure that they go to children in need.

This was the first charity event that Mirlas organized and did not know what to expect from the outcome.

“I overestimated and I had 15 boxes to hold the books, but I only ended up needing five boxes which is still a lot of books, so it’s a good bounty either way,” Mirlas said.

Assuming the average dimensions of a packing box and that of children’s books the writers club most likely collected more than 200 books on their Oct. 9 book drive.

Along with organizing book drives the writers club also has an end of semester event known as the writers’ block.

“It’s like a poetry, but it doesn’t have to be poetry, like the club anything that is your own written word that you present to everybody,” Mirlas said. “There are judges and prizes and it’s a lot of fun for everybody.”

At the moment the club is not going to put on another book drive this semester, but organizations such as  International Literacy Association, Reach Out and Read, Literacy for Incarcerated Teens,. all make it their mission to end illiteracy.

The writers’ club focuses on presentation and peer review, that encourages people to show up with any written work whether its a poem, song, short story, or any other form of literature. The meetings take place once a week between 12:30-1:45 on Thursdays.

Politics and award ceremonies: Where CCM students draw the line

By Jamie Corter

The flashing lights, glamorous gowns and emotional moments have drawn viewers to televised award ceremonies for years. The anticipation builds and then lingers in the air each time a category is called and a celebrity wins. The speeches that proceed can range from heartwarming, empowering, shocking and sometimes political.

As political acceptance speeches at major award shows become more common, students at County College of Morris have a variety of opinions regarding the appropriateness of the practice.

Brooke Preziosi- Arnott, a digital media major, said that it’s good for people to voice their opinions, but celebrities should do so on their social media platforms. In her opinion, incorporating politics into an award show is uncalled for.

“Instead of pushing their beliefs on someone, celebrities should just voice what they believe in, and they shouldn’t accuse other people of being wrong,” Preziosi- Arnott said.

Marilyn Mayorga, a respiratory therapy major, agreed with Preziosi-Arnott that social media, or even news outlets, are the proper places for celebrities to speak up.

“They can obviously speak their minds, that’s how you get people to open up, but I feel like right now, it’s just a bad time to do so,” she said.

Mayorga said that someone will be angry either way because there’s never one side to politics.

“Celebrities should try to limit that [kind of talk] because it can be controversial,” Mayorga said.

Mayorga related celebrities talking about politics at award shows to athletes expressing their political views on the field. From what she’s witnessed, sports fans don’t want to hear about the players’ political views; they want to know what’s happening with the sport itself. If sport fans want to hear about politics, they’ll watch CNN or some other news outlet, she said.

An award ceremony, Mayorga said,  is the perfect event for a celebrity to speak their mind if they wish to stir the pot and get a conversation started.

“If you want to spark controversy, then yes an award show is the place to do so,” Mayorga said. “You’ll definitely get the media talking, but you need to be careful. The media also has their own opinions as well. If you want people to notice that you are talking about politics, you’ll definitely stand out at the Emmys or any award show.”

Unlike Preziosi- Arnott and Mayorga, Michael Tartaglia, a psychology major at CCM, believes celebrities shouldn’t speak their mind about their political views at all.

“I don’t think it’s their place to,” Tartaglia said. “They’re there for entertainment purposes, and they shouldn’t be telling other people how they think or how their audience should think.

“No one cares about how Oprah feels about Trump or Hillary,” Tartaglia said. “She is in her own world, experiencing her own things. People in the working class perceive life so different. Oprah is kind of protected from [the struggles of common society] because she has fame and power.”

Tartaglia said  responding to followers’ questions about politics is fine for a celebrity to do on their social media, but to openly speak about their political views without being prompted to is not acceptable.

“They shouldn’t bring [politics] to the forefront of an award show,” Tartaglia said. “It should be about the award and about the entertainment. That’s their job, and they should focus on what the award shows are really about.”

Fashion has become a large canvas for celebrities to express their opinions in without verbally saying them. The 2018 Emmy Awards, which were held Monday, Sept. 17, had numerous celebrities decked out in politically driven attire.

Padma Lakshmi, a famous model and Top Chef host, wore a gown she had previously worn to the Vogue India Women of the Year Awards to highlight the toll fashion has on the environment, and also sported a small blue ribbon to support the American Civil Liberties Union. Black-ish star Jenifer Lewis dawned her Nike attire for the red carpet walk in support of the company’s decision to use Colin Kaepernick as the face of their most recent ad campaign.

Fashion is the most tasteful way to express your political opinion, Mayorga thinks.

“[Incorporating your opinion] into fashion is smart,” she said. “Your clothing speaks for you, like, you’re putting yourself out there but in a different way other than just speaking your stance.”

In recent years, the number of award show viewers has plummeted. According to the Los Angeles Times, the 2018 Emmy Awards only drew 10.2 million viewers which was down 10.5 percent from last year’s show. But the Emmys are not the only award ceremony hitting record low viewing numbers.

As stated by Forbes, the Oscars also took a hit in viewers this year by captivating only 26.5 million, marking a 19 percent decrease from the previous year. The New York Times found that this year’s Grammy Awards plunged 24 percent with only 19.8 million viewers. Rolling Stone said that the MTV Video Music Awards drew a mere 5.2 million viewers, which was an all-time low since Nielsen Media started tracking the views in 1994.

Roving Reporter: What are your plans for Halloween?


SATIRE: Time Capsule from 1983 Revealed to be Nuclear Fallout Bunker

By John Dumm
Satire Editor


An oddly suspicious formation is painted on CCM’s lawn. Photo by: Nachi Allah

In celebration of this year being the 50th anniversary of County College of Morris, the groundskeeping staff have prepared for, and enacted the protocols for unsealing a time capsule embedded outside the Learning Resource Center during CCM’s 15th year of operation in 1983 as a testament to the college’s vibrant student culture and dogged dedication to the education of its base.

To the surprise of everyone, the capsule’s location secretly had all of the proper functions of a Cold War-era nuclear bunker; students, administrators, faculty, and the

According to the account of the groundskeepers on the scene:

“The time capsule was buried in probably the single most memorable locale on campus: that patch outside the LRC with that woodchuck, wossname, right next to his burrow, actually,” said groundskeeper Jay Jamie. “Let’s check for spring snowfall and unknowable horrors shunted by the trustees of old onto hapless future collegiates at the same time. So far, all we found was a bit of a radon leak. Woodchuck started going to classes three years ago, actually. Radioactive gas made his brain huge, now he studies philosophy.”

Asked about the exemplary-looking physique of the groundhog, another groundskeeper Mark Plyers clarified:

“Well, I mean, most of the real big brain mammals are taking Nonlinear Journalism and internships in SEGO, so he’s smarter than the geese, though.”

A nearby goose, asked for comment, proceeded to chase this aforequoted groundskeeper into the LRC, accompanied by several painful yelps.

As of 2:31 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2, the operation to unearth the capsule hit a major snag- namely, the reveal that the capsule itself was merely a locking component for a door-mechanism 15 feet in diameter, connecting to a compound “about the same width and length as the LRC, twice as tall, but upside-down.” Cryptographers were able to decipher inscriptions on the main door as being written in plain American English, heavily obscured by mud, and translating roughly to:

“Seal-N-Safe Va(smudged)ec Vault 126- Open in case of Livable Radiation Conditions”

Given that the standard issue Geiger counters provided the groundskeeping staff only triggered in the direct vicinity of the vault, permissions were given to open it, beginning a short investigation into the depths of Vault 126. A sticky note was found on the inside of the initial bulkhead door, reading- ‘CCM Emergency Student Body Cryofreezer- 2,000 freshmen, 2,000 sophomore, 500 Associate’s Qualified, 250 Professor, 1 Insufferable Randy’.

