By Cherri Gregg

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) – Students, faculty and members of the Camden community gathered in a lecture hall on the Rutgers campus Tuesday night to discuss the impact of the proposed merger of Rutgers-Camden and Rowan University.

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The lecture hall at 401 Penn Street in Camden was filled to capacity with Rutgers-Camden supporters, who oppose what they called, the takeover of their beloved institution.

“There are just so many risks involved in this.”

Camden Professor Janet Golden is on the Executive Committee of the Rutgers’ Chapter of the American Association of University Professors. She says her group opposes the merger because of the negative impact to South Jersey.

“Instead of having three universities, they will have two. Instead of having local access to the flag-ship university. They would lose that. Faculty who want to be part of Rutgers because it’s an AAU institution, they’re going to leave.”

Golden says there are alternatives to merger, such as increasing and strengthening partnerships with other universities to generate research and new jobs.

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New Jersey State Senator Donald Norcross attended the forum and listened to more than a dozen speakers who urged that he fight the merger. They spoke about the loss of education programming, opportunities to go to college and the university’s positive influence on Camden.

Norcross says he agrees that the loss of Rutgers-Camden from South Jersey would be detrimental, which is why he says it is imperative that the university gain its independence.

“We need to be separate from the administration of northern New Jersey.”

He says one of his biggest challenges in the state house is securing funding for the southern part of the state.

“If we look at the allocation of resources in higher education in New Jersey, Rutgers-Camden and South Jersey in general has been short-changed for a number of years.”

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Students also attended the forum, showing off more than 11,000 signatures opposing the merger.