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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.
In 2011, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights investigated a complaint issued by the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) that alleged the University violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and discriminated on the basis of national origin against students of Jewish ancestry by failing to adequately respond to multiple allegations of unequal treatment and harassment. One of the main allegations came with regard to a pro-Palestinian organization called Belief Awareness Knowledge and Action (BAKA), which ZOA said treated Jewish students differently by imposing an entrance fee only on Jewish students at an on-campus event. The case was originally dropped under former President Barack Obama’s administration due to an apparent lack of evidence of such discrimination, but Kenneth Marcus, the new assistant secretary of education for civil rights, is reopening the case.
REMEDIES FOR FIRST RESPONDER
Yesterday, a student posted the following message in the Rutgers University Class of 2020 Facebook group:
On Sept. 5, The New York Times published an anonymous op-ed entitled, “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.” The piece was written by a senior official in President Donald J. Trump’s administration — senior official being a term used in Washington, D.C. to refer to people who hold positions in the upper echelons of the government, like a member of the cabinet. The op-ed, in an odd way, both praised the successes of the nation since Trump took office, while at the same time discrediting and casting doubt on the president’s competence, assuring its readers that there are people in the administration working to steer the country away from otherwise imminent danger.
Many Rutgers students were unpleasantly surprised to find out at the start of the school year that there were no longer any convenience stores in any University campus centers. The convenience stores used to be owned and operated by Barnes & Noble, but over the summer the company turned those spaces over to the University. Now, Rutgers is working to turn the spots where the convenience stores were into new places for students to congregate and hang out. It is not quite clear yet what the true reason for the stores closing down is, but the choice is seemingly rather unpopular among students.
The Rutgers University Department of Transportation Services (DOTS) implemented a brand new system for granting parking permits and issuing parking tickets this year. Basically, the new system has done away with physical parking passes, or hang tags, as well as physical parking tickets. It now relies on an electronic system that recognizes vehicles registered by scanning their license plates.
A successful football team can mean a lot for a university, and this past Saturday was a great day for Rutgers football team. The squad triumphed over Texas State with a great student section turnout — which hopefully set the pace for the rest of the season. Last season, crowd attendance at Rutgers football games decreased 11.3 percent from 2016. Being that Rutgers football is far from being the most lively or well-attended football program in the Big Ten to begin with, a further decrease would be painful. With that said, it is not unreasonable to think that a strong fan base, especially a strong student fan-base, can significantly improve a team’s motivation and morale during a game. A lively and loud student section could conceivably influence its team in a positive way. For example, it can motivate the team to give a little extra on an important fourth down play. But enthusiastic game attendance — if it is true that a strong fan-base can help a team — can indirectly influence much more than just football.
Colin Kaepernick is now the face of Nike’s new “Just Do It” 30th anniversary ad campaign. A black and white image of Kaepernick’s face is the backdrop for an objectively inspiring statement — “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” But, as was likely foreseen, Nike has received backlash by many who disapprove of Kaepernick’s kneeling for the national anthem. A #NikeBoycott Twitter movement was sparked in the wake of the ad, and Nike’s stock has gone down since its release.
In late May, James Livingston, a professor in the Department of History, made a post on Facebook that resulted in a considerable amount of negative publicity: