Jukebox app service to be added to cafeterias

By Nick Sisti

In mid-October 2017, County College of Morris will be implementing the services of Rockbot, a “jukebox” app which allows patrons of a given public space to influence the soundtrack by requesting songs from their smartphones and voting on the next track to be played. Since its inception in 2013, Rockbot has been used by companies such as McDonald’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, GAP, and Jetblue.
Tentatively, the service will be available in the Cohen Café and LRC Café which serves Starbucks products.

The addition of the jukebox app is the latest in a string of CCM cafeteria renovations, most of which culminated in late August. Cohen Hall Café’s Quiznos and Chickendipity have been replaced with a new “Create” section by Chartwells, and the food service area of the student center has been removed in favor of vending machines filled with fresh food.

According to Rockbot’s website, the company aims to “change the way businesses everywhere control their soundtracks and engage their guests.” Students will be able to request tracks from a preselected list of songs, and they even have the ability to create playlists of their favorite songs which the app automatically requests whenever they walk into a Rockbot enabled space.

While many students are excited to be able to have a say in the lunchtime playlist, some feel that the school cafeteria environment doesn’t necessarily require a soundtrack.

“I think it can be a bit disruptive,” said Hope Motzenbecker, a communication major at CCM. “If I’m at an actual restaurant, I think the music is part of the ambience. If it’s a Mexican restaurant, for example, you’d expect to hear Mexican music. It adds to the overall vibe. But I’m not sure if the cafeteria atmosphere needs music.”

For others, the volume of the music either makes or breaks the equation.

“The only time I notice the music is when I’m in the LRC café,” said Valentina Marmolejo, a communication major at CCM. “I used to do a lot of my work there my first year here, but now I feel like because the music is being incorporated it’s becoming more of a hangout place instead of a work place.”

Despite these grievances, Marmolejo remains quite fond of certain aspects of the soundtrack, particularly Train’s 2001 hit “Drops of Jupiter.”

“It’s a bop,” Marmolejo said.

In regards to the recent food option alterations, some students appreciate the added personalization.

“I like how customizable the Create options are,” said Alexa Metro, a broadcasting major at CCM. “It’s so much more personalized than other create-your-own places. The amount of combinations you can put together is crazy.”

However, others haven’t been happy with the administration rustling things up.

“Personally, I’m not a fan of the changes,” said Shane Sayre, a liberal arts major at CCM. “I usually hang out in the ping pong room, so it’s kind of a bummer that they took out a ton of the options in the student center café. Plus, I can’t even find the things they had there at the Cohen Café now. There’s no pizza.”


Speech Lab set to open in 2018 to assist with common required course

By Nick Sisti
Copy Editor

The department of communication at County College of Morris has commissioned the building of a Speech Lab which the department hopes will help streamline the speech writing process for students in need of assistance in speech fundamentals, a required class for students in most majors.

The lab will open its doors either in the fall or spring 2018 semester with select trials set to begin around the fall 2017 semester, according to Dr. Matthew Jones, chair of the department of communication which encompasses the speech classes.

For many college students, the mere prospect of a speech fundamentals class can be nerve-wracking. However, Jones hopes that the lab will help alleviate the anxieties of students who fear public speaking.

“There’s a very big initiative in community colleges, as well as universities in general, where it needs to be demonstrated that the student experience is adequately supported,” Jones said. “Tutoring centers are a part of that. There’s a writing center, a math center, a science center … Ideally, tutoring should be available for any course on campus. It’s very common to have a speech tutoring center, which we’re going to be implementing with the lab.”

Still in progress, the multi-room complex is located in DH 100, attached to the main tutoring center. The  four room  lab will assist students on how to properly articulate their ideas as well as address common issues like performance anxiety with techniques including meditation. The program will culminate with a dress rehearsal of one’s speech in the lab’s classroom.

“The theory is, if we can hold speech classes in the classroom, we can use that as a testing bed for students who’ve gone through the lab,” Jones said. “The goal is for the students to rehearse their speeches in as a realistic a setting as possible.”

Given the high demand for speech classes at CCM, there is a wide variety of teaching methods utilized. Some classes consist of lectures while others incorporate interactive and hands-on pre-speech exercises, an aspect that Jones said he hopes to amplify with the program.

