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What makes a democracy? If you ask people around the world, you would likely hear descriptions of a system in which the voices of a population are expressed through its politics, one where each person has a say and one where politicians are held accountable by voters via majority or plurality rule. These are very broad notions with many possible interpretations and structures, but democracy, in a way, is like pornography: you know it when you see it.
Anyone who lives in New Brunswick sees its rapid development firsthand. Mom-and-pop shops that once served the community have since been replaced by large and wealthy corporations and new buildings. The gentrification of cities does well to improve their aesthetic and infrastructure, but there are other consequences that go along with it. It may very well be worthwhile to examine the effect that the continued gentrification of New Brunswick will have on its community, including the Rutgers community.
In a local New Brunswick elementary school, a young girl’s tiny hands meticulously built the divisions she had seen outside her window. She resurrected the very same walls of hate she has seen permeate her world. It was Valentine's Day and all the second graders were rifling through their bags for their gifted sweets. Her sugary focus at the moment was on those lovely messages — “Be Mine,” “Miss you,” “Soul Mate” — which for her, had been smothered by a darker reality. I watched as she had taken out her small container of sweetheart candies and began separating the white hearts from the colored hearts. The white hearts had to be separated, she claimed. She said the white hearts did not like the colored candies, that they hated them. They did not care if the colored candies lived or died. They hated being around them without even taking the time to listen to what they had to say — “I love you,” “Me & You,” “Friend me.”
Hanging out with family is great, especially for us college students. After spending weeks at the residence hall avoiding them and their drag-you-off-the-bed-by-the-legs, “back-in-my-day” justification for everything, it is always nice to return home to the familiar dysfunctional monotony of your siblings’ whining, lectures on the dangers of weight gain and the sudden, suspiciously coincidental influx of chores.
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, people have more freely and openly discussed the issue of sexual assault and harassment and the effect it has on so many people. These issues are deeply rooted in society, and public discussion of them is necessary to mitigate the problem. Nevertheless, it can go without saying that much more work is still needed. This fact was made obvious after recent happenings on American Idol, where one of the judges, Katy Perry, seemed to ignore the fact that women are not infallible with regard to committing unwarranted sexual advances.
Over the past two weeks, there have been important shakeups in President Donald J. Trump's administration’s national security team. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will be replaced by former Congressman and CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the national security advisor, was replaced by John Bolton, who is expected to begin on April 9. The changes to these two key positions likely reflects important changes in the direction of America’s foreign policy.
The United Nations is a multi-nation governing body that functions like an instruction manual, everything is in English, French and Spanish. Even after following the instructions, the UN fails to actually function but we keep consulting it because it is the best guidance we have.
The people of Austin, Texas were instilled with a deep fear for their lives as a string of package-bomb attacks occurred over the span of 19 days. The perpetrator, a 23-year-old white male, is now deceased after blowing himself up inside of his vehicle while authorities approached. His actions left two people dead, both of which were the sons of prominent Black community members, and multiple others injured. Before committing suicide, the perpetrator recorded a 25-minute confession video, which Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said indicates no link to terrorism, but that the bomber was "a very troubled young man who was talking about challenges in his life that led him to this point." That caused many to be frustrated by the fact that despite the terror experienced by the residents of Austin, the perpetrator has not been deemed a terrorist.
Growing up in the Dominican Republic, one of the major lessons you learn is to care for your community. If a neighbor down the street could not afford their bills, the entire barrio pitched in to help them out.
I am running for New Brunswick Board of Education in the upcoming election, because I want to strengthen the ties between the community and our educational institutions.
President Donald J. Trump announced in a tweet that former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) John Bolton would replace General H.R McMaster as his National Security Advisor (NSA). The tweet hit me like a ton of bricks, but not in the usual way a tweet from the president hits me. Usually I feel confusion and a slight sense of nausea when the president tweets. But, after reading this one I was excited and in complete agreement with it. I was so excited, because the selection could portend Trump turning his back on his isolationist tendency and the return to a serious foreign policy not seen from the U.S. since former President George W. Bush.
