RUTGERS HAS A BIG HEART
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RUTGERS HAS A BIG HEART
When word came that Steve Van Zandt would be this year’s commencement speaker, many students responded with a quizzical expression. If they had heard his name, it was either as a member of The Sopranos cast or the E Street Band. But Van Zandt needs neither Tony Soprano nor Bruce Springsteen to establish his credentials.
One day it was a sunny, 60 degrees Fahrenheit and I spent my time enjoying the warmth. The next, I woke up and snow was accumulating all around me. Was this normal? I didn’t think so. For those of us in the Rutgers and New Brunswick communities, we’ve noticed this change. The warmer winters and sporadic extremes in weather have caught our attention. What can we do to make a difference?
You’ve seen the Women’s March, the "No Ban, No Wall” protests and several other public demonstrations fighting the current presidential administration and some of its attitudes towards certain groups or situations in the United States. But one of the most recent public protests is somewhat of an unexpected one. On April 22, Washington, D.C. is having a March for Science, and Rutgers is publicly endorsing it.
The climate change narrative pushed by the media is horribly wrong. No, the science is neither disputed nor “created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,” as the leader of the free world once tweeted. Human carbon emissions are surely warming the planet, with catastrophic consequences for the world’s poorest people. But the potential solutions the media offers misrepresent the underlying economics and actually make a long-term, bipartisan climate plan less likely.
Since the 2013 Gezi Park protests, a sympathetic international community has glued itself to Turkey’s streets like a television series’ plot that only seems to get juicier every year. From being unfamiliar with where Turkey is located on a map to knowing intimately the Turkish actors in its political realm, the international community's’ position has escalated its concerns in tone. Rather than using my platform to criticize the Turkish state and its multiple violations in the name of international human rights, as I am sure many already have, I want to insist on reverting this gaze that has developed back onto a U.S. public on the edge of their seats after the results of this week’s Turkish referendum.
Back in January, at the beginning of the spring semester, Rutgers seemed to begin a big renovation plan to improve transportation at the University. This began with the implementation of bike and bus lanes along the side of College Avenue. The plan was meant to incorporate a “newly designed street” with separate and marked bike-only and bus-only lanes, hoping to create a less congested street. The transportation plan was also made in hopes to promote the safety for other forms of transportations aside from the buses. Parking meters that were regularly on College Avenue were to be removed for this adjustment. These changes were estimated to be complete by the end of this semester. This was all detailed in an email University President Robert L. Barchi sent out to the Rutgers community.
Earlier this year, on Feb. 14, Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-N.J.), one of the Democratic candidates for governor, released his campaign platform after nearly five months of his campaign website consisting mainly of a donation button. One would think that after five months of careful deliberation, Wisniewski’s team would have crafted a detailed and comprehensive platform. Instead, the campaign platform is only three pages long, each of which lists a series of alarming facts and opinions and then spends only a few sentences detailing his proposed policies.
Since its early beginnings in 1911, International Women’s Day — held every year on March 8 — has become a globally celebrated event. In the past, women have used this day as a platform to showcase their discontent with unsafe working conditions, low wages, reproductive rights and several other issues that have plagued women’s inferior status since the dawn of time. And in today’s technologically advanced world, another method of celebration exists for this historic day: social media. On March 8, if you do not post an inspirational quote by Gloria Steinem as a Facebook status or Snapchat that “feminist” graphic tee in big, bold letters — did you really participate in this important day? This year, however, there was an additional requirement besides the cliche text posts and selfies: If you weren’t praising “Fearless Girl,” you might as well declare yourself an advocate for the anti-feminist movement. “Fearless Girl,” created by artist Kristen Visbal, is the title given to the bronze statue of a confident young girl that was placed near Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, on the eve of International Women’s Day. As anyone with a cable or internet connection will know, this statue was purposefully positioned to face the 7,000-pound sculpture of Wall Street’s iconic “Charging Bull.” In other words, “Fearless Girl” is being promoted as a symbol of female empowerment — but upon further reflection, I began to question the integrity of this assertion. State Street Global Advisors — the investment firm that installed “Fearless Girl” — explain on their website that this sculpture is a celebration of “the power of women in leadership, and the potential of the next generation of women leaders.” Yet State Street’s supposed “pure intentions” get a little murky as they go on to note how “research shows that companies with greater levels of gender diversity have had stronger financial performance as well as fewer governance-related issues.” According to The New York Times critic Gina Bellafante, State Street’s claim recalls “the temperance movements” of the 1800s when “women were enlisted as moral safeguards” to further capitalism’s progression “on the backs of a sober labor force, ensuring that rich industrialists got richer.” In simpler terms, it seems that State Street’s implicit motivation in the promotion of women’s leadership is purely in the interest of financial gain. How fitting, then, that the statue was placed at “the heart of New York City’s financial district.”