“What I loved about my speech class was that the teacher made us get to know each other,” said Chloe Smith, a liberal arts major at CCM. “This made it a very open environment, which made me feel so much more comfortable when performing speeches.”

Some of the speech assistance techniques proposed to the lab have made appearances in the curriculum of certain speech classes, in varying capacity.

“We went over meditation as a way to prepare for speeches, as well as various games that allowed us to be creative while practicing speech methods,” Smith said. “After taking the class, I felt much more inclined to speak in front of strangers…Which, I think for many people is probably the most feared thing. You just have a different mindset once you establish that confidence.”

Students find meaning in out of country experience

Entertainment Editor

County College of Morris students embarked on a European excursion with associate history professor Craig Pilant for the seventh year in a row.

This year’s trip visited Paris, Barcelona and Madrid, from March 7-18, in conjunction with EF College Study Tours.. Students, alumni and families attended the trip.

Some trip-goers felt inspired to take the trek by others’ experiences before them.

“My mom would always tell me how she went to Europe in her 20s,” said Dorothy Scheines, a computer science major at CCM. “She’d go on and on about how it was the most amazing time of her life, so that definitely motivated me.”

The trajectory of the trip spanned 5000 miles on plane and train, beginning with a jet-lag inducing overnight flight into Paris. The first place travelers visited was the church of Notre Dame.

“Notre Dame was awesome,” said Zack Blackstone, a CCM alumnus who is a repeat traveler on Pilant’s trips. “The gothic stuff was very large and impressive. It’s amazing it’s been maintained so well, considering how old it is.”

The next night consisted of the obligatory Eiffel Tower trip, something that many of the students had been eagerly anticipating. However, reviews were mixed as some felt their hopes shot down.

“The Eiffel Tower was really disappointing for me,” said Blackstone. “It’s a really bland monument. We had to wait in a super long line… it was a rough night. It was a nice view from the top, however.”

In spite of the long line, some felt the destination was more important than the journey.

“It was totally worth it,” said Scheines. “It was like being in a cage at the top of the world.”

Multiple sites in the Barcelona portion of the trip itinerary highlighted the works of renowned Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. The first such site was Park Guell, which was originally constructed to be a private community hub. Though it was never populated, the park still stands today and is subjected to hundreds of visitors daily.

“Park Guell was so artistically fulfilling and beautiful,” said Blackstone. “I was really surprised that none of the property ever sold, but at least it gets the recognition it deserves now.”

Next on the list was Sagrada Familia, an ambitiously massive cathedral considered to be Gaudi’s final masterpiece. The building, which is still being constructed to this day, is projected to finally be completed in 2026. Construction began in 1882 and has slowly but steadily progressed, with admission fees providing the budget.

“Sagrada Familia was the most impressive church I’ve ever seen,” said Blackstone. “It was interesting to see that even though we live in such a scientific age, that there’s still a huge emphasis on these religious structures. It was very moving and emotionally substantial for me.”

The Spanish art of flamenco comprises of multiple performance elements including classical guitar, dancing, and a capella. On day four of the Barcelona excursion, travelers were treated to an authentic flamenco presentation. The show began with solely vocals, and proceeded to introduce tap-dancing and fingerstyle classical guitars, culminating in a crescendo of all three components. Feedback was highly positive, with most trip-goers placing the performance at the top of their list.

“The flamenco was awesome. The whole vibe was really weird and powerful. It was very expressive and something I could connect to emotionally,” said Blackstone.

Scheines echoed his enjoyment.

“It was fantastic. I’ve never seen anything like that,” said Scheines. “When you hear everything together, it’s hard to believe that it’s only two guitars, feet, and voices. It sounds like a full band.”

When one experiences a foreign country for the first time, it drastically changes his or her perception of ethnocentrism. Americans sometimes have a tendency to view themselves as the center of the world, and it can be somewhat jarring when one is dropped into a far-off land with a substantially different cultural context.

“It’s helped me put in perspective what people coming here feel like,” said Scheines. “Even if you’ve learned the language of a foreign country, there’s so many other cultural cues and double meanings for words that you can’t really become acquainted with unless you live there and immerse yourself in the culture.”

For Blackstone, experiencing France’s much older history has influenced his overall awareness of his own.

“Paris especially had such a cultural history. It was readily apparent that centuries of stuff had gone on there, which was interesting coming from the US which is a relatively new place in comparison,” said Blackstone.

