Brett Friedensohn

Veteran professor to run for US Senate on anti-cronyism platform

By Brett Friedensohn

Fueled in part by Senator Bob Menendez’s ongoing bribery trial, Alexander J. Kucsma, an English professor of 45 years at County College of Morris, has announced he will run against Menendez in the June 2018 Democratic primary election for one of New Jersey’s two seats in the United States Senate.


Alexander J. Kucsma, English professor at CCM. Photo from Facebook 

Menendez is accused of favoring Dr. Salomon Melgen, a Florida-based eye doctor charged in 2015 in unrelated fraud case, for giving him campaign donations and lavish gifts, according to CNN.

In his unorthodox campaigning approach, Kucsma is running under Democratic Liberty Tea, a trademark federally registered to his name in December 2015, rather than under the support of a party. Kucsma said he is using this race in part to bring attention to his cause of eliminating money as a factor in deciding legislation and policy.

Kucsma is announcing his intention to run through Youngtown and said he wants to attain the needed 1,000 signatures on his petition to run at County College of Morris.

“This would be the first college ever to get a Senator on the ballot and that he is Democratic Liberty Tea, and the people just Google in there and see exactly what that is,” Kucsma said. “And we start getting out stories as to what is a trademark name? And we don’t need lobbyist money. We don’t need lobbyist money. I mean, one day, I’m offering Democratic Liberty Tea for somebody to run for Congress for $100. Maybe one day, that business is going to be $10,000 to run for Congress. That’s what it’ll be because people understand, if they understand the trademark name, they’ll buy into it. It’s like a McDonald’s franchise. It takes $150,000 to get it. Doesn’t it?”

Candidates who run under Democratic Liberty Tea must follow the set principles of the organization, according to Kucsma, who said that he can lose his trademark otherwise. Among these principles is the refusal to seek out campaign donations. Instead, candidates who use the trademark must pay to the organization a $100 registration fee and, if elected, a one percent royalty fee for campaign funds raised, according to Democratic Liberty Tea’s website. Kucsma said that he is legally obligated to report all of his organization’s funds as income as would any other corporation.

“It took me five years to get that trademark; I’m not about to lose it because somebody wants me to cut a deal and slash into a budget,” Kucsma said. “If the NRA knows I’m friendly to the Second Amendment, which I am, I’d certainly like their members to come out to support me, but I’m not going to ask them for a donation which would then obligate me to do that. Every politician of the world would do that.”

To create an environment that does not pressure its members’ opinions and policies, members of the organization are forbidden from discussing certain issues, including abortion and gay marriage, among each other, according to the website. However, other issues are included in the organization’s core principles. Upon signing up, members agree to strive toward reducing government spending to not unduly burden taxpayers and small businesses, increasing military spending to “keep our country the foremost military power in the world,” passing legislation to counter illegal immigration, and supporting to replace the Affordable Care Act with a system that will restrict omission of people with pre-existing conditions and force no one to maintain health insurance.

Kucsma received 6 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary of New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District in the House of Representatives election of 2016, when, according to his website, he received a public endorsement by New Jersey Right to Life Committee, a non-profit whose purpose is to legally combat abortion rights.

Kucsma hopes to become the first member of his trademark elected into public office.

“I think there’s a snowball’s chance in hell,” Kucsma said. “I think even if Menendez was indicted, but somebody’s got to do what I’m doing.”

Eighty four percent of likely New Jersey voters believe Menendez should resign if indicted, according to a Suffolk University poll.

If elected, Kucsma said that he does not plan on introducing legislation to limit the power of money in politics as members of the Senate and House of Representatives benefit too much from campaign donations to pass such laws. Instead, Kucsma said that such a change will only come when voters begin electing politicians who stand against cronyism.

“What I’m saying is you need a political reorganization here of what we do in political parties,” Kucsma said. “Never trust those who have created a problem to give you a solution.”


Women’s Center looks to be more inclusive


The Women’s Center’s parking lot in CCM’s busiest lot. Photo by: Brett Friedensohn

By Brett Friedensohn

The Women’s Center at County College of Morris has run since 1992 mostly on services provided to them by its host college, but its official purpose is to serve the community, not women on campus.

The college and the center both agreed to make the focus on community workforce development in the 2016-17 school year after the center showed to had failed at its initial task of narrowing the gap between male and female students, according to Dr. Bette Simmons, vice president of student development and enrollment management.

