During the summer session of 2006, right after she earned her high school diploma, Adrienne Cameron began taking classes at Mercer’s James Kerney Campus (JKC). “I chose James Kerney because it is a whole lot closer and whole lot more convenient for me to commute” she says. However, she admitted, “as I got further into my degree, there weren’t lab classes I could take at James Kerney.”
Cameron, like many other students who began their studies at the JKC, was unable to fulfill the natural science requirements for her program of study. In addition, as a Communications major, she is required to participate in radio labs, which are also not offered at JKC. “If it was up to me I would have taken all of my classes at JKC… [Getting to the West Windsor campus] is truly an inconvenience for those who are not fortunate enough to have a car.” Nevertheless, Cameron had to switch to Mercer’s West Windsor Campus (WWC).
Differences between the two campuses are noticeable. West Windsor is Mercer’s main campus, and as in any other college, the main campus has a lot of advantages over the other. For example, West Windsor has 292 acres of land, there are plenty of recreational areas, a fitness center, a swimming pool, tennis courts, a greenhouse, and a theatre. By contrast, JKC is limited to two buildings, the first occupying about an acre of land while the latter occupies 19,000 square feet, offering none of the previously mentioned amenities.
According to Lucia Brown-Joseph the Bursar at Mercer’s West Windsor campus, a professor of the College Success Seminar (CSS 101), and advisor of the African American Student Organization (AASO), the courses offered at JKC are mostly basic courses and therefore, in order to complete their degrees, students, like Cameron, must attend the WWC at some point. “Students realize their limitations, that if they want to go to James Kerney Campus and graduate, they can’t.” Brown-Joseph says.
In particular, Science related courses are not offered at JKC because there are no laboratories. Brown-Joseph notes other short-comings saying that there are fewer computer labs at JKC and the bookstore is very small, offering only the books corresponding to the classes solely offered at JKC. In addition, the bookstore and cafeteria hours are limited.
On the other hand, there are some good points. Having the Trenton Public Library nearby “is an advantage,” says Brown-Joseph about JKC. “It is definitely a positive, what they can’t find on campus they can find at the library across the street.” In addition, JKC is a sponsor of the New Jersey Youth Corps and offers a variety of other federally funded programs for middle and high school students, as well as people seeking to earn their GED through the Educational Talent Search, SMILE/GEAR UP, and Upward Bound Programs.
Transportation is a major issue. “The two campuses are not really connected,” Brown-Joseph says. The shuttle schedule from campus to campus is limited, making it difficult for students from either campus to take early morning or evening classes. In addition, there is no shuttle during summer sessions.
Brown-Joseph said it was urgent for West Windsor students “to realize that there is another campus.” In fact, out of 11 West Windsor students surveyed, only 3 were familiar with JKC. The survey found that West Windsor campus students had a fairly negative view of JKC with comments such as “it’s scary in Trenton,” and “JKC is a smaller campus, not as much facilities, opportunities.” Of those that actually had a more positive view, they were more likely to have actually been to, seen, or attended classes at JKC. Most of the negative views came from people who were not familiar with JKC and appeared based on stereotypes about Trenton.
Cameron commented on the importance of JKC, “the stereotype that West Windsor Campus is the main campus is not true, classes began at the James Kerney Campus.” Indeed the origins of Mercer can be traced back to Trenton.