Brian Canares


Recent Articles:

NEWS

Cuts to TFA not significant

It has recently been reported that Teach for America (TFA) may lose a substantial amount of funding from the federal government. At a time of financial downturn, the organization may not receive its full requested amount of $50 million in aid and be forced to eliminate almost 1,350 teaching positions. Many would say this is a detrimental blow to education, as TFA is such a great recruiting tool for the urban environment. However, I believe the significance of the organization is largely exaggerated, and I think these cuts will have little impact on the broader context of education.

NEWS

Opinions require serious takes

Whenever my friends post clips of the "The Daily Show" on Facebook, I usually keep my comments to myself. Recently though there has been a sudden influx of these video postings that have over-taken my news feed. Maybe this can be attributed to the fact that I have added too many liberals in the past few years, but nonetheless, I find more and more people publicly displaying their love and adulation for Jon Stewart. So I feel like I have no choice but to write an entire full-length opinion about my beef with him. Hopefully this will give you a different perspective on the show, or just make you angry. Either way, I always enjoy both.

NEWS

Spend funds more wisely

In these past few weeks, I have been quite impressed with The Daily Targum, as it has slowly prevented itself from falling into complete obscurity. For once, it has been nice to see our student newspaper being critical of the declining conditions here at the University. I am referring, of course, to its recent interest in highlighting the state of University facilities, specifically the poor excuse of modern architecture that is Scott Hall on the College Avenue campus. While this use of muckraking has not been as entertaining as The Medium's feature on the Red Bandana Kid, I am still inclined to give the Targum a laurel for its efforts. This coverage has instilled in me a sense of doubtfulness about our future, as the latest $18.5-million budget cut has not given me any indication that Scott Hall will receive hot water in its bathrooms. My intent, however, is not to complain about Gov. Chris Christie and Trenton, but, instead, I want to be a bit more constructive and direct my attention toward the University itself.

NEWS

Educational support vital in Haiti

It is undeniable that the international community has shown the utmost support for Haiti. If you have not already seen the messages to donate $10 via your cell phone, you are probably living under a rock or a studying as a pre-med student. The government, celebrities and ordinary people are dedicating valuable time and resources toward the relief effort. In these last two weeks, the world has seen the extent of America's capabilities to help those in dire need. I am, however, skeptical about people's commitment. Most people, especially Americans, are attracted to shock value. Their interest tends to wane if something new and exciting is not being offered. When this eventually happens, the television networks, celebrities and even the government, will inherently follow suit. The purpose of this article is not to denounce the general public for its lack of sympathy, but to discuss what the primary focus of America and the international community should be.

NEWS

Defending pure rubbish

Yesterday, my Tuesday column was criticized in "Crew faces financial upstream battle." There are a few things I wanted to address in response to the author's letter, as well as clear up my own argument.

NEWS

Crew faces financial upstream battle

The Daily Targum ran a news article called "Clubs overdue for funding change." It reported that many students are prevented from joining club sports teams because of expensive dues. As a result, the Rutgers University Student Assembly Allocations Board has considered the possibility of funding these organizations through student fees. In order to compensate for the rise in cost, however, student fees would ultimately be increased. While I think it is admirable that RUSA is finally doing something legitimate, it should not be its responsibility to fund these organizations. These clubs, especially the six Olympic sports that were axed in 2007, should be funded through alternative means, even if it has to come out of President Richard L. McCormick's $550,000 salary. Maybe the Rutgers football team can give some of its generated revenue from its last two stellar 8-5 seasons. I was under the impression that the stadium expansion was necessary to solve our financial problems. In order to put this into perspective, it's important to discuss the academic priorities of the University in relation to athletics.

NEWS

Enact meaningful changes

The Rutgers University Student Assembly is great in theory but terrible in practice. Last week, Eric Knecht wrote an article titled "Referendum on RUSA," where he questioned the importance of the organization. Like nearly everyone else, he condemned the upcoming retreat but did not offer any constructive criticism. If the fundamentals of RUSA can be fully realized, I believe it has some serious potential. They give us the opportunity to voice our opinion and enact meaningful change. Knecht, on the other hand, wants to rid the student body of all possible means to combat the University bureaucracy. With that being said, the track record on RUSA has been abysmal. They have an arbitrary allocations process, no power within the administration and concern themselves with internal conflict. As assembly Chair Werner Born has already stated, the retreat has been paid for and is set to take place on October 23 to 25. So, I want to lay out a few issues that need to be addressed, before the ghost stories but after the marshmallow roast. The retreat should deal with these topics and be discussed in the following order:

NEWS

Enact meaningful changes

The Rutgers University Student Assembly is great in theory but terrible in practice. Last week, Eric Knecht wrote an article titled "Referendum on RUSA," where he questioned the importance of the organization. Like nearly everyone else, he condemned the upcoming retreat but did not offer any constructive criticism. If the fundamentals of RUSA can be fully realized, I believe it has some serious potential. They give us the opportunity to voice our opinion and enact meaningful change. Knecht, on the other hand, wants to rid the student body of all possible means to combat the University bureaucracy. With that being said, the track record on RUSA has been abysmal. They have an arbitrary allocations process, no power within the administration and concern themselves with internal conflict. As assembly Chair Werner Born has already stated, the retreat has been paid for and is set to take place on October 23 to 25. So, I want to lay out a few issues that need to be addressed, before the ghost stories but after the marshmallow roast. The retreat should deal with these topics and be discussed in the following order:

NEWS

Race card deals society losing hand

It is undeniable that racism still exists within society; however, this idea is often used to further political and special interest agendas. Last week, The Daily Targum ran an editorial noting that people were quick to pull the race card on Rep. Joe Wilson. The Republican South Carolina congressman drew criticism for his remark during President Barack Obama's speech in which he shouted, "You lie!" to the president. The editorial board suggested that race was not the issue in this case. Wilson's outburst could have truly been about health care and not the color of the president's skin. Despite the fact that the man idolized Strom Thurmond, I agree that his remarks were a frustrated response to Obama's policies. Unfortunately, this was not a rare circumstance where racism was used to defend or promote an agenda. Race is often utilized in situations that are mutually exclusive. It is thrown around so frequently that it undermines the very efforts made by the civil rights movement. This creates a system within society that is afraid to engage and confront the issues of race. As a result, people are left ignorant and uninformed about the various cultures that help make this country great.

