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‘Speak Out’ Meeting Addresses Some Controversial Issues

April 19, 2013 by admin

By Dan Natale

Brookdale Community College has many different faces. Some view it as a purgatory for lost souls to desperately try and atone for their high school sins. Others view it as a great opportunity for people to find themselves and get their careers on track at an affordable price.
   While Brookdale has a good reputation, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone that associates the school with snobbery, elitism, or exclusion. This is why the recent Speak-Out meeting caused such a stir among attendees.
   On Tuesday, April 2, students and faculty assembled in the Navesink rooms in the Student Life Center to discuss a “mandate to renovate and reopen the former arcade room,” which was authored by Student Body President Nick Quaranta.
   The proposal suggested that students with a G.P.A of a 3.0 or above would be allowed to enter the room. Quaranta’s idea was that students would go through an application process in order to get in. The room would be called “The Honorary Student Lounge,” and it would “provide honorary students with a place of tranquility and positive ambience.” 
   Since the meeting, the G.P.A requirement proposal has been scrapped. However, there will be a vote on whether or not the room will be re-opened and the interview process will commence at noon next Monday in the Student Life Board Room 110 in the Student Life Center. The vote will be open to all students.
   Quaranta’s proposal was not posed idly. Director of Student Life and Activities Robert Quinones said that the room was closed since the fall of 2012 due to suspicion of illegal activity taking place.
   “The Monmouth County Prosecutors Office was called in and conducted separate investigations with our police department for the suspicion of drugs, gambling and gang activity, said Quinones.
   Quinones added, “Once it was closed to community members and was only open to students, there was a resurgence of indiviuals speaking inappropriately to female students and other members.” 
   The Student Life Board attempted to thwart these shenanigans by blacklisting particularly disruptive gamers, and by requiring a student I.D. card to enter the room. Unfortunately, Quinones said that their attempts were futile. The outraged and blacklisted trouble-makers ended up getting into altercations with the Student Life Board members guarding the room.
   Many Speak Out attendees agreed with the sentiment. “I can say that absolutely with certainty that every time I went into that room over the course here, it was a horrible experience,” one male student said. “That room was always a boys club, and I mean that in absolutely the worst way.”
   Quaranta says that the room’s turbulent past is what influenced him to suggest the G.P.A requirement.  “I realize I can’t give you back that room with open access,” said Quaranta. “You guys can’t go and walk in as you did before freely. But what I can give you is that type of lounge setting, but with that G.P.A requirement.”
   Several students met the proposal with vehement opposition. “When I read through this, the whole exclusionary aspect of it, and making any G.P.A. requirement at all or making an application process to get in there, frankly it’s outrageous to me,” said a Brookdalian man in the audience. “We’re already paying for this room. Everybody should have the right to go in there. I think the idea that it’ll motivate people to do better with their G.P.A is nonsense.”
   Quinones and the two other faculty members also agreed with these statements. “G.P.A is not necessarily an indicator of who is more respectful,” said the Dean of Students Richard Pfeffer. “It’s an indicator of academic performance; it’s not necessarily a clear indicator of social behavior.”
 “Me, personally, I have a 2.9 G.P.A that doesn’t mean I’m a bad person,” added a female student in attendance.
   The 18-year-old president seemed to take the criticism in stride and was steadfast in defense of his idea. Quaranta said that he thought it was the “best way to provide a safe environment where people can have a good time,” and that he had exhausted tons of other options before settling on his current proposal.
   “I dedicate myself to my position. I really, truly care about you guys, and I really want to help you,” said Quaranta. “I fundamentally believe that an interview process at least will weed out a lot of the problems we were having with that room.”
   However, instead of simply disagreeing with Quaranta’s plan, other students thought of several solutions. Quinones suggested a redecorated “monitored space” that could be reserved for certain periods. Another student suggested that events like movie nights should be held in the room in order to attract a more diverse crowd.
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