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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.
STRIDES FOR YOUNG STUDENTS
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yesterday was election day, and the two frontrunners were Phil Murphy, a stark Democrat, and Kim Guadagno, a stark Republican. As usual, the moderate and third-party candidates in the running were significantly overshadowed by the Democratic and Republican political base. This is heavily representative of the current political climate on Rutgers' campus, as it is on the campuses of the majority of public universities. When it comes to politics at Rutgers, during the past few semesters the voices of two starkly contrasting groups of students have garnered most of the attention — extreme right-wingers and white supremacists on one side, and deep left-wing activists on the other. Some of the white supremacists, whose views often align with those of the alt-right, have been voicing their opinions by means of flyers and guest speakers. Some of the far-left wingers, or progressive liberals, have been voicing their opinions through protests. As a result, the political conversations on campus are not conversations anymore, they are battles — and they are dividing students.
Rutgers University is hoping to start using energy efficient systems, encouraging alternative transportation that does not burn fossil fuels and reducing its carbon footprint — and it plans to do all of this by 2030.
As a result of the state’s steady decrease in the funding of higher education, Rutgers has been forced to figure out alternative ways to generate revenue to continue expansion and improvement.
POWER TO THE STUDENTS
Rutgers is about to make campus life a little less stressful for its population of women, transgender people and non-binary people. Anyone who menstruates may soon be taken care of. At last week’s Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) full body meeting, the organization presented a preliminary proposal to start a program that provides free menstrual hygiene products on campus for those students who struggle with financial issues.
Rutgers has announced that they will create a “One-Stop Shop” for student services in hopes of making students’ lives easier, which is projected to open during the Summer of 2019. This is a part of the University’s Strategic Master Plan to enhance the student experience and improve Rutgers as a whole.
Rutgers University can be considered many different things in terms of its atmosphere on campus. But one thing that the University’s students may not realize is how advanced the University is in terms of garnering conversation and speech on campus by students. Sometimes it takes an outside look to realize how progressive the University is.
This past summer the Rutgers community set out to create a campaign that would ignite a sense of individuality among each student as well as foster an environment that is inclusive to everyone on campus.
RESPECT FOR STUDENT AFFAIRS
The United States is the place to be for a college education, but the same cannot be said about their primary schools. From state to state, and in some instances even town to town, what material is being taught, the duration of what is being taught and the level of difficulty of what is being taught differs from district to district. As a nation, we must pinpoint and refurbish our education system to compete with the new successors of education in the world. To do that, we must distinguish the main factors that correspond with the drastic drop of the level of education in the United States.
With Domestic Abuse Awareness Month coming to a close, there are hopes that the messages and lessons that October brought remain in place. One of the movements that sparked up this month was the #MeToo movement on social media. The campaign originally started more than 10 years ago with activist Tarana Burke but recently regained steam after the release of the many sexual assault allegations made against Harvey Weinstein in Hollywood. Actress Alyssa Milano took to Twitter and urged anyone who has been sexually harassed or assaulted to write “me too,” in order to “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” The tweet and the hashtag blew up, bringing in words of support from people from all spectrums of the site. The hashtag quickly took to other social media sites and did exactly what it was meant to do — expose the disturbingly great magnitude of the effects of sexual assault and its victims.
The College Avenue, Douglass and Livingston campuses were found plastered with a series of recruitment posters for a white supremacist group known as Identity Evropa. These flyers, the same ones that led to a passionate protest at New York University last month, highlighted the slogan “Our Generation, Our Future, Our Last Chance.”