jannat sheikh

Multiple buildings at CCM behind on state-required inspection certificates


A certificate expired in 2008 posted in Emeriti Hall. Photo by Jannat Sheikh

Campus officials say fire safety certificates have been issued, not displayed

By Jannat Sheikh
Managing Editor

County College of Morris has not posted in eight areas on campus updated fire safety inspection certificates required by the state, with many expiring before Youngtown first reported on the issue in November 2016.

The Randolph Township Fire Department has inspected the entire campus, but the college has not posted current certifications, according to Dawn Latincsics, compliance officer of human resources and former environmental health and safety coordinator department of public safety.

The areas behind on posting certificates are the Student Community Center, Student Center Cafe, Dragonetti Auditorium, Henderson Hall, Sheffield Hall, Cohen Hall, Cohen Cafe, and Emeriti Hall.

The New Jersey State Uniform Fire Safety Act of 1983 contains the state’s Uniform Fire Code which says that certain public buildings must be inspected periodically depending on their potential risk for fire-related incidents. It also says that when an area is inspection, there must be in it a certificate of inspection displayed in a conspicuous location. Each certificate includes dates of inspection and expiration.

Latincsics said that Richard Briant, Fire Official from the Bureau of Fire Prevention at the Randolph Township Fire Department, inspected every building on campus over the summer.

Briant said that the new certificates have not been issued because the college needs time to show that it has fixed violations and that the Fire Department gives CCM 30 days to take care of the violations. However, Latincsics turned over to Youngtown a copy of an updated certificate for the Cohen Cafe which has not been posted. The certificate says that it was issued Thursday, Sept. 14 and will expire Sept. 30, 2018 and explicitly says that there are no fire safety violations with the area.

In addition, Latincsics said there were “minor findings” that violated the code in some of the buildings during the inspection. Briant said that he expects to return in late October to re-inspect the campus.

Latincsics also said that there is no requirement to post the certificates although each one says, “This certificate must be posted in a conspicuous location in the above premises.”

In addition, Briant said that the updated certificates are required to be displayed in a prominent location.

“I think some of them are just old certificates that have been posted and just not taken down,” Latincsics said. “ There’s not a requirement to post them. But, [Briant] does come up frequently to check requirements of the code depending on the life hazard use of the building.”

Moreover, one of these certificates states that it expired almost 10 years ago. The certificate of inspection located in Emeriti Hall was issued Oct. 12, 2007 and expired Aug. 31, 2008. The one in Cohen Hall was issued Dec. 23, 2009 and expired Sept. 30, 2010. The Henderson Hall certificate was issued April 19, 2013 and expired Feb. 15, 2015.

“The inspections are done as required by the Randolph Fire Marshal,” Latincsics said. “Certificates are old or out of date, and some actually expired …We’re not posting them any further, as far as I know …There isn’t a current work order that has been put out, but that’s something that we can look at to see where [the certificates] are and bring them down so we don’t have the confusion.”

The Uniform Fire Code describes life hazard use as “the use of a building or structure that may constitute a potential risk to human life, public welfare or firefighters.” The majority of the campus’ science labs are situated in Sheffield Hall, and the culinary arts classes are taught in the Student Center.

Non-life hazard use buildings are checked periodically, Briant said. However, the CCM auditorium is required to be inspected quarterly while other buildings are checked annually.

Some concerned students at CCM  said they would appreciate updated certificates.

“They should update it unless they want problems if students start posting it on social media,” said Zay Ellison, an early childhood development major at CCM. “I don’t think the school wants to get in trouble over a simple task to just change a sheet of paper.”

Ellison said students should feel reassured that their safety is CCM’s first priority, but instead  these certificates might end up making students feel unsafe.

Like Ellison, another student believes that this can lead CCM to unnecessary trouble.

“To be honest, I think it’s a bad look for the college considering these forms are being publicly displayed,” said Fahad Siddiqui, a biology major at CCM. “They are expired for multiple years already, and I feel like some students who actually care might even complain to higher authority feeling as if they are not safe.”

On the other hand, one student tried looking at the situation through the school’s perspective.

“I would believe that running a college is a lot of work and very time consuming,” said Abbey Long, a journalism major at CCM. “They could just be busy and forgot.”


Previously shut-down SGA prepares for elections

By Jannat Sheikh
News Editor

County College of Morris has begun the process to revive the Student Government Association in hopes to restore activity by Tuesday, Oct. 24.

In the spring 2017 semester, the SGA was shut down and the elections were canceled due to miscommunication, dysfunction, and allegations of dereliction of duty. There was confusion regarding the existence of discrimination clause in the SGA constitution. However, all clubs are covered under an anti-discrimination clause enacted by the Board of Trustees; no club or organization’s constitution can supercede that campus-wide edict.

Moreover, in April 2017, a few members of the SGA senate brought allegations against former President Malik White for sexual misconduct and tried to impeach him. After a thorough investigation, White was absolved of all allegations. Since then, the SGA has been disbanded.

Now, the process for identifying interested SGA candidates will start with one of two information sessions, according to Dr. Bette Simmons, vice president of student development and enrollment management. The first information session was Tuesday, Sept. 12, and the second will be Tuesday, Oct. 3.

“At these information sessions, students will learn about the new process for nominations and elections,” Simmons said.