The center has run mostly on annual grants given by the New Jersey department of children and families, requested by the Board of Trustees, received by the business and finance department, and managed by the division of student development and enrollment management, which also oversees their regular operations. Additionally, the college lets the center use the center use the office for no cost and lets it use equipment including desks, chairs, filing cabinets, and sometimes, if the center’s budget does not cover them, computers, according to Simmons. The center also has a reserved Parking Lot 6 spot more convenient than the spots designated for medical personnel, student leaders, and New Jersey Transit buses. Simmons said that if the center moved off the campus, the college would require it to leave the equipment behind.

Also, the college grants the center free human resources support and at times, requires the center to use it. CCM mandates the center to filter all of its hirings through the college’s human resources department and to manage the payroll through the department as well, according to Simmons.

The college accepts the grants on behalf of the center because the state requires the institution housing the center to apply for the grants, according to Simmons. CCM received Women’s Center grants from the state for $150,000 for the 2017-18 school year, $138,475 for 2016-17, and $130,475 for 2015-16.

Simmons estimated that overall, approximately 100 students have enrolled after being clients of the Women’s Center.

CCM reviewed the center in the 2015-16 school year to determine if the college and the center were benefiting from the housing agreement. After the review, both parties agreed that the center would remain if it focused more on workforce development, training displaced homemakers to be better suited to support themselves through working.

One of New Jersey’s displaced homemaker networks, the Women’s Center exists to assist people who have experienced an abrupt end to a dependant relationship, usually through death or divorce.

Simmons said that the college benefits from this arrangement because it gives CCM a positive image.

“It’s the visibility that the recourses are available on our campus,” Simmons said. “For us specifically, it’s nothing else … I mean again, you look at the mission of a community college, you know, the whole focus on community, and if we can provide a recourse to the community that they may not necessarily have opportunities to get, if we’re doing that through the Women’s Center, that just makes us more of an appealing partner in the community.”

Simon said that she is not sure what exactly this new focus will entail.

“So one of the biggest changes will be moving out of the counseling umbrella over to the workforce development and community partnerships division on the college,” Simon said. “We haven’t’ figured out exactly what that will look like. We’re envisioning the Women’s Center to be sort of a central intake for anybody looking to go into sort of the workforce development type paths, so really the non-credit side of things, but it could be credit, too.”

Additionally, she said that the center gears its services away from students for the purpose of efficiency, pointing out that counseling services and career services do similar work to them.

“I would never tell a student that they can’t come here,” Simon said. “But they’re paying for college campus services. So I would definitely encourage them to get the most bang for their buck and use the services they’re paying for in a sense. So kind of, when someone becomes a student, we let them know those services are also available. And as I said, we do have two that we’re still serving, and we would never turn anybody away just because they became a student.”

In addition to giving free counseling and professional advice to displaced homemakers in the community, the center gives services of pro-bono attorneys which counseling services and career services do not provide.

Bursar Debbie Hatchard, who has worked at CCM since 1990, said that she has sent staff and students to the Women’s Center and has used the services herself during her divorce between her initial separation from her husband in 2009 to the finalization of the divorce in 2011. Every year around Christmas, her department pools money to donate to the center.

“I went right to the director because I felt that it was just one of those things you don’t really ever plan or expect to happen,” Hatchard said. “I  was naturally upset, and she came in, and she said, ‘Oh, no. You’re going to be just fine. You’re going to go to these divorce sessions. You’re going to learn what you need,’ she goes, ‘But you have a degree; you’re employed; you’re doing just fine’ … I just needed that boost of confidence, so to speak, that I was going to get through it.”

Simmons, who worked as dean of students upon the center’s arrival, said that the review came after CCM found that the center did not boost female enrollment as the college hoped it would.

“We figured if we aligned ourselves with an organization that was focusing on that population, that that would be more attractive for women coming to school,” Simmons said. “They come in through the Women’s Center, and then the Women’s Center, as they’re talking to these folks about how to prepare yourself for a career but you need an education, then, we’ll move you right over to the County College of Morris, and you can get enrolled in any program that the college offers. Unfortunately, with the 25 years that they’ve been here, we never saw that type of, even though we have back and forth referrals, we never saw large numbers to what we were hoping.”

Despite not being a college department, the center has a web page on CCM’s website which calls it “The Women’s Center at CCM,” and it has a email address.

