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Only, you, Rutgers

Oh dear Rutgers. Former school of minePretty much housed in my backyard.

As a student, I was always proud to be affiliated with Rutgers. I mean, come on, how many schools do you know that have turned down the IVY league status? 

You represent the state of New Jersey. But, for one reason or another, you just can’t seem to get your act together and stay out of your own way. You seem to prove the saying “you are the only one holding yourself back”.

I’ll be honest, it didn’t even cross my mind that Rutgers should choose LeGrand as the keynote speaker for this year’s graduation [in the aftermath of all the Rice debacle] until I saw LeGrand’s tweet yesterday essentially telling us that Rutgers had chosen him as the commencement speaker… and then basically unchose him. Rutgers didn’t have the audacity to rescind the invitation from Condoleezza Rice, but did so without a second thought to one of our very own. 

Rutgers is widely known as the birth place of college football [the first intercollegiate football game was held here between Rutgers and Princeton in 1869]. I mean that alone is a solid reason to have your brains screaming at you to pick Eric LeGrand. 

Who could be better to represent Rutgers and to inspire the graduates than LeGrand and what he has overcome? He was paralyzed from the neck down playing football for Rutgers, but he didn’t let that stop him from coming back to Rutgers and finishing his degree [this would be his graduation ceremony too!!]. What a better way to instill in the minds of these graduates to work hard, to never give up, and to persevere.

Today? Today I’m a very disappointed alumni. Embarrassed that Rutgers would even do such a thing. I mean you have proven you are terrible at decisions and logistics over and over, but this has to be an all-time low even for you.

Only, you, Rutgers. Only you would screw up such an opportunity. I can’t think of a less controversial person that would have turned this whole story around after all that has happened since you initially [and insanely] chose Condoleezza Rice as  the keynote speaker. I can’t think of a single person who wouldn’t have been inspired, who wouldn’t have supported you, who wouldn’t have been proud of such a decision.

You were given a gift on a silver platter, but you chose to be ungrateful and say “thanks, but no thanks”. And in the process, once again, you embarrassed/humiliated/angered/frustrated Rutgers as a whole.

Only, you, Rutgers. Only you would have taken this opportunity for granted. Taken LeGrand’s story for granted. Only you would screw this up.

An Evening with Cory Booker [at Rutgers]

I was at the event when Bill Clinton came to Rutgers at the height of Barack Obama’s election campaign [when I was still a Rutgers student]. I met/shook hands with Barack Obama when he came to FDU. Not to mention I met Nelson Mandela as an elementary school student in Canada when he visited Toronto, Ontario. Rutgers has hosted others that I attended as well including Rachel Maddow and Nicole Wallace.

a blurry picture, but whatever.

Last night, Rutgers hosted Cory Booker (newly elected to the US Senate). Not only did I get to hear him speak in person [like with the others], but this time there was an added benefit: I got to interact directly with him. An amazing opportunity for someone like me who is so into politics.

It started off as a simple tweet expressing my disappointment that questions would supposedly be limited to students from a certain American government class at Rutgers. Booker addressed it on twitter, asked about/for me [by name] right when he walked in to the room and later addressed the question. Which I appreciated very much so.

It’s just something else when you get the opportunity to interact with someone in public office that genuinely wants to make a difference in the community. And let me tell you: his personality shines even more in person. If you follow him on Twitter or follow the news, you already have an idea of how “hands-on” involved he is in his community. How many politicians actually do that? Not many. And when they do, they need to be recognized, appreciated, and used as examples as for what the constituents deserve.

For all that he has done for Newark, I look forward to him extending that and applying it to New Jersey as a whole. It’s not just Newark he represents now, but like he said himself several times last night: he now “represents the entire state” of New Jersey.

Rutgers in the News. Again.

Rutgers in the [national] news. Again. And not for something good.

As a Rutgers (New Brunswick campus) alumni, the thought on my mind since yesterday was something to the likes of “it would be nice for Rutgers to get [national] media coverage for something positive for a change“.

The latest incident? The video leaked yesterday showing Rutgers Basketball coach Mike Rice verbally and physically abusing the players [with basketballs, pushing, etc.]

Do I believe Mike Rice deserves to be fired for his actions? Absolutely. But now? No.

The time for that was in the aftermath of when the school officials first became aware of the incident(s) in question. Sure, Rice was suspended for several games at the point. But if that was the punishment then, then why fire him now if there are no new incidents?

Why now? To save your own jobs because the national media picked up on the leaked video? That’s ridiculous. The incidents in question were just as horrendous months ago when the mass public didn’t know about it.

Several months ago? That was the time to take decisive actions. That was when the athletic department at Rutgers needed to stand up for their players and do what’s right. That was when firing Mike Rice would have been justified.

Not now. Not when you take actions because you have to save yourselves. Not when you are only doing it because the mass public finds out about it and you have questions to answer.

Rutgers is better than that.

Rachel Maddow at Rutgers

I went to see Rachel Maddow speak yesterday morning bright and early at Rutgers (my alum!). The event was a part of a series of events the Eagleton Institute of Politics is holding (I went to see Nicole Wallace speak several weeks ago as well and plan on going to see Valerie Jarrett next month also).

