Rowan University students were escorted out of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s town hall meeting in Caldwell on July 1, marking the second time this year that students needed to vacate one of Christie’s events.
Attending police escorted the students from the town hall after they had “mic-checked” the governor, according to one of the Rowan students, senior political science major Jalina Wayser.
“Christie usually runs a system where you have to raise your hand to speak, and we did that, but he kept skipping over us, so we had to resort to speaking out of turn to hold him accountable for student initiatives, to which he line-item vetoed in the new budget,” said Wayser.
Fifteen to twenty students were in attendance and three were from Rowan. Wayser said that the remainders were students in attendance were those personally affected by Christie’s veto of a bill that would have provided eligibility for state aid and grants for undocumented students.
“In December of 2013, Christie signed the Dream Act, in which undocumented students, living in New Jersey could pay in-state rate for college tuition,” said Wayser. “As part of the NJ H.E.L.P. legislation package, undocumented students would be able to qualify for state aid, which Christie denied, after legislators placed it in the budget.”
The NJ H.E.L.P. legislative package is a group of bills sponsored by New Jersey United Students, a student organization with the goal to fight for students’ rights and give them a voice in government.
The package consists of several bills aimed expanding the Educational Opportunity Fund, forgive student loans after death, preventing tuition raises for nine consecutive semesters of en enrolled student, allow students to change gender on their legal documents through the college, as well as expanding aid to include undocumented students.
“Once I was escorted out, three other groups of students asked Christie the same question, and every time, he just ignored us or insulted us,” Wayser said.
Christie’s responses included calling the students “professional protesters” who were being paid by union heads to fight for them, to which Wayser responded, “I wish I could be paid to fight for the rights of students and state workers.”
Authorities non-aggressively escorted students from the meeting, to which several listeners commended their efforts. Teachers unions were attending in protest as well as several other union representatives.
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