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At the end of his term, Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) had a 15 percent approval rating — the worst in New Jersey gubernatorial history. Yesterday, Phil Murphy was sworn into office as the state’s 56th governor, which to many has come as a breath of fresh air. While the reasoning behind Christie’s atrocious ratings is probably a combination of multiple different things, a significant factor was likely his close affiliation with President Donald J. Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign. While the Republican party still has dominant representation with all three branches of the federal government, we can see that after the Democratic wins here in New Jersey as well as in Virginia and Alabama, other state and local governments may follow suit in their midterm elections.
The relatively recent ousting of Harvey Weinstein as a sexual abuser has been followed by an incredible movement, bringing up a new and important conversation about sexual harassment in the United States. Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, it seems that sexual misconduct is just as prevalent in academic settings as it is in every other field.
Last Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court — by the Trump Administration’s request — ordered the lifting of an injunction by a federal appeals court, which was previously preventing the third version of the “travel ban” executive order from going into full effect. Now the ban, which includes more extreme vetting capabilities of refugees and the barring of people coming from eight nations — Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad, some groups from Venezuela and North Korea — can be fully implemented.
Last Wednesday, another round of white nationalistic flyers was found on George Street. The flyers were directed at white Americans and urged them to fulfill their "civic duty" by reporting all "illegal aliens" to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. While the suggestion to report people for being in this country illegally is in itself not necessarily racist, the last statement on the flyers read, “AMERICA IS A WHITE NATION,” and on the bottom left corner "bloodandsoil.org" was printed, which is a website for an organization called Patriot Front that advocates for today’s white nationalist movement.
After the leaking of the Paradise Papers last month, the Rutgers community was informed that in order to avoid paying domestic taxes on its endowment money, the University was utilizing an offshore “blocker” firm — EnCap Energy Capital Fund IX-C, that invests in oil and gas companies.
This news came as a shock to some, considering the University’s commitment to an environmentally friendly 2030 Master Plan and the administration’s pledge to support the “We Are Still In” campaign, which supports the implementation of the Paris Climate Accords on college campuses after President Donald J. Trump’s withdrawal from the international agreement. To some, these contradictions between how Rutgers appears outwardly and how it behaves behind closed doors is unsettling.
On May 4 of last year, a man severely beat and sexually assaulted a female Rutgers student after dragging her to a less visible area. When a group of people intervened in the heinous act, the perpetrator began to run, warning them that if they chased him, he would shoot them. On Dec. 4, that man, Michael P. Knight, admitted to the crime and was convicted of kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault. The original charges additionally included aggravated assault, aggravated sexual contact, making terroristic threats and endangering the injured victim. He will spend 22 years in prison. This incident sounds like something plucked straight from a horror film, but it happened in an area commonly occupied by students — Seminary Place, a direct offshoot of College Avenue next to Voorhees Mall.
In the past few months Americans have been forced to recognize the fact that sexual harassment and assault are significantly more prevalent than previously acknowledged. A slew of beloved public figures have been ousted as having committed unwanted sexual acts, some of whom admit truth to the accusations and apologize and others who fail to do so. As a result of this, our society has been confronted with the uncomfortable fact that sexual assault and harassment are normal, everyday occurrences.
President Donald J. Trump and the Republican Party have officially reeled in their first win — the hasty and flippant passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. While the bill largely espouses tax cuts to the immensely wealthy, it seems to many to be a blatant assault on the accessibility of higher education.
Net neutrality, the idea that all content on the internet should be equally accessible to all people and that Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) — which are few in number — should not be allowed to offer people more access at a higher speed based on how much they pay, has been a trending topic lately. This is because on Dec. 14, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on whether to curtail the net neutrality rules currently in place. Ajit Pai, the FCC’s chairman, is strongly against thorough rules regarding net neutrality, and if he succeeds in lifting the current regulations, there could be serious consequences for students.
In recent weeks, flyers have been pasted to the walls of buildings at Rutgers and other universities across the country that state the phrase, “IT’S OKAY TO BE WHITE.” These flyers appeared after a post on 4chan encouraged people with aligning views to go out on the night of Halloween and put up the flyers with the aim of provoking backlash from the “Leftist media.” In the end, the goal was to make it appear as if the media discriminates against white people to the point where they needed to defend themselves. By doing this, they assumed that people who are centrist politically would associate this assumed ideology of hatred toward white people with the Left, and therefore turn on them. All in all, it was a scheme conceived by internet trolls to rally support for far-Right activism.
As of right now, it looks as if Rutgers Football is stuck in an unfortunate paradox of failure. The football team, despite being on a clear trajectory upward, has not yet managed to garner a significant fan base, and this is likely contributing to the rut that they are in.
Thanksgiving in the United States has become a sort of deeply ingrained culture with specific symbols, images and memories that enter our minds as soon as we hear the word. Such include Native Americans, pilgrims and turkey. While these things are accurate to the holiday in the sense that there is some perceived connection between them and Thanksgiving, the historical accuracy of these associations is not necessarily acknowledged.
Universities have an incredible capacity to promote intellectual progress through research and discussion, which is why freedom of speech, as well as thought, are so important on college campuses. A University that seeks to promote academic freedom must be careful when making decisions about the extent of faculty’s right to free speech and their personal backgrounds, as censoring, banning or forbidding specific ideologies can lead us down a perilous road.
For the past two years, Rutgers has offered prospective students the ability to apply through the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success — a service that seeks to streamline the college application process, making it easier for high school students, especially those from low-income school districts, to apply. The Coalition currently has 130 member schools, including all of the Ivy Leagues.
Rutgers University was recently placed on The Chronicle of Higher Education’s list of the flagship universities that succeeded in keeping their tuition at steady rates over the last 10 years, increasing from $10,686 in 2007 to $14,638 in 2017-2018. Year after year, the Rutgers Board of Governors has passed tuition hikes below the national average, this year’s being 1.85 percent, the lowest increase in the last three years.
Last week, the leaked "Paradise Papers" revealed that Rutgers, along with many other universities, uses offshore firms to invest its endowment money. By utilizing these firms, namely Appleby, a law firm specializing in offshore accounts like private equity and hedge funds, the University avoids paying taxes on its profit, leaving more money in its pocket that can presumably allow tuition to remain low while continuing to follow the 2030 Master Plan to improve Rutgers. To be clear, investing large sums of money in offshore accounts like this is not illegal.
Rutgers students are not the only members of the community affected by the University’s changes in technology.
Yesterday was election day, and the two frontrunners were Phil Murphy, a stark Democrat, and Kim Guadagno, a stark Republican.
Rutgers University is hoping to start using energy efficient systems, encouraging alternative transportation that does not burn fossil fuels and reducing its carbon footprint — and it plans to do all of this by 2030.The 2030 plan, as it is called, is a master plan that is meant to completely overhaul University systems and replace many of the buildings and inner processes that are tiring out.