Support diversity of taste in entertainers
Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi was brought to the University on March 31 to, in essence, make fun of the way she and the rest of these pop-culture "stars" make their money. What I find rather interesting is there is such extreme push back from other students, members of the University's administration and now absurdly from members of the N.J. legislature. I wonder what right any of these groups have to investigate bringing this comedy group to see fans. If anything should be blamed, it isn't and shouldn't be Rutgers University Programming Association, but rather the sheer demand for having these stars. I've never watched an episode of "Jersey Shore," but I certainly know what it's about. I've heard professors, colleagues, co-workers and other students reference such things as "fist pumping" and the "hair blowout." As much as we might decry the fact these people are famous, they penetrated the essence of popular culture and have now become part of the vernacular of daily life.
This is completely ironic that we are at the University, a school known for being a beacon of openness, diversity and equality. When that support is needed the most, to stand up for its students and say we are adults who can make decisions, even controversial ones, that support evaporates. Instead, we are told we don't know what we should be doing and are treated like small children. Now the administration is saying this was a "learning exercise," and we have learned a valuable lesson. I find this completely ridiculous we have to make an apology at all, either to the administration, or the N.J. legislature.
We, the University students, are the ones that traditionally determine what we want. We look to the administration to help us achieve our goals and needs. We look to the administration and professors to help us gain our foothold in our respective fields and follow our ambitions to become active members of society. Since when does doing that mean we give up our First Amendment right to like what we want and to use what we pay in student fees — a very small portion of tuition — to bring who we want to campus. I've attended many lectures, presentations and conferences that my student fees paid for and I believe this is my right. Many would and do find the field of biology quite boring. While I do not agree with them, it is their right to feel that way. I don't care that I don't personally like "Jersey Shore" or Polizzi, but she has a right to exist. She has a right to be brought to the University if the students want to attend the show she will be performing at.
People are wrongly comparing the fee paid to the booking and management company that handled the event with the payment given to critically acclaimed author and Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison. This is the worst attempt by the press to increase readership I have seen in a long time. Not only is this comparison very wrong on its surface, it's wrong at the center of the debate. Polizzi was a comedy act brought to campus to make students laugh. Morrison is the commencement speaker brought to campus to congratulate the graduating class for their hard work and dedication, which lead them through their long nights of studying, their highest highs, their lowest lows and the daily monotony to come out on the other side with a degree. Commencement is about celebration and a joyous spirit that is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Schools typically try to bring very well known people to be the commencement speaker to mark this amazing feat of graduating. This is comparing apples to barrels — completely different events with vastly difference experiences about what they are.
We as common human beings should be supportive of our different tastes, experiences and cultures. We need to stop being so critical about why people might like authors, movie stars, politicians, clothing brands, music groups, religions and pop culture icons. See it for what it is — a vast melting pot of different people. This, while certainly different than what our founding fathers imagined, is what they helped build our country for.
Daniel Swartley-McArdle is a graduate student majoring in biology and is a graduate student representative to the Rutgers Board of Trustees. This letter will also run in the Rutgers-Camden student newspaper, The Gleaner.
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