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War on drugs does more harm than good

(04/15/14 4:00am)

Regarding the thoughtful Mar. 28 column, “Opposition to legalization of marijuana unconvincing,” the days when politicians can get away with confusing the drug war’s tremendous collateral damage with a comparatively harmless plant are coming to an end. If the goal of marijuana prohibition is to subsidize violent drug cartels, prohibition is a grand success. The drug war distorts supply and demand dynamics so that big money grows on little trees. If the goal is to deter use, marijuana prohibition is a catastrophic failure. The United States has almost double the rate of marijuana use as the Netherlands, where marijuana is legal.

Historic architecture at Rutgers should be preserved

(04/14/14 4:00am)

I’m reaching out on behalf of the Rutgers University Historical Society to plead against the destruction of the archways on Bishop Quad and their proposed replacement with discordant “storefront” enclosures. I have begun a petition, and I would like University President Robert L. Barchi to know that we are deeply dissatisfied with this proposal. Our educational environment and our heritage are important. The proposal is not an improvement but is a setback. However, I believe we are not alone in the Rutgers community. This is not just a campus issue but is indeed relevant to the preservation of New Jersey’s cultural heritage. The petition is online at change.org, and we have already gained signatures from as far afield as Brooklyn and the list is growing.

USSA and NJUS funding necessary for stronger student representation

(04/08/14 4:00am)

If you care about the skyrocketing cost of your tuition and fees, student autonomy over decisions that happen at your university and a voice with decision makers at the state and federal level, then I need you to listen up — there are two incredibly important referendum questions on the ballot for New Jersey United Students and the United States Student Association you need to vote in favor of. The proposed NJUS and USSA referendum questions on the ballot would allocate $2.50 per student and $1.00 per student, respectively.

Vote to increase funds for NJUS and USSA in RUSA referendum

(04/07/14 4:00am)

Now, no one should have to remind the student body of the New Brunswick-Piscataway campuses of Rutgers University that there’s a crisis in the nation’s higher educational system — a crisis that’s playing out even at our own esteemed University. Certainly, anyone who has had to take out a loan of a couple thousand of dollars or had to scour the Internet for scholarships perceives that there’s a pervasive and entrenched crisis of affordability and accessibility in our University. If anyone has experiences themselves or their friends of having to drop out or take a semester off to work and save up money, surely we know there’s this crisis. When students from low-income communities throughout our state, places that are disproportionately black and Latino, see their peers having to return back home broken and defeated because they can’t pay their tuition and their aid has been cut — then there is a crisis. When we see student groups like United Students Against Sweatshops or the faculty union have to jump through hurdle after hurdle to pressure University President Robert L. Barchi and his administration at the top to try to get them to listen to the University’s most primary beneficiaries, only to have their appeals fall unto dead ears, there is surely a crisis. What many may not know, though, is that there is something that can be done.

Students should seek healthier dining options

(04/04/14 4:00am)

When was the last time you had a home-cooked meal? Was it at a parent’s house, a friend’s or did you make it yourself? When you first get to college, the dining halls seem wonderful, but the luster of wing night and cereal buffets wears off eventually, and you start craving control over your own meals. However, any student living in a dorm has several hurdles to overcome if they want to make something as simple as, say, stovetop ramen with some veggies thrown in.

Volunteering vital for community building

(04/04/14 4:00am)

I recently saw an estimate by the World Health Organization that suggests that there are 285 million people in the world who are visually impaired. Although this is a staggering number, I was even more surprised to see that an estimated 80% of these cases were preventable. Almost 228 million people with diminished vision or blindness could have maintained their vision if the impairment was treated or prevented. As a consequence of underestimating the importance of eye care, people neglect regular eye exams and preventable diseases go unnoticed until it is too late and people lose one of their most basic senses.

To RU Dining Services: stop plastic waste

(04/02/14 4:00am)

I wanted to bring to attention a problem at Rutgers with a relatively simple solution. If you have ever gotten food from take out or food to go from the Cook Campus Center, you may have noticed that the containers they use are everywhere. They fill the recycling and garbage cans of the CCC. They fill the recycling cans in my apartment. I see them in the dumpsters, and now they have even begun to pervade my dreams. Those bulky plastic boxes take up an incredible amount of space inside any disposal container. In fact, they can be so difficult to recycle that many people do not. Imagine how much plastic we are using and then just throwing away. There is a solution, however, and much like many other solutions to complicated problems, this one is pretty easy to put into practice. Instead of having those containers take up space and cost Rutgers plenty of money, why not make it possible to bring in reusable Tupperware instead? Each person can write their name on them, and it would not be hard to keep track of which is whose. They are not expensive to buy, and Rutgers can even begin to sell their own at various on-campus events. If you too have been plagued by these ever-present plastic nightmares, let Rutgers know. Email the head of dining services, Joe Charette, at charette@rci.rutgers.edu. Even write it on the suggestions board. With this one simple change, we can mitigate some of the harm those plastic boxes do to the environment and improve Rutgers’ recycling habits all in one go.

Public wants more than just GMO labels on food products

(03/27/14 4:00am)

We read The Daily Targum’s article, “Students raise public support to advocate for GMO labels,” with great interest, as we have been studying public attitudes about genetically modified food labeling since the early 1990s. Our latest national survey, commissioned by the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, was conducted in October 2013. The survey found that more than half (53 percent) of the public reported that they know very little or nothing at all about GM foods, and one in four say they have never heard of them. Our study also found that only about a quarter (26 percent) of Americans realize that current regulations do not require GM products to be labeled.