Do you remember those Alcohol Edu assessments that you had to complete as a first-year student? Well, the Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) is trying to implement something a little similar to this with a new resolution that was discussed at a meeting last week.
Last week, Kendrick Lamar released his new album, DAMN. Like his previous work, it was incredibly complex and insightful. But what I noticed more than anything was the album’s dissonance. There was this constant shift between tempos, between melodies and ideas. There’s this push and pull between the good and the bad, an intense and continuous tug of war that plays out between the tracks. And that got me thinking about his last two albums, and how this one is somehow so distinctly different from the others that I couldn’t stop myself from digger deeper into the core of all the albums, and coming to a conclusion on why this one was so different.
As I rode the bus around campus the other day, cramped next to everyone, I overheard a rather disturbing conversation going on next to me between two friends, a boy and a girl. The guy was arguing that the reason we have fewer women in the IT fields and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields is because women simply are just not interested in those fields. As he compared it to men not being interested in nursing, I grew more uncomfortable with the idea that he was so confident in society assigning the role of “nurse” to women and “IT consultant” to men. However, what made it even worse was when the girl he was conversing with wholeheartedly agreed.
One of the biggest things I have to attribute to the Rutgers University and New Brunswick communities is my love for music and the arts. As a former high school jock, I never really had the time to go to theater shows, live concerts or galleries openings — until my senior year. Just by luck, I had to stop running track and cross country my last year of high school because of an injury and just so happened to be enrolled in AP art history. Now, there was not a total change of art: I’m not a visual arts student now. I haven’t stopped loving to run when I can. Nor would I call myself an expert on the arts. But this was the start of my appreciation-turned-love for the arts in the community that surrounds me now.
FAMILY, FRIENDS AND PETS
Law school graduates, quite literally, run this country. They control our government, they lead our businesses, nonprofit organizations and they dominate civic involvement. They are lawmakers, judges, the presidents of companies, universities and nations. The only question is why? Why do individuals with legal training have such an extensive presence across society? I believe that a combination of the structure and the content of a legal education is what prepares law school graduates to become leaders, which qualifies them to do more than just practice law.
To go on Facebook, YouTube or other various websites that one might enjoy is, ideally, that individual’s personal information, right? It just might be their guilty pleasure — everyone has one. Though, within the nature of being online and being active on virtual realities, there are no options for the typical civilian to have online privacy in peace. Within former President Barack Obama's term, specifically in October, the Federal Communications Commission required broadband providers to get customer’s permission prior to collecting and profiting off of private online data. However, Republicans in Congress overturned that in the midst of Trump’s presidency, which means the telecommunication industry profits leap by billions. What do they need our information for? Maybe targeted advertisements, research, pure waste of time, but what most want to know is how this will affect their personal online experience. What should be pondered is the driving force behind this overturn, and even if the overturn does follow through, what will change in terms of privacy online?
If you have seen a swarm of headlines featuring United Airlines, then no, you are not experiencing déjà vu, this is just the second time in less than a month that the airline has been faced with extreme public controversy. With their earlier infraction consisting of the airline denying young girls from boarding a flight because of their choice to wear leggings, it was difficult for the general public to imagine the airline recovering. But rather than assessing the public outrage and ensuring that no other mishaps took place, United Airlines has managed to commit an even worse injustice against one of their passengers.
New Jersey, perhaps more than anywhere else in the country, has been gripped in an especially brutal season of political scandal, upheaval and disappointment. As the circus that was the 2016 presidential election finally begins to root its bedlam behind the (admittedly fragile) opacity of our iconic sandstone capital, people around the country are hesitantly, yet surely, catching their breaths and turning their attention back towards issues slightly closer to home. If you are a resident of New Jersey, however, you will find no reprieve from the political chaos. Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) bears one of the lowest gubernatorial approval ratings in New Jersey’s history. Despite public disillusionment with the operations of Trenton, political efficacy is actually seeing a marked resurgence. Following the election of President Donald J. Trump to the presidency, the constituency has once again been galvanized into affecting change through the political system, in an effort both to resist Trump’s policies and to restore decency and rationality to American politics.
If you have even the slightest, most minute idea of what is happening in the world around you, you must know of the devastatingly tragic events that are taking place in Syria. And the worst part is that some people are becoming so accustomed to seeing videos of the demise of citizens in Syria — men, women and children alike. Passing a moment of sympathy is all that is felt before scrolling on to something else. But this is not the case with everyone.