Published July 2, 2020
New Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway arrives at a unique time in the university’s history, as America reckons with racial inequality and the continued turbulence of the coronavirus pandemic. Given his background, Holloway is uniquely suited for the job. Meanwhile, Rutgers experts have been offering key guidance to local officials, communities, and media outlets about moving forward through the COVID crisis safely. Here’s your weekly guide to Rutgers experts in the news.
The Right Leader for Right Now
As America reckons with systemic racism, racial inequality and the very history new President Jonathan Holloway spent his career studying, his background has uniquely prepared him to lead Rutgers at this moment. Holloway, 52, formerly the provost at Northwestern University, has family ties to slavery and confronted the toxic legacy of racism five years ago as a Yale dean, but he doesn’t want being Rutgers University’s first black president to define his tenure. He has big plans for Rutgers. Holloway is a listener who always thinks before acting, which will be a crucial asset as he manages the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. “It is going to be a challenging first year. I would be lying to you if I said everything will be normal. Not by a long shot.”
Rutgers rising junior and Scarlet Knight free safety Jarrett Paul writes a Star-Ledger op-ed on the realities of being a young Black adult in America. “I was 12 when Trayvon Martin lost his life,” says Paul. “I’m 20 now and the change I expected to see has not happened.” He urges police to “put themselves in our shoes and think about how they’d feel if they encountered an officer after seeing their peers get murdered by one.” And he movingly concludes by saying, “We must continue to love. We must continue to have hope. Because one day this will change.”
2020 is setting a new record in the number of women filing to run for U.S. House seats. A Forbes article puts the number at 490 so far and includes expertise from Rutgers’ Center for American Women and Politics. “You look at 1992, which was that amazing year when we had the biggest number of women, the largest freshman class and all that,” says Debbie Walsh, director of CAWP. Examining what followed Walsh recounts that “we really saw stagnation” and expresses hope that the spike of 2018, which saw 476 women run for Congress, will prove to be more than an isolated event. “We’re watching this year very carefully to see [if it will] sustain itself,” says Walsh.
COVID concerns, immigration, and the environment
When thinking about what kind of face mask works best, think simple and functional, says Suzanne Willard, associate dean for global health at Rutgers School of Nursing. Expensive masks with filters or other fancy embellishments are not necessarily more effective than inexpensive ones, Willard tells Mic, adding, “The bottom line is, a lot of these products are not science-based.”
Jennifer Hunt, a Rutgers economics professor and former chief economist in the U.S. Department of Labor, coauthors an essay for CNN Business on President Trump’s latest executive order restricting new green card holders. “Suspending H-1B, L-1, H-2B, and J-1 visas, even as a temporary response to Covid-19 concerns, is a misguided move,” Hunt writes. “Banning hundreds of thousands of foreign workers hand-picked by their US employers will not result in an equal number of American job opportunities. It will neither protect the American workforce nor jumpstart the economy.”
Fighting for legal abortion was an essential part of being a feminist in the 1970s and ’80s. But today, many young women who define themselves as progressive activists do not prioritize the issue. A New York Times article explores the shift, quoting several scholars, including Rutgers professor and Abortion After Roe author Johanna Schoen. “Control over reproduction [was] central to women’s ability to determine their own futures, to get the education they want, to have careers,” says Schoen. “As people got used to having access to abortion…that radicalism women had in the early years got lost.”
The New York Times | ‘I Can’t Focus on Abortion Access if My People Are Dying’
A Philadelphia Inquirer report lists New Jersey among several U.S. states vulnerable to severe flooding. The story describes how thousands more properties are at risk than expected and quotes Robert Kopp, director of the Rutgers Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. “Sea level rise is exposing an increasing number of coastal properties to flooding from extreme high tides and storms,” says Kopp. Rutgers led the development of the sea level rise projections used in the analysis, partnering with institutions including MIT, Columbia University, George Mason University, and University of California, Berkeley.