September 19, 2020

Marijuana possession leads to arrest

Every week, Features Editor Lily Firth hits the archives and finds old Signals that relate to current College topics and top stories.

Marijuana has been a national subject of debate for several years. Some argue it is a harmful gateway drug, while others say it is a safer alternative to alcohol. Some support its legalization, while others support punishing users and sellers. Newly elected governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, has vowed to legalize marijuana in the state. In 1977, there was a much different culture surrounding the drug, when a student was convicted of possession of marijuana and subsequently suspended from the College.

Marijuana remains a highly debated issue. (photo courtesy of the TCNJ Digital Archive)

A student has been suspended for one year by the All College Disciplinary Board (ACDB) for possession of marijuana despite charges by a high ranking student leader that the judicial procedure was run “haphazardly” and that hearing officer Sheila Fleishman was “hungry for a conviction.”

Felix Farenga, a senior Criminal Justice major, was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute but he was convicted by the ACDB of a lesser charge, possession of 441 grams of high quality marijuana, according to College Disciplinary Officer Sheila Fleishman. Student Government Association (SGA) president Doreen Bierman has charged Fleishman with “holding a hearing during the summer months because she was hungry for a conviction.”

Fleishman has said she “wanted the hearing held during the summer because a decision had to be reached which would affect a student’s status for the fall semester.” She also said she received “very little student cooperation” in calling the board together.

According to campus police reports, Farenga’s van was stopped by patrolman Jon Vereen and Sgt. Carl Muglia last May for a routine motor vehicle check. The report stated that Farenga had concealed a brown paper bag under his jacket and that campus police believed the substance in the bag was approximately one pound of marijuana. Fargena was arrested and booked at Ewing Township Police headquarters for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

However, SGA President Bierman has accused campus police of failing to prove the substance was marijuana during Farenga’s judicial hearing. “It’s amazing that he could be charged with possession with intent to distribute when no one could identify what was in the bag,” said Bierman. “During the hearing, the arresting officer (Sgt. Muglia) said he was pretty sure it was marijuana but being pretty sure is no reason for him to be convicted.” “I’ve never seen such haphazard crap in my life,” said Bierman. “No one convinced me that he had dope in his possession let alone that he should be suspended.” CDO Sheila Fleishman, who is also the assistant to the dean of students, confirmed that no evidence was introduced during the actual hearing to prove the substance was marijuana. However, she did say that members of the Board contacted Ewing Police by telephone during the deliberation for a lab report. Fargena was not present during the deliberation.

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