STRIDES FOR YOUNG STUDENTS
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STRIDES FOR YOUNG STUDENTS
I spent the past weekend staying with an intentional community on Staten Island. Apprehensive at first, as I arrived and was handed the key to the house I was to be staying in, which was also a key to all of the buildings owned by the community, I decided to get stuck in as much as I could. The group embrace diversity and only follow four simple rules, with their key goal being to work out problems together.
A national talking point found new roots at Rutgers University: A flyer. The rhetoric and backlash to this flyer experienced would have many believe David Duke and Richard Spencer were chanting "white power" in front of Brower Commons. No, the contents of a plain, five-word flyer that read "It's okay to be white" would be nothing out of the ordinary if the fifth word was substituted with any other race or nationality, which begs the question: Is it not ok to be white?
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.
For the past two years, Rutgers has offered prospective students the ability to apply through the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success — a service that seeks to streamline the college application process, making it easier for high school students, especially those from low-income school districts, to apply. The Coalition currently has 130 member schools, including all of the Ivy Leagues. The first year Rutgers was involved, they saw 800 applications through the Coalition. This year, they saw 3,500. College applications, no matter the form, are almost always confusing, and without guidance, it can be impossible for high school students to navigate and figure them out.
The use, possession, sale, cultivation and transportation of marijuana is illegal under federal law in the United States. In accordance with the Controlled Substance Act, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) classifies cannabis or marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” This puts marijuana in the same classification as much more lethal drugs like LSD and ecstasy and on an even higher classification than prescription pain killers like OxyContin. Although lawmakers have claimed that marijuana has no acceptable medical use, it has been shown to alleviate chronic pain, inflammation and seizures in addition to being used to treat mental health disorders, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and drug addiction, as well as diseases, such as cancer and multiple sclerosis (MS). The use of marijuana as a medicine and treatment has been widely accepted in the medical community, but since the drug is classified by the federal government as a Schedule 1 drug, conducting longterm research on the mental and physical effects of marijuana has been nearly impossible. Even as controlled substances containing alcohol that have no known health benefits are widely used, critics warn of the immense dangers that the legalization of marijuana may impose. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost (YPLL) each year in the United States from 2006 - 2010." Alcohol was also illegal at one point, and we saw then just as we do now what a failed prohibition looks like.
The thought of doing things by yourself may seem frightening. It seems that wherever you go, you are constantly surrounded by groups of people enjoying activities together. Whether it's eating at the dining hall or going to a fitness class at the gym, many people are always in groups or pairs. But what happens when you have to do things by yourself? I know there has been plenty of times when I’ve wanted to go to an event on campus but had no one to go with, and ended up not going. The feeling of being alone while everyone seems to have someone to do activities with isn’t the best, but it shouldn’t be something that stops us from doing what we want to do. It has definitely stopped me from going to events or doing activities in the past, but I have now realized how much better life is when I stopped being afraid of doing things on my own. Being solo shouldn’t stop you.
Rutgers University was recently placed on The Chronicle of Higher Education’s list of the flagship universities that succeeded in keeping their tuition at steady rates over the last 10 years, increasing from $10,686 in 2007 to $14,638 in 2017-2018. Year after year, the Rutgers Board of Governors has passed tuition hikes below the national average, this year’s being 1.85 percent, the lowest increase in the last three years.
Just last Wednesday, Nov. 8, a teacher at the New Vision Academy in Tennessee was suspended when a video of her removing a student’s hijab circulated on social media. The Nashville educator is seen removing a female student’s head scarf before touching her hair and captioning it “pretty hair." She proceeded to upload this video on Snapchat where a concerned viewer took it up with district authorities. In the video, the student is seen hiding her face from the class as her scarf was removed. This also seemed like an invitation for her classmates to violate her space and body as several students came forward to touch her hair as she tried to fix it. Someone in the background is even heard saying “her hair was too pretty to be covered." The teacher had uploaded a second video captioned “lol all that hair covered up.” When confronted by school authorities, the teacher had originally denied uploading the video but insisted that “exposing the girl’s hair was not done out of disrespect," but the school principal, Tim Malone, took action and released a statement, saying, “New Vision Academy is a diverse school. As a school community, we pride ourselves on embracing and celebrating our racial, ethnic, religious and economic diversity. Our students learn, and grow, best when they learn from one another. To foster this environment, all students must feel respected and supported.” And the staff member has been suspended without pay as further investigation is being done.
The standard for gaining a political position has been diminished and lowered so that those who follow doctrines of brutality, criminality and sexual abuse can wield significant influence in their representation of the people. Lines once drawn in the sand have faded away by the winds of abuse and division. Party has been placed in front of country and pursuit of power has been placed higher than moral principle.