For info on next year’s trip to Germany and Italy, contact

Students embrace streaming services

Entertainment Editor

The trajectory of television, and video content delivery as a whole, has endured quite a drastic shakeup throughout the unstoppable rise of streaming platforms in the past few years. Since the early days of only three network channels, the medium has continued to broaden through expansion of content availability and more esoteric niche content coming to fruition.

Largely sparked by 2011’s phenomenon of the Netflix Original House of Cards, big budget TV has firmly planted its place in the streaming world, adding yet another dimension to an ever-evolving landscape. This has constructed a entirely separate layer to the collective television conversation, one whose lines may be blurred soon as more and studios continue to toss their pennies in the streaming fountain. A recent Nielsen study has determined that over 50 percent of millennials have ceased use of traditional television, which may mean that it’s time for cable companies to adapt to the changing tides to maintain relevance.

“It’s kind of like radio. It’s still there, it’s just not the main thing anymore,” said Vincent Terranio, a broadcasting major. “It used to be the premium channels like HBO that had all the expensive well-made shows but with all of the web hits that’s not the case anymore. I don’t think it’s going to die out, but it’s definitely going to change a lot.”

Convergence of internet and TV has occurred to the point where there is an outcry whenever a live event cannot be streamed over the internet. NBC received a significant amount of backlash for not offering a way to view the 2017 Golden Globe Awards online.

“I’d say about 10 percent of what I watch is live TV,” said Louis Perez, a music recording major. “If something like an awards show is on, I want to see it as it’s happening to get the experience. It’s just not the same if it’s pre-recorded.”

Though the various forms of film mediums have long passed, the basic function of this analog equipment will always live on in the way digital content and television production tools are modeled. Video editing software continues to display icons showing rolls of film, and film producers will sometimes even try to emulate the look of a certain type of vintage film using filters and color adjustment.

In a similar fashion, shows that are produced exclusively for streaming transcend the strict borders of network television while simultaneously remaining within them. While the basic setup of a Netflix Original show may follow a traditional-format plot structure, there are a variety of factors that add up to create a wildly different viewing experience.

“The shows are actually 30 minutes, not the typical 19 minutes plus commercials,” Terranio said. “In something like Breaking Bad, there’s obvious cuts for commercials and strategically placed cliffhangers. The streaming shows don’t have that.”

In another example of this ever-shifting transcendence, the idea of carving out dedicated time to sit down and watch a TV program has slowly begun its fade into the mist. With the same programs available on smartphones, tablets, and portable video game consoles, a legitimate television may not even be necessary.

“I barely use my TV,” said Angela Frugone, a broadcasting major. “I’m never home so everything I watch is usually on my phone. I typically go on Youtube Red, Netflix, Hulu, just online streaming.”

For the growing hordes of cord-cutters, streaming services offer an inexpensive way to pay solely for the content they want.

“I think for those with a lower income, the streaming services are very beneficial. I think cable will eventually be obsolete,” Frugone said.

A recent Tivo research study conveyed that 99 percent of people multitask while watching television. Viewers are typically divided into two camps: passive or active watchers. Often, the type of watcher will influence the type of programming they consume.
“I’d say I’m a passive watcher,” said Frugone. “Whether it’s laundry, homework, or texting, I’m always doing something else while watching.”

The ever-popular “binge watching” format has influenced how audiences perceive programs as opposed to a serialized format. Some researchers over the years have argued that watching a series all the way through in a short period of time provides an experience more akin to a novel, as the audience becomes more emotionally invested in the characters. For some students, this is the optimal way to watch.

“I usually let the episodes build up and then binge watch them. I can’t do the whole cliffhanger then wait a week thing,” said Frugone. “When I was younger I was really into Pretty Little Liars. Because of the cliffhangers, it compelled me more to sit down and watch it at a certain time. I prefer the binge watching format because I don’t have to deal with seeing spoilers online in between episodes since I’m watching it all at once.”

For others, the preference changes depending on the program.

“It really depends on the show,” Perez said. “Some shows I prefer to take it slow, but others like Daredevil, I have to watch all the way through.”

One downside to releasing an entire season of television at all once is that it eliminates the fan chatter between episodes, creating a possibly skewed dynamic of anticipation.