Furthermore, Simmons said that this new process will include interested students applying for available positions and interviewing with a Nomination Committee consisting of faculty and staff appointed by Simmons. The individuals will be selected by this committee to get on the ballot.

“I won’t let the SGA office or club room become a hangout space; that’s what the pingpong room and game room is for.”

Demylee Pablos

SGA presidential candidate

“All candidates will need to be approved by two thirds of the Nomination Committee,” said Don Phelps, associate director of Campus Life and former co-advisor of the SGA.

In addition, the number of students who may run cannot yet be determined. This can only be known when the individuals apply for the available positions.

Available positions include Executive Board members (President, Vice President, Inter Club Council, Treasurer, Secretary) and 21 Senators.

In fact, the Inter-Club Council Chairperson will be voted on by CCM students during the election.  In the past, the ICC Chair was selected by the Senate according to Phelps.

Demylee Pablos, a hospitality management major at CCM, is one of the students interested in running for SGA president.

“Last semester had a lot of miscommunication and misunderstandings,” Pablos said. “Although I am nervous, I can assure you that I’m ready for the responsibility.”

Also, Pablos said that she will prevent misunderstandings by having an open dialogue with the students involved in clubs.

“Unlike a lot of people I know, I have an open dialogue with every person,” Pablos added. “And I won’t let the SGA office or club room become a hangout space; that’s what the pingpong room and game room is for.”

Pablos does not know anyone else who may be running in the elections.

On another note, students will be able to vote once an approved slate has been identified, according to Simmons.

Students can then vote in online elections which will be live on Blackboard from Tuesday, Oct. 17 to Thursday, Oct. 19, according to Phelps.

As Simmons said during the spring 2017 semester after the initial fallout, “I would expect the student government to really represent the student body and if we have such a small number of people voting, then it clearly won’t be representative.”

The SGA at CCM Facebook page states that the SGA is here to listen to the students and help resolve student issues. They are the official liaison between the students and the faculty. The SGA aims to create an enjoyable atmosphere for everyone at CCM.

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.”

Blackboard becomes backbone of campus communication


Grades, presentations, discussion boards and assignments are just moments away from students at County College of Morris through Blackboard Learn, an online learning portal.

CCM students are assigned to a Blackboard account from their first day on campus in order to access information for some classes. Not all professors use Blackboard, which frustrates some students who want to keep their work organized.

“I find Blackboard helpful when it comes to communicating with professors about homework assignments and material that was reviewed in class,” said Carsyn St. John, a occupational therapy major at CCM. “I would find it even more useful if each professor was required to use the learning portal.”

St. John is not alone in her desire for a more universal adoption of Blackboard throughout campus.

“I actually like Blackboard,” said Faiza Khan, a humanities major at CCM. “It bothers me when professors don’t utilize it.”

The idea that Blackboard is a useful tool stems from its access to class materials and constant updates of grades.

“[Blackboard] keeps me organized and let’s me know how I am doing throughout the semester,” Khan said.

Other students consider Blackboard to be a bit outdated and in need for improvement.

“I would really appreciate if there was a chat, similar to Instant Messenger, to either chat with your professor or even a help desk,” said Jenny Carroll, a communication major at CCM. “Going back and forth from Blackboard to e-mail is tedious. Having a way to communicate on Blackboard fast and effectively would be ideal.”

Carroll said that she is a student that has had several online classes, and professors who love Blackboard. However, she personally feels that Blackboard was frustrating to navigate at first.

“Overall, Blackboard is very boring, and the layout is not interesting to maneuver whatsoever,” said Carroll.

Blackboard Learn can be accessed at courses.ccm.edu.

New year’s resolutions denied or applied: students attack back


Many people, including students at the County College of Morris, decided what they want to enhance or change about themselves in 2017.

While some people stick with their New Year’s resolutions, it’s more common to throw in the towel, according to research by the University of Scranton which estimates that only 8 percent of people achieve their New Year’s goals.

“I actually made a list,” said Hope Motzenbecker, a communication major at CCM.  

“Maybe I deleted it,” Motzenbecker said, as she searched through her phone. “Yeah, I deleted it.”

Motzenbecker recalled that one of the resolutions on her list was to practice the piano everyday. She explained that she did not go through with her resolutions because she had other things to do.

Approximately 40 percent of Americans take part in New Year’s resolutions according to Forbes. The other 60 percent do not set goals for the upcoming year.

“I wanted to get more organized,” said Miguel Romero, a criminal justice major at CCM. “I wanted to get a new job, to make more money.”

Romero said that this year has been going very well for him. He said he is more organized and he recently got a raise at his current job, falling in line with his resolutions.

On the top of the most popular resolutions list is to get healthier according to NBC News. The data from Google shows that “get healthy” was searched 62,776,640 times in 2016.

“I wanted to run more,” said Valentina Marmolejo, a communication major at CCM. “But I haven’t really been outside because it’s been raining nonstop… It’s also freezing so it’s kind of killing any motivation I had in me.”

Many are in the same boat as Marmolejo. Although people are enthusiastic about their resolutions, different variables can slow down the process of accomplishing a certain goal, and, in the end, make walking away the easiest option. Only time will tell how well people do maintaining their resolutions this year.