Fifth annual Rutgers Day draws record crowd

<p>Members of the Rutgers University Dance Team and the Scarlet Knight walked down College Avenue as a part of the Rutgers?Parade Saturday for Rutgers Day. The day-long celebrations brought more than 83,000 people to the University.</p>

Members of the Rutgers University Dance Team and the Scarlet Knight walked down College Avenue as a part of the Rutgers?Parade Saturday for Rutgers Day. The day-long celebrations brought more than 83,000 people to the University.


A record crowd of 83,000 people attended the fifth annual Rutgers Day Saturday. Participants could enjoy more than 500 different programs and activities from on campus organizations and departments. As a part of the larger celebration, Ag Field Day was held on the Cook and Douglass campuses, featuring the annual New Jersey Folk Festival, a dog show and other events closely tied into the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences.

College Avenue and Busch Campus

The day kicked-off on the College Avenue campus for the Rutgers Day Parade, where a number of student organizations — such as Habitat for Humanity, the ROTC Color Guard and the Rutgers University Swing Dancing Team — marched to the beat of the University Marching Band down College Avenue toward Voorhees Mall.

Anyone at Rutgers Day could show their Jersey pride on Voorhees Mall with the Department of Oral History Archives by giving a 10 to 15 minute interview about their experiences with Hurricane Sandy, said Kyle Downey, staff member in the department.

“We are just recording people’s stories about Sandy, about what happened, what is going on now, where they were during the storm and how they handled it,” Downey said. “We’re just trying to get a glimpse of the lives of New Jersey residents during the storm.”

Nick Molnar, assistant director in the Department of Oral History Archives, said they would send the collection to the Barnegat Bay Decoy & Baymen’s Museum for a future exhibit.

“We joined because we like to work with community groups and they approached us since we had one of the largest oral history collections in New Jersey,” he said. “They inquired about how to do some of these oral histories so we helped them out, provided some of the resources.”

The University is also leading in their sustainability efforts, said Dave Dehart, associate director of Environmental Services, who aimed to highlight the University’s initiatives.

“Today was our second Zero Waste Rutgers Day and we composted 1.7 tons of material last year and recycled 5.15 tons of material that we sent to the landfill so we are hoping for another successful event this year,” Dehart said.

For the students finishing their college career this May, Christopher Retzko, manager of Special Events and Programs, gathered students to record a final “thank you” message that will be played before the start of their commencement ceremony.

“We’ve been doing this every year since 2011,” he said. “We wanted to give the students an opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to the people that have supported them and also to make the ceremony more fun, more enjoyable.”

AT&T Inc. also made an appearance as a part of their tour to encourage young adults against texting and driving, which included a virtual simulation.

Those interested were asked to send text messages with goggles connected to a steering wheel, brake and gas pedals. The virtual reality allowed students to experience firsthand the dangers that stem from texting and driving, said Larissa Palazzo, a company store manager.

“The campaign started in 2009,” Palazzo said. “We are showing how dangerous it is. It’s very dangerous considering how distractive it is. This tour, we’ve been doing for about a year now, so we go to events like this to reach out to the population most affected by it.”

The Office for Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance also hoped to help individuals affected by tragedy by displaying a clothing line on Busch campus, said Brady Root, Prevention Education coordinator and University alumna.

Lisa Smith, Domestic Violence Services coordinator, said the line consisted of T-shirts made by survivors or the family and friends of someone who has suffered from interpersonal violence.

“The clothes we have here are from people in the Rutgers community … that have either been in a relationship that was abusive, were sexually assaulted or stalked by someone. They make a shirt, so they are able to express how they are feeling,” Smith said. “Some find it as a cleansing.”

Outside of Rutgers Day, Smith said every September the office displays 300 T-shirts on Voorhees Mall as part of a national awareness campaign. She said the campaign is meant to spread the word about the issue as well as their offices and the services they provide.