“It’s a different experience when watching a show weekly as opposed to all at once,” Terranio said. “There’s a great deal of speculation and theories tossed around online each week and you don’t get that sort of experience with watching it all at once. The cliffhangers don’t really mean anything anymore because you immediately go right into the next episode.”

CCM students set for travel adventure

Entertainment Editor

Students with a love of art, history and travel will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in all three as part of a pair of trips being offered to students  at the County College of Morris.

From March 8-18, CCM students will embark on two trips: one to Paris and Barcelona, as well as an art-based trip solely to Paris. The Paris-based trip has been coordinated by CCM art history professor James Adkins.

“It’s really about exposing the students to another culture, a world capital,” Adkins said. “I’m really excited to share that with them. In addition, they’ll be able to see many of the art pieces we’ve gone over in class in person. We’ll be going to the Nostradamus Museum, the Louvre, the opera house, and Versailles.”

An influx of demand for the March excursion has driven a second identical trip to be booked for this May.

“I studied abroad in Italy during my junior year of college,” Adkins said. “I think that the profound impact of going somewhere like this and being immersed in the culture… it’s hard to measure how much of an eye-opening experience it can be. It can be intimidating not being able to speak the language, but you can really have some great interactions and experiences when you’re outside of your comfort zone.”

Craig Pilant, history professor at CCM, is hosting his seventh trip with CCM over spring break, in conjunction with EF College Study Tours, which will spend three days in Paris and nine in Barcelona.

“The main driver for this trip is Spain, however I’m hopeful that students will get a good flavor for Paris’ culture as well,” Pilant said. “The students will get a chance to see a different side of Spanish life, as we’ll be visiting a few smaller towns in addition to the cities.”

Similar in style to Adkins’ Paris jaunt, much of the time in Spain will be spent exploring its artistic quarters.

“Largely, a lot of the emphasis is on history and art” Pilant said. “There’s an evening we spend in Flamenco, and we’ll be visiting three museums focused on Spanish art going all the way from the middle ages up until Salvador Dali.”

When considering checking yes to a trip of this magnitude, a breadth of concerns can arise, either financially or emotionally.

“Students very often will look at the trip and say ‘this is too much, this is just too big for me,’ or they’ll have some kind of fear about going overseas,” said Pilant. “But you can’t let that fear stifle you. A very important part of travel is that you’re saying yes to life.”

According to Pilant, this particular venture is unique due to the high amount of returning travelers.

“I went on the last trip to the UK and Ireland, which was a lot of fun,” said Annamarie Luongo, a communication major attending the Paris and Barcelona trip. “When we all came home, we found out that this trip was going on and we were all like ‘we should go!’ I’ve always wanted to travel to France and Spain, so it’s such a golden opportunity to just like snatch it up and go. I’m especially excited to finally see the Eiffel Tower lit up at night, as well as the Louvre.”

Some students have enjoyed Pilant’s trips so much that they continue to attend even after graduating CCM.

“I went on the 2013 trip to Greece, Athens, Delphi, Italy, Florence and Rome,” said Zack Blackstone, a CCM alumnus. “I didn’t know anyone when signing up but I made a ton of friends.”

Even though the trips do not offer academic credit, students have found ways to tie it into their studies.

“I think this trip should very fruitful academically,” Blackstone said. “I studied a lot of French literature throughout my education, so I’m excited to see where they lived their lives and gained inspiration for their works.”

In addition to artistic and cultural ambitions, some are excited to connect with their heritage.

“My whole dad’s side of the family is from Spain, and I’ve always wanted to reconnect with that piece of my family culture,” said Sabrina Alvarado, a communication major.

When traveling to a foreign country for the first time, one’s mind will likely be populated with a range of hopes and, sometimes, fears. For Alvarado, the best option is to go in with a blank slate.

“I don’t want to sound like a pseudo-philosopher or anything, but I feel like expectations can breed unpleasant emotions,” said Alvarado. “If I expect to specifically get anything out of it, then what I actually do end up getting out of it probably won’t be as good. I just want to get there, come back safely, and figure out everything else in-between.”

Alvarado said that although she does not embark on her journey anticipating anything in particular, the one thing she can be sure of is a feeling of fulfillment from achieving a travel goal.

“So many people have approached me since I’ve decided to go on this trip, and they’ve said ‘oh, I’m gonna travel as soon as I’m done with this.’ Or ‘I’m gonna travel as soon as I retire’,” said Alvarado. “They all tell me how jealous they are of me for being able to do this, but I say that if you’re someone who has any desire to travel, you won’t feel fulfilled until you go for it.”

