July 2, 2020

College plans to revise ‘unenforceable’ facilities policies

Remember Greg and Robert? You may remember their signs.

Last year, these two men materialized in front of Brower Student Center one late September day. Identifying only by their first names, the two wielded large signs and shouted slogans denouncing “the homosexual lifestyle.” A quick counter-protest formed. Jessica Cortese, senior English and women’s and gender studies double major, said, “This should show people that they cannot come to our campus and start ranting hate-chants.”

But can they?

The simple answer is yes. But other concerns, including where, when and on whose watch these men and others like them can use campus grounds present equally important questions. The answer to them lay buried beneath stacks of paperwork and a confusing maze of policies – until recently.

The College is currently working on a Use of Facilities Policy that will govern how both College and non-College-affiliated individuals and groups can use the campus.

The Committee on Student and Campus Community (CSCC) held two open forums last week to discuss the policy with staff and students.

Despite poor attendance at both forums, held Thursday and Friday in Loser Hall, CSCC welcomes comments on the policy by e-mail until Saturday, Nov. 14. The policy is available at www.tcnj.edu/~paliwal/FacilitiesDraf102910.pdf. Address comments to wells@tcnj.edu.

“Right now there’s a patchwork of policies (in place). The policies that currently exist are really unenforceable,” said Provost and Executive Vice President Carol Bresnahan. “This is an attempt to replace those policies with one that is properly devised.”

Bresnahan, who observed last year’s protest and counter-protest, mentioned the policies governing campus use were “especially confusing if you’re coming from off-campus.”

Assistant Vice President for Student Services Magda Manetas described a litany of forms people needed to fill out under the previous system in order to use campus facilities. Potential users needed to visit several offices to obtain signatures granting permission.

“For many cases, people did come to the offices,” Manetas said.

Manetas mentioned applicants needed to obtain signatures from campus police and the dean of students, among others.

According to Bresnahan and Manetas, different departments had different policies in place regarding campus use, confusing the process further for potential facility users.

As a result, the policies lost effectiveness.

“(People) did not always get permission,” Manetas said of individuals and groups using campus facilities.

The new policy mandates that individuals and groups not from the College provide identification to Campus Police prior to using facilities. The areas of campus available for public use are stipulated in the 14-page policy as well. These areas include the spaces in front of the student center and between Green Hall and the Science Complex.

“I think we all think about this when the preachers come to campus,” Bresnahan said. “Next time they come, we’ll be able to say the proper place for them to go to exercise their free speech.”

Emily Brill can be reached at brill3@tcnj.edu.

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