NEWS

Not trash, just white trash

In the Sept. 7 issue of The Daily Targum, Eric Knecht attempted to write a satirical piece by mocking my Sept. 1 column, "Welcome first-years, now get out." He advised first-year students not to join certain organizations that would jeopardize their academic integrity. For the most part, he trashed all forms of student involvement, especially the ones that offer movie nights and free pizza. He forgot, however, to mention that student organizations are not given much liberty to do anything else. Nevertheless, I was particularly struck by one unnamed publication he placed on there. He wrote, "(Don't join) another newspaper, particularly one where they trash the type of writing found here, yet don't write very insightful articles themselves." For you first-years, he means The Centurion, a conservative-based magazine at the University. I have written articles for this publication, and I continue to associate myself with them. Before you decide to stop reading, I do not own a "Palin 2012" T-shirt, and Dick Cheney is not my hero. I do, however, take cross country trips in my Hummer while mowing down trees in the process. On a more serious note, I believe the intentions of the magazine have been widely misunderstood. I will attempt to explain the actions of The Centurion; it is up to the members of the University to accept them and open up dialogue or dismiss it as ignorant and uninformed. We hope for the former but expect the latter.

NEWS

Welcome freshmen, now get out

Today marks the beginning of another school year on the Banks. First-year students, you will soon learn the deeply-rooted history of Rutgers University. For two centuries, it has given birth to great minds, ranging from Paul Robeson to Milton Friedman. In addition, it has paved the way for countless aspiring cultural artists, such as Mario Batali and James Gandolfini. However, when you see the number of remedial courses, the wonderful desk art in Alexander, or the thermostat in Van Dyke 211, you will wonder how this institution ever produced such remarkable individuals. This will not truly come into perspective until you have walked on to the EE bus around 4 p.m. The University was once a beacon for pride, history and excellence. It was a place that did not need to associate with the Ivy League to know its greatness, as it could give our southbound rivals a beat-down in both the field and the classroom. Today, it willingly accepts the status quo and increasingly becomes content with the prospects of mediocrity. The academic powerhouse that once stood on the Raritan River crumbles before our very eyes. Nevertheless, with changes in attitude and priority, we can once again restore its academic integrity. While it may be easier to blame the administration, it's important to understand the University's circumstances. It is undeniable that the University has fallen on financial hardships, especially in the last few years. Budget cuts seemed to have plagued professors, students and Scott Hall's bathrooms. Trenton seems to be more interested in funding the University's athletic endeavors, as opposed to its academic ones. Politics dictate the college's every move; therefore, the Rutgers community suffers, as its interests are not truly realized. Everyone can understand the difficult position of the college. However, my criticism lies in the way the University compensates for its misfortunes. Through its struggle to battle with financial shortcomings, it sacrifices its level of academic standards.First, the University needs to stop accepting so many unprepared students. Currently, our willingness to overcome the budget shortfall and the economic disposition of students has created a serious predicament. Not only does it suffer from housing shortages, but it has lowered its academics by its very nature. This decline can be seen by the types of courses offered at the University. While I fully understand that many students have their own strengths and weaknesses, there is no reason for the mathematics department to offer 63 sections of Algebra or the English department to have 70 sections of "Basic Composition." These classes should be kept at an absolute minimum. They should be left to students who have shown greater ability in one subject, but not the other. If one individual can easily compute derivatives but has difficulty writing an essay on "Reading Lolita in Tehran," then the circumstances can be understandable. Even if there are a few students who are weak in both writing and math, should there be so many under-100 level courses? We are a big university, but we are a university nonetheless. As Rutgers cuts backs on acceptances, it also needs to start instilling a higher bar for its applicants.By placing higher qualifications for individuals, it will effectively reduce the need for these particular classes. An increased standard does not necessarily mean SAT scores and grade point average. The application itself needs to be more demanding for its prospective students. When I applied to Rutgers, the process consisted of checking off my race and writing a short blurb on my optional statement. What kind of message are you sending as a "public ivy" if you ask for nothing more? By expecting more from high school graduates, it will inherently garner more respect. Combined with the economic incentives, more of the "best and the brightest" will show a willingness to attend Rutgers. Furthermore, as the focus shifts from these remedial courses, the University can begin to look at hiring and keeping full-time professors. The finances used to fund the enormous amount of teacher assistant-taught classrooms can be transferred. Algebra and "Basic Composition" can be left to the community colleges, where students can take them before applying to a university. This keeps the school from over-stretching its resources and limiting its focus.This is not a remedy to Rutgers' budget problems. However, it is a way for the University to deal with the financial crisis without sacrificing its academic integrity. While it does provide a solution to a few of the school's problems, only financial shrewdness can save it. Cuts need to be made, but not at the expense of education. So first-year students, while I will be glad to see you in "Nature of Politics 101," there needs to be less of you.  Brian is a Rutgers College Senior majoring in History and Political Science. He welcomes feedback at bcanares@eden.rutgers.edu.    

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