As of 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 2nd, a critical mishap, described by groundskeepers as ‘leaning on a control panel’, led to the simultaneous unfreezing and release of all personnel within Vault 126, as well as the concurrent hijacking of the CCM intercom system to loop John Denver’s cult hit “Take Me Home Country Roads” for the entire duration of the incident, resolved by 8:30 that morning.

“Literally no one not at imminent risk of a cold war-related nuclear death has ever taken this much interest in a country song, it’s insane,” Jamie said. “In fact, we have reason to suspect that this song didn’t exist outside the vault until now- it was written in there, recorded in there, and piped out exclusively to celebrate the opening of the vault.”

As for the students, I managed to coerce a majority of them into helping drain the unfrozen cryo-racks- thawing everyone at once flooded the dang place. Furthermore, the Youngtown Satirical Research Team managed to set up a ramshackle apartment complex at the Agricultural building- we’re trying to convince the frozen teachers that they’re adjuncts who live there, now. Accepting the few that are coming uncomfortably close to cracking the Confidential Postgraduate Program Hallucinogen Nursery/Warehouse, we should have every student involved- save, unfortunately, the Insufferable Randy- safely cordoned functionally off-campus, at least until their integration to the school can be handled more safely. Was really tricky, getting those Qualifieds’ credits in n-spatial mechanics transferred to Rutgers in the wake of Emeriti Hall, but there should be no interruptions in the average student’s schedule.”

As of last report, a stray thawed freshman was seen breaking down in front of the Bursar’s office, holding up the line after failing to pay his 5-class tuition with his share of the vault-stashed scholarship trust: approximately $20 and a glass bottle of Coca-Cola.

The groundhog remains safe from the flooding/radon leak, although the country music seems to have scared him over to the Health and Physical Education building.

SATIRE: Christmas Declares War on Halloween

By John Dumm
Satire Editor

On the runup to the 19th Anniversary of the armistice that ended the War on Christmas, tragedy has struck with the recent leak that Christmas has been pursuing military actions against Halloween’s time-honored ally-Thanksgiving and in fact has the major November celebration surrounded, with forward bases extending as early into the year as late August.

“Nobody should be watching the Peanuts before the [redacted] leaves turn, for [redacted] sake!” says frankly obscene amateur on the subject Rill O’Briley, a malevolent phantom-newscaster conjured expressly for operating Youngtown newscasting services during their planned Halloween party later this month. “I barely got into my [redacted] summer body, now they want me to [redacted] …figgy pudding… [removed at interviewee’s  request]!”

Youngtown interns have been diligently drafting memos to inform Mr. O’Briley that The Peanuts is, in fact, a beloved American cultural symbol commonly associated with any and all holidays, as opposed to just Christmas- a task complicated by his insistence on rerouting all memos, regardless of urgency, directly into the trash.

Taking a more sober perspective on Christmas’ War on Thanksgiving (so as to help the reader determine for themselves whether or not to support retaliation in the upcoming Halloweentown Congressional Coven Covenantion)is renowned Nonlinear Temporal Engineer Juan Estupido, who not only regularly celebrates both holidays, but has also spent the last 7 months studying the mechanics of Holiday Displacement and it’s interactions with the Zeitgeist (both philosophical and, as of October this year, horrific meta-spiritual manifest egregore) in an inexplicable crazed research spree. We go to the mangy, bloodshot researcher now, for his take on this uncharacteristically jolliless scenario:

“I’m 90 percent sure Santa Claus killed Punxsutawney Phil.”

We now go to someone, anyone else.

Given the herein unreliable-at-best accounts provided by the Youngtown’s Halloween time sources, we’ve been approached by practicing psychologist and ride-or-die occultist Matthew Bristol about a unifying explanation for the Christological cultural turmoil and the uniquely poor quality of journalism on these holy nights.

“Frankly, there’s a growing cultural awareness of the similar pagan origins of Samhain and yuletide,” Bristol elaborated. “And their subsequent Christian patchings into All Hallow’s Eve and Christmas, respectively. Frankly, one could call this a novelly-distant acting syncretism, giving simultaneous rise to a new cultural schism dependant mainly on whether you’re a normal, tolerable human being or one of these weird, heathen gamers.”

