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Before I started college, I only thought about the world outside the United States in pretty limited contexts. I was an active member of my high school’s Model United Nations club, but any debate or discourse that I engaged in about low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) had no awareness of global justice or the dynamics of institutional powers. As is the case with many a white college liberal, upon learning at the university level of international relations, global health, neoliberalism and development, I quickly became aggrieved over the plight of populations I had never known or felt a kinship towards.
Thanksgiving in the United States has become a sort of deeply ingrained culture with specific symbols, images and memories that enter our minds as soon as we hear the word. Such include Native Americans, pilgrims and turkey. While these things are accurate to the holiday in the sense that there is some perceived connection between them and Thanksgiving, the historical accuracy of these associations is not necessarily acknowledged. In fact, there are multiple holidays that lack historical accuracy, including Christmas, and governments pick and choose specific aspects of them to exploit. According to plimoth.org, former President Franklin D. Roosevelt lengthened the Christmas shopping season by declaring Thanksgiving for the next-to-the-last Thursday in November during his time in office, and in 1941 Congress permanently established the holiday as the fourth Thursday in the month. The symbols that have come to be associated with Thanksgiving are taught to people in school from a young age, and the truth behind the unfortunate history of the holiday is often euphemized or ignored.
We all need a health-promoting environment. Without it, a number of social and economic problems can arise for individuals and communities at large. But not everyone has access to a healthy environment as evidenced by where pollution-producing facilities are located. While some may argue that these facilities need to be located somewhere, it is the likelihood of their siting in Black, Latino and working class and low-income communities that calls into question the fairness of these decision making procedures. How can we espouse a culture of democracy and equality when immutable characteristics like race, ethnicity and class determine your health outcomes through aspects of your community’s built and natural environment? When addressing disparities in environmental quality, it is important to understand what factors contribute to this kind of inequity and how these problems manifest themselves geographically. To advance an intersectional agenda of racial and economic justice, identifying the cause, consequences and implications of all types of inequity is necessary and foundational.
The media has misrepresented male and female bodies for decades, and this trend has continued with the emergence of the digital age. Nowadays, we have access to unrealistic body images through social media on a 24-hour basis. Platforms such as Instagram misrepresent sustainable fitness and body goals through the profiles of fitness models, bloggers and body builders.
Universities have an incredible capacity to promote intellectual progress through research and discussion, which is why freedom of speech, as well as thought, are so important on college campuses. A University that seeks to promote academic freedom must be careful when making decisions about the extent of the faculty’s right to free speech and their personal backgrounds, as censoring, banning or forbidding specific ideologies can lead us down a perilous road.
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.
Even though today’s social media platforms are filled with content that promotes body positivity, the same cannot be said for college campuses across the nation. For example: the idea of the "freshman 15." As a graduating senior in high school, I was both excited and anxious at the prospect of starting college and preparing for this next phase in my life. I spent hours researching all of my academic options, reading about different professors and devising lists of residence hall essentials. But there is one thing that repeatedly kept coming up in my research: the dreaded "freshman 15" and how to avoid it. YouTubers that I admired and looked up to at the time who dedicated entire digital series to college-related advice would have at least one video in which they detailed their “weight-loss journey” after packing on the pounds their first year at university.
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.