“Even though they’re not a college department, we almost treat them like a college department,” Simmons said. “And so we hold them accountable the same way we would any other department we had on campus even though all the money that’s coming in is coming in from the state of New Jersey.”

In addition to keeping more exact enrollment numbers and demographics on record, Simon said that with her new position, she hopes to keep social media updated, increase awareness in the community, and potentially change the name of the center to be more gender-inclusive. She said that within the last ten years or so, with evolving gender economic roles and an increasing number of same-sex couples, the center should be inviting to displaced homemakers regardless of gender, and that the gender-exclusive name may not reflect that.

“If you’re a displaced homemaker, we want to serve you, whether you’re male, female, identified as something else, it doesn’t matter,” Simon said. “I think the name ‘The Women’s Center’ automatically makes a lot of men not seek out services here, so that’s one thing that I’ve kind of tossed around in my head.”

Simon said that she would support such a change.

“There’s no way to dispute that that the name of the center itself, for some individuals, will say, ‘It’s not for me. I’m a man. I’m not gonna even bother,’” Simmons said. “It’s going to happen because of the future visioning of the Women’s Center.”

CCM lacrosse looking to gain wins, experience

News Editor

The lacrosse team at County College of Morris is looking to redeem itself from the 2016 season when it finished its season 1-5 in the region and 2-14 overall and looks to achieve a playoff spot by finishing .500 or better either in region play or overall for the first time since 2011.

The Titans lost 2017 season opener Wednesday, March 8 to Ocean County College 30-2, their largest deficit in more than six seasons. Their 14-2 loss to Union County College Wednesday, April 5 brought their record to 0-2 in the region and 0-5 overall.

Head coach Angel Lastra, who made the transition to the helm of the team this season after working as an assistant coach last season, said after the first game that despite early challenges, he remains optimistic.

“Being in charge of everything is definitely difficult, but like I said, it’s a new challenge, and it’s something to push forward,” Lastra said. “The first game was only our first game. It was my first time head coaching, and it was their first time with especially my philosophy, but it’s just something that you need to push through, and it was unfortunate that the score was that way, but we’re moving forward.”

Lastra said that his philosophy entails discipline and that his players need to work on skills including communication and plan execution.

“I have the game plan in plan,” Lastra said. “It’s just implementing, just talking, just communicating, just following; it’s just the gameplan, not causing penalties, catching and throwing are probably the biggest things that we need to work on.”

Co-captain and attacker Paul Bokun said that he expects this year’s team to be better than last year’s because of his teammates’ focus and Lastra’s leadership.

“Last year, it was more of a club team; a lot of us just didn’t really give a s***,” said Bokun, a business administration major at CCM. “We all just drank and chilled, and now, this year, we’ve got a real team; we have a coach that actually cares, and we’ve got a bunch of players that are on the same page.”

Bokun said that after the season opening loss, he and his teammates should stay positive in order to improve.

“We let up 10 goals in the first quarter, and then, everybody just rolled over on their backs, and it wouldn’t have been like that if we had just kept with it and not given up. If we didn’t give up, that game would have been 20-10; we probably wouldn’t have won, but it probably wouldn’t have been a s*** show like it was.”

Co-captain and midfielder Anthony DeLaurentis agreed with Bokun about his team’s attitude towards the game.

“It’s actually trying to develop a program,” said DeLaurentis. “It’s not just come and get babysat by a coach.”

DeLaurentis said that one of his team’s struggles was the freshmen’s adjustment to the program.

“There’s a lot of first year kids, so it’s hard for them to come in, and they’re fresh out of high school, and they’re not used to playing on the college level yet,” DeLaurentis said. “It’s not even that it’s that much harder, it’s a lot more running, it’s a lot faster, it’s a lot more physical. It’s the little things that kids have to get used to, and that’s a big thing this year is that our coach has focused on those little things to get us all working all together.”

Students can see the last home game of CCM lacrosse at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 26 against Brookdale Community College on the upper soccer field next to Parking Lot 1.

SGA shakeup: President out mid-semester


The president of the Student Government Association (SGA) was ousted mid-semester after he was found to be ineligible for the position.

Stanley White was elected to the post in May but graduated on Aug. 30. White neglected to inform the school of his status change, and the college neglected to verify his enrollment status.

“As we go through the semester we are always looking at the status of any of our officers,” said Janique Caffie, dean of enrollment management and student development. “In doing so, reaching the mid semester just to make sure everyone is doing well academically, it was discovered that Mr. [Stanley] White had graduated.”

Malik White, digital media studies major at the County College of Morris (CCM), is now the president of the SGA.

“It’s tough to do a transition in the middle of the semester, so it’s been a challenge,” said SGA co-adviser, Don Phelps. “Malik was the only member of the executive board so he has lot’s of positions to fill.”

Malik White was the vice president prior to the change on Oct. 14. Since his appointment, Andrew Ginsberg, public and nonprofit administration major at CCM, has been named treasurer. Ginsberg was treasurer of the SGA last year as well.

According to Caffie, one of the stipulations for presidency is that the student be in a degree seeking program

Caffie said Stanley White had been unable to attend the college council meetings, at which his role would have been to read the SGA meeting minutes. Malik White has been attending them in his place.

Malik White had undergone training with Stanley White during the summer months to prepare for the fall semester, but he had been focusing on his role as vice president. Now Caffie said the school is working to help him understand his new responsibilities.

“Everybody in SGA is fine with Malik coming in,” said Ginsberg. “They’re happier with him than with Stanley.”

The current SGA has had a rough semester thus far. Caffie said she felt they were struggling to work together, but she hoped that with Malik White as president, they would be able to work more cohesively together.

“The mood for this year was already set, which was unfortunately negative, but I’m trying to make sure there’s no bad blood,” said Malik White. “People need to come together and realize that we have problems and we need to start working together.”

Malik White was chosen as president due to his previous position as vice president.

“It’s like what would happen in the case, any time the president of the United States has to go under the knife,” said Caffie. “When that happens then the vice president just steps into the role until such time that the president is back on his or her feet.”

Caffie said they plan on keeping Malik White as the president through the entire academic year.

“He would be president for the remainder of the academic year if he so chooses,” said Caffie. “If he chooses to step down then the next step for the institution is to hold new elections, and that’s what we would do. Until he tells us otherwise, he is the SGA president.”

Malik White is not planning, as of now, to step down during the year. It has been a challenging transition for him, but he has the support of his adviser and he said he would like to see the position through.

“I only had one day of training,” said Malik White. “Don has been very helpful. If it gets too overwhelming, Don and Dr. Simmons said I can step down to vice president until I’m ready to run for president again.”

Caffie said the school would ultimately support him if he chose to make that decision.

“It is hard to step into a position that you didn’t originally want to have,” said Caffie. “He ran for vice president, that’s what he felt he was capable of contributing at this level of his academic career, his leadership career here at CCM. He’s expressed his own concern about his ability to be the president, so it’s a learning experience for himself.”

While according to Phelps this is not the first time a transition has been made mid-semester, Caffie said she believes this is the first time in her tenure here that it has happened. She further said that, it may be a rare situation at CCM, but this is not an unusual experience in a professional environment. This could be a learning experience for members of the SGA.

“It’s not easy to work with people who are like yourself as well as different from yourself, so hopefully this experience will have been a learning lesson for everyone involved,” said Caffie. “There’s a lot to be learned from this whole process.”

While there may be things to be learned from this, Phelps said he doesn’t want the SGA to dwell on the change and let it affect the remainder of their year.

“As adviser, I want people to take this experience and look forward,” said Phelps. “I’m looking forward to SGA moving on and looking forward to a fresh start.”

Dr. Bette Simmons, vice president of student development and enrollment was unable to be reached for comment.

‘Black Art Matters’ exhibit comes to CCM

News Editor

The County College of Morris’ art gallery in the Learning Resource Center opened a display called “Black Art Matters” Monday, Feb. 6 to highlight the work of local black artists in honor of Black History Month.

To accomplish this, the gallery’s director Todd Doney asked Jersey City painter Alvin Pettit to curate the display. Doney and Pettit met each other teaching art at the Kubert School in Dover, and while Pettit left the school in 2010, they still consider each other personal friends.

Doney said that he wanted to expose bring black art to an area with a low African-American population in order to diversify cultural exposure. 3.7 percent of Morris County residents identify as “Black or African American alone” while 83.8 percent of Morris County residents identify as “White alone” as of July 2015, according to the U.S. Census.

“It’s not necessarily the history but that there are great artists that happen to be African-American, and we want to recognize that,”  Doney said. “I think our students need to see some other cultures besides what we have here … I’d like to introduce them and say, ‘Hey, there’s a lot of talented African-American artists.’”

Pettit said that he wanted to give the artists a free range, not holding them to any specific theme.