Rutgers Recreational Services showed off their collection of three-dimensional “R”s, each created by a different department in the University.

Douglass Campus / 39th Annual New Jersey Folk Festival

David DiFabio, Recreation and Fitness coordinator, said participants could vote on boxes for most creative. Rutgers Recreation’s “R” had an interactive display where children were able to fish as a part of their sailing themed presentation.

The Eagleton Institute participated in the contest. On their “R” was a box for individuals to place the provided voter registration forms, said Kathy Kleeman, senior communications officer.

“We are showing the things we do,” she said. “At Eagleton, we believe that everyone should be an active and engaged citizen and registering to vote is that kind of thing.”

Energetic drum beats of traditional Garifuna music danced across the Eagleton lawn on Douglass campus Saturday at the New Jersey Folk Festival.

Thousands of attendees walked the folk marketplace streets, perused blown glass decorations and intricate walking sticks and purchased festival fare. A performance artist breathed fire and juggled knives in front of the Gateway tent, where Department of Women’s and Gender Studies assistant professor Sylvia Chan-Malik read children’s stories.

The festival celebrates a different culture in the region every year. This year featured the Garifuna culture, a unique culture of Carib-Arawak and West African descent, festival manager Gabrielle Rossi said.

Rossi, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, said communities of Garifuna people live in New Jersey, the Bronx and other regions of the United States. The Garifuna people are one of more than 120 cultures found in New Jersey.

“We’re not going to repeat a festival theme until we celebrate them all,” Rossi said.

The Garifuna music at the festival represented the second phase of Garifuna history as it survived in Central America, but the story began before, said Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves, permanent representative to the United Nations for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

The inhabitants of Saint Vincent rescued survivors from a slave-ship crash in the 17th century, accepting them into the community as brothers and adopting elements of West African dance and cuisine, Gonsalves said.

“The two peoples slowly became one,” he said.

Gonsalves said the rescue was a miracle that led the Garifuna people to where they are today. Had the slave ship crashed one mile in any direction around Saint Vincent, all the men would have been recaptured.

But British colonists saw the Garifuna people as a primitive race, not understanding why they were content to live by fishing and hunting without clearing the lands for agriculture, he said.

The empire claimed the 100,000 acres of land on Saint Vincent and attempted to seize control of the island, but they were repelled by the Garifuna people and forced to sign a peace treaty that split the territory in half, he said.

“The planters complained bitterly … and quickly began efforts to breach the boundaries,” he said.

Gonsalves said the British encroachment led to a second war, which ended with a British victory. The British exiled half of the Garifuna people to Roatán Island off the coast of Honduras.

“The survivors subsisted on raw cassava and root crops that were moistened and salted by their own sweat in the oppressive heat of the ships’ cargo holds,” he said.

Gonsalves said the Garifuna people have fought wars, endured genocide and exile but managed to survive in Central and North America.

“From those 4,000 survivors of unspeakable genocide, there are now more than 200,000 people of Garifuna descent in the world,” he said. “Today, the Garifuna nation is numerically stronger than it has ever been before, and that is another miracle.”

The festival’s executive director, Angus Kress Gillespie, presented a Lifetime Achievement Award to Rev. George Ramon Castillo, who worked with prison activism for years and wrote a book on his experience helping prisoners and their families.

Castillo said he was the second black chaplain with the Federal Bureau of Prisons when he was hired in 1973. Though he retired 20 years ago, he is still hardworking.

As times change, ministries to those in need also change, but the call to help never goes away, he said.

“Although I am only 82 years old, my Christian service has not ended,” he said.

The Festival is the only such event in the country managed entirely by undergraduate students, Rossi said.

Student planners take a course through the Department of American Studies that teaches them the history of the year’s theme culture and heavily gears toward preparing the festival, she said.

Fellow students often joke that ensuring the festival goes smoothly is the class’s final project, Rossi said.

The Festival was originally a Douglass College event but grew and became incorporated with Ag Field Day, she said.

