Sixth annual Rutgers Day attracts record-breaking crowds

<p>Attendees visit a stall to learn about weeds on Cook/Douglass campus.</p>

Attendees visit a stall to learn about weeds on Cook/Douglass campus.

Nearly 84,000 people walked across three Rutgers campuses on Saturday, experiencing everything from simulated brain surgery on model skulls and recreating the Newark campus with Legos to petting baby farm animals.

The sixth annual Rutgers Day brought a record-breaking crowd to the College Avenue, Busch and Cook/Douglass campuses, according to an email from Rutgers Today blogger Amber Hopkins-Jenkins.

The biggest difference Rutgers Day 2014 saw was new programming from the Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences colleagues from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

Terre Martin, associate director of community affairs at Rutgers, said UMDNJ faculty are very excited about being a part of Rutgers. These affiliates offered free health screenings, seminars on how to be a surgeon and information about public health.

This year’s Rutgers Day had more than 500 programs across College Avenue, Busch and Cook/Douglass.

 “This is a great day to learn what’s going on at the University for everybody,” Martin said.


The Rutgers Day parade began with a bang at Brower Commons and marched down College Avenue to Voorhees Mall.

The parade featured decorated floats to celebrate Rutgers pride. In a Mario Kart float, marchers dressed as the familiar Nintendo characters, Mario and Luigi, drove down College Avenue. Other characters, such as a polar bear and scuba divers, joined the parade.

The ROTC Color Guard, Rutgers Dance Team and cheerleaders marched in the parade to build Rutgers spirit. Historic individuals from Rutgers’ past followed in period-style clothing. Clowns, unicyclists, stilted men and little kids marched along.

After the Parade, guests were able to celebrate some other aspects of Rutgers Day.

On a mat spread out over the lawn, six competitors in groups of two faced each other. In one pair, a woman eyed her competitor: a man a few inches taller than herself.

Vikram Sarath, president of the Rutgers Jujitsu Club, watched the pair closely.

“In Jujitsu, by using weight and leverage, even much smaller people can learn how to throw larger people,” Sarath said.

After he spoke, the woman advanced and in a flash of movement, she tossed the man over her shoulder with a smack.

The Jujitsu club was one of more than a dozen organizations on “Bishop Beach,” the area between Mettler and Tinsley Halls on the College Avenue campus. Around the lawn, children played games where they donated money and made paper airplanes.

At the RU for Troops booth, they designed cards to send to soldiers. Danielle Rayburn, president of the organization, said it would send the cards to friends of Rutgers veterans serving overseas.

To Write Love on Her Arms, a national organization that aims to instill hope in people struggling with depression and addiction, asked participants to write down their greatest fear and their greatest dream.

Dr. Gaurav Gupta, a neurosurgeon at RWJ, led the volunteers through a demonstration of brain tumor surgery on a model skull. He had them carefully drill three holes into the skull and extract an artificial tumor from the faux brain.

They were then challenged to do the same with an egg, meant to signify the delicacy of the human brain, without spattering the yolk. Evidence of many successful operations could be seen in the carton of eggs beside them.

Further down College Avenue, students from the Center for Latino Arts and Culture celebrated Rutgers Day with salsa dancing and face painting.

At the Department of English booth, Rutgers Day’s younger audience crowded around the stage to watch puppeteer Josh Cohen put on a performance of “Puppet Stories.”

In the Old Queens area, actors from the Rutgers Theater dressed in period pieces and told the stories of historical figures.

The program featured representations of Mabel Smith Douglass, the first dean of the New Jersey College for Women, now called Douglass College. Also present was Paul Robeson, the third black student enrolled at Rutgers, Julia Baxter Bates, the first black Douglass student and William Leggett, the first Rutgers football captain, among others.


Richard Low graduated from Rutgers 23 years ago and has been coming back for Rutgers Day ever since.

Cook/Douglass is Low’s favorite campus. He circled the campus to visit the plants, picnic with his family and ended the day by going to the farm to see the animals.

Tents and booths set up on the Cook/Douglass campus had games, information sessions and demonstrations on Saturday for Rutgers Day.

Food vendors sold snacks and meals ranging from baked pastries from the Hungarian Bakery to falafels. Other vendors sold jewelry, clothes, home décor or plants.

The Cabaret Theatre had games for visitors to practice their improvisational skills, and Floriculture Greenhouse provided a tour of their collection of edible and poisonous plants. Nearby, baby farm animals soaked up attention from visitors at the Round House petting zoo.

Passion Puddle, normally a serene study spot for students to unwind, became the site of the world’s largest egg toss.

Music also proved to be an instrumental part of the day with the New Jersey Folk Festival and AGStock.

The NJFF was created in 1975 and celebrated their 40th anniversary on Saturday.

According to their website, the NJFF is one of a handful of folk festivals in the United States run by undergraduate students. The students are responsible for all aspects of advertising, planning and producing an event that celebrates the diverse multicultural and indigenous folk life of New Jersey and its surrounding region.

As part of the anniversary celebration, Bulgaa Altangerel, the Mongolian ambassador to the United States, attended as a special guest, according to a press release.

After the NJFF, Rutgers students were able to showcase their talent through AGStock, a concert that featured student bands, singers, rappers and poets as well as food and prizes.


It was hard to miss the throng of people circled around an event no more than a few feet from the Busch Campus Center.

The group of spectators gathered to witness Scarlet Chef Michael Autrey show off his culinary skills at Rutgers Day.

Autrey, who has been a staff member at the Busch Dining Commons since 2001, stirred, fried, flipped and seasoned the separate foods arrayed in front of him while intermittently addressing the crowd.

 “It’s not easy,” he said. “As a cook, I need to be vigilant, prepared and always thinking ahead.”

The members of the Engineers Without Borders Rutgers Student Chapter echoed a similar sentiment. The nonprofit organization invests in engineering solutions that attend to human needs.

Maya Saltzman, EWB president, demonstrated the group’s philanthropy through their efforts for less fortunate areas such as Kenya, Guatemala and locally in Camden, New Jersey.

At the School of Management and Labor Relations’ event titled “Know Your Rights at Work,” Dave expressed his shock in learning the varying forms of discrimination in the workplace.

“It is a little disturbing when you hear of all the inappropriate conduct and racism some people experience,” he said. “This is something that could happen to any of us, even me.”

The members of RUDU set out to simulate an authentic debate. Both sides were allotted three minutes for an opening and closing statement before attempting to persuade the audience with their opinions on the select topic.

The parking lot adjacent to the BCC was packed with electric-powered automobiles for an event hosted by the Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation at Rutgers.

The event’s purpose was to demonstrate their stance against harmful gas-powered vehicles, said Ben Rich, an electric motorcycle owner who contributed his personal electric motorcycle for the event.

“All the events on Busch are really great and varied. It’s what makes Rutgers such a great school,” he said.

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