Tragedy and Outrage in New Brunswick Shooting ~ Kine Martinussen

New Brunswick, NJ–According to reports, New Brunswick resident Barry Deloatch, 47, was shot twice and killed by a New Brunswick Police officer on Wednesday, September 21, 2011, near the intersection of Throop Avenue and Handy Street in New Brunswick.

Reacting to this tragedy, nearly 150 people gathered Thursday in front of the New Brunswick City Hall in protest against police violence.  Most were friends of Mr. Deloatch, and identified the shooting as part of a long-term and ongoing attack on New Brunswick’s African American and Hispanic communities. I came by to see what was going on. Here is what I heard from members of the community affected by the tragedy, in their own words.

The sign reads: ASSASSINATED: Shawn Potts, Sissy Adams (Tanya Lanham’s drill team coach), Barry Deloatch, Silvia Parson and André Showell

Cedric Goodman, Middlesex Country Democratic Committee person, and friend of Mr. Deloatch, called for an independent and outside investigation into the matter. He claimed that the NBPD has a long history of racist and brutal behavior.

Nina Webb feels for the Deloatch family: “We went through the same thing. My brother got shot in the back seven times. He was twenty years old. I want justice for my mother, and I want justice for the Deloatch family.” Commenting on the New Brunswick Police, she said “You don’t have to draw your gun all the time. You’re trained to apprehend people by other means instead of deadly force. He was a nice man and I feel for his family.”

Several agreed that there needs to be an effort to include the police in the community. Protester Sarah Lee is tired of the police circumventing their own protocol: “Cops should be from here, from our community. They need to live here for three years in order to join NBPD but they keep faking their addresses and moving away as soon as they can.” Publisher and community activist Tanya Lanham is sad to see that the police make no effort to connect to youth from her area: “The police officers don’t visit the schools and the mayor doesn’t visit the schools. My son is 23 years old and he has never seen the people he is supposed to vote for.”

Her son has however had encounters with the police, having been searched twice, once when he was 13 and again last August.” According to Ms. Lanham, both searches were unlawful. She also says her sister’s husband has been pulled over with a frequency of “once a week” on Remsen Avenue for “the last five years.” She concludes, “I am scared to come outside.”

The family of Mr. Deloatch was also present at the protest, and could be singled out by that raw, dazed, and wounded aura that clings to those who have recently lost of someone dear. Mr. Deloatch’s brother, Bennie, is appalled that he never got a proper courtesy call from the police. “We were never notified,” he says. “I had a friend call me telling me he saw my brother get shot. I got out of bed and I rushed to the hospital as fast as I could, but he was already dead.” To him, the pieces don’t match up. Nate, his other brother, kept repeating “My brother should still be alive right now.”

This is not the first time the NBPD has faced criticism for its alleged use of excessive force, let alone the first time this year. One protester said his brother’s jaw was broken during an interrogation, and that frequent searches have become routine. Last February, Rutgers students Jake Kostman and Kareem Najjar sued for police violence after being beaten during a search on their Somerset student home (which can be seen here).

New Brunswick Mayor Jim Cahill had this to say: “It’s fully understandable that people want, demand answers to numerous questions that arise. I think that we need to be patient to make sure the answers that are given are accurate.”

Neither the Mayor nor the NBPD have commented further since…

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Photos by Ms. Kine Martinussen.

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Waving to Solidarity: An Art Event at coLAB Arts Gallery

This Thursday coLAB Arts is hosting an opening event for the month long show, “Waving to Solidarity,” featuring one of the Johnsonville’s former artist contributors, Dave Peters. Below you will find the Press Release for the event. We hope that you will attend the event, or visit the gallery during the month long showing in support of coLAB and the Johnsonville’s own, Dave Peters.

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – coLAB Arts is pleased to present Waving to Solidarity, a one-month exhibition featuring the work of the emerging artists, Dave Peters and John Leschak, curated by Theresa Francisco. Our Opening and Second-Look Reception will take place on Thursday August 18th and September 15th from 7-10 PM at coLAB Arts (49 Bayard Street, 3rd Floor, New Brunswick, NJ 08901). These free receptions will feature complimentary wine, food, and live music. Custom made, interior design elements added by kliasi style.

Waving to Solidarity offers the viewer a glance at both meditative solitude and painful alienation through the artists’ formal conflicts with and emotional connections to, their environment and community. Dave Peters and John Leschak both work in a similar vein but their individual messages are quite opposite.

Dave Peters focuses on serene, biomorphic forms and quiet landscapes that are cerebral, captivating, and dream-like. Peters opens his subconscious and paints what comes naturally. This method often conjures up the repetition of imagery, creating both common, visual elements and narratives in many of his paintings. Even though Peters is very detail oriented, he wishes to keep his paintings ambiguous and open for personal interpretations. Dave Peters graduated from Rutgers University with a B.A. in Spanish Literature. Though colorblind, Peters is a self-taught painter and is working towards a full-time career in the arts.

John Leschak uses heavy symbolism to make a direct commentary on modern society. He contextualizes human passions, vices, and fears to illustrate their effects on relationships and the community at large. Though often depicting scenes of individual despair and powerlessness, Leschak believes his images can bring about a need for action and empowerment. John Leschak is a practicing labor law attorney at Weissman & Mintz and immigrant rights activist.

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CoLAB Arts is a non-profit organization located in New Brunswick, NJ, dedicated to the development and presentation of emerging local artists. coLAB Arts’ mission is to cultivate a hip, mindful, and inclusive Hub City community of artists, audiences, and critics, empowered to create inspired and inspiring art.

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The Rise of Local Arts in New Brunswick ~ Matia Guardabascio

Recently I sat down with Theresa Francisco of the coLAB Arts organization in New Brunswick to chat about the organization and the people involved. CoLAB Arts is a non-profit organization that seeks “to cultivate a hip, mindful, and inclusive community of artists, audiences, and critics” as they so eloquently say in their mission statement. The people involved in coLAB work there on a volunteer basis. They are a passionate group of people whose goal it is to promote the local arts so as to make them accessible to the widely diverse audience of the New Brunswick community. CoLAB offers a starting point for local artists who want to make a career out of their passions, or who simply want to make their work available to the masses.

CoLAB is representative of the kind of organization that is so valuable to the promotion of the arts in an area that to many would seem bereft of cultural pursuits. They are a beacon of hope that enables otherwise unknown or unheard artists to connect with a wide audience. Like the Johnsonville Press, the people who are involved in the organization do it because they want to, because they are passionate about the arts, and because they want to give local artists the chance to be known and to promote themselves. They are making an incredibly valuable contribution to the growing cultural scene in New Brunswick.

I am proud of what they are doing for this community. It is my hope that they continue to gain support so that they, in turn, can continue to promote the arts with the same vigor and enthusiasm that I have already witnessed from them. I encourage the reader to visit their website to learn more about the organization and their mission. And please continue to check in with the Johnsonville Press for announcements of upcoming events. To the folks over at coLAB: keep up the good work! Cheers to you guys!

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Discernment of Spirits by Robert Addessi at coLAB Arts

Discernment of Spirits
Robert Adessi

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – coLAB Arts is pleased to present Discernment of Spirits, a one-month exhibition featuring the photography of Robert Addessi, curated by Theresa Francisco. Our Opening and Second-Look Reception will take place on Friday July 8th and July 15th from 7-10 PM at coLAB Arts, 49 Bayard Street, 3rd Floor, New Brunswick, NJ 08901. These free receptions will feature complimentary wine, food, and a live band. 

Discernment of Spirits is a collection of photographs that emphasizes the incredible variety of subjects in Addessi’s work ranging from landscapes, to portraiture, to abstraction. The images stir up feelings of warmth and nostalgia as they project the idea of a much slower and tranquil time in life. Along with these recollections and feelings of nostalgia, come a demand for solemn self-analysis and reflection on one’s relationship with nature and community. Although some images evoke communal memories, others consist of spaces and patterns of confusion that are dissociated from our understanding of reality. Discernment of Spirits asks the viewer to reassess and heighten his or her level of awareness to self and environment, challenging our ability to distinguish or discover what is visually new, beautiful, or important.

Robert Addessi was introduced to film photography in 1995 at Brookdale Community College. Shortly after, he was invited to join a workshop led by New York photographer Ralph Weiss and has been attending monthly sessions there for the past fifteen years perfecting his technique and developing his identity as an artist. He has chosen to capture each scene with film and transfer the image as purely as possible to reflect the subject as originally seen. The challenge, Addessi believes, is to find new in the ordinary. His creativity lies in his ability to approach his subject with levity and an open mind. He shoots what he finds interesting or entertaining as he
documents his day. In doing so, Addessi has discovered the surreal, the spiritual, and the novel in what most people consider to be the familiar.
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coLAB Arts is a non-profit organization located in New Brunswick, NJ, dedicated to the development and presentation of emerging local artists. coLAB Arts’ mission is to cultivate a hip, mindful, and inclusive Hub City community of artists, audiences, and critics, empowered to create inspired and inspiring art.