“I just wanted to collect ideas from various African-American artists without holding them to any theme,” Pettit said. “As far as the different styles that are represented in the gallery, I let everyone come in with their own style, the still lives, the abstract, just to show the diversity within African-American art.”

Pettit, who has paintings featured in the display, said that he likes to add messages to his art.

“Mine is usually figurative work, but I usually try to throw in some kind of concept rather than just being a model, a figurative model,” Pettit said. “For instance, one I have in there, ‘Southern Quilt,’ it actually talks about, the model’s holding a quilt, but it goes into the history of how closely they were made, if you go back into the South.”

Doney said that he enjoyed Pettit’s style of artwork.

“He’s a very traditional painter,” Doney said. “Very representational, but he has a little bit of a flair and a little bit of stylized some of his color usage, and to me, it hits a chord … Everybody’s different, but I happen to like what he’s doing.”

Eric Andrews, another Jersey City artist, made an homage to hip hop with a collection of fast-form acrylic caricatures of rappers. Andrews grew up in Detroit and began attending Parsons School of Design in Manhattan in the early 1980s during hip hop’s infancy, and he said that hip-hop has inspired his artwork since he began listening to underground records in the late 1970s. However, he said that when rap goes mainstream, it usually loses artistic value in order to make a profit. In his image making, he said that he tries to keep love for art like underground rappers.

“I thought it was more appropriate to do it in a more rough manner than to try to some oil paintings of hip hop artists,” Andrews said. “This is somewhat sticking true to the nature of hip hop because it’s meaty; it’s graphic; it’s quick.”

Andrews said that he also enjoys making political artwork. In the Black Art Matters exhibit, Andrews has featured portrait oil paint portraits of black political figures including Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King, Jr., both of whom he compared to rappers.

“If [Douglass] had been born in the 70s, he would have been a fan of hip hop,” Andrews said. “He was very progressive, questioning the mainstream … And talk about Martin Luther King, that guy’s cadence.”

Fernando Cunha, a liberal arts major at CCM, said that Yvonne Bandy’s acrylic painting “ERASEISM: A Matter of the Heart,” which shows stick figure imagery depicting the United States slave trade hidden in the background of the painting, said that the painting gave a clear message about the United States’ treatment of African-Americans.

“I see black people being hung, black people being jailed, fists full of money, and it really doesn’t leave much to the imagination,” Cunha said. “I think that whoever painted this put the cross in red on top to show the hypocrisy, and also because America’s such a Christian nation, but at the same time, it’s unbelievably hypocritical.”

Richard Pairazaman, a music recording major at CCM, said that he took an interest in “Little Bird” by Cory Ford.

“Mostly, I love a lot of the art that has a lot of vibrant color,” Pairazaman said. “Color very much catches my eye, and I love the way that the gold compliments with the different shades of black and white and purple, and then the bird really just stands out … There are colors in the bird that there are no where else present in the piece.”

Pat Moran, a graphic design major at CCM, said that he noticed a parallel between “Ecce Homo” and “Road to Calvary,” both acrylic paintings by Tyler Ballon.

“Seeing this gentleman in the bandana, he’s handcuffed, but his stature is very, almost, it’s almost like Jesus-like on a crucifix, so there’s kind of interesting things going on there, but seeing these scenarios painted on this scale I think is powerful on its own,” Moran said. “I think it’s very interesting how these gentlemen are on the sidewalk, on the street, and they’re carrying this cross, and they’re both looking up into the sky, so both of these pieces I think point towards faith and looking forward towards something or having some sort of progression going on.”

Moran said that as the painting depicting people scale makes an impression.

“Whenever you see a big piece of art, it’s always more powerful, especially when it’s a human figure just because they’re here with us,” Moran said. “Seeing these scenarios painted on this scale I think is powerful on its own; it speaks on its own.”

Stephaun Johnson, a business administration major at CCM, said that he enjoyed “Lucifer,” an abstract oil painting by Clifton Walston, because it perplexed him.

“I really don’t understand it, but I kind of see the depictions of faces and stuff,” Johnson said. “But that’s what grabs me, that the message is somewhere hidden in here, but I have to decipher it.”

The Black Art Matters exhibit opens at noon every weekday in the CCM art gallery until Friday, March 31.

CCM softball team work to build off past success

News Editor

The softball team at County College of Morris has begun practicing for its 2017 regular season which it will open Sunday, March 5 against Rowan College at Gloucester County.

