"News is the first rough draft of history."

The Voice of the College at Florham

"News is the first rough draft of history." - The Voice of the College at Florham

Panelists analyze the effects of genetically modified foods


On April 21, Becton College and the SGA presented a Hot Topics event related to Earth Day, focusing on genetically modified food.

The moderator for the event was Brian Olechnowski, assistant professor of biology. The three panelists, Erik Baard, Edith Myers and Caitlin Hartmann, each gave a presentation on a particular topic related to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to a nearly full Lenfell Hall. Continue reading

Discussion addresses consent and sexual assault prevention


As part of Women’s History Month, Becton College and the SGA hosted a Hot Topics event involving a viewing of the documentary, “Spitting Game: The College Hookup Culture,” as well as a panel discussion on the topic of sexual consent on college campuses.

Nearly every seat in Lenfell Hall was filled at the March 24 event, which was led by three professors, Francesca Degiuli, Lona Whitmarsh and Monifa Brinson-Mulraine. The event also involved three student panelists, Anneliese Aberg-Scalzo, Lauren Mekal and Alex Zaki. Continue reading

Event addresses relations between police and African Americans


In conjunction with Black History Month, the first Hot Topics event of the semester featured three panelists who debated the subject of police and the African American community. The event, held on Feb. 24, took place in a packed Lenfell Hall and was called “I Can’t Breathe,” the phrase that Eric Garner repeated while police had him in a chokehold in New York. Those words became a rallying cry for activists protesting Garner’s death and other cases of debated police brutality.

Meghan Sacks, associate professor of criminology at FDU, was the moderator for the event. Continue reading

Student reacts to ‘Hot Topics: I Can’t Breathe’ event

Staff Writer

On the evening of Tuesday, Feb. 24, the Florham Campus hosted a Hot Topics discussion about the police and the African American community, using the “I Can’t Breathe” movement as a point of reference. It involved three panelists: an African American professor who co-edited an anthology on the subject, an author who had done several years of field studies with the police and an FDU student whose father is a police officer. Continue reading

Panel discusses America’s ‘red line’ policy toward Syria

News Editor

Between the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people by their own government and the U.S. government debating a potential strike on Syria, it is hard to fully understand the complex situation. With the first Hot Topics event of the semester, three professors explained the history of the region, including recent events that led to the current conflict, and the U.S. foreign policy toward Syria.

The moderator of the event was Geoffrey Weinman, dean of Becton College. He began the event by explaining that the conflict surrounding Syria has many factors and factions connected with it, including groups such as Al Qaeda and countries such as Saudi Arabia, Russia, France and the U.S. Recently, the international community has debated what should be done about the possible use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
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Hot Topics event covers debt crisis

Staff Writer

Last week’s Hot Topics event went into deep philosophical territory, the type that goes from debt to taxes, and everything in between.

The event, “The Debt Crisis: How it Affects You,” was held at the Orangerie on April 30, which seemed fitting since income taxes were due on April 15.

The panel, which was moderated by political science professor Bruce Peabody, consisted of Tom Strowe, a junior political science major and board member of Fair Tax New Jersey; Burton Zwick, a professor of economics and finance; Dan Cassino, a professor of political science; and Joaquin Villanueva, a professor of geography.
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Panel discusses future U.S. sources of energy

Staff Writer

As part of Green Day, a Hot Topics panel titled “Kicking the Fossil Fuel Habit: Can renewable energy meet U.S. energy needs by 2050?” took place in Lenfell Hall on April 23.

The panel was moderated by Gordan Reeves, associate professor of chemistry. Members of the panel were Jonathan Cloud from the Fairleigh Dickinson University Institute for Sustainable Enterprise; Kendrin Dyitt, Rutgers University alumnus and 4-H club member; Janis Kargbo, junior and biology major at the College at Florham; and Al Matos, FDU alumnus and graduate “three times over,” with a bachelor’s degree, M.S.E.E. and M.B.A.
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First Hot Topics of semester covers ‘postracial’ question

Staff Writer

On Feb. 12, just hours before President Barack Obama gave his fifth State of the Union address, the College at Florham hosted the first Hot Topics panel of the semester.

