RUSA moves to advance social issues in town hall meeting


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A Rutgers University Student Assembly meeting that invited members of the New Brunswick community to participate in student governance was held on Nov. 5 in the Student Activities Center on the College Avenue campus.

Overseen by RUSA President Matt Panconi, the town hall-style meeting was looking into reducing tuition costs by increasing state funding, said Brianna Battle, vice president of RUSA. Rutgers—New Brunswick Chancellor Richard L. Edwards also discussed the impact of issues ranging from mental health to cyber security.

When asked about whether or not the University will make sure no one goes without the mental health treatment they need, Edwards said one of his first jobs at school was working at the mental health facilities.

Edwards also expressed concern about recent cyber attacks. 

“The system has not been broken,” he said. “It's been — excuse my language — a pain in the ass, but no data has been extracted.”

The DDoS attacker was someone familiar with the system and is believed to be a former student, Edwards said.

Elections were also held for the chair of the ad hoc committee for Medical Amnesty. The winning candidate, Anish Patel, an EMT and community liaison with the University's Off-Campus Living and Community Partnerships and member of the University Hearing Boards and Campus Appeals Committee promised to support some sort of medical amnesty on the New Brunswick campus.

“The general concept is that if, for example, two people were drinking alcohol or taking drugs, the two people, the caller and the person taking the drugs are not subject to criminal action,” he said. “If the threat of criminal action prevents people from calling 911 then in the interest of saving lives they should be protected.”

Currently, the University has no medical amnesty policy.

“Other Big Ten schools like the University of Maryland have a solid medical amnesty policy," Patel said. “Medical amnesty is a fundamental right. People are protected off campus when they’re at home and they should be protected on campus.”

RUSA also passed a resolution to support the Million Student March Day of Action on Nov. 12.

The Day of Action pushes for tuition-free public college as well as to raise the hourly wage for on-campus jobs to $15.

“Its really just a matter of educating ourselves and getting the message across” said Luke Svasti, a member of the Executive Committee for New Jersey United Students. “I don’t think at this point we’re ready for physical action like sit-downs or marches."

It is "astonishing" how little students know about student loans that will keep them in debt until they are 35, Svasti said.

"This is supported by Noam Chomsky and Jill Stein of the United States Student Association as part of the Student Labor Action project as well as 15 Now," he said.

Other issues discussed included extending the services of Counseling, Alcohol and Other Drug Assistance Program and Psychiatric Services, the "You Are Not Alone" campaign and Rutgers Day.

Dialogue ensued about the crowded buses, the shortage of parking spaces and traffic jams, which contribute to the difficulty of getting around campus.

Solutions encouraged the use of the BikeRU program, which rents bicycles at around $20 per semester.

The meeting was concluded by individual committee meetings that seek to take action on issues like mental health, transportation, as well as prevention of sexual abuse on campus.


Irfan Sheik

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