Get student representation by voting yes
Today, students and residents from across New Brunswick will be given the opportunity to make history by voting for a ward-based council system. For years, students have been completely ignored by the city and viewed simply as a means to fill the city's pocket. While the police have no difficulties writing tickets for "noise complaints," issues relating to theft in students' homes are routinely ignored. From April until October, alternate side parking is in effect so that our streets can be cleaned and yet, the city has not cleaned my street even once. Of course, if anybody ever forgets to move their car, the city has no issues immediately writing them a ticket. Perhaps if some of the revenue from those tickets were invested in public garbage cans, our streets would not be so cluttered with trash that will never get cleaned.
Recently, there has been an increase in the literature littering our streets — some put out under the guise of Unite New Brunswick and some by the mayor's office itself. Containing a list of arbitrary statistics, they attempt to draw some sort of correlation between crime rates, property tax and wards. UNB took the liberty of choosing 11 cities — including Camden, Paterson and Newark — to prove the evils of wards while completely ignoring the other 54 municipalities across the state with ward-based council systems. Among them is Plainfield, a city with a population of about 50,000 and of similar size to New Brunswick, with a crime rate of 43 per 1,000 people as opposed to New Brunswick's 58.4. My personal favorite is the flyer that attempts to compare New Brunswick and Montclair's property taxes without mentioning that the median home value is close to half a million dollars higher in Montclair.
The fact is that under the current system, we, the student residents of New Brunswick, make up nearly a quarter of the population and a third of the voting population but have zero representation on the City Council. Today, not only students, but disenfranchised minorities throughout the city, have the opportunity to tell the city that it is time for our voice to be heard. Corrupt officials and the political machine will no longer silence us. Vote yes for wards!
Avi Scher is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in religion and Middle Eastern studies. He is also a College Avenue Council representative, Rutgers University Student Assembly representative and Targum student trustee.