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COMMENTARY: U. should adopt ‘Chicago Statement’

(12/04/18 11:54pm)

Our dear University has found itself in the news over the past few months. No, not because of our unfortunate athletics record or the unreliability of the bus system, but because of its policies with free speech. From the investigation of James Livingston, a professor in the Department of History, for a Facebook post to the deplatforming of a University-sponsored talk, it is clear that Rutgers problems with free speech are endemic to the great amount of ambiguity and interpretation of present speech codes. Though this might seem to be too complicated to resolve, the University of Chicago’s Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression has already provided us with a format for the formal commitment that, "guarantees all members of the University community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge and learn." In response to these recent controversies, the current administration should adopt the so-called “Chicago Statement” to bolster First Amendment protections on campus and facilitate a vibrant culture centered around the free exchange of ideas.

COMMENTARY: Lack of contract agreement is shameful

(12/04/18 12:35am)

Faculty, staff and graduate students have been working at Rutgers without a contract since July. The administration only agreed to bargain in March, and until recently would only do so for eight hours a month. Now, in New Jersey, home of the backroom deal, the administration has announced that it will say nothing substantive, it will ask no questions and it will put forward no proposals unless graduate students are excluded. Not only must graduate students remain silent, which they have been doing in bargaining sessions for the past several months, they are not even allowed to be in the room during bargaining. 

COMMENTARY: Unnatural gas is expanding under our noses

(11/27/18 12:05am)

Please wake up New Brunswick. There is a proposed gas compressor station coming to Franklin Township. You will smell it. You will taste it too, despite the Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1972 which authorizes New Jersey to protect headwaters and wetlands because they filter and flush polluted downstream waters while storing flood water. Its pipelines will cross headwaters and wetlands of the already-contaminated Cheesequake Creek and Tennent Brook. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) lists more than 1,900 contaminated water bodies in New Jersey. We drink this water.

COMMENTARY: Without proper gun control, fear will continue to engulf Americans

(11/18/18 9:22pm)

I kept looking at one of the open doors of the classroom while the professor was lecturing on Scatter Plot. I feared an armed man could enter at any time and shoot us down to the floor. Then, I was planning in my head what ways to protect myself and alert the professor and my colleagues to the possible danger. While this captured my mind, the lecture became a mere noise in the background. 

COMMENTARY: Midterm elections are more important than people think

(11/05/18 1:31am)

Midterm elections in the United States are misunderstood and undervalued. A critical element to our democracy, midterms can prove to be the changing force in a current presidency, creating new policies and even standstills where the government can shut down as we saw in 2013. Midterms represent a symbolic step in our democracy that can serve to inspire the public to support a new candidate while ensuring incumbents do not shirk their responsibilities or their duties. Even with this information, it is curious that many young adults still choose to ignore the midterm elections in favor of waiting for the “more important” general election.

COMMENTARY: Mackler brings up interesting points about body shaming

(10/24/18 12:10am)

One of many lists in Carolyn Mackler’s "The Earth, My Butt, And Other Big Round Things," which in addition to being a fun, quick read really puts the spotlight on body shaming in the 21st century. Centered around main character Virginia, we get a first hand look at what it is like to be the fat daughter in an otherwise perfect family, and being the only plus sized girl in a private school. Virginia thinks about her weight a lot. She feels, on a fundamental level, that she is less desirable and in some cases less important than skinny girls. She lets her fatness dictate her life, believing she has to keep her interactions with boys a secret to avoid embarrassing them and, even worse, believing she has to go farther than skinny girls in order to keep a guy interested. It really hurt me to read that. No girl should ever feel pressure to do anything she may not want or be ready to do, especially not because she thinks it is her place to do so. So many women base their attractiveness, how they feel and how they act, on what men think. No matter who you are or what you look like, if you feel pressure to act a certain way around a guy for him to like you, especially if it makes you uncomfortable, your fishing in the wrong pond. You should never have to change yourself or feel ashamed of yourself because of a man. If a guy is not willing to be seen in public with you, then it is probably time to move on.

COMMENTARY: Barchi continues to silence activist voices on campus

(10/22/18 12:20am)

University President Robert L. Barchi barred student activists from delivering an important message at Van Nest Hall’s ribbon cutting ceremony. Student demonstrators from Rutgers United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) hoped to inform gathered alumni of posed criminal charges of 12 student activists following a peaceful protest last December.

COMMENTARY: Rutgers must put fundamental values above mob rule

(10/16/18 4:56am)

The quote used in the petition to cancel Lisa Daftari's speech is as follows, “Islamic terror takes its guidance and teachings from the Quran, which is Sharia law.”  The proper quote is “What ISIS claims to be doing is to take the Quran and its teachings and Sharia Law.” The removal of the word claims changes the meaning of the entire sentence, self-evidently. The individual whom started the petition has taken a moral high ground on an issue denouncing ISIS and converted a group of people into a mob whom is afraid the denunciation of ISIS could snowball into violence against Muslims, as if this were not a conclusion of an out-of-control positive feedback loop, but a totally rational conclusion.

