According to Lt. Brian Melnick, the public information officer at the West Windsor Police Department, Tiffany Chappel (41) used another student’s ID (and thus her financial aid money) in the college’s bookstore, purchasing 1,500 dollars worth of items including two tablet books, a Samsung cell phone and prepaid phone cards. Chappel was later arrested by Det. Dranchak of the WWPD.
Students were first alerted to the incident the week before the semester began, when an email from Executive Dean for Student Affairs Dr. Diane Campbell was sent out alluding to the bookstore incident and informing students that “the MCCC Bookstore will require two forms of ID to purchase books. Your MCCC ID is required. The second form of ID can be a driver’s license, a passport or some other form of ID with your picture on it.”
According to Stephanie McMullen, a second year Education major at Mercer, this new dual ID policy in the bookstore is not always being enforced. When asked if she had to produce two forms of ID when purchasing books McMullen said, “No, I only had to show my license.” Bookstore employees would not comment on the policy.
The bookstore is not the only place at Mercer that has to deal with student’s abuse of financial aid. In a the February, 2008 issue of The VOICE reporters Shaheed Morris and Patrick Amaral reported that some students have been scamming the system by attending classes only long enough to receive their financial aid checks at which point they take the money and disappear.
According to Morris and Amaral’s article, then-Director of Financial Aid, Reggie Page, said those students cost the college approximately 100,000 dollars a year. It does not appear that this form of fraud would be ameliorated by the current dual ID policy that Dean Campbell’s letter says will now be used in the bookstore.
When asked how these new ID polices will benefit MCCC’s campus Campbell said, “If students wear their ID, hopefully we can keep kids safer. It’s the question of enforcing the ID.”
According to Campbell, Mercer’s security officers have been extensively trained in enforcing the ID tag policy. “If there’s any disruption they will look for student’s ID’s first.” Campbell said.
Mercer’s Security Director Bryon Marshall declined repeated requests to comment on the bookstore incident and on Mercer’s ID tag policy inforcement.