The Titans look to repeat their region title victory after winning the 2016 National Junior College Athletic Association Region XIX Championship May 6, 2016.

Softball head coach Greg Wardlow said that a lack of pitching depth may hinder his team.

During the fall preseason, the team had three pitchers, two of whom have since announced that they cannot play this season because of injuries. Since then, the coaches have been working to find players who have had some experience pitching and train them so that they can pitch behind starter Mary Mastriani. These backups consist of infielder Carly McDaniel, outfielder Taylor Van Sant, second baseman Kellyann McClain who pitched one inning for CCM last season, and Vincenza Megone who pitched for Bloomfield High School until her graduation in 2015 and played for CCM in the fall 2015 preseason but not the spring 2016 regular season.

Despite this, Wardlow said that this season’s team is akin to last year’s.

“Other than the pitching depth issue, I think our team is comparable to last year,” Wardlow said. “And we’re always optimistic. Maybe we’re a bit better … I think our overall defense is shaping up to be a little bit better than last year. I think our team speed is definitely a little bit better.”

Wardlow expressed confidence in Mastriani as the starting pitcher. Mastriani pitched in 2016 with a record of 22-6, and was named by international softball news agency Fastpitch News as an NJCAA Division II All-American for the fall 2016 preseason, along with four other pitchers nationally.

“She was one of the principal reasons why we won the regional championship,” Wardlow said. “And she’s back and continues to give us optimism, but our pitching depth behind that took a bit of a hit, so right now, we have quantity, not sure of the quality in our second and third pitchers, but we’re working on that … They’re not as experienced as the two pitchers we lost, but we’re still optimistic that with Mary leading the way, when we get to the big games, we’ll still be okay.”

Magone said that she was adjusting back into the pitching role.

“I feel confident,” Magone said. “It’s fine. I did it all my life, so it’s just like muscle memory.”

Softball assistant coach John Baccolini has focused in on training the backup pitchers this season.

“They’re all well-quality athletes,” Baccolini said. “We start off with fastball and changeup first, and then, we’ve been doing mostly that in late December and January, and then, as we move into the middle of February, we’ll start working on their breaking pitches.”

CCM president encourages students, faculty to help devise new budget

News Editor

As County College of Morris president Dr. Anthony Iacono devises a new strategic plan for the school, he is encouraging students and faculty to voice their opinions on what they want to see continue and what they want to see change.

Iacono hosted meetings Wednesday, Feb. 8 and Tuesday, Feb. 14 in an effort to gain insight on what the college needs to revamp as the administration builds the new strategic plan, which acts as a blueprint for the college’s way of operating to meet the priorities on which the college will focus in the next few years. Iacono expects the plan to take about six months to fully develop.

Some of the issues that arose in these meetings were increasing accessibility for students who struggle to move around campus because of physical disabilities, registration difficulties for military personnel, community college stigma, and the quality and enrollment of CCM’s honors classes.

“Part of really developing a good strategic plan is taking time to listen to lots of people who are the stakeholders, which is anyone who has anything invested in the institution, so that might be someone who works for the college; it could be students, members of the community and so forth,” Iacono said. “So what we really want to do is have a chance to really listen, to hear what’s on people’s minds, so what we’re looking for is things that you think are working really well and things that you feel that we should do more of. It’s great to share that. Things that you think we’re not doing at all that you think we should be giving some attention to, we want to hear that, and if there’s things that you think we’re not doing that well, we want to hear that, also.”

Marisa Goglia, a CCM journalism major with cerebral palsy, said that one major problem within Accessibility Services is the lack of accessibility to both the third floor and the bathrooms.

“I have to ask people to open restroom doors for me, and I like being independent,” Goglia said.

Iacono voiced interest in increasing accessibility at CCM, citing that about 1,000 students utilize Accessibility Services. He said that he would look into installing accessible door buttons for the bathrooms and creating means to making the third floor accessible to students with disabilities.

“It’s a really important population, and we need to focus more on it,” Iacono said. “It’s hard enough to go to college, but for some students, it can be even more challenging than that because you have to learn the campus, what are the resources, and where are the resources.”

D’Angelo Torres, a soldier in the New Jersey National Guard and engineering major in his first semester at CCM, said that many soldiers experience an unwanted surprise when first registering for classes at CCM. Torres said that despite the Guard paying for its soldiers’ tuition at CCM, no one makes it abundantly clear that the Guard does not pay for additional fees, and many soldiers do not know that they need to pay for this until they submit their waiver documentation to the bursar’s office.