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Alfa Art Gallery’s New Brunswick Salon ~ Call for Artists

New Brunswick Art Salon, Fall 2011 – Call for Artists

About the Exhibition

In the 18th and 19th century, Art Salons were the greatest annual or biannual art events in the Western world, celebrating the farthest advances in academia and the arts. The Alfa Art Gallery, in order to bridge talented and highly esteemed artists with the New Brunswick public, holds its own Art Salon exhibition biannually in the spring and fall.

Call for Entries

The Alfa Art Gallery would like to invite artists to submit work for the New Brunswick Art Salon, Fall ’11. There are two artist categories: newly emerging artists and professional artists. All submissions must be in by September 25. Artists will be notified if their work is accepted by September 30. The exhibition opening will be held on Friday, October 21.

Theme

For this exhibition, artists must submit works celebrating diversity or unity in a community.

Submission Requirements

All applicants must be associated with New Brunswick as a resident or as an artist who exhibits in New Jersey. Students and faculty members of Rutgers University and neighboring schools may enter. You must at least be pursuing an undergraduate career to participate. Degree does not need to be related to art.  There is no limit to the number of works entered.

To enter for consideration, please email the following to info@alfaart.org:

  • Images with title/dimensions
  • Resume/CV
  • Statement about your work
Or contact:
Jewel Lim, Event coordinator,

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Alfa Art Gallery ~ 2011 Spring Art Salon

New Brunswick Art Salon, Spring 2011: Part I

Exhibition duration: April 22 – May 12, 2011
Opening Reception: Friday, April 22  @ 6:30-10:30pm
Curator: 
Jewel Lim
Multiciplinary Event: The New World Order

The Alfa Art Gallery is proud to present “The Double-Edged Search for the Truth & the Ideal,” the first of two spring exhibitions of the New Brunswick Art Salon 2011.

About  Alfa’s New Brunswick Art Salon

In the 18th and 19th century, Art Salons were the greatest annual or biannual art events in the Western world, celebrating the farthest advances in academia and the arts. The Alfa Art Gallery, in order to bridge talented and highly esteemed artists with the New Brunswick public, holds its own Art Salon exhibitions biannually in the Spring and Fall.

About this Exhibition

This exhibition “The Double-Edged Search for the Truth & the Ideal” features Carlos Frias, Dara Alter, Peter Arakawa and Rita Herzfeld, four talented painters from different backgrounds.  True to its title, this first part of the spring exhibitions for the New Brunswick Art Salon 2011 explores the individual’s search for the truth and the ideal in a larger community. The colors of the paintings in this collection are optimistic and vibrant; however, each piece contains an underlying narrative of the struggle to attain knowledge or to illustrate a desire in the bigger scheme of Life. Dara Alter creates multi-perspective, aerial landscapes without a fixed viewpoint as a response to her yearning for an ideal Israel. Peter Arakawa paints his works in only clusters of twos or threes in an attempt to avoid repetition: his works, created from observations of daily life, serve as voyages, combining patterns and shapes that are unlikely together, in search for an order that fits. In his paintings, Carlos Frias, with his intriguing Kandinsky-like palette, attempts to analyze and capture the essence of human beings as organic and spiritual forms with their ability to grow and self-destruct. Rita Herzfeld, acting and reacting in a cycle to each step in her creative process, attacks her canvases with ardent, moving paint strokes to actively demonstrate the gap and interactions between instinct, ideas, self-exploration and, ultimately, truth in a stilled image.

About the Artists

Carlos Frias received his BFA in Painting from the Parsons School of Design. His recent works aims to highlight our humanity , creativity, relationships and  urges to grow and self-destruct while, at the same time, strip us of our spirituality and culture, representing humans as organic forms bound to decompose and regenerate. Additionally, his work visually demonstrates the parallel between what art is able to represent of the evolution of humankind and how much we want to preserve and manipulate art to represent the history of our species. He has exhibited in Japan, the Dominican Republic, Spain, and the United States.

Dara Alter obtained her degree in Studio Art from the University of Guelph.  Heavily influenced by her cultural ties, she paints her memories of Israel in order to examine the North American Jewish nostalgia for an idealized nation.  In the last five years, she travelled to South America, North America, Asia, and the Middle East, which additionally influenced her works. Alter is most interested exploring location and place as it relates to her personal experiences and uses a specific palette that corresponds to the scenery in a particular region. She has exhibited in Minnesota, New York and New Jersey in the United States as well as in Toronto, Ontario in Canada.

