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Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., is trying rather hard to become
the Republican Party’s presidential nominee. Unfortunately for her,
she just cannot help shooting herself in the foot, so to speak.
Bachmann’s latest slip-up is geographical in nature. Expressing
discontent with President Barack Obama’s decision to send 100 U.S.
troops to Uganda, Bachmann asserted, “the president, he put us in
Libya. He is now putting us in Africa. We already were stretched
too thin.” Apparently, Bachmann doesn’t know where Libya is.
Questions of policy aside, how does Bachmann expect the voters to
take her seriously if she is unaware of basic world geography? We
give Bachmann a dart for making such an error. We’d prefer all of
our potential presidents to be at least somewhat aware of what’s
going on outside of U.S. borders.
Halloween is supposed to be a fun time for children, a time to
dress up and, for once, safely accept candy from strangers. In
order to ensure the safety of these young trick-or-treaters — i.e.,
make sure taking candy from strangers remains a viable option for
the holiday — legislators of Riverside County in California are
considering a measure that would effectively shut sex offenders out
of Halloween festivities altogether. If passed, the measure would
ban register sex offenders from putting up decorations at their
home or answering the door for trick-or-treaters. We would like to
see this pass, because it will help to make Halloween a much safer
holiday for all. We laurel the supervisors in Riverside County for
considering this idea, and we would like to see it spread to other
places in America.
Elizabeth Snyder, a history professor at the County College of
Morris in Randolph, N.J., is under fire for the way she treated a
student with a speech impediment. Once the public found out that
Snyder told student Philip Garber Jr., who suffers from a stutter,
to save his questions for after class, Snyder began to receive what
she calls “the most hateful, vile, vicious emails,” according to
nj.com. Snyder claims this is character assassination, but we think
she deserves the criticism — as long as it isn’t threatening, of
course. While we understand that Snyder thought she was doing the
right thing with respect to Garber’s stuttering, the fact of the
matter is she took the wrong course of action. She should have
expected the class to respect Garber and be patient when he spoke.
Instead, she singled him out, as if his speech impediment were his
fault. We give Snyder a dart. As a professor, she should know
better how to deal with her students, especially those who have
The University has always been pretty good at utilizing new
technologies for the benefit of the student population. Take, for
example, the recent creation of Scarlet Apps, a new system of
online tools, which students can use for email, a chat client and
so forth. Scarlet Apps is the result of the marriage of myRutgers
with a collection of Google services. Now, students can access
Google Talk and Google Docs through their accounts on myRutgers,
making it a far more interactive and useful platform than it was in
the past. MyRutgers is not just for email anymore. We give the
University a laurel for introducing Scarlet Apps.
Despite the economic shambles in which our country is currently
floundering, a lot of people still favor the “if you’re unemployed,
go get a job” narrative. Of course, it isn’t that easy in reality,
thanks to the fairly common practice of businesses refusing to
consider applicants who have been out of work for extended periods
of time. A survey by the National Employment Law Project discovered
more than 150 job listings on employment websites excluding
candidates who were not currently employed. Fortunately for the
unemployed, a provision in President Barack Obama’s jobs plan would
make this sort of screening illegal for companies with 15 or more
employees. It’s just another reason to laurel the American Jobs
Act. That’s how you level the playing field.
Who says the University’s football program doesn’t do any good?
Since last October, the Rutgers University Touchdown Club has been
donating football game tickets to Integrity House, a substance
abuse recovery house. While most attendees at the football games
take the tailgates and fun for granted, a day at the stadium makes
a real difference for members of Integrity House. We give the
Rutgers University Touchdown Club a laurel for their philanthropic
Facebook is for more than just fun and games now. According to a
study done by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
and the University of Washington, Seattle, Facebook is also useful
as a tool for screening people for drinking problems. In the study,
researchers divided 300 undergraduate Facebook profiles into three
groups — those whose profiles contained no references to alcohol,
those whose profiles reference alcohol, but not drunkenness and
those whose profiles referenced phrases like “being drunk” and
“getting wasted.” Then, the owners of the profiles completed the
Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test. According to the
results, the group of profiles with references to drunkenness had
an average score of 9.5, which suggests people in this group were
at risk for a drinking problem. We give the researchers a laurel
for shining a new light on the uses of social media.
Washington became the first state to offer a minimum wage above
$9 per hour. Starting Jan. 1, 2011, the state’s minimum wage will
be $9.04. That’s $1.79 higher than the measly federal minimum of
$7.25. Unlike that federal minimum wage, Washington’s minimum has
been keeping pace with inflation and increasing costs of living.
Opponents of raising the minimum wage usually argue that doing so
will force companies to offer fewer jobs, since they would be
required to pay their workers more. However, according to Jeff
Johnson, president of the Washington State Labor Council,
“Washington State has one of the highest rates of growth in small
business and retail. [Increasing minimum wage] doesn’t seem to be
stopping these people from creating new businesses.” Therefore, we
laurel Washington for giving their workers better lives, and we’d
like to see more states follow in their footsteps.