Quizzed on the precise mechanics of the split, Bristol digressed, then proceeded: “So essentially, we’ve got Halloween/Yuletide, and All Saint’s Day/Christmas, slowly merging to become one holiday over extreme distances, crushing Thanksgiving in the process.”

CCM’s First Nations liaisons self-reported as ‘too busy to care about this weird Slavic nerd nonsense’ but seemed generally pleased with the prospect. Bristol continued:

“I’ll note here that this usually isn’t a stable way to deal with Balkans-esque constructs, as much as we wish it was as becomes apparent here: While the Christmas-faction seems content to annoy anyone listening to the radio and silently commiserate over unreasonable guilt, as is Catholic tradition; these new-age-retro-pagans pouring from CCM’s counter-and-subcultural movements are insisting on going bonkers-in haunted-Yonkers for the whole two-month gap. Trying to get forbidden lore published in the newspaper, squatting, chanting, bouncing around horrifying pools of trimethyl borate fire, piping noisomely, and generally participating in unholy rituals to try to resurrect dead fighting games.”

As a coping strategy for the bizarre confluence of holidays happening this year, Bristol recommends spending time with particularly dear members of family and your friend circle at large as well as promoting a few of your favorite carols, nestling headphones or earbuds under your earmuffs, reflecting on the spiritual benefits of communal celebrations like this, taking the sobering air as stimulus to redouble your studies and, of course, stocking up on hot cider and trimethyl borate to chant raucous, howling paeans to ancient horrorterrors over, so that you don’t fall too deep into irrational guilt and cooperative misery.

“Although, there might be some truth to that Punxsutawney Phil thing.”

Article over! Contact the Youngtown. Happy Halloween!

Student government hopefuls campaigning across campus

By Anthony Ingham
Sports Editor

The race for positions on the Student Government Association is on as prospective campus leaders are campaigning around campus for votes.


SGA vice presidential candidate Emma Mendoza and Senator Natalie Otero. Photo by: Alexa Wyszowski

The positions currently vacant are the vice president, Inter Club Council president, treasurer, secretary, and 20 senators are also needed. The senators serve as representatives to committees within the campus, including the Academic Standards Committee, Accessibility Awareness Committee, Curriculum Committee, Diversity Committee, Safety Committee and Student Affairs.

Student Elections take place from Thursday, Oct. 11, to Friday, Oct. 12 via Blackboard. The current president is Emily Herrera.

CCM’s club listing says that the SGA is the governing body for all students enrolled. It’s mission is to further the well-being of the student body by representing students on various college committees.

“I hope that the SGA can have a stronger presence on campus this year,” said Natalie Lopez, SGA senator. “It’s never a bad thing to have more members informing more people about the well-being of our students.”

Individual positions have their own responsibilities, powers, and duties, such as the senators having the ability to enact any by-laws and rules that are deemed necessary for the proper functioning of the SGA, or even the president being the official representative of the student body to the college community and the public.

“It’s an extremely important process that the members have to take, something almost like a tradition,” said Don Phelps, director of campus life and faculty adviser to the SGA. “We’ve been doing things this way for the last 25 years, and so far it’s worked pretty well.”

In order for the students to be elected, they must complete a section of the SGA’s Election Brochure, part of which involves obtaining 25 signatures from the students to inform the students that the candidate is running, getting an interview with the Nomination Committee, and receiving at least two-thirds approval from them.

“Everyone should know that we are open to them, and we want to hear from the people so we can present these issues to the student body and make them more aware,” said SGA Senator and Black Student Union President Henry Agyei. “Student support is the lifeblood of the SGA, and without it, our club and CCM would definitely have more problems than they would have otherwise.”