Peter Arakawa obtained his MFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. He became an artist through the influences of creative family members.  Arakawa has been a professional artist for over twenty-five years. His works are held in many institutions and museums, including the Zimmerli Art Museum, Newark Public Library, Jersey City Museum, the State Museum, Hunterdon Art Museum and Johnson & Johnson Corporation.

Rita Herzfeld attended the School of Visual Arts and City College of N.Y. and obtained her BA from Rutgers University.  Inspired by her artistic mother, Herzfeld became an artist who grew up believing in the power that comes with creation and its processes from simple tools such as pencil and paper. Her works are held in the Hurterdon Museum of Art, the Zimmerli Art Museum and various private collections.

Best Artists of New Brunswick Art Salon’ 2010

First Place: Wes Sherman
Second Place: Marsha Goldberg
Third Place: Larry McKim

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Politics As Usual – Alex Giannattasio

As Of Yet Untitled

Corruption in New Jersey politics is not a new phenomenon. Rather, it is a part of everyday political life in New Jersey, the lard that keeps the densely packed population from grating against each other. The topic has even been touched upon in the Johnsonville Press in months past. Even so, never in my time in New Jersey have I seen the hailstorm that is Jersey politics reign down so openly and violently as it has in July, 2009. Rallies, races and arrests are converging on our tiny state, making for a near perfect political storm. The weather, at least, seems to be in agreement; is it coincidence that we’ve had two tornados in two weeks this month in the Jers, or are there dark forces at work here…

I was driving home to Johnsonville last night, lightning flashing all around me. I was enjoying a particularly relevant NPR piece on the recent arrests of five New Jersey politicians among 39 other community and religious leaders throughout New Jersey and New York. These included the Mayors of three major New Jersey metropolises: Secaucus, Hoboken, and Jersey City. The commentator, with a slightly smug tone, was discussing the implications of these arrests for upcoming gubernatorial race between incumbent Jon Corzine and Republican Chris Christie of the State Attorney General’s office. He did not fail to note that nearly all of the politicians arrested are in fact, Democratic Party members, and speculated that this would have a negative effect on Corzine’s campaign.

“Thanks, tell me something I don’t know, you smug bastard”, I said to my radio, as I am prone to do.To date, Chris Christie still leads in the polls, demonstrating New Jersey’s skepticism with Jon Corzine, and their willingness to support a new candidate, even (gasp!) a republican! But what I find really interesting is not so much that New Jersey is fed up with Corzine (he’s so easy to hate) but that his strategy for reclaiming office has seemed so impotent. He came out in the primary days with the decision not to involve himself in Republican infighting that would inevitably occur in the grab for the nomination. This gave Christie the chance to get his face and name out there as an alternative to the norm (that is, to corruption) uncontested and unchallenged by the Dems. And now, Corzine finds himself in the awkward position of trying to reinstate himself at the top of the polls with a late start.

Perhaps the most surprising piece of the puzzle is that Corzine’s trump card, President Barack Obama’s visit to PNC Arts Center to rally for Corzine, has had little effect on the voting population. In fact, the forty minute unorganized rally in the sweltering heat seemed more to concern health care reform than Corzine’s reelection. It’s as if the Corzine people just figured that bringing Barack to Jersey would spell an automatic win, reenergizing the grassroots and solidifying the association between Corzine and Obama. Forget the fact that Corzine was an early supporter of Hillary Clinton for President; for all we should care, these two are longtime buddies.

Of course, that is not the case; but what fascinates me is that this sort of standard political hypocrisy failed to have the desired effect on this occasion. Perhaps it’s the fact that Corzine is one of the most disingenuous public speakers I’ve ever had the distaste to listen to. Perhaps it’s that Celebrity in Chief’s slipping popularity just doesn’t have the same pull it did six months ago. Perhaps it’s the fact that Obama chose to talk more forcefully about Healthcare reform than about Corzine’s positive characteristics (are there any?). Or perhaps it is simply that this new corruption scandal has drowned out any excitement over seeing the President step onto Jersey soil. One question I have: in light of this new scandal, shouldn’t Obama keep Jersey at arm’s length? Truly, he can hardly afford further attachment to the state. One thing is for sure, demonstrated by his very visit to an old rival: Democrats are loath to give up New Jersey, an old stronghold of the Democratic Party.