Nicole Wallace was the Former Communications Chief under President George W. Bush and also served as the Communications Director for John McCain’s presidential campaign. You can see what she said at RU in the following video:

Anyways, back to Maddow’s visit: Yesterday’s program was called “A Conversation with Rachel Maddow” and it was basically a Q and A forum that lasted about an hour and a half. Initially Ruth Mandel (the Director of the Eagleton Institute) asked a bunch of questions before turning it over to pre-approved questions from RU students and then finally opened up to a few questions from the rest of the crowd.

I liked what Maddow had to say for the most part and one of the lines that resonated with me was that she said she had an opinion and a point of view on things that she expressed, but not an agenda. She went on to explain that her past work involved a lot of activism — and at that time she did have an agenda — to get more attention to the causes she cares for so deeply.

If you’ve ever seen her show, you probably agree that her team researches like no other to prepare for the show. It was quite surprising (to me at least) when Maddow told the RU crowd today that they always choose what stories they are going to use for the day’s show on the day of at their meeting that starts around 2 PM and then everybody on the entire team from the producers down to the interns research and how disorganized everything is.

That and the fact that she is apparently a big “downer” of a person, “depressive” and a “big grump”? Certainly did not come off as one today. Sarcastic, maybe — but we all already know that.

One of my favorite questions asked today probably was when Ruth Mandel asked Maddow who she imagines she’s talking to when she’s looking directly into the camera and passionately making her points. Maddow’s response, however, was ‘no one in particular’… just others who agree with me.

Another point I just remembered was that Maddow did point out that when she accepted the contract with MSNBC one of her only requests was that she had the freedom to choose what she wanted to talk about on her program and that MSNBC could not tell what she could or could not talk about… but also noted that she fears on a daily basis that it could be her last show and that she could be fired any day.

Oh, and of course someone asked whether MSNBC and FOX News were actually two sides of the same coin, but she dodged the question saying something to the likes of she doesn’t watch much television or something, She also wouldn’t comment on the Olbermann’s situation and just said in due time Olbermann himself would tell his story — probably after he’s settled with his new network.

One of the biggest things I disagreed with Maddow on would be her take on Pakistan. To preface, someone (I believe Mandel?… anyhow when the video is uploaded, I’ll post it here) asked Maddow that she claims to talk about the stories that no one else is talking about and wanted to know what was the number one story that no one else was talking about? Maddow’s answer was Pakistan. This is a whole another VERY LONG blog post so I’ll just leave that there.

I’ve said before that the only show I regularly watched on MSNBC was Keith Olbermann’s, but my brother Ayaz absolutely loves Maddow’s show. I will have to ask Ayaz what he thought of what Maddow said though because he agrees with Maddow on pretty much everything.

I didn’t take my camera because but here are some pictures from my phone — but I’m warning you they came out terrible especially because of the lighting:

Fortunately, Rutgers (for the most part anyways *cough* Snookie *cough*) invites pretty interesting guests, and today was no different.

P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

March Madness

Are you guys into the March Madness craze?

I’m DEFINITELY not. I watch none of the games. I don’t care who wins.

But for several years now, I have filled out the bracket for the heck of it…. using my method. You know what that is?

As I go through the bracket, I look at the names of both teams in a game… and choose which ever name sounds better. Ingenious, no?

Go ahead and shake your head in disbelief but two years ago my method led my bracket to be more accurate than BOTH of my brothers. You know, the ones that live off of sports and would probably watch all 16 games in a day at the same time if it was possible. Overall, my method leads to me to do pretty well each year.

This year, my oldest brother told me all of the mascots too to “help” me. That better not have had a negative effect on my streak is all I’m saying. 🙂

Anyhow, here’s my bracket that I filled out on Tuesday:

The only team I didn’t pick on purpose was St. Johns… because of how Rutgers (my alma mater) was ripped off in the game against them.

FYI, for the final score (for the tie breaker)… I totally just pulled out random numbers.

P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

Eric LeGrand’s Interview

If you are a local, I’m sure you are familiar with the Eric LeGrand story… and if not, I wrote about it here and then again here.

Earlier this week, ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi conducted the first interview with Rutgers defensive lineman Eric LeGrand since he was paralyzed during the football game against Army on Oct. 16. You can view it by clicking here.

Believe. How can you not?

Wishing LeGrand nothing but the best. He’s defied odds so far, and I’m sure he’ll continue to do the same in the future.

P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

Rutgers vs. Syracuse Football Game

This past Saturday, I attended the Rutgers vs. Syracuse football game, courtesy of winning two tickets through NJ.com’s (online version of a local newspaper) twitter account.

I graduated from Rutgers last May, and had not gone to any of the games so far in the season, so this game was also my first game as a Rutgers Alumni.

The first half of the game was quite mundane, but it quickly picked up in the latter half. Unfortunately, we lost.

It was, also, the first home game Rutgers was playing following the game against Army, where Eric LeGrand was paralyzed from neck below.

