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COMMENTARY: Excuses must stop being made for human rights violations

(04/05/18 11:20pm)

On March 30, thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip participated in a “March of Return” declaring the right, recognized by international law, of refugees to return to their homes following displacement. In the case of Palestinian refugees, there were most notably approximately 700,000 displaced in 1948 with the establishment of the settler-colonial state of Israel in what is known as the Nakba, with an additional 300,000 displaced Palestinians in 1967 during the Six-Day War. These figures fail to consider Palestinians who were made refugees over the course of the past 70 years as a result of bombing campaigns on civilian populations or the Palestinians driven to other countries due to the everyday hardships under Israeli occupation, such as evictions, disproportionate arrests, segregated roads, checkpoints and what the Israeli Security Barrier dubbed the Apartheid Wall.

COMMENTARY: Gender roles are all too prevalent in schools settings

(02/19/18 12:29am)

In college classrooms, gender roles are all too clear. My newfound frustration stems from my recent epiphany that even in my majority-female environmental policy classes, the voices that dominate the classroom are usually male. I have noticed that male students are more likely to call out without raising their hands, or offer examples and anecdotes that are not entirely relevant. To me, class participation is a sort of calculated performance. I rehearse what I am going to say, plan out my sentence and polish each word. If it does not add any value, I do not bother. Before I raise my hand, I think a lot about the words that are about to come out of my mouth. Is this stupid? Is my professor going to judge me? Am I wasting everyone’s time? In other instances, even when the time is right, I convince myself otherwise. My professor once asked toward the end of the lecture, “Does anyone have questions or comments?” A few male students raised their hands. My professor answered each question comprehensively. Suddenly, a question popped into my mind, and I almost raised my hand. But, I decided it was at the very end of class, approximately 7 p.m., and I did not want to waste anyone’s time. I figured I could look it up if I really wanted to know. After talking with some friends, I realized I am not entirely alone. This phenomenon of self-doubt extends into conferences, meetings and work environments. A recent study found that women ask fewer questions than men at conference talks. At an international conservation biology conference, male scientists asked on average 1.8 questions for every one question asked by a female scientist, even when females made up 40 percent to 75 percent of the audience.  

COMMENTARY: Ending drug addict stigmas can save lives

(02/13/18 2:22am)

With the addiction epidemic being a frequent topic in the news, I am constantly reminded of my past. My best friend, Gabe, died from an accidental drug overdose from painkillers a few years ago. We had been friends since I was 2 years old. How can drug abuse be prevented? We need to stop focusing on drugs as an abstraction and start teaching kids real and personal stories about drug use, and what to do when they learn that someone they know or care about is experimenting with drugs.

COMMENTARY: Rutgers administration over reliant on surveys

(02/07/18 12:54am)

Most faculty and students agree that students should have the opportunity to convey their thoughts and opinions about the courses they take and the instruction they receive. But, the recent article in The Daily Targum glosses over substantial concerns with regard to the validity, fairness and harmful consequences of student evaluation surveys. Here at Rutgers, there are few mechanisms for encouraging or requiring student response to on-line surveys. As a result, response rates in some courses can be extremely low, resulting in statistically invalid results. 

COMMENTARY: Diversity may be more divisive than unifying

(01/31/18 12:09am)

It is often said that if one hears a lie long enough, they begin to believe it. This dictum clearly applies to the concept of diversity. In an almost Orwellian fashion, phrases like “diversity is our strength” are constantly repeated by educators, politicians and the media (namely, of course, CNN). Individuals who dare question ethnic and cultural diversity are cast out as racists and bigots (terms that have taken on an almost transcendent and evil connotation, much like the words heretic and blasphemer). The unfortunate reality is that there is no evidence that ethnic or cultural diversity is a force for good. In fact, diversity seems to be a net negative on society. 

COMMENTARY: Sommers might be able to save feminism

(12/06/17 2:17am)

The feminist movement has grown since its birth, for better and worse. From its inception at the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, feminism has made tremendous strides towards egalitarian respect for women. Today, feminist ideals bleed into every facet of mainstream culture, from international social media campaigns to the prospect of having a first female president. With all this progress, a question still remains: Has modern, third-wave feminism accomplished its goal of gaining autonomy for women and empowering them? Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers, a resident scholar at a conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute, summarizes modern campus feminism as "'fainting couch feminism’, which views women as fragile and easily traumatized. It calls for special protections for women ... because it views women as an oppressed and silenced class."

