Faculty members pledge to keep Rutgers students informed during Trump's presidency
Twenty-seven Rutgers faculty members from various academic disciplines have taken the initiative to keep students informed during President Donald J. Trump's term.
These individuals have offered to share their research and expertise with the Rutgers community to ensure the public remains educated on nuanced issues.
Ross K. Baker, a distinguished professor in the Department of Political Science, said although he did not support the president during the election, Trump did win within the boundaries set by the Constitution.
Baker described students’ reactions to Trump’s presidency as passionate. While teachers have their own views, he said it is important that they do not indoctrinate students.
“I disagree not only with the substance of many of the president's initiatives but also with the manner in which they have been executed. I also deplore the tone and manner of his public statements," he said. "I do believe that the Constitution created a political system in which the presidency is but one of three coordinate branches of the national government and that both the judicial and legislative branches have both the institutional and personal motives to check the excesses of the executive."
Baker said that it is the faculty’s responsibility to interpret and clarify current events and offer opinions in regards to domestic affairs.
Most students are voters and they should be informed with the best possible information, he said.
Ju Yeon Park, a professor in the Department of Economics, said citizens' participation in democracy is largely characterized by voting in elections, but that between elections, citizens can still raise their voice to influence politicians.
“Even though raising (your) voice doesn’t impose any institutional power to make a change, it can make the reelection-minded politicians to act on behalf of you," Park said.
Park said Trump's executive order on immigration received an overwhelmingly negative response from the University because it contradicts the greater idea of diversity that the country represents.
Keeping up with political events is important for the mindset of a citizen living in a democracy, she said.
“Even though the voices of protesters and mass media criticizing the anti-immigration orders seem to represent the entire nation, we should remember that there is a silent majority that the media and survey firms couldn’t catch in last November,” Park said.
Kathy Kleeman, the senior communications officer at the Eagleton Institute of Politics, said that the Institute has a variety of programs aimed at helping students participate in politics.
“If you were to open a newspaper or turn on a TV and see statistics about politics, they would come from us,” Kleeman said.
The Institute conducts multiple surveys a year and makes information about free public events available on their website, she said.
Eagleton hopes to provide a place for people to talk about politics in a way that is inclusive rather than divisive, she said.
Students should stay up to date with political events because they are not a distant construct, she said. The draft could come back anytime and the country could go to war at any time.
“Europe experienced Brexit, which can be interpreted in the similar line with the public support for Trump’s nationalist policies in the last U.S. presidential election,” Kleeman said. “A lot of people say 'politics doesn’t affect me'. And the case we would make is politics affects you absolutely, every day.”
Samil Tabani is a Rutgers Business School first-year student. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.