This semester marks the beginning of Project Civility’s second
year. For those of you who may not be aware of what it is — either
because you’re new to the school, or because you spent last year
actively avoiding the project — it is a University-wide initiative
to foster kindness and respect. What makes Project Civility
noteworthy is the fact that it is much more than just lip service.
Through events, lectures, classes and more, the project actively
engages with students on campus and pushes them to make real
attempts to become civil people. We laurel Project Civility for all
the good work it has done so far, and we look forward to the rest
of what we’re sure will be another successful year.
The Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education
(RIBGHE) made a huge step forward for education reform on Monday
when they passed a policy that lets undocumented students pay
in-state tuition at public colleges. Such a policy sends a laudable
message to the public: If America is to be a land of opportunity,
those opportunities should be open to as many people as possible.
Some may argue that this measure lets undocumented immigrants “off
the hook,” but those people should take into account the fact that
eligible students must take the necessary steps to apply for legal
status if they wish to pay in-state tuition. We give the RIBGHE a
laurel for their decision.
It is tough for anyone to find a job in the current economic
climate, but it is even tougher than normal for veterans who, upon
returning from war, face challenges assimilating back to normal
life. That’s why The New Jersey State Building & Construction
Trades Council’s Helmets to Hardhats (NJ H2H) is such a great idea:
The program helps place veterans of war into positions in the
construction industry in order to give them a smoother transition
back into the society they served. The state gave $195,000 to the
NJ H2H program last Thursday, and for that they receive a laurel —
as does NJ H2H itself. Our veterans deserve the aid and respect our
state can give them.
There may never come a day when everyone at the University is
completely satisfied with the bus service. In all likelihood, there
will always remain a vocal portion of the population who finds
reasons to be disgruntled over the University’s public transit
system. For those naysayers, however, there is a new,
little-advertised program that may help them avoid the buses all
together. This year, the University launched a bike rental program.
Although the program is still small, limited to 150 bikes, it’s
still a great idea, one which we hope to see expand in the upcoming
years. Not only will the bike program help relieve bus congestion,
but it also reduces emissions and gives students the chance to get
a bit of a workout to boot. We give the University’s Department of
Transportation Services and the Department of Green Purchasing
laurels for starting this program.
No one is immune from money troubles in this economy, least of
all the University. Thankfully, however, there are people in the
world who are willing to help our school out in its time of need.
Take, for a very good example, the anonymous donor who gave the
University the larges donation it has ever received: A staggering
$27 million to help create 18 endowed chairs. This same anonymous
individual is also responsible for giving the University its second
largest donation as well, which was $13 million in 2008. This donor
receives a laurel for their incredible selflessness, which is even
more notable because of the decision to remain nameless. This
person clearly is not giving the University money because they
enjoy the glory. Rather, this person is someone with an abnormally
kind disposition. We’d live in a better world if more people were
as caring as this anonymous donor.
Libertarianism, while not necessarily a dangerous political
philosophy, can easily lead its more extreme adherents to draw
dubious conclusions. For an example of this, one needs to look no
further than Monday’s debate on CNN, during which Wolf Blitzer
asked Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), “What do you tell a guy who is sick,
goes into a coma and doesn’t have health insurance? … Are you
saying society should just let him die?” Before Paul had a chance
to respond, a few audience members loudly proclaimed that yes, this
hypothetical person should be left to die. While Paul himself did
not exactly say that when he responded to Blitzer, this incident is
a chilling reminder that libertarianism can lead to terrible
selfishness. We give the audience members who displayed such
disrespect for their fellow human beings darts. The followers of
any ideology — whether it be political, economic, religious, etc. —
would do well to avoid extremism.
I.B.M.’s supercomputer Watson was famous last spring for
appearing on Jeopardy and besting its human competition. Now,
however, Watson’s sights have been shifted from fun and games to
the real world — namely, health care. WellPoint Inc. will be using
Watson’s incredible speed and extensive database to help make
diagnoses and assign possible treatments to patients. We never
thought Watson’s destiny would be health care. Sure, we heard all
the vague talk of “technological progress” that surrounded his
debut, but the lack of specificity in such discourse made it
difficult for us to take any of it to heart. And, admittedly, we
were a little angry with Watson when he sent Ken Jennings packing.
All of that enmity and uncertainty is gone now that we’ve seen
Watson’s technology used in a real-life role, especially one as
important as aiding doctors in diagnosing and treating patients. We
give I.B.M. and WellPoint Inc. laurels for working together to make
Watson a real resource for the good of mankind.
The NFL is pretty much the epitome of the term “boys’ club” — a
bunch of muscular guys roughhousing and showing off their
impressive athletic talents. But that does not have to mean it’s a
discriminatory organization, as NFL officials demonstrated in the
new 2011 Collective Bargaining agreement. This agreement is the
first time discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is
explicitly banned in the NFL. This obviously won’t stop any such
discrimination from ever occurring, but it does set up an
institutional framework within which any discriminated parties can
find avenues for redress. For that, the league receives a