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On Nov. 6, New Jersey voters will answer the call to uphold their civic duty and reinforce the representative nature of our government. Not only will voters have the opportunity to form a government based on their will and consent by electing representatives, they will also be asked to decide the fate of a $500 million bond for New Jersey schools.
The organization known as TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, is a nonprofit devoted to ideas worth spreading. Twice a year, the organization holds TED Conferences, where they invite some of the world’s most profound thinkers and creators. As a subset of the overarching organization, there are TEDx programs, including one here at Rutgers, which too aims to promote ideas worth spreading in more of a local and self-organized community setting. On Oct. 15, TEDxRutgers held their annual "Speechcraft" event, where 10 students gave talks about their own ideas and experiences. The top 2 out of the 10 will move on to the larger Rutgers TED Conference in February. But, TEDxRutgers and organizations like it more generally can be extremely valuable for young people and students.
In November, Republican Bob Hugin will challenge Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) for his office, and all 12 of the House seats will be on the ballot. All 12 seats being open means that, depending on who gets out and votes, there could be some important changes to the state’s legislature. On the ballot, New Jersey voters will be asked about their approval of things like protecting students from lead exposure, expanding county and vocational college programs and the state borrowing $500 million to ramp up security in public schools. Yesterday was the last day to register to vote in the New Jersey midterm elections, but being registered to vote is only half the battle — actually getting to the polls is an entirely different story.
New Jersey lawmakers are confident that a final bill proposing the legalization of marijuana will be passed before Halloween. Legislators have their eye on Oct. 29 as the day this big step will be taken. Though there may still be some issues to iron out regarding things like the level of taxation that should be attributed to the substance, it seems we are quickly approaching a big and positive change.
Some of Rutgers’ main values are diversity and inclusion, and the encouragement of communal support no matter one’s creed or color — we want to protect members of our community against hate and prejudice. As an institution of higher education and advanced research, though, our community also seeks to promote academic freedom and serious intellectual discourse. At this point in time, it seems clear that those two values are clashing.
Lisa Daftari, an investigative journalist and political analyst, is scheduled to speak at Rutgers on Oct. 16. at an event called “Radicalism on College Campuses." Daftari is a first generation American from Iran whose work focuses on Middle Eastern foreign affairs and counter-terrorism. Though by no means unqualified, her views are undoubtedly controversial and are interpreted by some as being hateful toward people of Muslim faith. As a result of this view, a Rutgers student recently started a petition to prevent Daftari from coming to the University to speak. By now, the petition has more than 1,000 signatures.
The University is currently attempting to deal with issues arising from a persistent infestation of mold in the Psychology Department building on Busch campus. The issue, which some professors say has been going on for years, has forced professors to relocate from their offices, teaching spaces and labs and into new buildings. Included in the affected spaces, which are numerous, is the administrative office for Rutgers’ recently established New Jersey Autism Center of Excellence. This current issue is just one example of the consequences of seemingly neglectful and ineffective practices by the University to curb problems with infrastructure.
Less than 8 hours following NJ Advance Media publishing an article exposing Rutgers’ lack of action on certain sexual assault cases, University President Robert L. Barchi sent out a statement condemning the University’s policies. An investigative article written by Susan K. Livio and Kelly Heyboer recounted the experiences of several different victims of sexual harassment and assault that have come forward recently. One of these victims is Kristy King, a former graduate student at Rutgers, who claimed that Professor Stephen Eric Bronner, “sat across from me in a chair, too close. As we talked, he ran his hand all the way up the inside of my thigh.” Although King did not file a complaint at the time of the incident, she was inspired by the #MeToo movement and decided to come forward with her complaint this past February. Her experience was quickly invalidated by the University’s two-year limit on sexual misconduct investigations. In other words, Rutgers refused to look into the case, much less even inquire of Bronner anything about the accusation, according to Bronner himself.
Though it may appear as though we have an unlimited supply of it, the world is arguably quickly approaching a global water crisis. As has been examined with regard to individual regions of the world, a water crisis can have rippling effects that are severely detrimental to all facets of a society. It has become apparent that climate change plays a sizable role in the prominence of water issues, and could lead to humanitarian crises of unsettling proportions. But what really is the extent of the issue, and is there anything a community like Rutgers’ can do to help?
For 50 years, Rutgers has been offering students financial help through the New Jersey Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF), and this week the University is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the program by hosting a commemoration ceremony, TED talks from EOF alumni and a celebration dinner. The fund exists to provide financial aid and other forms of support, such as counseling, tutoring and developmental coursework to students who come from backgrounds with educational or economic disadvantages.
When former President Barack Obama gave his speech at the 250th anniversary commencement ceremony, he said, “America converges here. And in so many ways, the history of Rutgers mirrors the evolution of America — the course by which we became bigger, stronger, and richer and more dynamic and a more inclusive nation.” And he was not wrong. Rutgers students come from all 50 states and 105 countries. When one walks down College Avenue on any given day, what they will see is analogous to a United Nations convention — with people from all corners of the globe represented.