Rossi said the experience of organizing and managing the festival makes her feel as though she is giving back to her roots while connecting to the University’s wider, global reach.

“It’s definitely the most unique and rewarding part of my undergraduate career,” Rossi said.

Beverley Hahn, a 1984 Cook College alumna, said the dog show has been at Ag Field Day since the mid ’80s.

The competition, which began as an addition to the University’s veterinary science dog show, is open to all 4-H clubs in New Jersey that deal with dog care for Seeing Eye projects, she said.

4-H members and their dogs can compete in a variety of categories, including obedience, showmanship and agility, she said.

“Kids spend so much time being told what to do,” she said. “It’s a real interesting role reversal for a kid to be a teacher for a change.”

Hahn said 4-H clubs teach children to have fun while learning responsibility and life skills such as leadership and bookkeeping. Kids join because they are interested in dogs but learn as they take on new roles beyond what they originally expected.

“That’s a real trick with 4-H,” she said. “They’re learning and don’t know it.”

Fifteen counties attended the 2013 New Jersey State 4-H Dog Show, said Kathy Murarik, Morris County 4-H Program associate.

Competitors tried to win a state award after moving on from individual county competitions, Murarik said.

The dog show allows competitors to see different perspectives on dogs and what they can do, she said.

While some competitors go on to show dogs at higher levels, others just enjoy the social aspect of meeting new people and dogs, she said.

More than 70 people crowded into the Equine Science Lab Saturday for a demonstration of the University’s super-sized equine treadmill. Two Standardbred mares, Maggie and Snowdrift, waited in their stalls for a chance to run.

Maggie, a bay mare, came from the Standardbred retirement foundation, which takes in retired brood mares and racehorses, said Carey Williams, an associate extension specialist in the Department of Animal Sciences.

Student researchers led the mare onto the treadmill and switched her lead ropes. They hooked a strap hanging from the ceiling to Maggie’s surcingle, a padded strap belted just behind the front legs, so she would not fall if she tripped.

“It’s an emergency shutoff,” Williams said. “[I’ve] never actually had to use it, but it’s nice to know that it’s there.”

Williams commanded Maggie to walk and started the treadmill at a slow pace to let the mare warm up. Maggie walked faster, moving into a trot and, finally, a gallop as Williams increased the speed.

Pulling into a stride comfortable for the speed, Maggie galloped at 28 miles per hour on the treadmill before Williams slowed the pace again.

Williams said it takes several days to weeks to train the mares to respond to the treadmill.

“Some horses, like Snowdrift, only took us three days,” she said. “She was really, really quick to take to the treadmill.”

Other mares take longer to get used to the idea of the floor moving while their surroundings remain still. It takes time for the mares to stop leaning against the sides of the treadmill and realize they can walk on the machine, she said.

Karyn Malinowski, director of the Equine Science Center, said people sometimes ask why the University funds horse studies such as the treadmill at a time when grant programs are being scaled back.

But horses are not only New Jersey’s state animal, but also a part of a $4 billion industry, keeping a quarter of the state’s agricultural acreage intact, she said.

“We have a responsibility to this wonderful industry, plus we’re crazy about horses here,” Malinowski said. “Everything we do is for the wellbeing of the horse.”

Malinowski said the lab influences state policy decisions affecting horses, ensuring that decisions are made based on facts. The lab also conducts aging research on horses and also explores the importance of equine in human medicine.

The high-speed treadmill transformed the way the lab went about research, said Kenneth McKeever, associate director of research for the center.

Before the treadmill, researchers had to do experiments in the field and were unable to take many of the measurements that have since furthered their research, he said.

“You can’t draw blood samples while that horse is running,” he said.

McKeever said the treadmill enables scientists to measure horses in a controlled environment so they can catch information such as oxygen uptake into the bloodstream.

“This is a great tool that has revolutionized the field,” he said.


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