Skip to comments.Christie and veteran opposed to Rutgers-Rowan merger get into shouting match
Posted on 03/09/2012 1:05:02 PM PST by JerseyanExile
Gov. Christie waded into a skirmish with a former Navy SEAL on Thursday as the weeks-long battle over his plan to merge Rutgers-Camden and Rowan University spilled into a town-hall meeting in Burlington County.
The yelling match erupted Thursday in Roebling after Christie told veteran William Brown - a Rutgers-Camden law student and former Democratic Assembly candidate who opposes the merger - that the school would definitely be folded into Rowan.
It ended with the governor dismissing Brown as an "idiot" and police hustling the man out of the firehouse in the Florence Township community. Outside, Brown fumed that the governor had acted like a bully and officers were heard inviting him back inside.
Hundreds of people were watching as Christie said current Rutgers-Camden students would be able to graduate with Rutgers degrees. That did not placate Brown, 34, a second-year law student, who asked, "What about my son? What about my neighbors? What about my friends?"
The Republican governor snapped back after Brown repeatedly interrupted him as he tried to say why he was going to push the merger through in the face of increasingly mobilized and vocal opposition.
"Listen, pal, I sat here and listened to your story and your position . . . and if you decide what you want to do is put on a show today, let me tell you something, I can go back and forth with you as much as you want," Christie said.
The governor said that not everyone at Rutgers was against the merger and that he was "providing opportunities for a bigger and better university."
Said Brown: "Nobody at Rutgers wants it, nobody in South Jersey."
Christie, his voice rising, retorted: "And let me tell you something, if, after you graduate from law school, you conduct yourself like that in a courtroom, your rear end's going to be thrown in jail, idiot."
Brown, who was wearing an Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America T-shirt, was then removed by Florence officers and spoken to outside by a plainclothes officer for several minutes.
"It's freedom of expression," he told the officers. "This is America."
Brown gave the officers his contact information and was not arrested. Moments later, he was told he could return if he maintained decorum.
Brown said after the encounter that he had served in Iraq in 2004 and 2005. He said he worried that veterans and other nontraditional students would not get the same kind of educational opportunities if the merger goes through.
He added that he thought both Christie's response and the police reaction were "inappropriate."
"I think he's a bully sometimes," Brown said. "I was disappointed the governor couldn't have a debate."
The merger plan has drawn sizable opposition, including from the chancellor of Rutgers-Camden. Christie and South Jersey Democratic officials say folding the Rutgers campus into Rowan, based in Glassboro, will lead to a more robust research institution.
Although some have mused about a possible compromise in which Rutgers would keep its name and identity even as it combined with Rowan, Christie has said he was not considering any compromises.
It is unclear how Christie would enact his plan - through legislation, for example, or executive order - or when it would go into effect.
At the end of the town hall meeting, Christie was reflective. He brought up the encounter and acknowledged getting heated.
"Now it's going to be on YouTube somewhere with me calling him an idiot," he said.
Then he referred to Glenn Paulsen, the powerful former chairman of the Burlington County Republican Party, who was sitting near the governor during the altercation.
"I was going to turn there and say to Glenn Paulsen: 'Damn, Glenn, were we that arrogant in our second year in law school?' "
He added, "I cannot imagine standing up in the back of the room saying, 'Shut up, Gov. Kean!' " Brown was not heard saying "shut up" to Christie.
Christie said the audience might have wondered after witnessing the confrontation: "Where's this come from?"
And from there, he launched into the story that ends all his town halls, about visiting his mother - a fiery, tell-it-like-it-is Sicilian - on her deathbed.
"We're all products of our parents," he said.
Why is they guy’s military history relevant to this story? No reason I can fathom.
I can see both sides to this issue. My son is there a Rutgers-Camden now. Plus I also have a son who graduated cum laude from Rowan. They are both excellent schools. However, the “Rutgers” name currently carries a lot more distance, so I can understand the insistence by present tuition paying students who enrolled for the “Rutgers” degree to want that on their degree.
His claim to being a SEAL needs to be verified.
because he’s a rat and the criminal liberal media want any advantage....
Christie is trying to dismantle the state university in a political deal with democrat powerbroker Norcross, who wants his own South Jersey educational fiefdom.
This is unpopular statewide and esp in South Jersey. Very ill conceived. Rutgers has a good reputation, Norcross’s Rowan University is a joke.
At last check they are backing way down on this, Rutgers to retain it’s identity and form some association with Rowan University.
During my 20 plus years serving on active duty in the Navy I came across many idiots. No news here!
Yea. Did you know John Kerry served in Vietnam?
Calling names like that does not come across well.
I am Glassboro/Rowan grad â95. My home page was detailed by typining on my phone when setting up my long overdue profile(been lurking on FR since 99). Bill (William)Castner is not only a class chum, but my frat brown(d-chi), Bill got his JD from Rutgers Camden, Bill was a on the Board of Trustee as student(a honor for 1 student per academic year). Bill was Corzine’sâs attorney and chief legsl counsel to the NJ dem party. I wonder what Bill’s input on this is. He’s fond of Rowan and RU. Pardon the typos and grammer, I’m typing on my phone:) Google castner.
I grew up in NJ and know lots of Rutgers grads. My 2 younger brothers graduated from there. My older brother earned his law degree from Rutgers Newark. The law school is somewhat tough to get into because all NJ residents want to go there because the cost is much less than private law schools. It is not considered a top tier law school.
The undergraduate school has some very good programs, some average ones, and others that suck (i.e. most humanities departments). There is really nothing special about Rutgers. It is a slightly above average state university that just happens to have a preppy sounding name.
As far as Rutgers-Camden law do you really want the word Camden in the name of your school?
It is a big deal to merge two Universities. Both are lost and bigger is not usually better than smaller for the students.
Boy, am I ever glad that Christie isn’t a candidate for the GOP nominee.
Norcross Rowan? Huh? Anyway, when I went to Glassboro, it became Rowan College and now Rowan University from $100 million endowement. That was in 93. Big time party school for jrz kids. Rowan, as it is now, is probably a much tougher state school on admissions. I played football after my Corps enlistmint from desert storm. We lost twice in the Stagg Bowel. As I mentioned earlier, I think bill castner might be the segeay to this merger. I also agree, Christie is a nob, my ma was secretary in the the school district we grew up in. She was victim to the pension reform. You wouldn’t believevthe pension system in NJ. It screwed over people who were honest contributors compared to say, a lawyer for multiple muni’s. Hit me back for privatley for mire details. Go Profs!
Take your Rutgers resume out of state and everyone is impressed. Rowan is Glassboro State get real.
Would you merge Apple and Rim and call it Rim?
Not only is it stupid to kill the Rutgers brand it is obvious our so called honest Governor is in bed with some real lowlifes.
Reminds me of McCain Kennedy!
My wife graduated from Rutgers Camden. Her diploma does not say Rutgers Camden, just Rutgers University.
When we lived in California, she got interviews everywhere she sent her resume it was amazing. On the left coast they regularly thought it was an Ivy League School.
If her Resume read Rowan it would have been a 3 pointer into the trash can from the cheap seats. Swish!