The Center for American Progress conducted a study regarding sex education in America's public schools. Said study found that the majority of students enrolled in these schools do not know how to effectively discern between healthy and unhealthy behaviors in relationships. The study found that only 24 states and the District of Columbia actually mandate sexual education, and only eight of those states, California, Hawaii, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia, require discussion of sexual assault and the idea of consent within those classes.
In 2017, the Paradise Papers revealed that Rutgers has issued an irredeemable check to its students, a check that has come back marked insufficient funds. Rutgers was listed among the universities investing in EnCap Energy Capital Fund IX-C, a hedge fund based in the Cayman Islands that primarily invests in oil and gas companies, The Guardian reported.
If you use the internet, it is overwhelmingly likely that you have at some point encountered a meme. Memes have become an extremely common way for internet users to easily transfer information, most of the time with humorous undertones, to one another. The popularity of memes is somewhat of an enigma even to those who are familiar with them. The term meme was apparently first brought about in 1976 by Evolutionary Biologist Richard Dawkins to describe a spread of cultural information. Meme derives from the Greek word mimema, which can be translated to something imitated. To most people who like memes, they are a quick source of entertainment. But when one looks more deeply into their nature, it looks as if memes can be more complex and influential than they seem on the surface.
As many students probably know due to its extensive endorsement at Rutgers, yesterday was National Voter Registration Day. By setting up numerous voter registration drives around campus, Rutgers’ Center for Youth Political Participation (CYPP) continues to play an important role in getting students registered to vote. Yesterday’s drives came in time for the New Jersey midterm elections, participation in which necessitates being registered by Oct. 16. Last school year, the Student Affairs Committee released a report on what action can be taken to increase student-voter turnout in all levels of elections. The report showed that voter registration rates among Rutgers—New Brunswick students were 76.6 percent in 2016 — a 3 percent increase from 2012 — and that a little more than half of the Rutgers students eligible to vote did so in the 2016 election. The more students who are registered to vote (and who actually get out and vote) the better, that seems obvious — but why? Well, there are many reasons, but one in particular may hit home for many young people: We are the future.
To probably no one's surprise, two more crime alerts were issued this past weekend. The first was a robbery which occurred the morning of Sept. 21 on Senior Street between Sicard and Wyckoff streets, and the second was an aggravated assault that happened the morning of Sept. 23 on Easton Avenue. Additionally, at around 10:30 p.m. on Sept. 11, a robbery occurred at an off-campus residence on Harvey Street, and on Sept. 4 at approximately 1 a.m. an aggravated assault occurred on Easton Avenue near Courtland Street. A member of the Rutgers wrestling team has been charged with being the perpetrator of the Sept. 4 assault.
As is a well established fact by now, with approximately 2.3 million people locked up, the United States has more people in prison per capita than any other nation in the world. One in five of those people are incarcerated for a non-violent drug offense. New Jersey itself, though, has taken meaningful steps to cut down on the number of people incarcerated. The Garden State’s incarceration rate has been steadily decreasing in recent years, and since its peak inmate population in the 1990s, New Jersey’s prison population has dropped more than any other state in the nation. Though Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has ordered N.J. district attorneys to resume prosecuting even minor marijuana cases after having put a pause to such prosecution over the summer, he essentially noted that prosecutors may use lenient discretion in convicting a person, especially when such convictions would jeopardize a person’s access to public housing, immigration status or parenting rights. These incremental changes are important in working to fix the criminal justice system, but one Rutgers program is taking it to the next level.
Rutgers' Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling has recently conducted two polls regarding the opioid issue, one of which rather strongly indicated that many people who are prescribed opioids by doctors may not have been sufficiently advised regarding their dangers or effective alternatives. In 2015, New Jersey opioid providers wrote prescriptions for more than half of every 100 patients they saw, and in 2016 New Jersey’s opioid-overdose rate exceeded the national average at 16 fatal opioid overdoses per 100,000 people. Today, the Garden State still struggles with this deadly epidemic — and New Brunswick is no exception.
The American Association of University Professors-American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT) has planned a demonstration for this coming Friday, Sept. 21 to continue to push for better working conditions, which includes the fight for a $15 minimum wage. The #FightFor15 movement has been a hot point of controversy on campus between student-activists and the University in recent years, and this year is expected to be no different. Last December, members of United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) pushed past a line of police officers blockading a Board of Governors meeting chanting, “We work, we sweat, put that 15 on our set.” There were multiple other protests for this cause in New Brunswick last year, which were presumably at least partially the impetus for the University’s decision to raise the minimum wage on campus from $8.44 to $11 an hour.
The contracts agreed upon between the University and Rutgers’ faculty union, the American Association of University Professors-American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT), expired this past July, but a number of faculty members still remain without a new contract. That is not to say that our professors are not getting paid — they are — but negotiations are ongoing, and faculty members have not received raises or adjustments in salary based on cost of living.