The week of February 27, Mercer completed a project to install large digital display signs in front of both entrances to the West Windsor campus and smaller electronic signs in the student center. The project, which cost 160,000 dollars according to Mercer’s President Dr. Patricia Donohue, has faced a mixed response.
One student who approves of the change is former VOICE editor in chief Anna Bosted who said of the new signs, “As foolish as a neon sign in the middle of a cornfield may be, I once missed the turn to campus because the old Mercer sign was so dingy I couldn’t see it. I guess I’d rather have a frivolous and expensive neon sign and actually make it to class on time than that old piece of crap.”
By contrast a faculty member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear that her comments might be taken correctly, said, “When I see that sign I keep expecting some Vegas show girls to pop out from behind it. Is there a casino on campus somewhere?”
In an interview with The VOICE President Donohue said the signs were installed in order to spread awareness about Mercer events: “We needed a better way for people to know what’s going on, what’s current. When you have a complicated campus like we are, where you have performances at Kelsey and exhibits in the art gallery, and student clubs having special speakers, and a whole lot of different things, this allows us to promote all of them.”
Donohue went on to say, “Students in the area and in the community are going by those signs and it gives us a way to send the message very quickly so we can give what’s current today.”
Information ranging from student activities to registration is being displayed on the digital signs.
Jessalyn Abbott, a second year Digital Film major, gave a student perspective saying, “[The sign is] gonna blind you. It makes it look even more like a community college.”
When told that the signs cost $160,000, student Alvin Biggs, a second year Business Administration major, said, “They shoulda gave me that money to buy a house.”
Similar sentiments were expressed by Daquan Angus, a first year Entertainment Technology major, who said, “You coulda paid me the money and I’d have built you somthin’ nicer.”
Funds for the signs came from a variety of places. “The money came from our physical plant fund and part of that comes from the college fees students pay, part of it’s from our regular funding sources, and operating it is from our marketing budget,” said Donohue.
According to Donohue, over 100,000 dollars of the cost was spent on rewiring the electrical lines that run along the college’s roadways. “We actually had to redo the electric lines going out that way to have the power there,” Donohue said.
Another faculty member who preferred not to be named said, “Have you ever noticed when you drive up to Princeton that they don’t have blinking neon signs at the gate? There’s a reason for that.”