COMMENTARY: U. president disrespected campus workers in Town Hall

(11/30/17 2:35am)

Certainly, with the time of giving thanks just passing, we all ought not to overlook Rutgers workers in our expressions of gratitude. It should be obvious to any member of the Rutgers community the extent to which the University relies on its faculty and staff for its quotidian functions. The services on which Rutgers, as an institution, relies are provided by a host of University employees, employees who too often remain invisible to and under-appreciated by the community at large. 

COMMENTARY: Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will hurt U. students

(11/29/17 3:26am)

Last week, the House of Representatives quietly voted to send thousands of Rutgers students into poverty. Entitled the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the plan will both raise taxes on graduate students — in some cases tripling or quadrupling them — and force many of us to quit our jobs. As an English Ph.D. student, I can appreciate the ironic wordplay, even as I deplore the results. 

COMMENTARY: Food chains’ use of antibiotics in meat has consequences

(11/20/17 2:29am)

Much of modern medicine is built on the foundation of antibiotics. Organ transplants and other major surgeries are much less risky when antibiotics are available to treat any infections that may arise during recovery. Cancer treatments that often reduce the effectiveness of an individual’s immune system would be significantly riskier or non existent without antibiotics. Antibiotics are relied on by much of the medical world, which is why it is hard to believe that antibiotics might one day stop working. 

COMMENTARY: U. must take action against Chikindas, Adi

(11/17/17 2:27am)

Rutgers University is supposed to be a safe and encouraging environment for students to learn about their passions. A large component to this goal is the faculty employed at the University. Over the past several weeks, it has been revealed that several members of the Rutgers faculty have backgrounds and hold beliefs that are antithetical to the ideals that we have as a University. Professor Michael Chikindas posted blatantly anti-Semitic and homophobic posts online and now we know that Professor Mazen Adi worked for the Assad regime in Syria. While working there, he engaged in horrific activity that should not be present at our school. We question the University’s decision to hire Adi in the first place, why both professors are still employed here and the lack of response that the University has given regarding their conducts.

COMMENTARY: Administration should be neutral on DACA

(11/06/17 2:08am)

In September, President Donald J. Trump’s announcement to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that would allow undocumented immigrants “who came to the United States as children and (met) several guidelines (to) request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal,” startled the Rutgers community. Chancellor Debasish Dutta and President Robert L. Barchi, in wake of his decision, sent out several emails to all Rutgers students condemning the president’s actions on Sept. 5. In the emails, both the chancellor and the president actively encouraged Rutgers students to support an amended version of the BRIDGE Act that will allow an extended stay for those protected by DACA, providing links that will generate a letter to be sent to the writer’s respective house representative and senator. As officials of a publicly funded university, their statements were inappropriate and partisan. Before I begin, I do not agree with Trump’s suggestion to overthrow DACA. While the United States should have stronger immigration policies, punishing the sons and daughters of illegal immigrants does little to remedy the problem. Many of them came to the United States without a say and do not deserve to be deported due to the actions of their parents. It is needlessly cruel and seems to be an attempt for Trump to flex his political prowess on his Democratic opponents.

COMMENTARY: Jewish students at Rutgers are banding together for justice

(10/31/17 3:30am)

On Oct. 23, Rutgers microbiology Professor Michael Chikindas’s Facebook page was revealed to be full of discriminatory posts. He shared various anti-Semitic, homophobic and sexist images, including posts referring to women, such as Israeli members of Parliament Ayelet Shaked and Miri Regev, First Lady Melania Trump and her stepdaughter Ivanka Trump as “b**ches” or “sl*ts.” As Jewish students of Rutgers—New Brunswick, we are deeply concerned regarding Chikindas’s public attacks against Jews, the LGBT community, women and the Israeli people.

COMMENTARY: Those kneeling are true American patriots

(10/10/17 12:26am)

Seventy-five years ago this November, American forces began Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of fascist-occupied North Africa and the first action seen by American ground troops in the European Theater. At the same time, Marines were dying by the thousands to take the tiny Pacific Island of Guadalcanal from the Japanese. At the time, victory in either theater was no sure thing. Fascist forces controlled most of mainland Europe and were threatening Russia and Britain. On the other side of the globe, Japan controlled the waters of the Pacific while sweeping across Southeast Asia.

COMMENTARY: ‘Single payer’ must be considered skeptically

(10/05/17 1:32am)

On Sept. 13, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) laid out the details of his new bill: The “Medicare for All Act of 2017.” The proposal already has 16 co-sponsors, and it has undoubtedly galvanized his constituency. Of course, when I say “constituency,” I mean his younger constituency. While Sanders’s plan may seem attractive to my fellow college students — who fear debt and the daunting prospects of finding a suitable career — they need to come to terms with the fact that single-payer is, at best, impractical and, at worst, in violation of basic American principles.