Save Rutgers: The Brown vs. Christie Moment Hurt the Anti-Merger Movement

Save Rutgers: The Brown vs. Christie Moment Hurt the Anti-Merger Movement

The internet has been abuzz with accounts (although I have seen no video yet) of an exchange between Governor Christie and Bill Brown, a long time Democrat activist and fellow law student at Rutgers Camden who is also vehemently against the Rowan and Rutgers merger plan.

For those of you who have not heard, what essentially happened is that Bill Brown asked a question about the Rutgers merger, the Governor started to respond, Brown interrupted him, they went back and forth, Christie made a comment that is true and then unfortunately ended it by using the word “idiot,” and Brown was removed from the room by police while yelling that he is a Navy SEAL.

A few weeks ago, I posted a video and commended Bill Brown for his testimony before the Rutgers Board of Governors where he advocated for veteran students in New Jersey. I received hate mail for that posting, and after yesterday’s event I received more. I don’t apologize for it. No one is wrong 100% of the time, and at the Rutgers Board of Governors meeting, Bill Brown was right on.

Yesterday, Bill Brown was dead wrong. And just as I felt it necessary to commend him when he was right, I’ll call him out when he’s wrong, regardless of his feelings on the merger.

This was the exact quote by Governor Christie,

Let me tell you something, 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.

Other than the use of the word “idiot,” Governor Christie could not be more correct. There is no excuse for Bill Brown or anyone else to act that way at a town hall meeting, even though we have become accustomed to it in the last few years. There was nothing about his behavior that was professional. It was disruptive, embarrassing, and worst of all, it hurt the anti-merger movement.

Bill Brown, whether others like it or not, has put himself out there as one of the faces of the anti-merger movement. He is at every meeting, every town hall, every hearing, and every rally. He is not only seen, but heard, at nearly every event. Those who stand up as leaders simply cannot conduct themselves in this manner. There is no reason to shout, no reason to interrupt, and no reason to be disrespectful to our Governor or anyone else. All that does is trumpet the notion that those of us against the merger (and there are a lot of us) are simply expressing an emotional reaction to Rutgers Camden’s potential disappearance, or some sort of irrational bigotry against Rowan University. That is the narrative that some in the Norcross media want to present, and it is one that we cannot afford to play into. Because of the national attention that yesterday’s town hall is receiving, I would say that the tiff between Brown and Governor Christie actually set us back.

As we get closer to the July 1st deadline that Governor Christie has apparently set, I would ask that anyone who attempts to engage the Governor, or any other official, regarding the merger does not do what Bill Brown did. Be respectful, be professional, and be logical. This fight will be won by undermining the poor proposal, not by undermining our own legitimacy…



10 thoughts on “Save Rutgers: The Brown vs. Christie Moment Hurt the Anti-Merger Movement

  1. The only relevant issue for the anti-merger movement is will Christie kowtow to Norcross or not? That's the real question. A question with some depth given that Christie believed he could have put Norcross in jail if ATG Harvey hadn't spiked the case. Norcross is now a useful "partner" who can deliver votes for parts of Christie's agenda. But as the governor well knows that power to deliver votes comes from Norcross being a machine boss (with all the skulduggery that entrails). So will Christie side with a man he believed should be incarcerated because he wants votes for parts of his agenda OR will he respect the will of the people and stop these shenanigans. Politics or principle Governor?

    In any case, yelling and incivility is more or less par for the course at a Christie town hall. Though maybe having them at more reasonable hours would make them more representative (3pm near every time now – most people, especially those 'middle class tax payers' have work).

  2. Bill Brown was wrong for not showing respect for Governor Christie by interrupting him, but what do you expect when the Governor, with his power and influence,cut of constituents with opposing views. Governor Christie gets praised for his brashness, but the citizens are to just be quiet and listen. If their is no respect for the people how can you expect the people to have respect for the leader, that is what appears to go on at New Jersey town-hall meeting. If you want repect show it.

  3. This merger is going to go happen and that is because there is absolutely NO leadership. People are running around in every direction with no clear focus on how to influence the decision-making of key individuals involved.

    The Governor and Sen. Norcross are NOT going to change their minds, so why are people wasting their time targeting them?

    The fact that there is so much money being wasted on advertising so poorly is atrocious. It's almost as if this entire movement is the work of undergraduate freshmen. Hell, even the Taliban was more organized!

    5 Reasons the Rutgers-Rowan Merger will Succeed

  4. Christie is a schoolyard bully stealing lunches and lunch money from kids…. He wants respect because he was elected by 2% of the 15% that voted… Newsflash respect is EARNED, not AWARDED!

  5. This is probably the only well thought out position I have heard on the merger to date. But doesn't it look like the undergraduates are running the entire movement because that's all this is? There haven't been any substantive counter arguments made against the proposal. Everything to date has been routed in emotion, sentimentality, and parochialism. All of this is manifest in Bill Brown's latest fiasco.

  6. WOWEEEE, thank you for your words. I totally agree with you, and I was also thinking to myself this morning that what we need is a "counter-proposal." We need more intellectuals and economists to join in the fight.

    I think Bill Brown's actions would have been much more successful if Sen. Norcross had not already prevented any political polarization as leverage against the merger. It's obvious that if Gov. Christie was alone on this one, a Democrat like Brown could have drawn much more Dem support for the anti-mergers. Alas, Sen. Doublecross.

  7. I doubt Bill Brown's embarrassing display would have been any different regardless of Norcross's actions. It was just more of the same: self-interest from another Rutgers student who doesn't even have a full grasp of what this proposal means. Come up with something that is bigger than you, because that's what this proposal is.

    Essentially what is being asked for from the Rutgers community is the status quo. I'm not so sure that demanding more of the same is a great idea in this environment. Come up with something other than whining about what your diploma will say.

    This proposal doesn't wipe Rutgers Camden off the face of the Earth, so most of the discourse so far is chicken little BS.

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