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The mere loss of liberty has been supplemented with the absolute theft of human dignity. Our system of punishment begins before the crime and reaches its end when buried 6 feet below. But that is how we prefer our societal problems: buried, hidden, locked away, often off of a remote exit on a highway such that the commuters can reach work and the mall shoppers can expand their debt without the implosion of our national cognitive dissonance. A nation of inalienable rights, a world leader of human dignity and democracy, and yet America is a country of mass incarceration and abuse of the imprisoned.
Beneficiaries of the status quo are rarely among those who look to change it. Yet, the theft of the American Dream and the problems that have manifested out of the concentration of wealth demand confrontation. In the nation that invented progressive taxation, change can be won once again.
The status quo is an apparent quid pro quo of donations for power. We have branded those who have accumulated wealth through the financial sector as ordained leaders that can be placed, regardless of context or institutional mission, in any position of any industry and produce success. Such an ideology requires marketization. Rutgers has become a business, that in turn fallaciously requires CEOs and those with financial backgrounds to fill leadership positions.
Life was brought to a standstill. Streets were empty, businesses were barren and carts were filled with the dead. More than a century has passed since “the greatest medical holocaust in history,” the 1918 Flu Pandemic. Estimates of those who succumb to the virus range from 50 to 100 million. Even though modern medicine has advanced, salvation has been elusive.
Reflecting the strained reality of America, on Friday, tense videos of a white teen wearing a Make America Great Again hat, staring at an older Native American man singing and playing a drum at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. saturated social media. The complicated conflict shown in the video depicting the crowd of students from Covington Catholic High School surrounding the man who was later identified as Nathan Phillips, a 64-year-old Vietnam War veteran there for the Indigenous Peoples March, has only grown more uncertain.
Policy differences have formed a seemingly insurmountable wedge locking the rusted democratic cogs of governance in place as the populace bears the brunt of the government shutdown. Bleeding in to day 33, the longest government shutdown has left open wounds across the nation, while also revealing the problematic realities of many Americans.
Politicians, economists and political pundits have touted the fall of joblessness and the growth of economic stability as the nation continues to recover from the Great Recession. While the used statistics and anecdotes depict an economy resuscitated and growing, the deep wounds of debt and economic immobility stretch across the country.
The partisan practice of manipulating district lines is an undemocratic crack in the foundation of America since the nation was first formed. From the rotten boroughs in England, to Patrick Henry attempting to gerrymander James Madison out of Virginia, to the cracking and packing of 2010, redistricting is one of the oldest continued abuses of power in our democratic experiment.
On the night of Jan. 23, 2018, networks of organizations and members of various communities took to the streets of New Jersey with Monarch Housing Associates to conduct the 2018 Point-in-Time (PIT) Count of homeless men, women and children across the state’s 21 counties. The 2018 report counted 9,303 homeless people on that night, which was a 9 percent increase from the 2017 report. This increase was smaller than the reported increase from 2016 to 2017, which was 20 percent, but still undeniably disheartening.
On Jan. 1, 2019, New Jersey’s minimum wage will increase. While the increase is by no means the act of state legislators or Gov. Phil Murphy (D) upholding his campaign promise, it is the result of New Jersey’s constitution, which requires the state’s minimum wage to be adjusted to consumer price index data. The minimum wage ought to be raised as the prices of goods and services increase, but it must also be set at a livable rate that is reflective of the realities of the economy.
The Rutgers community is full of kind and caring people, and for specifically the past two years it has shown those qualities by donating for Giving Tuesday. Each year, Giving Tuesday takes place the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, and this year’s focus was on Rutgers’ student food pantries. On the New Brunswick campus, the student food pantry is located at 39 Union St. It opened in 2016, and is stocked by way of donations from organizations like Rutgers Against Hunger, Middlesex County Food Organization and Outreach Distribution Services, as well as private donations. While many students will go through all four years at Rutgers without even thinking about utilizing the University’s food pantry, hunger and lack of access to nutritious foods affects more members of our community than one might think.
Same usage rates, but different enforcement. The racial targeting in the policing of cannabis use has resulted in Black New Jerseyans being arrested at a rate three times higher than whites between 2000 and 2013, according to an ACLU-NJ report.
Many major complaints that Rutgers students have seem to stem from administrative insufficiencies, where attempting to solve problems with financial aid, parking, scheduling and other related issues are much more difficult than they ideally should be. Students often run around looking for the right office or the right person to help them. But there is hope, because relatively soon the University will be implementing a “One-Stop Center” where the aforementioned, highly sought-after offices and people will be located. Offices will possibly begin to open on location by this coming summer, though the entire Center will not be complete
Rutgers has found that James Livingston, a professor in the Department of History, did not violate the University's Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment, following University President Robert L. Barchi calling on the Office of Employment Equity (OEE) to re-examine its original findings, according to The Daily Targum.
WEATHER SERVICE AWARD
It can go without saying that the United States has a serious gun-violence issue. Every year more than 36,000 people are killed by gunshots in this country, which makes gun violence one of the leading causes of death.
A recent Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) Town Hall was focused on sexual violence and education. Four panelists, who are leaders in Rutgers’ sexual violence education and support community, were brought in to discuss the issues on how to mitigate the occurrence of sexual assault. Brady Root, the prevention education coordinator at the Office of Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance, said in an interview with The Daily Targum that the ultimate goal of her office is to eradicate sexual violence before it occurs.
While countries around the globe have moved toward authoritarianism and the trend of democracy continues to decline, it would be naïve to neglect America’s role and the inches it has moved, as well. According to Freedom House, the suppression of journalists and independent news media is at its worst point in 13 years. The Committee to Protect Journalists reported that the number of journalists imprisoned for their work is at its highest level since the 1990s. Reporters Without Borders released its annual World Press Freedom Index in April, which ranks 180 countries from highest to lowest levels of press freedom. The United States fell in ranking, as it did last year.