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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.
In the spirit of Halloween, it is due time to start getting excited about costumes — or at least the costumes that do not make you into a walking symbol of racism.
Anyone who attends Rutgers knows that as a community, we value acceptance and inclusivity very highly — we want to protect our fellow students from hate and prejudice. At the same time, being that we are a major public research institution, another one of our fundamental values is based in academic freedom and the spread of ideas. But in recent times, it seems those two values seemingly tend to clash.
When seeking to attain a position as a faculty member at Harvard Law School in the mid-1980s, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) formally notified administrators that she has Native American ancestry. Since the middle of the 2016 presidential race, President Donald J. Trump has poked fun at Warren for her claim that she was part Native American. At an event honoring the contributions of Native Americans during the World Wars, Trump insensitively referred to the senator as “Pocahontas.” In July, the president said that he would pledge $1 million to a charity of Warren’s choice if she were to release a DNA test that, "shows (she is) an Indian." Originally Warren intended to ignore Trump’s challenge, but on Oct. 15 she revealed that she had gone through with a DNA test and released the results to the public, which showed that she does, in fact, have some Native American blood — emphasis being on some.
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.
TED IS TERRIFIC
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?
KEEP KAVANAUGH OUT
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.