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Appreciate diverse world views

(03/01/11 5:00am)

I watched the dark black cloud engulf the New York City skyline on Sept. 11, 2001, originating from where the two glimmering skyscrapers used to stand. I was 11 years old then. I stood watching an almost motionless screen, as if the world had paused outside the windows of my elementary school — Joseph H. Brensinger No.17 in Jersey City, N.J. I saw a drastic change in the way that kids who resembled me were treated after that day. I noticed my peers who were brown were suddenly being called "bin Laden" and the Middle-Eastern children were being pushed around. Did this monumental day suddenly help us elementary school kids in Public School 17 realize we were different based on our skin color, bringing racial acknowledgement to the forefront of our young minds? I wish that were true.

Follow steps to success

(02/15/11 5:00am)

On a relatively normal day — Wednesday, January 15, 2009, to be specific — with temperatures hovering at about 26-degrees Fahrenheit, U.S. Airways Flight 1549 departed from La Guardia Airport in New York City heading northwest en route to Charlotte, N.C. Three minutes into the flight, a large flock of Canadian geese flew into the Airbus' engines, resulting in immediate loss of thrust from both engines. Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger became a worldwide sensation after landing the Airbus A320 almost seamlessly into the Hudson River, saving all 155 passengers on board.

Lost in meritocracy

(11/30/10 5:00am)

Rapper Kanye West mentioned in his "Lil Jimmy Skit" on the "College Dropout" album that his father passed away and left him with all of the academic degrees that he earned, joking that he was so obsessed with getting degrees that he stole his son's as well. "I'm gonna learn too, I'm gonna get super smart so that I to can die without … I won't have any money. But I'll be the smartest dead guy," he said.

Fake it, fit in with society

(11/09/10 5:00am)

I know your secret — you know the one I'm talking about. Fine, you might not since you might be doing it subconsciously. But don't worry because I'm in the same boat and so are your friends and relatives, and let's not forget the president of the United States does it too. I'm talking about the act of "faking it," which Stephen Dubner describes in his podcast titled "Faking It" in a brilliant metaphor. He says, "If the human psyche were a big map, nestled somewhere between the Sea of Cheating and the Valley of Lying, you'd come to the Kingdom of Faking It." So what is faking it? It's not directly lying or candidly cheating, but more of a combination of the two. This brings us to the question of whether people should actively resist from faking it, and is it really wrong? I think not — in many aspects, we do it throughout our normal day without realizing that we do, and, in a broader sense, it's essential. Faking it helps us to blend into a particular group, to assimilate into a culture and to appease as many people as possible by being just like them.

Students owe thanks to professors

(10/26/10 4:00am)

Did my "Elementary Algebra" professor just threaten to slap one of the only two black students in the class? The student asked a question about factoring polynomials and suggested an impossible answer, to which Professor Robert Urbanski replied, "Stick out your hand, please." When the student asked why, Urbanski said, "Because I want to slap you" — assumingly for stating such an asinine remark. I found this to be a hysterical chain of events, but none of my 15 or so classmates laughed or said a word. This is because Urbanski didn't care about the color of a person's skin, but the quality and depth of the student's intellect. This was one of my first experiences the fall semester of my first year.

Message lost in Facebook fad

(10/12/10 4:00am)

Jessica likes it on the velvety red sofa, Pooja likes it on her marble kitchen table and Cristina likes it under the bed. Excellent choice of soft textured fabric Jessica, good decision on choosing a surface that leaves no scratches Pooja, and gosh Cristina, you dirty, dirty girl! Of course, I'm referring to the dozens of status updates that my female friends posted on Facebook last week, referring to where they like to keep their purse. Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the "I like it on…" trend is a way for women to unite to support the cause in a top-secret manner, leaving us men in the dark. This method of gaining support for breast cancer awareness isn't anything new. In January, women posted the color of their bra as their status updates. Although these messages have gone viral through Facebook, how effective are they in promoting awareness for each woman that dies every 13 minutes due to breast cancer?