A common talking point that organizations like to advertise is their commitment to diversity, especially when it comes to the sexes. If any company or university wishes to maintain the good graces of the public, mentioning their dedication to gender equality is a must. Is this virtue-signalling beneficial to companies or the prospective applicants they are trying to attract? Companies and universities should not hire nor accept women who are less qualified than their male counterparts — nor should sex be a consideration in their holistic review of applications — but should view them as individuals.
HIGH-FIVES FOR HULT
Television is revolutionary. For many of us, it is mostly a mechanism to procrastinate and hate yourself afterward, but the truth is, much of the content we devour is through television, making it a cornerstone of our culture that is vital to analyze. In a world where headlines are increasingly disparaging, sitcoms are the heart of the people.
Within our society, like many others, food is tied to our emotional experiences. Certain dishes remind us of our childhood, other foods are known as “comfort foods” and holidays or events would be nothing without the meals that go with them. For as long as we can remember, we have associated emotions with what we eat. Our experiences with food start off as fond memories and happy moments. That Mickey Mouse-shaped ice cream you had when you were young in Disney World and summer nights with s’mores let you associate sweet treats with being carefree and happy. Finishing off your plate as a child meant satisfying your parents and being rewarded with extra play time. But, these little memories become bad habits as we age and can lead to difficulties with proper eating.
Pornography is so ubiquitous in the internet age that we may take its presence for granted. What used to only be available in physical magazines or TV programming is now more easily accessed than ever — and with this, more people access it, and at younger ages. It is worth thinking about the effects of such widespread and early access. How does porn affect one’s sexual relationships, how does porn affect one’s relationship with themselves — are these relationships significant at all? Further, while we should think about the viewer and his/her relationship to porn, we should also consider people who work in porn themselves. Just as in any industry, there are ways in which people can be treated unfairly, be harassed or abused, and those who watch porn should have in mind not only the implications onto themselves, but similarly, how their viewing effects those on the screen.
The school year is almost over and with that comes the civic duty to elect next year’s student body president. The Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) presidential debate is this Thursday and I want to know what I should be looking for in my next president, and there was no one better to consult than current RUSA President Evan Covello.
For the last few weeks, the phrase on everyone’s tongue has been gun control. Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) of district 12 New Jersey shared her views on gun control, the obstacles faced in being able to regulate it and her stance and hopes as she greeted and answered questions from students who showed up to her town hall in the East Brunswick Community Center. Coleman shared her agenda and had a panel of speakers, which included Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, the superintendent of the New Jersey State police. Many students filled the seats of the auditorium and eventually lined up to ask the congresswoman questions, and she gratefully thanked them for their questions and answered each one asked.
Last Wednesday, students across the country took part in the national walkout in symbolic support of stricter gun laws. Naturally and reasonably, some people disagreed with the walkout for varying reasons. Instead of a walkout, some suggested, students should take part in a "walk up." Instead of a protest, the idea is that students would go up to kids who seem left out or alone and do something nice for them to make them feel welcome. In many respects, this is a good and necessary idea which should happen more often — but it is questionable with regard to the purpose at hand, which is to help solve the issue of gun violence in schools. Truthfully, neither demonstration will likely have a significant or direct impact on the issue.
With this Monday’s rollout of a new opioid plan from President Donald J. Trump's administration, I feel like it is necessary to talk about the advancements (or lack thereof) made on fighting the epidemic of opioid painkiller usage in the United States. Back in October, I wrote my first op-ed on this area called “Current response to opioid crisis is lacking,” which went into the ambivalent ways in which America racially divides who is worthy of medical rehabilitation and who deserves incarceration, as well as the lack of teeth to the Trump administration’s declaration of a public health emergency regarding opioids. From Trump’s announcement in New Hampshire, ambivalence has been declared a common theme across the months that the federal government has attempted to put an end to America’s epidemic of epidemics.