About halfway home to New Brunswick, it started to rain enormous drops on my windshield, just a few massive splashes here and there. The sky was bright with sun AND lightning, and other drivers were beginning to nervously slow down. At that moment, my radio switched over to the obnoxious cascade of static and beeps that is the Emergency Broadcast Station. Steven Hawking’s computer interrupted the beeping to inform me that I was driving directly into a tornado area and that for my safety I should proceed to the nearest basement. My third story attic-apartment would have to do.

As the AM kicked back on, I was drawn sharply away from my weather-worries at the mention of a landmark I’ve known well for the past several years: Robert Wood Johnson Hospital. Among those arrested in the NJ-FBI sting were some Rabbis who had been using the black market sale of organs to facilitate their money laundering ring. Apparently, some of these transplants had been taking place in New Brunswick! To date, we do not know anymore about how this was allowed, and so speculation as to who if anyone was involved will have to wait. But, for me at least, it came as a shock to find out that this massive piece of national news was unfolding, in part, just blocks from my residence. What effect, if any, this will have on the upcoming Mayoral race in New Brunswick in 2010 remains to be seen. But we can rest assured that the FBI will push the probe as far as it will reach.

Rounding a turn in the road, my mind was violently forced back to the weather. Before me, about 50 yards down the road, I faced a massive wall of water. It was as if the cloud had very specific boundaries; I could have stood one foot in the rain one foot out…had it not been for the hail the size of grapes pounding along with the rain. I smashed into the wall at 60 miles per hour and immediately began to skid. Pumping my breaks and slowing to 15, I corrected the slip and turned on my hazards. On the other side of the wall, seeing more than 10 feet in front of me was impossible, causing most cars to pull over to the side of the road, next to bikers hiding under bridges. Not being most drivers, I continued, though in serious fear that I would soon hit some nervous driver in front of me, or perhaps that a well placed tree would take me out from above. The carnage was brutal and frightening….and short-lived. Minutes later, I was on the other side of the storm, speeding onwards towards my goal at a revived 70 mph. Having weathered the storm, I was rewarded with a clean and empty road, all for the taking.

The perfect storm of New Jersey politics is forming now. As the economy continues to falter, the bacon fat that has always greased the gears of power in the most densely populated state in the country will start to burn up. I expect to see much more political reorganization in the near future. The question is, after the storm is over, who will step up to grab the reigns? Certainly not those with connections to the old, defamed guard…Young blossoming politicians should be at the ready; weather the storm, and you may well meet an open road in front of you. It will be entertaining to watch the changing of the guard in NJ over the next few years

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Rutgers Graduation 2009: You Get What You Pay For – Alex Giannattasio

As Of Yet Untitled

Last week marks the graduation of the 11,430 members of the Rutgers class of 2009. Convocation was not one cohesive event; at Rutgers, each of the many sub-schools has traditionally held its own commencement ceremony, and this year was no different. Rutgers actually hosted 27 convocation ceremonies over the course of the week by my count.[1] Being a member of Rutgers College, I was joined by 2500+ fellow liberal arts students on the lawn of Voorhees Mall last Thursday. I’ve attended the State University of New Jersey for four years now, years spent as Student Number 010004747. I must say, if I had any pretentions of being treated as an individual by the administration before the ceremony, I had none by the time I arrived. I went out like I came in: just a number among thousands.

Originally, 2009 was intended to be the last time that Rutgers-New Brunswick would accommodate separate ceremonies. Starting in 2010, every graduating member of RU-NB was to be herded together into the what would be then, newly completed football stadium for a massive one-time commencement ceremony. Rutgers, determined to exhibit the product of its $100million+ stadium expansion plan, would honor its graduates in the same manner it entertains them: with spectacle. But if you were hoping for your name to be read out loud, or your hand to be shaken, or your parents to be able to pick you out from the 10,000+ strong crowd (that is, if you were hoping to graduate with dignity) you would have been \ fresh out of luck. In the last months of the past semester, the Daily Tragum’s opinion pages were peppered with articles about the commencement consolidation, not a single one in favor of the goal. This was one issue where the Targum was wholly successful in presenting students’ sentiments of anger and frustration. After significant student protest, climaxing in the presentation of a petition to President McCormick, the University agreed to grant the class of 2010 the honor of traditional, individualized ceremonies by school. I applaud the University for heeding the voices of its students. But after experiencing the traditional graduation myself, I have to question whether the hullabaloo was really all that necessary. Let me show you what I mean, by recounting some of my experience.