The event, “The Media and Race: Are We Postracial Yet?” was held in Lenfell Hall and sponsored by the Becton College of Arts and Sciences, the Student Government Association and the Black History Month Committee.

The four-person panel was comprised of two professors and two students from the College at Florham.

The professors were Katie Singer, senior lecturer in the Department of Literature, Language, Writing and Philosophy, and Henry Margenau, adjunct professor in the College Writing program. The students were senior SaKarra Fite and junior Devon Douglas-Bowers. The event was moderated by Sarah Latson, senior lecturer in the Department of Communication Studies.

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Hot Topics kicks off with panel discussion on election issues

News Editor

On Tuesday, Sept. 18, the semester’s first Hot Topics panel, “The 2012 Election: What Students Need to Know,” commenced in Lenfell Hall at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s College at Florham campus.

The FDU community was well represented in the panel, which included senior Dan Palmer, president of the Student Government Association; Dan Cassino, an associate professor in the political science department; Gary Bronson, a professor of information systems and decisions sciences; and Evangelos Djimopoulos, a professor of economics and chair of the economics, finance and international business department. Krista Jenkins, executive director of PublicMind, served as moderator.

Cassino kicked off the panel by discussing the unemployment rate and how it will affect FDU students in the long run.

The unemployment rate is currently at 8.1 percent but the most important number, Cassino explained, is the U6. The U6 includes all people who don’t have jobs – including those who are unlikely to ever get a job. This number is currently at 15.5 percent.

“If you have a college degree, things are still good,” despite the high unemployment and U6 numbers, Cassino said.

Cassino said that the philosophy that any person who wants a job can have one is simply no longer true.

Palmer spoke next about the importance of voting and registering to vote. He also mentioned the voter ID laws that can have a huge impact on students voting in November.

“When November rolls around thousands of young Americans will be turned away,” Palmer said, referring to student IDs being an unacceptable form of identification at polling places.

Palmer made note of the misconception that young people have no role to play in changing and shaping the world and used the Arab Spring uprisings as an example of young people standing up for change.

Bronson was the third speaker and addressed cooperation over competition. He said that the founding fathers did not compete against each other, rather they worked together. This generation, he said, is all about competition.

“Show me someone who competes and I’ll show you someone who comes in second,” Bronson said.

Bronson also spoke about running government as a business. He explained that one of the first things that would be done would be cutting taxes, and equated that with selling out.

Bronson closed with reminding students that, in addition to all the economics, they should pay attention to who they are and what freedom means to them.
Djimopoulos was the last to speak and talked about student loans and Medicare. The most important thing with regard to student loans, he explained, is that they don’t go away if you can’t pay them.

He asked the audience how many of them took out student loans to pay for their education and several people raised their hands. He then asked how many people have a co-signer on those loans, and people continued to raise their hands.

“If you can’t pay, then your parents are responsible,” Djimopoulos said.

Djimopoulos then switched to health care and how the president’s health care plan was put down as a bad thing.

“For students, it’s a good thing,” he said, explaining that students could stay under their parents’ health insurance until age 26.

He also spoke about Medicare and why students should be concerned about its future sooner rather than later.

Djimopoulos told the students in the audience that while it does not affect them directly, it does affect their parents and grandparents.
If Medicare is eliminated, Djimopoulos explained, there would be major problems.

At the end of the panel discussion, Palmer clarified his reasons for encouraging students to vote, noting that people often respond to social pressures.
When you go out and vote, tell people that you voted, Palmer said. He explained that this would make them more likely to vote because they hear about other people voting.

Cassino and Palmer both made it a point to not just vote, but to contact your representatives and let them know what you think about the job they are doing with regard to representing you, the constituent.

Djimopoulos had the final word and told the students, “Don’t keep quiet. Go discuss things.”

Hot Topics provokes discussion at final Black History Month forum

Students and faculty shock audience members by acting out very realistic and hostile disputes over Black History Month-related topics.