Symbols enter everyday life

(09/28/10 4:00am)

Don't be surprised if the next crime alert you receive from the Rutgers University Police Department describes the suspect as sporting a crisp New York Yankees cap. The New York Times reported earlier this month that a significant number of criminals in the New York region have worn Yankees caps or some form of Yankee paraphernalia while committing crimes ranging from locker room thefts to violent crimes such as armed bank robberies and deadly shootings. As an avid New York Yankee fan, this news is appalling: Are we as Yankee fans simply brutal, violence-loving maniacs who loiter the streets waiting for the right target? Of course not, this would be a silly accusation to make considering that most Yankee fans are not criminals and sport their team's apparel to associate with their love of the game.

Hillel to break ground on new 'Foundation'

(09/02/09 4:00am)

Imagine a building that can accommodate more than 1,000 people with its own dining hall, a multipurpose room, library and several lounges on the College Avenue campus. Rutgers Hillel, the Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, is transforming this dream into a reality by saying goodbye to its current home on 93 College Ave. The brand new state-of-the-art Hillel Student Center will be located on 2 Bishop Pl., the location of the old Phi Gamma Delta FIJI fraternity home. At the present time, the Hillel building is leased from the Theological Seminary and because the Hillel does not own the building, there isn't much improvement that can be done to it, he said."Our current home is well located and very warm, but it is inadequate for the activities and programs that the Hillel runs," Rutgers Hillel Director Andrew Getraer said. "At times, we can get over 300 students a week, who we can't accommodate in our building. So we sometimes have to use the faculty room in Brower Commons or the Multipurpose Room in the Rutgers Student Center." The new Hillel Student Center will be completely privately funded, Getraer said. The overall cost is placed at $15 million, which includes costs for land, designing and constructing as well as maintenance of the building. A team of students, staff, alumni and architects designed the new facility, Getraer said. The contract to build the new Hillel was given to Kann Partners of Baltimore, Md., an architect firm that also designed the Hillel at Johns Hopkins University. The process of constructing the new Hillel center will begin by demolishing the Fiji house near the end of September, Getraer said. The planned construction site offers a 25,000 square-feet lot to build upon. "We spent a number of years searching for property that fits our needs, that is well located and offers easy access for students," Getraer said. "This is a substantial building, which will be a magnificent contribution to the Rutgers community." But not all students are excited about the move."I'm mixed on the issue. In one sense, the larger building will accommodate more students and foster a larger Jewish community on the campus," School of Engineering sophomore Ross Kleiman said. "However, I feel that the new location is not in a central location on Collage Avenue, making the Jewish presence less obvious." The new Hillel Student Center will include four floors and a dining hall overlooking the Raritan River that can accommodate about 400 people. There will also be a two-story atrium with a café serving kosher food that is open to all students, including both indoor and outdoor seating. "We've talked to the Hillels in Pennsylvania, Boston University, University of Maryland and University of Wisconsin," Getraer said. "We really learned from their experience and used it in the design of our new building."Other building features include a library offering English and Hebrew texts, small kitchens, office space for students and Hillel staff as well as a large multipurpose room, which can be used for dances, movies, holiday services and alumni weddings, Getraer said. The multipurpose room will be available to other parts of the University when not in use. "It would be great to have a Judaic library in the new Hillel equipped with Internet access and a Beit Midrash, or study hall," said Ryan Richstein, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. "Larger, more comfortable lounges would encourage more interaction between individuals, and meeting rooms would better organize the various programs offered by Hillel and would support the meetings held by staff and student leaders."The University Jewish community currently includes about 5,000 members and is the fourth largest Jewish campus population in the country, according to the Hillel's Web site. "We do expect more students will come to the new Hillel Student Center," Getraer said. "Other Hillels that have built new facilities have seen a 30 percent increase in the population."