The day began for me, as for many, with a private parent-arranged photo session in a friend’s backyard. We stood around smiling in our black robes, exchanging nervous complements, as the sun (with the temperature) rose. By the time we set off for the ceremony, it was pushing 75 degrees. Who ordered those stuffy black robes anyway?

When we arrived at Olde Queens campus for our pre-ceremony instructions, we were shepherded into rows and organized alphabetically. I was astounded by the efficiency with which the administration handled the task: each student was given an index card with his or her name on it, along with a place number. That day, I was #815. Remarkably, we were organized in a timely fashion, and began the procession at 1:45 sharp. It took us a good 45 minutes just to get all the students seated, the whole time in a sweltering heat. A covered stage faced us, flanked by two jumbo screens for the purpose of making our sweaty faces visible to the audience.

Dean Carl Kirschner, perhaps the least funny man at Rutgers, acted as Master of Ceremonies (the President was nowhere to be seen). But unfortunately for all of us, he decided to adopt the role of a standup comedian. From where I was sitting, he drew only tired groans from the audience; one of the more obnoxious jokes he tried regarded the recent swine flu crisis. Fearing the potential of a Rutgers graduation ceremony to spark a new ground zero for the widely expected epidemic, the traditional hand shake from the dean was to be discarded, and so Dean Kirschner thought it would be appropriate to present a few options for avoiding the contagion. He pulled out a series of gloves, and proceeded to sport them for the audience: latex, rubber, a Mickey Mouse hand, and finally, a red foam sports finger. That joke in particular was received with a sweeping sigh and a collective eye roll from the students.

The convocation speaker, Mary Baglivo, class of ’79, sought to encourage Rutgers students by recounting her time at Rutgers. Her main thesis was this: “Rutgers is Grit, Guts, and Genius.” Let’s disregard the fact that such a trite and simplistic marketing metaphor makes very little sense to begin with. And forget about the fact that Baglivo boldly assumed that every Rutgers student in front of her had voted for President You-Know-Who (I certainly didn’t)– I have another problem. The program listed Baglivo as CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, an international advertising company. What it failed to mention was that Baglivo also happens to be a Dean at Rutgers, as well as a member of the Board of Governors. I thought key note convocation speakers were supposed to be off the University payroll. I suppose at least they managed to save a few bucks by using her…

Two student leaders also were given the chance to speak to the audience: Melody Wilding and Dymir Arthur. In the student section, impressed oohs and ahhs for Melody’s 4.0 GPA were quickly replaced by mocking sniggers at the announcement of her majors: American Studies and Psychology. At Rutgers, the students at least know which majors constitute real work, and which constitute mostly movie watching. Both of Melody’s majors are of the latter kind. I thought Dymir, for his part, did an excellent Barack Obama impression; but for my part, I’d rather not have heard about how we should all be jumping on the change-train now that we’re graduated. This is Rutgers, not Notre Dame. Politics should be kept out of it.

After these lackluster speakers had retired the mic, it was time to start filing up to the stage to receive our “certificates of participation” (Rutgers doesn’t distribute diplomas at commencement, a fact that leaves many students wondering why they would want to attend at all). This process took a full two hours, in the by now 80+ degree heat. More than one student actually fainted waiting for their turn to get in line (luckily, there were medics on hand). Dean Kirschner’s request that the students stay seated after having their name called did nothing to stop the majority of students from simply walking out immediately afer, and by the time I had gotten down from the stage, wide swaths of empty chairs glared out at me from the student section. Having my name read out loud by some dean, who learned it for the first time just seconds before butchering it into her microphone didn’t appease me. Fears about swine flu prevented my hand from being shaken; that honor was reserved for the student speakers and excellence award winners. And you can be sure that the only time my family saw my face during the ceremony was on the jumbo-tron.

And so I’m left wondering: if I had taken part in a consolidated commencement ceremony, would anything have been different? Would the speakers have been any better? Would the heat have been any worse? Would the lack of “individual recognition” and a handshake have made for a less dignified exit to college? Would I have been any less insignificant in the eyes of the University? I doubt it. Inevitably, what matters at such a ceremony are two things: family and friends. The presence or absence of these will make or break your commencement, not the format it is delivered in. But still, time will tell if the class of 2011 decides to take the consolidation lying down…

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time here at Rutgers, it is this: you always get what you pay for. That goes for your education too. Congratulations to all of you members of the Rutgers class of 2009.

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