Staff Writer

Hot Topics hosted a dramatization by the cast of “Black History, Black Voices 3” on Feb. 27 in Lenfell Hall, with an estimated 220 FDU students, faculty and parents in attendance.

“Black History, Black Voices” needed a new space to perform after the Barn was closed to general performances. The Hot Topics event featured skit-like performances, which Dean Geoffrey Weinman called “guerrilla theater.”

The Hot Topics series, which holds multiple discussions throughout the year on numerous current events, is not shy to controversy. This event was a unique approach to the discussion; it was titled “Race in the Media: How Far Have We Come?”

Professor Stacie Lents of the theater department, who directed the performance and the previous “Black History, Black Voices” events, said she wanted to “do something different.”

The panel was unusual because, this time, it consisted of all students. Professors Lents and Katie Singer, director of the minor in African-American Studies, along with Dean Weinman, would ask questions to the panel and then to the students, in the hopes that the comments would help lead to a “skit” later on.

Lents, Singer and the panel, with the help of a few rowdy audience members, created a shocking and thought-provoking performance.

At first, one of the panelists, Shaquille Hobson, came late, only to then stun the audience with a statement declaring that he did not care about Black History Month, but rather he just wanted to act. This infuriated the rest of the panel.

The discussion continued with a clip of the Academy Award-winning film, “The Help,” a Morgan Freeman interview on “60 Minutes,” and the lyrics from the Kanye West song, “Never Let Me Down.”

These selections caused more flare-ups with the panelists and the audience members. While one panelist, senior Bobby Devarona, liked the film, the others debated its presence in American cinema; Devarona defended it, saying that “people should focus on the story line.”

The Freeman interview pushed more buttons. Freeman didn’t like that black history is only told in a month, and stated that “black history is American history.” This caused more problems with the panel, which split over Freeman’s comments. Soon, some of the panel members began to attack each other verbally.

But what really turned up the heat was the Kanye song. Hobson claimed that Kanye should be allowed to say the n-word as much as he wants. Kier “KJ” Thompson, a junior in the audience, vehemently disagreed, saying that a negative word like the n-word cannot be turned into a positive one. Thompson’s comments were among many that disrupted the discussion.

By then the audience was split into two camps: one thinking the event was staged and the other thinking it was real.

Either way, the confusion in the audience became evident; one young woman nearly left.

Another audience member, sophomore Alicia Rivas, jumped into the fray, insulted that Hobson took Black History Month for granted. She responded by calling Hobson, of all things, the n-word.

At this point, Lents accidentally got caught in a fight between Thompson and Devarona, and Weinman appeared to call Public Safety, only to return with a big red t-shirt that read, “I’m an Actor.” So did the panel and the audience members.

With the revelation that this was all staged, the real audience members burst into applause. Once they settled and the young woman who had attempted to leave was back in her seat, the real discussion began.

First, members of the panel discussed how they really felt about racism; their answers came from discussing the issue of race during the performance workshops, the video and music clips.

Caitlyn Roper, a sophomore, said that the experience “really put the issue of racism in my face for the first time.”

For Elizabeth Carlin, another sophomore, the performance was one of the “most uncomfortable things I had to deal with.” The panelists had even created false rumors to tell among their friends in the theater department to throw them off.

Steven McQueen, father of freshman panelist Taylor McQueen, said, “Black History Month is a celebration of our culture” - something that Vanessa Lewis, a freshman, agreed with.

“This month is for us,” she said. “Us as a people need to come together” because people are becoming more “anti-social.”

As for some of the faculty members who were there, Dean of Students Brian Mauro admitted he “suspected something was up,” when he saw the panel and when they were acting in ways “outside of their personality,” and commended them for providing stimulating conversation.

Weinman said “this was the biggest event since I have been doing it [Hot Topics]; it was risky but people are engaging in the topic by talking about it the next day.”

This sentiment was echoed by Singer. She said that the event’s “job” was to provoke discussion, adding that “any conversation on race is a success.”

Photo by Joe Castillo