COMMENTARY: Lisa Daftari is not Islamophobic, deserves to speak

(10/10/18 12:08am)

Student activism has met a new low. On Monday night, a petition began circulating around Rutgers groups calling for journalist Lisa Daftari’s talk on Oct. 16 to be cancelled due to her perceived Islamophobia. By Tuesday afternoon, this dishonest petition had more than 1,000 signatures. Daftari, an accomplished foreign policy analyst who has spent her career covering ISIS and counter-terrorism, is far from an Islamophobe — her work is incredibly important to the lives of the countless Muslims who fall prey to ISIS. Student activists’ attempts to take her quotes out of context are shameful, dishonest and contrary to the purpose of a university, which is to educate and expose students to new ideas.

COMMENTARY: Yesterday’s picketers by no means represent Christianity

(10/04/18 12:12am)

As a first-year student who enjoys hours of watching political videos happening on college campuses all across the United States, I admit I could not wait to see what Rutgers would have to offer in terms of political activism on campus. With the hotly contested midterm elections coming soon, I thought I may see Republicans and Democrats walking with their usual signs wanting to convince me to vote for one or the other, and I awaited the day I could have a good debate with both sides.

LETTER: New York Fashion Week brings incredibly lively experiences

(10/12/18 12:14am)

It was here and it happened — Fashion Month, but most importantly, Fashion Week. If you are fortunate enough to take a daily stroll down the streets of Soho, New York City, then during Fashion Week, which took place in the first half of last month, you likely saw the sidewalks flooded with fashion lovers decorated head to toe. If you are not sure what I am talking about, you may be thinking, “Yeah people wear clothes, but why is there a week dedicated to it?” So let me start explaining — Fashion Week is a whole week where fashion designers get to run their shows and have some of the most famous runway models flaunt the season’s newest designs. 

COMMENTARY: Classroom enrichment program must be saved

(09/25/18 11:55pm)

This fall I am teaching an American Studies course on the role of museums and monuments in American culture and history. I planned a three-week unit around the history of the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and the controversies that surrounded the construction of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and WWII Memorial. We are also examining the National Museum of the American Indian and the recently opened National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the struggle that went into seeing these institutions realized as part of the landscape that is referred to as “America’s front yard.” All of this was to be accompanied by a two-day trip to the capital to engage these sites in person. 

COMMENTARY: Students should take the #iSPEAK campus climate survey

(05/05/18 10:41pm)

Society is becoming more aware of the prevalence of sexual assault and dating violence on campus. Part of this growing awareness is credited to campus climate surveys designed to measure on-campus sexual assault and domestic violence. Around the nation, these surveys estimate that approximately 20 percent of women and 6 percent of men experience sexual violence while in college. 

COMMENTARY: Settler colonialism of Israel must be brought into question

(04/25/18 12:14am)

More and more people are participating in a phenomenal age of a greater understanding of the colonial history of much of the Western world. But, for some reason, this trade-off between ignorance and knowledge falls short when many of those same people are asked to question the settler-colonialism of the state of Israel. This recognition is not, as Scarlet Knights for Israel put it, “denial of the Jewish people’s basic right to their historical homeland” or a “double standard to the world’s only Jewish state.” It is standing up for an indigenous Palestinian population and showing people that the establishment of a Jewish state came at the expense of expelling native populations during the 1948 Nakba. The claim that “Arabs” (an overused term intended to erase Palestinian identity and delegitimize their history) and Israelis live harmoniously together in one nation, while enjoying equal rights and protection under the law, is a gross and blatant lie that erases the levels of Palestinian oppression by Israel. Palestinians in Gaza face brutal physical violence and systemic starvation of basic resources. Palestinians in the West Bank face night raids, checkpoints and segregated roads. Palestinians that hold Israeli citizenships in Israel (some of whom get deported to the West Bank to make room for settler expansion projects) face racial discrimination at every turn, even as they hold positions in the Knesset.

COMMENTARY: U. failed to respond about phasing out animal science

(04/22/18 11:34pm)

In a letter published in The Daily Targum on Feb. 20, I gave myriad reasons for phasing out “animal science,” including climate breakdown, devastation of lands, pollution of water and soil, inflation of prices for grains, which could be redirected to eradicate human hunger, rampant and irresponsible use of pesticides, insecticides, antibiotics and other chemicals, horrific abuse and exploitation of nonhuman animals, lifestyle diseases, including cancers, obesity, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and the spread of infectious diseases, including the recent deadly influenza epidemic. 

COMMENTARY: Internet plays role in current societal polarization

(04/19/18 2:31am)

Strongly-opinionated people have always clashed over what they believed was best for society. Yet, there always seemed to be a code of common decency and respect for those with opposing views. In contrast, this day and age has felt especially polarizing and divisive with it being compared to the likes of the Civil War. Some have attributed this divide to the rise of social media, which allows for the formation of echo-chambers consisting of like-minded people. Case in point, the rise of the alt-Right, which was seen as a product of the citizens' festering belief that the government no longer had its best interests in mind. In fact, it was this sense of mistrust in the bureaucratic process that ended up being a large factor in the election of President Donald J. Trump, who was viewed as the “outsider” or “people’s president.” Although, radically-conservative beliefs do not instill themselves overnight, or even over the course of the year-and-a-half 2016 presidential campaign. They are passed down from generation to generation and/or shaped by one’s life experiences as well as by who one surrounds oneself with.