“I already knew that I already had fees and extra stuff to pay, so I wasn’t surprised, but at the same time, I didn’t really see anybody telling me that I had extra fees and all that other stuff,” Torres said. “But I did ask, and the veteran’s office, they were really helpful with everything, but there wasn’t anyone informing this, what the extra fees were until we got to the bursar’s office.”

Dr. Bette Simmons, vice president of student development at CCM, said that students have complained about this before, and she said that there is a disagreement on who holds the responsibility of clarifying this. Simmons said that some believe each soldier’s commander should hold the responsibility while others feel the obligation should rest on CCM.

Iacono asked Torres where he thinks this information should be available and asked if the college should add it on its website as the site undergoes reconstruction.

“It’ll happen in two phases,” Iacono said. “One is just to tweak it out a little bit and make the registration process easier, what have you, and get our catalog online, and then, after that, we’ll spend about a year redoing it, and there’ll be some listening sessions with the committees and so forth as well. Is that where it should be? Where should we be telling people? Because you would not be too thrilled if it was just a sign right in front of the bursar’s window. It’s a little late at that point, right? Where can we make you aware of that?

Torres said that both CCM and the National Guard should make soldiers’ necessary payments clear to them.

“I feel like it’s on both sides,” Torres said. “The commander, they should really emphasize that, ‘Yeah, we pay for the college but just the tuition not the fees and whatnot,’ and it’s just really a communication between the military and state schools. Online would be nice, maybe registration’s office at some point, at some point before the bursar’s office so that when you go there, you already have a good idea of what you’re paying and why you’re paying it.”

Iacono also acknowledged the stigma surrounding attending community college, and took suggestions for how to combat that stigma.

“There’s roughly 1,300 community colleges around the country, and they’ll all tell you, if there’s one thing we all have in common, it’s the stigma factor,” Iacono said. “Talk to us about the stigma factor. Did you experience that? What does it sound like? What is the stigma, really?”

Brian Gilligan, a criminal justice major at CCM, said that he noticed many students in his high school considering themselves more elite for attending universities; however, he said that many of these students have not had successful academic careers.

“Usually the kids that perpetuated the stigma, they went to a university and failed out in another year,” Gilligan said. “I think that if someone’s at a university, they think it’s more elite. Like, they go to Rutgers, and they think they’re more elite than the community school, and it could be wealth, like, ‘Oh, my parents have enough money to afford Rutgers, and so I’m richer,’ so it’s wealth-based, or it’s elitist, kind of.”

Sussex County resident Arrik Leman said that many students and faculty members pushed stigmas of community colleges, directing those stigmas especially at Sussex County Community College (SCCC). Leman said that this was one of the reasons he decided to attend CCM over SCCC.

“When I was in high school, there was a huge push of if you’re going to county, go to CCM, which is good for you guys,” Leman said. “The big problem when people look at county colleges is that they are not reliable is the feeling I get, and that’s why a lot of people from Sussex County end up coming here because they’re worried that if they get into a program, a class that’s required to graduate won’t be able to fill up, and the class won’t be available, and they’ll have to wait until next year or next year.”

Leman expressed satisfaction with choosing CCM over SCCC.

“It’s normally worth the drive, and it’s more professional because this is comparable to a real school,” Leman said.

When Simmons asked students for ideas on how to combat community college stigma, Gilligan said that CCM should publicize some of its successful alumni.

“We need to find success stories of people graduating and from here and going to some good school or getting a really good job,” Gilligan said. “And maybe that might help. And advertizing it.”

Jodi Petrakian, a humanities and social sciences major who takes honors classes at CCM, said that she would like to see more enrollment and consistency in CCM’s honors classes.

“I think that we need to maybe push them,” Petrakian said. “There’s not a lot of students in them … There are some professors who have just decided to do whatever they want, and it doesn’t always turn out well, or it’s just kind of gibberish that you’re listening to for a while.”

Iacono said that he was considering creating an honors program at CCM rather than only having individual honors classes.

Petrakian said that an honors program would benefit students.

“Definitely, I think an honors program would benefit a lot of people,” Petrakian said. “I think a program would be nice to be able to say that you’re doing it even and then to be able to have specific classes that are a little bit more rigorous and a little more attentive.”