CCM applies for increased state aid

Denied for this year, optimistic for fall 2019

By Brett Friedensohn


County College of Morris President Dr. Anthony Iacono, along with representatives from all 18 other community colleges in New Jersey, met Governor Phil Murphy at Union County Community College Thursday, Sept. 27 to vie for acceptance into Murphy’s new tax-funded scholarship program.


Governor Phil Murphy celebrates Quest Diagnostics’ Seattle office headquarters opening. Photo Courtesy of Twitter

The effort, called “Community College Opportunity Grants,” is intended to cover costs for community college students who have exhausted  all other need-based federal and state grants. The pilot version of this program is set to begin for the spring 2019 semester in 13 community colleges whose counties’ residents, on average, make lower incomes. As Morris County is on average a more affluent area, CCM will not be one of the pilot colleges. However, Iacono said that he hopes that all 19 community colleges receive these benefits by the fall 2019 semester. Murphy will try to increase the amount of money allocated to community colleges for the 2019-20 fiscal year.

“Here’s the thing people misunderstand, that colleges are getting money; the colleges don’t see any money,” Iacono said. “So I think that’s a very positive thing  because the intent is to really help students, and I think there’s a couple of really positive things about this. Clearly, the Murphy administration really sees community colleges as a part of a solution to really strengthening New Jersey’s innovation economy. Two is he really believes in community colleges.”

Prior to his election in November 2017, Murphy made it one of his campaign promises to establish free community college in the state, and in July, Murphy’s budget allocated $25 million to community college. Each eligible college will receive $250,000 for their students, and qualify for this aid, a student must come from a household whose earnings are $45,000 or less per year.

“There’s a recognition that to have a great workforce, you need to have an  educated workforce,” Iacono said. “And we should not be losing people because they lack a little bit of money, and I always argue if you help them get their jobs, they’re going to pay that money back in taxes ten-fold over. So it’s a smart, smart economic investment, and that’s what he’s after. So we feel really excited about it. We really appreciate what the governor is doing.”

CCM Financial Aid Director Harvey Willis said that he is confident in fall 2019 as a goal for receiving this aid.

“It will benefit a lot of students because it will benefit primarily the needy students because their family income has to be at least $45,000 or less to qualify,” Willis said. “So again, we’re very hopeful that it will launch for the next school year, but I just want to make it clear that the prerequisite for qualification is that they complete the FAFSA which is the free application for federal student aid. That’s a requirement for pretty much a majority of the aid. Whether they qualify for the grant or not, it’s still beneficial to complete the FAFSA. And I also want to mention that eligibility is for tuition and fees after, and I stress, after all other federal and state moneys are factored in.”

Willis said that the covered fees are only college-prescribed fees such as the college fee and technology fee, not external fees such as a personal laptop. Also, he said that he thinks it will have an impact on enrollment.

“It’s a good thing; we’re very excited about the program, and as far as I’m concerned, as an aide administrator, it’s way overdue,” he said. “I think it will have an impact, and really addressing, primarily let’s say, the independent students that are really returning to college, you know, past CCM students that never completed, and they’re coming back. Because of financial reasons, that’ll definitely attract those students again. Most importantly, now that we can start awarding certificate students financial aid. Those students that are returning for, let’s say, jobs retraining, things like that, part of a career development program, et cetera.”

More than 46 percent of CCM students benefit from need-based financial aid, according to Iacono.

“There are plenty of  individuals who are smart, who are talented, but do need the financial support,” Iacono said. “You guys build our future, and any time we don’t help you as much as we can, it clips that future. So it hurts you, and ultimately, it hurts all of us.”

On the day of the meeting, Murphy said in a press release that tuition-free community college is crucial to the state’s economy.

“NJ’s community colleges play a critical role in preparing students for the workforce & meeting the demands of a growing economy,” Murphy wrote. “Over 13,000 students will benefit from our first-ever CC Opportunity Grants, as we seek to make community college tuition-free.

FAFSA applications opened Monday, Oct. 1; students can fill out the application at the CCM Financial Aid Office.