The clock is ticking for a threat that could affect hundreds of Seton Hall students who commute outside of town for their internships.
Talks are set to continue regarding the threatened New Jersey Transit strike and many students’ travel plans remain up in the air as a contract settlement still seems out of reach. All the while, New Jersey state governor Chris Christie is MIA as he left the state once again for vacation, Bloomberg reports.
While cities across the state have begun to make contingency plans in case the trains stop running, there is only so much a student without a car, and confined to campus, who relies completely on public transportation, can do. The New York Times reports that commuters from the Garden State who usually have a 90-minute commute to the city (more or less typical from South Orange) can expect to tack on at least an extra hour if the strike happens. All the while even contingency plans will offer transportation alternatives for less than 40 percent of typical commuters.
Christie has come under harsh scrutiny in recent weeks after his controversial and seemingly spineless endorsement of Donald Trump following a barrage of attacks on the debate stage and campaign trail before ending his bid. Six New Jersey newspapers put out a joint editorial calling for the governor’s resignation, and rightly so. For students, it is empowering to see journalists fulfilling their duty of holding government officials accountable, especially if they have a unique perspective to offer that is unavailable in different parts of the country.
As the Star-Ledger put it, “if his first term showed that he has the talent, his second term has shown that he lacks the character,” regarding the governor’s clearly selfish behavior. Many see these negotiations as a make-or-break moment for the New Jersey politician, but it seems as though he has chosen the latter.
As a student who takes a SHUfly to the train, the train to the city, and then often another bus or subway to the office, it’s hard to speak up or hold anyone accountable when it seems this way of life might be threatened. And it seems like it may not be a big deal, but Seton Hall has a large number of interning undergrads. The school website boasts that in 2014, 81% of Seton Hall students had participated in a university-sponsored, career-based experiential education program, including internships. Additionally, The School of Diplomacy and International Relations, College of Education and Human Services, College of Nursing, Sport Management, and Management majors are required to complete internships to fulfill degree requirements. Not all of these positions are in the city, but it certainly is no secret that the proximity to New York is often a selling point for the University.
So as students remain suspended in anxiety over travel to internships that are often required by their programs, we really have to hold someone accountable. Public transportation is probably one of the only things that the average person has zero control over. If our public officials are to blame for the failure to reach of a contract with the NJ Transit rail workers, then school officials might be to blame for the lack of any contingency plan. But blame aside, as students facing this impending threat, all we can do is ask for help. Unfortunately it seems as though that probably isn’t a priority for most people at the negotiating table in this situation.