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The partisan practice of manipulating district lines is an undemocratic crack in the foundation of America since the nation was first formed. From the rotten boroughs in England, to Patrick Henry attempting to gerrymander James Madison out of Virginia, to the cracking and packing of 2010, redistricting is one of the oldest continued abuses of power in our democratic experiment.
Born in this nation of promise and progress, civic and political power are inalienable birthrights that require provision and nurturing. Yet they are placed in the hands of some and beyond reach for others. Institutions of learning are designed to be the grand guardians of democracy, wielding education as a great leveler of inequities. They function as ladders descending down to those born into circumstances beyond their control, ready for their ascension. Yet “our education system routinely fails urban, rural, low-income and minority students,” according to The Civic Mission of Schools.
On the night of Jan. 23, 2018, networks of organizations and members of various communities took to the streets of New Jersey with Monarch Housing Associates to conduct the 2018 Point-in-Time (PIT) Count of homeless men, women and children across the state’s 21 counties. The 2018 report counted 9,303 homeless people on that night, which was a 9 percent increase from the 2017 report. This increase was smaller than the reported increase from 2016 to 2017, which was 20 percent, but still undeniably disheartening.
Unauthorized immigration in to the United States peaked in 2007. A decade ago, the total number of unauthorized immigrants hit its precipice and then declined, continuing to fall for the next 10 years. The drop in illegal immigration to the lowest level it has been since 2004 is connected to the large decrease of 1.5 million people in the number of Mexican unauthorized immigrants from 2007 to 2016, according to the Pew Research Center. The reality of immigration is felt in New Jersey, which has one of the highest undocumented immigrant populations in the country.
On Jan. 1, 2019, New Jersey’s minimum wage will increase. While the increase is by no means the act of state legislators or Gov. Phil Murphy (D) upholding his campaign promise, it is the result of New Jersey’s constitution, which requires the state’s minimum wage to be adjusted to consumer price index data. The minimum wage ought to be raised as the prices of goods and services increase, but it must also be set at a livable rate that is reflective of the realities of the economy.
The Rutgers community is full of kind and caring people, and for specifically the past two years it has shown those qualities by donating for Giving Tuesday. Each year, Giving Tuesday takes place the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, and this year’s focus was on Rutgers’ student food pantries. On the New Brunswick campus, the student food pantry is located at 39 Union St. It opened in 2016, and is stocked by way of donations from organizations like Rutgers Against Hunger, Middlesex County Food Organization and Outreach Distribution Services, as well as private donations. While many students will go through all four years at Rutgers without even thinking about utilizing the University’s food pantry, hunger and lack of access to nutritious foods affects more members of our community than one might think.
Same usage rates, but different enforcement. The racial targeting in the policing of cannabis use has resulted in Black New Jerseyans being arrested at a rate three times higher than whites between 2000 and 2013, according to an ACLU-NJ report.
Many major complaints that Rutgers students have seem to stem from administrative insufficiencies, where attempting to solve problems with financial aid, parking, scheduling and other related issues are much more difficult than they ideally should be. Students often run around looking for the right office or the right person to help them. But there is hope, because relatively soon the University will be implementing a “One-Stop Center” where the aforementioned, highly sought-after offices and people will be located. Offices will possibly begin to open on location by this coming summer, though the entire Center will not be complete
Rutgers has found that James Livingston, a professor in the Department of History, did not violate the University's Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment, following University President Robert L. Barchi calling on the Office of Employment Equity (OEE) to re-examine its original findings, according to The Daily Targum.
It can go without saying that the United States has a serious gun-violence issue. Every year more than 36,000 people are killed by gunshots in this country, which makes gun violence one of the leading causes of death.
A recent Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) Town Hall was focused on sexual violence and education. Four panelists, who are leaders in Rutgers’ sexual violence education and support community, were brought in to discuss the issues on how to mitigate the occurrence of sexual assault. Brady Root, the prevention education coordinator at the Office of Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance, said in an interview with The Daily Targum that the ultimate goal of her office is to eradicate sexual violence before it occurs.