The Rutgers University campus has had an unsettling atmosphere since September of this year when the White House made efforts to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. Since then, even events that are not directly related to the topic of undocumented immigrants have elevated sentiments of hostility around the Rutgers community. But just last Thursday, the Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) added a glint of hope to the unwelcoming air after its full-body meeting. At this meeting, RUSA proved that undocumented students have a place on campus by passing legislation called “Resolution to Endorse The DREAM Act and Call for the Extension of the Temporary Protected Status Program.” This legislation, sponsored by the Legislative Affairs Committee, is complexly titled but in essence means that RUSA is showing support for every individual that is a part of the Rutgers community, regardless of citizenship status, and will accompany these students on their paths to obtaining citizenship.
On Sept. 5, I wrote to you describing how I was inspired by Kurt Vonnegut to write this column. I told you that I believe that we, as people, have a moral obligation to ensure that others are happy, healthy and thriving. Since then, I have attempted to point out the ways in which we are not doing that and hint at suggestions to ways that we might improve in the execution of such a moral obligation. But departing from the initial global perspective laid out by Vonnegut, week after week, I have recounted to you the travesties of American party politics, misconceptions of health care policies and our shortcomings in carrying out the jobs that our social contract deems must be done. I feel that to get at the crux of justice’s intersection with health, we must broaden the scope beyond approaches to justice that follow contractarianism, and extend past the borders of the United States.
Bill Cosby, Woody Allen, Hugh Hefner, Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K. This list of famous, well-respected men who wildly abused their power and privilege goes on and on. Our most recent offender, Louis C.K., charged for sexual misconduct, is one of the most surprising finds. After rumors and several different women accusing him of harassment, it finally became known that C.K. was not the figure that he made himself out to be.
Last week, the leaked "Paradise Papers" revealed that Rutgers, along with many other universities, uses offshore firms to invest its endowment money. By utilizing these firms, namely Appleby, a law firm specializing in offshore accounts like private equity and hedge funds, the University avoids paying taxes on its profit, leaving more money in its pocket that can presumably allow tuition to remain low while continuing to follow the 2030 Master Plan to improve Rutgers. To be clear, investing large sums of money in offshore accounts like this is not illegal.
I am, more often than not, guilty of inconsistent participation in class discussions. I tend to sit quietly, sometimes with questions brewing in my mind that I do not deem worthy enough of being verbally articulated or just completely tuned out from the entire conversation, lost in my own mental meanderings. I do not doubt that most students have experienced something similar to the following: a professor will ask a question and silence will weigh itself down upon the enclosed four-walled space as no one raises their hands or speaks up. I never felt guilty when this occurred until I found myself on the other side of the room. This semester, I had the privilege and pleasure of teaching a 1-credit class to first-year students called “Exploring Philosophy,” offered as part of the First-Year Interest Group Seminar (FIGS) program. The program allows certain juniors and seniors to teach a class of their topical interest and presents an opportunity for upperclassmen to advise and mentor first-years on navigating life at Rutgers. It was the second week of September when I had my first class and met my students for the first time. I was excited until I suddenly realized that I was faced with the herculean task of gauging out comments and responses from 22 students, not all of whom seemed particularly excited about sitting in a hot and stuffy classroom.
Coming off big gubernatorial wins in New Jersey and Virginia — as well as a stronger than expected showing in the Virginia House of Delegates elections — the Democratic Party is currently riding an anti-Trump wave that seems poised to deliver them substantial gains in House elections next year. Yet, for all of this talk of the Democratic Party being in the political driver’s seat, it seemed just a few days prior to last week’s elections that liberals were preparing the excuses and scapegoats as poll numbers showed Ralph Northam’s lead in the Virginia governor’s race dwindling.
The United States must help its citizens find work again. To do this, we must first create more jobs and ensure that these new sectors will increase the job influx without affecting the current sectors. The U.S. government must lay out a plan that has specific criteria, such as which class of workers are the most unemployed, how these job policies will be funded, if we can ensure that the policies and new sectors will be beneficial and sustainable, what we can expect after a year and lastly, what is the projected amount of jobs we can expect from any new jobs and or sectors. But if the U.S. wants to drop their unemployment rate as well as help those in the lower and middle-income brackets, then we must also renew the payroll tax and qualifications of unions.
People do not really talk about education. Education is something widely discussed only in the realm of teachers’ unions and public policy, but beyond that, the fact is this: education just is not sexy enough for a headline. There just is not enough scandal or intrigue. Well, perhaps it is time to rethink this notion.
Rutgers students are not the only members of the community affected by the University’s changes in technology. After the University began using Rutgers Connect, faculty members were concerned about the state of their privacy with the administration.