Campus wildlife intrigue students

By : Nick Sisti
Entertainment Editor 

Taking a stroll through the foliage-filled campus of County College of Morris, one will likely become acquainted with the various forms of wildlife that roam the area.

Most noticeable are the campus geese, who cross the sidewalks and accompany students on their way to class. Some students feel that the presence of the creatures adds to the aesthetic of the campus, while others are indifferent.

“Just this week, a bunch of geese were crossing from the student center,” said Tatiana Campiglia, a communication major at CCM. “There were at least 10 of them. It was cool to see because they were so comfortable doing it. They weren’t scared of any of the students. All of the students were waiting as if there were a stop sign, and it was the geese’ green light. I like having so many animals on campus. They’re all part of the school in a weird way.”

Students learned first-hand that nesting geese can be violently protective.

“This past spring, we had a nesting in lot eight,” noted John Fichter, assistant director of Public Safety at CCM. “We actually had to tape off the area because the male would be aggressive to people who got too close to the nest.”

Typically when this happens, the Department of Public Safety does what they can to preserve the area. However, if it occurs in areas where there is too much foot traffic to adequately contain it, they’ll call for outside help.

“We’ve had a few [nestings] closer to the school, and in those instances, the Randolph Animal Control would get involved,” Fichter said. “We haven’t really had any issues with animals in the buildings, other than a stray dog once.”

Some students are tolerant of the geese yet remain largely indifferent to them.

“I don’t resent their presence, but most of what they add to the campus would be … poop,” said Dr. Phil Chase, English professor at CCM.

Though it may appear a bit less prominent on the surface, an entire ecosystem of critters exists alongside the geese. “I’ve seen groundhogs by the tennis courts and also some sort of a hawk, which will swoop down while I’m playing tennis as if I’m in his territory or something,” Chase said. “Don’t try to approach the groundhogs. … They’re pretty vicious.”

However, Jacob Kokoshka, a biology major at CCM, sees the groundhogs in a different light.

“I like seeing them around,” he said. “My friends and I will often take Snapchats of them. We’ve even named some of them. … The one that hangs out by Cohen Hall, his name is Henry. There’s another one that lives by the library, but we haven’t come up with a name for him yet.”


New semester, same gripe

Entertainment Editor

Tuning into the typical hallway banter at the County College of Morris (CCM)  one topic that often takes center stage is that of campus transportation, which includes parking lots, walking paths and police protection.

Many students agree that campus byways are adequately policed and maintained, but some point out there can be an issue with congestion. And of course, the dreaded CCM parking problem.

“It’s only crowded at certain times, really,” said Kyle Shabazian, a communication major at CCM. “Everyone’s usually leaving at 3 [p.m.], so around that time there’s usually a huge line that you’re waiting for. But there’s enough exits to get out. I’m not really waiting too much. It’s not too chaotic, but it can get there at times.”

Lots six and seven are the closest student lots in proximity to the school, whereas the others require a lengthier traverse up a hill to reach campus. Because of the large student population, these closer lots are often full throughout most of the day, forcing many students to opt for lot one, the farthest from much of the school, though it is also the largest lot.

A common complaint among students who have earlier classes is that their inability to find a parking spot jeopardized their timely arrival to class.

“I was late once because I couldn’t find a spot, but that was my first day. And I didn’t really know my way around too well,” Shabazian said.  “You could always go into lot one or two. I definitely think there should be more parking up top, so that you don’t have to walk up all those hills.”

Rare instances have even occurred where every single student parking spot on campus has been taken; in events like this, students have had to go to campus security to attain temporary passes to park in a visitor spot.
           “I’ve had some problems with parking in lot one and having to get to class on the other side of the school,” said Billy Roberts, a liberal arts major at CCM. “It’s often too hard to park anywhere else.”

During peak hours, there is typically a high volume of traffic surrounding the two main entrances and exits to campus. Some students claim that this can create somewhat of an unruly state of affairs.

“I’ve run into a couple issues when it comes to people driving around and not really paying attention, especially on the roads getting off on Route 10,” Roberts said.

Any student who witnesses vehicular misconduct or wishes to voice a safety concern can contact campus security at 973-328-5000.