Rand Paul reasonable replacement for Rice

(03/26/14 4:00am)

I’d like to propose my own solution to the recent controversy aroused by the decision to have former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice deliver this year’s commencement address: invite Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to deliver it instead. Paul not only opposes the Iraq war, but he opposes it so much he recently introduced a bill in the Senate that would repeal what started it in the first place. The open letter to President Robert L. Barchi that several professors recently wrote decried, among other things, Rice’s lack of humanitarian accomplishments. Senator Paul is well known for his charitable work. He regularly returns to his ophthalmology practice in Bowling Green, Ky., to perform free eye operations for patients unable to afford them. This is admittedly not on the level of developing a new vaccine that will save millions from death, but it is certainly evidence of a dedication to his fellow man that will inspire our graduates, particularly those heading toward the medical field. He has also been engaged in an active fight on behalf of minorities, advocating for the repeal of mandatory minimum sentencing laws, which disproportionally affect them. Inviting Senator Paul to deliver the 2014 commencement address would send a clear message about the University’s commitment to humanitarian and civic engagement that all members of the Rutgers community can be in favor of.

Speaker should be welcomed to Rutgers

(03/12/14 4:00am)

I guess it is never possible to make people happy with any commencement speaker short of Mother Teresa. Again in The Daily Targum, an argument against awarding Condoleezza Rice the honor of entertaining a large audience at commencement continues to haunt the newspaper’s pages. Perhaps another “Rice” would leave a better taste in some peoples mouths, such as Mike Rice — or if domestic tranquility is an issue how about Ray Rice, who could use the money even more. As an alumnus of Rutgers, I always felt that a speaker ought to be accomplished in his or her field or specialty. A commencement speaker should be someone from whom we can take away a useful thought or two. Therefore, I disagree with the view that an honorarium or symbolic degree would put a “stain” on Rutgers. On the contrary, I think it demonstrates the University’s commitment to an open discussion of unpopular and perhaps even wrong decisions by the powers that have made history. Like it or not, right or wrong, Rice was present during those fateful days that led to the invasion of Iraq, and I would like to hear her out even if she does not address issues that I for one disagree with. No one can say she is neither intelligent nor accomplished in her field, which is to me the vital requirement for an honorary degree from any school. Therefore, as a 1978 Rutgers graduate and former Vietnam protester, I look forward to hearing her speak.

Honoring Rice question of morals, not freedom of speech

(03/10/14 4:00am)

Quite predictably, University President Robert L. Barchi has tried to turn the choice of Condoleezza Rice as the Rutgers commencement speaker and recipient of an honorary doctor of laws degree into an issue of free speech and academic freedom — which, obviously, is not. I believe I speak for all those opposed to this choice in stating that we would be delighted to have Rice speak on any Rutgers campus in a forum that allows an open and free discussion of her views, her career or any topic of her choosing.

Speaker does not deserve honor of delivering Rutgers address

(03/07/14 5:00am)

I am appalled that any institution would consider honoring Condoleezza Rice. For those too young to remember, this is a person who made her reputation — and early fortune — by being Chevron’s “fixer” in some of the poorest and most corrupt parts of the world. Rice’s job was to persuade the local kleptocracy to arrange for oil wealth to flow to them and Chevron rather than to the citizens whose countries were being exploited. For these services, they named an oil tanker after her and put her on the Chevron Board of Directors.

Pro-capital punishment argument significantly flawed, misinformed

(03/05/14 5:00am)

In the commentary titled, “Capital punishment necessary in US justice system,” published in The Daily Targum on Feb. 28, Michael Denis argues in favor of the death penalty as a punishment for “the most heinous crimes.” He disagrees with “the notion that utilizing the death penalty makes our country look uncivilized.” The General Assembly of the United Nations has adopted four resolutions calling for a moratorium on the death penalty since 2007. According to the U.N.’s website, as of June 2013, about 150 of the U.N.’s 193 Member States “have either abolished the death penalty or no longer practice it.” That puts the U.S. in the roughly 25 percent bracket of Member States that still execute their citizens, putting us in the company of Iran, Iraq and North Korea — George W. Bush’s “axis of evil.” Denis goes on to say “a true civilized society is essentially a utopian society with no crime whatsoever.” But there are tremendous racial disparities in capital sentences. In a 1990 report, the General Accounting Office found that “those who murdered whites were more likely to be sentenced to death than those who murdered blacks.” An article published in the Cornell Law Review in 1998 reports that “the problem of arbitrariness and discrimination in the administration of the death penalty is a matter of continuing concern.” A 2005 study by Glenn Pierce and Michael Radelet published in the Santa Clara Law Review concludes that in California, “the race and ethnicity of homicide victims is associated with the imposition of the death penalty,” with those killing whites more likely to be sentenced to death than those who kill persons of color. This hardly seems utopian. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, 143 death row inmates have been exonerated since 1973. One of these inmates, Frank Lee Smith, was incarcerated in 1986 and died in prison in 2000 before the charges against him were dismissed based on DNA evidence. Is this the mark of a “true civilized society?” Some would consider it a heinous crime to deprive someone of his or her freedom because of an invalid trial verdict — at least we can restore that person’s freedom when we discover the truth. We can’t bring back the dead.

Rutgers plans to increase diversity commendable

(02/27/14 5:00am)

I am proud to attend one of the most racially diverse institutions of higher education in the United States. This type of diversity exposes us to the many cultures that are present in New Jersey and allows us, as a community, to be more accepting and understanding of people who may share different cultural or political views of the world. But there is a substantial area of diversity that our university lacks.

More exposure needed for recovery housing

(02/27/14 5:00am)

I am writing in response to Marcus Tucker’s article from Sept. 13 entitled, “Task Force Releases Recommendations to Reduce Opiate Usage.” While I am very proud to attend a university that offers recovery housing for students overcoming addiction, I am confused to why it is not well known to many students. I understand fear for the stigma it may present to the University, however, since addiction is such a prevalent issue, the University should take pride this wonderful program.