Published July 17, 2020

In these turbulent times, Rutgers continues to lead as a model for university engagement within the public sphere. Rutgers experts offer key guidance to state and local communities on navigating the COVID pandemic safely, and Rutgers faculty and researchers frequently help news outlets make sense of complicated topics and explain the work the university is doing to better the world. Here’s your weekly guide to Rutgers in the news.

Rutgers University joined the lawsuit filed by Harvard and MIT against new a new federal policy that would strip international college students of their visas if they did not attend classes in person. The policy, which would have subjected foreign students to deportation if they did not show up for class on campus and directly impacted the lives of 7,500 Rutgers students. In a rare immigration policy reversal, the Trump administration on Tuesday bowed to opposition from universities and abandoned a plan. “Our mission is to educate and improve the lives of our community locally and globally,” said university president Jonathan Holloway. “Our international students are a critical part of that mission, and we will do everything in our power to defend their ability to remain in the United States and continue their education at Rutgers.” Each year, about 1 million international students enroll in American universities and contribute $41 billion to the economy annually, supporting more than 458,000 jobs.

TapInto New Brunswick | Rutgers’ 8,000 International Students Can Breathe Sigh of Relief


Social Justice

“When consulting a background check purchased from a sleek company that specializes in personal data, most Americans don’t think about the reach of the criminal justice system,” writes Sarah Esther Lageson in a Washington Post op-ed. Lageson, a professor in the School of Criminal Justice, warns that big data is complicit in wayward law enforcement, and that “widespread reliance on a sanitized version of policing, brokered through the private sector, will continue to give police and prosecutors immense power in shaping people’s future—whether they were convicted or wrongfully stopped.”

The Washington Post | How criminal background checks lead to discrimination against millions of Americans

“The national accrediting agency for social work education includes the advancement of environmental justice as a core competency that future social workers must learn,” says a report in The Philadelphia Inquirer. “Two Rutgers University instructors in the School of Social Work—Christine Morales, an assistant professor and an assistant director of admissions and recruitment, and Mariann Bischoff, a teaching instructor and management and policy field education coordinator—created and taught courses this academic year focusing on environmental justice for the first time.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer | Seventy percent of Superfund sites are within a mile of public housing, report finds

Poet, journalist, and activist Kevin Powell writes in The Guardian about his friend and mentor Lisa Williamson, whom he met at Rutgers in the 1990s. “The anti-apartheid movement was raging on my college campus,” says Powell, “There was still a massive buzz about Jesse Jackson’s first run for president and I had instantly become woke, as we say, because of names such as Winnie and Nelson Mandela, because of the AIDS and crack epidemics, and because of my adopted big sister on campus, an older student named Lisa Williamson, who would later become the famed activist and bestselling author Sister Souljah.” Powell describes her as “one of the most incredible speakers I had ever heard.”

The Guardian | The power of touch: I was hugged for the first time at 18. It meant confronting my deepest fears

InsiderNJ reports that New Jersey Policy Perspective added three new members to its board of trustees, including Rutgers professors Janice Fine of the School of Management and Labor Relations and Julia Sass Rubin of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. NJPP president Brandon McKoy says his organization is “incredibly fortunate” to welcome new trustees who will “help us grow and continue to research ways to advance racial and economic justice.” McKoy adds, “Our three new board members personify NJPP’s mission that policy decisions should be based on sound research and center impacted communities and those who have been historically pushed behind.”

InsiderNJ | New Jersey Policy Perspective Adds Three New Board Members


Navigating COVID

Frank Greenagel RC’01 is an adjunct professor in the School of Social Work and a clinical supervisor who oversees the support programs at Recovery High School in Roselle, New Jersey. In a Q&A with the Star-Ledger, Greenagel talks about the challenges COVID-19 presents to recovering addicts. “We need more funding for treatment and recovery support,” says Greenagel, “and it can’t be tied to people’s private insurance. Until then, we’re working at the margins: even if we were going to fix COVID and improve inequality, the bottom line is that fewer people have well-paying jobs and health care largely depends on your zip code.”

The Star-Ledger | Addiction and recovery in the age of COVID: a Q&A with Frank Greenagel

In the midst of the pandemic and the ongoing need for social distancing, health professionals still emphasize the importance of clinical health screenings, including those for breast cancer. News 12 NJ talks with Deborah Toppmeyer of the Cancer Institute of New Jersey about the dangers of putting off mammograms and other procedures. “Mammograms do save lives,” says Toppmeyer, adding that they “probably reduce the death rate by about 20 percent,” and that “earlier detection can lead to earlier stage diagnoses and implement treatment much quicker.”

News 12 NJ | Health professionals: don’t put off health screenings because of the pandemic

Avalon Zoppo SAS’18 was just getting started as an NJ Advance Media breaking news reporter when the COVID-19 pandemic struck New Jersey. The media outlet has published a story about Zoppo and her colleague Katie Kausch, both of whom “had to instantly become experts in a topic that even medical officials are still learning about.” Featuring quotes from both reporters, the article says that “with just a few years of journalistic experience… [Zoppo and Kausch] know how to get at the heart of telling people’s stories. And in the past few months, that’s exactly what they’ve done.” | How 2 reporters just starting their careers tackled the biggest story in a century

As a vote-by-mail approach grows in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic, users across the social media landscape continue to warn about fraud, with many claiming that dead voters receive ballots that are then manipulated and deceptively submitted. USA Today writes about the chances of voter fraud via mail-in systems, quoting Lorraine Minnite, associate professor of public policy at Rutgers University-Camden and the author of The Myth of Voter Fraud. Minnite says that extremely rare technical glitches involving recently deceased voters do not equate to fraud and are in no way “threatening to the integrity of an election.”

USA Today | Fact check: Mailing ballots to dead people not leading to voter fraud, experts and studies say

The spread of artificial intelligence throughout society may be a source of frequent controversy, but AI is also being used effectively in many areas—from manufacturing to health care to education—and to solve challenges that affect business and human life. Jersey’s Best Magazine discusses how powerful AI technology is changing the way the Garden State operates for the better, quoting Rutgers computer science professor Sungjin Ahn and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School associate dean Paul Weber.

Jersey’s Best | Powerful A.I. is changing the way N.J. operates, for the better

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