Here are a few pictures we took at the game:

Sea of Red:

The student section formed the number “52” in honor of LeGrand: 

During their half-time show, the Rutgers Marching Band formed a “52” in honor of LeGrand:

The Fall 2010 semester at Rutgers so far has been plagued with unfortunate events. Read my post about what happened in September by clicking here and October by clicking here. As for November — right before half time, one of the people attending the game fell at the game and is hospitalized in critical condition with injuries to his head. You can read more about that here. Some commenters on the news article seem to suggest that Rutgers is playing down the story, and all I can is this — I was just a few feet away at halftime in a crowd of people at the concession stands, and I didn’t find out until I was back in my seat later on via twitter.

Hopefully next semester will be a lot smoother.

I meant to write about the game that night, but when I got home my laptop suddenly would not turn on! It was running absolutely fine until before I left for the game, so I am not sure what happened. I ended up getting a new laptop Sunday, but I AGAIN lost everything from my old laptop which is quite annoying.

P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

Bad Luck Strikes Rutgers

What a month for Rutgers! The Fall 2010 semester has brought so much attention (local and national in both of the cases) to Rutgers — in a negative way unfortunately.

A few weeks back, I posted about my thoughts on the Rutgers freshmen who committed suicide. Since then, the Rutgers community has been hit with a missing student (who was fortunately found safe within a few days and it was deemed to be him leaving in his own will from what I have read) and a devastating injury to one of the Rutgers football players.

In a sport such as football, which is such a heavy contact sport, injuries are bound to be happen. You know in the back of your mind that the worst can happen, but you choose to not dwell on the fact. Unfortunately, it became reality for a Rutgers football player last week as they played against Army.

Eric LeGrand, a junior at Rutgers, took a hit and ended up with a devastating spinal injury that has left him paralyzed from the neck down (at least as of now). While the doctors aren’t sure at this point if he’ll recover and be able to walk one day at this point, we do all know the road ahead will be a long one and the whole Rutgers community is rooting for a full recovery and praying for him and his family.

Here’s a video I found on my local newspaper’s website:

In one of the MANY articles I’ve read in the past week on the top, one of the articles mentioned this irony:

In 2004, Manny Collins and two other players from the Rutgers football team were in a car that was rammed head-on by an SUV going the wrong way on Route 18 near the campus. The injuries they sustained from the car crash led none of the three players to be able to play again that season.

Now the freaky part is that … LeGrand was injured the same day — Oct. 16 — as Collins’ 2004 car accident. Rutgers had the same record (4-2) then as now and is playing the same opponent (Pittsburgh) in the same setting (Heinz Field) this weekend as it did six years ago following the accident.

As the Rutgers football team play their first game since the injury later today, all of the players helmets have a sticker with the word “believe” on it in honor of LeGrand.

In the wake of the injury, the Rutgers Division of Intercollegiate Athletics announced that they have establishment the “Eric LeGrand Believe Fund” to support Eric LeGrand and his family.

Contributions to the fund are not tax deductible and can be made by sending a check payable to the “Eric LeGrand Believe Fund” to:
“Eric LeGrand Believe Fund”
PNC Wealth Management
Attn: Kimberly G. Kingsland, Senior Trust Advisor
One Palmer Square Suite 201
Princeton, NJ 08542
For more information, feel free to visit http://scarletknights.com/believe/

What a (horrible) month for the Rutgers community. I graduated this past May so I’m no longer a student, but Rutgers was such a huge part of my life for the past four years — I can say without hesitation Rutgers is a part of my identity… and its happenings effect me.  Especially because I live so close to the campus.

Hopefully the rest of the semester goes by a whole lot smoother.

P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

My Thoughts on the Rutgers Tragedy

As a society, when are we going to say ENOUGH is ENOUGH against bullying?

I would hope that if Rutgers ever received so much attention, it would be for a positive thing. As a very recent alumni of Rutgers it was quite dissappointing that they, instead, made headlines locally and nationally because one of the freshmen committed suicide as a direct result of cyber bullying.

Our generation, growing up, has seen so many technological advances – and like with most things – each comes with its positives negatives. At eighteen years of age and as a college freshmen, however, you are no longer children and are deemed responsible for your actions – and those responsible MUST be held responsible for their actions. I’ve read so many comments on articles in this case that defend those responsible and say ‘it was just a joke’. How can bullying ever be just a joke? The simple answer is, it can’t!

When are we as a society going to start accepting each person for who they are and leave gender, orientation, ethnicities, race, and disabilities amongst other things as barriers behind? It seems every time we take one step forward as a nation, we also take two steps right back – leading us further behind from where we even started.

I’m not naive – I don’t think it’s know it’s not going to happen over night, but it’s something we need to work on individually to bring that change on a collective level.

My condolences go out to the family and friends of the deceased. Such a young life, with a promising future, cut so short.

P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

84-Year-Old Freshman

I haven’t posted anything since I got back from Canada about two weeks ago, but this article I was just reading was too neat not to share:

It’s about an 84 year old man who is a freshman in college pursuing a degree in psychology and then hopes to to eventually get his masters in the field as well. How inspiring?

Click here to read the whole article.

Many times, as a student at Rutgers, I had non-traditional students in my classes – but this story is amazing.

P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.