While countries around the globe have moved toward authoritarianism and the trend of democracy continues to decline, it would be naïve to neglect America’s role and the inches it has moved, as well. According to Freedom House, the suppression of journalists and independent news media is at its worst point in 13 years. The Committee to Protect Journalists reported that the number of journalists imprisoned for their work is at its highest level since the 1990s. Reporters Without Borders released its annual World Press Freedom Index in April, which ranks 180 countries from highest to lowest levels of press freedom. The United States fell in ranking, as it did last year.
One of the less immediately tangible but heartening things that came out of Tuesday’s midterm elections was the fact that more than 60 percent of Floridians voted “yes” on Amendment 4, which will restore voting rights to citizens that have been convicted of felonies other than murder or sexual offenses after having served their sentences. That means that approximately 1.5 million voters will be added to Florida’s electorate, which accounts for nearly 10 percent of Florida’s adult population — something that may very well change the future political landscape of the state, considering its often very close voting outcomes.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Since his 2016 presidential campaign, President Donald J. Trump and his constituents have seemingly used fear as an effective tool to persuade voters. Anti-immigration rhetoric, and arguably propaganda, have been used to fabricate an irrational fear of a non-existent danger. The bolstering of the perceived danger of immigrants and foreigners has been preyed upon most recently in an advertisement put out late last week by the Trump campaign, which attempted to conflate a convicted murderer, the “caravan” of Central American migrants walking toward the United States and the Democratic Party.
Democratic representation is built on pillars of inclusion and the will, opinion and consent of the governed. For the representative structure to be stable and uphold foundational values, it requires harmony between substantive and descriptive representation in which the values and characteristics of the electorate are reflected in the government, broad citizen eligibility for public office, uncompromisable voting rights, accountable effectiveness and policy influence based in the people. The system in which democratic representation acts as an engine of prosperity and progress for all holds the overarching characteristic of high voter turnout.
A main talking point of President Donald J. Trump’s since his 2016 campaign has been immigration and the perceived danger that undocumented immigrants pose to American citizens. As the midterm elections approach, the president has been returning to the topic, arguably with the aim of striking fear into the hearts of voters. A poll by the Pew Research Center showed that, nationally, 75 percent of Republican voters see illegal immigration as the country’s biggest problem right now. And that worry is especially being bolstered with attention being turned toward the “caravan” of Central American migrants walking to the United States border through Mexico, where the Defense Department, apparently aiming to "harden" entrances into the country, has mobilized 5,000 troops.
As students, it is important to us that we enjoy the overall environment of our university. And the level of school spirit present can undoubtedly help or hurt the student experience as a whole. Our school spirit should not positively or negatively correlate with the success of our sports teams, but should be present regardless of how our sports teams do. If we bring our Scarlet Knight pride to sports games, the popular and unpopular alike, it is not far fetched to think that not only will our teams succeed, but that we will begin to realize that school spirit has a special ability to bind us more closely together as a community.
It is reasonable to say that physical differences between people should be disregarded in a professional or civil environment, just like it would be ideal that the United States not be plagued by racism. A person should not be discriminated against based on their internal identity and preferences. It is these social constructs around gender that seem to have led to discrimination against, for example, women throughout history. These socially-constructed norms probably did indeed stem from sex, but they really seem to be responses to the specific gender roles associated with sex. In 2018, we realize that a gender role can clearly be separated from biological sex, and that people should not be discriminated against based on their gender identity since there is seemingly no logical connection between one’s biological sex and the role they take on in society. So it would make sense for legal protections against discrimination to cover gender more so than sex. That is, if our lawmakers recognize the difference.
In one week, this nation saw the true state of our Union. Seven days of violence revealed the blazing fire that has turned core values to ash, melting America’s foundations. On Wednesday, a white man with a history of violence and racial animosity shot and killed two Black people in Kentucky after he failed to enter a Black church. Throughout the week, a Florida man who had ranted against Democrats and spouted hateful messages against minorities online attempted to commit domestic terrorist attacks targeting Democrats who have criticized President Donald J. Trump’s rhetoric and policies with mail bombs. And Saturday morning, a man yelling anti-Semitic slurs killed 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue during a baby naming ceremony, the largest mass murder of Jewish people in U.S. history.