EDITORIAL: Rutgers' extended history warrants pride
Potential for growth still high on school's 253rd birthday
Rutgers University, the 13th oldest university in the nation, turned 253 years old on Sunday.
The founding buildings are still intact and used on the College Avenue campus, and are some of the defining structures of the school. A lot has happened along the way, and the University is almost unrecognizable from its initial founding as Queens College.
We can pull from our University’s collective history and find several points of achievement and pride, while also recognizing that there is plenty of room for growth.
In 1869, Rutgers played the first college football game ever at home, making it the birthplace of college football. This can be seen touted all over campus, on plaques and posters boasting its unique place in history.
It has been 150 years since then, and the football team certainly has its work cut out for them if they wish to reclaim the prestige that accompanies holding such a unique post in sports and collegiate history.
The Rutgers football team currently holds a 2-7 record and is in the midst of a coaching search, but after recently joining the Big Ten Conference, there is potential for Rutgers to grow tremendously, with the conference being a powerhouse in the sport.
Branching off from that, Big Ten membership also comes with research benefits. Rutgers is a member of the Association of American Universities, a selective perch that comprises 62 of the top research universities in North America.
With its membership in the Big Ten just beginning to evince its full benefits, there is no reason to think that Rutgers’ status as a research giant will dissipate in the coming years.
An additional point of pride is the concrete and easily identified culture that has emerged at the school. Furnishing a tangible culture is important in school pride. The more unique and positive aspects one can identify with their school, the more pride they will have in it.
At Rutgers, we have several traditions and hallmarks to latch onto. Fat sandwiches are iconic at this school, and basement shows and other artistic endeavors run rampant during the weekends. Food trucks are also a defining characteristic of the University, and can be seen during a stroll on any of the five campuses.
Even in the culture department, though, there is immense room for growth. The campus does not get excited about much anymore, although that could be solved with a little more luck in athletics. Rutgers students are so starved for excitement that they began worshipping a dead crustacean dangling from a tree.
As more aspects of the University grow and improve over time, more cohesive, positive cultures will as well.
There is a strong sense of community at the school. The vast majority of students come from New Jersey or at least somewhere in the tri-state area. As a result, it is easy to find things in common with your peers, especially those undergoing the same coursework as yourself.
There is a subtle yet present sense of relation among everyone, which makes interacting with peers a fruitful endeavor often.
This is also perhaps an issue, and an area where improvement is possible. While a strong sense of community is always a good thing, that community should stem from the distinctive positives of the University, not similar childhoods and backgrounds. The commonalities between us are a consequence of a school with a tentative grasp of what diversity means.
Arts and culture also find a home at Rutgers. The Zimmerli Art Museum is located on the College Avenue campus, and the New Jersey Film Festival, New Jersey’s largest continuing public film series that focuses on experimental work, is held in New Brunswick.
There is also potential for growth in the arts and humanities. Humanities are not always fully valued at Rutgers, with many buildings on the Cook and Douglass campuses, which is where many humanities courses are held, are decaying and generally neglected.
The age of the school itself is also a point of pride. The fact that this institution has operated longer than the United States itself is very impressive. Rutgers has seen the Revolution, the Civil War and two World Wars, and it still stands in the heart of New Jersey, just as it did 253 years ago.
Through all that time, the University has grown and molded itself to exist symbiotically with the changing winds of history. There is always a need for constant growth and constant adaptation, and modernity is no exception.
Rutgers students and alumni should be more prideful in their school, but must remain cautious as to not let that pride blind them to reality.
Rutgers must grow and meet its full potential, as it has so many times before. Until then, those involved with the University can remain prideful in the past greatness it rests upon.
The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 151st editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.
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