Rutgers and Public Transport: Can we do better?

Rutgers busing. The caption? “Multiply the number of students by 50 and you should get a picture of what Scott Hall bus stop looks like.”

Navigating Rutgers’ busing system requires practice.  It’s not complicated, necessarily, but it does take time, planning, and mental space just by virtue of Rutgers being a massive institution.  In researching more information about the busing system, I found myself facing similar challenges.

Thus far, I have mainly been in contact with Transportation Liaison Ariana Blake, a rising senior in the School of Arts and Sciences.  Earlier in the semester, we discussed the possibility of a bus courtesy campaign aimed at educating Rutgers students about bus etiquette.  According to Blake, Rutgers students graduate without knowing how to properly utilize public transport.  “As students we could be better riders,” she says.  We spoke of other issues pertaining to the busing system, such as the rising tuition costs of Rutgers (one of the most expensive public universities), overcrowding of the school, the environmental impacts of the buses, and the effect of the university’s various construction projects around high-traffic bus stops.

However, as of now – let the record show that it is April 18th, 2014 – the bus courtesy campaign has been stalled.  Instead, there has been recent talk urging the university to make public transportation (outside of the Rutgers buses) free to students, faculty, and staff.  Colleges like Brown University, Johnson & Wales, and RISD have all successfully partnered with state transit to provide free transportation to students.  As a member of the Douglass Governing Council, Blake and her peers seek to pass this resolution as a way to alleviate financial burden on a significant portion of the Rutgers student body.

Whether or not Rutgers will accede to this request remains to be seen.  For now, my findings through Blake seem to best fit under Rutgers’ issues of overpopulation, environmental concerns, and best-practices.  I would think that the issue of bus etiquette (or lack thereof) would be less of a problem were it not for the sheer numbers of students using the buses every day.  The question of best practices ties directly with the recent push for free state transit beyond the grounds of Rutgers University.  These topics could easily be visualized through video footage of the buses during high traffic time slots and perhaps footage of the New Brunswick train station.  We could also interview commuter students who utilize state transit to get to class.  As for further research, we could find out more about Rhode Island’s system and how it was implemented.  We could also contact members of the Douglass Governing Council to learn more about their resolution and about transit issues facing Rutgers students more specifically.  Finally, we may want to contact DOTS about the topic as well.

Digital Humanities: Exploring New Media’s Influence on Scholarship and Professional Development (Recap)

Presentation

The first American Studies Media Culture Program (ASMCP) event set the tone for our major objectives.  Students were invited to hear from guest speakers about the way new media is changing academic and professional work in the 21st century, and to collaboratively debate issues surrounding these new technologies.

Professor Andy Urban

Professor Andrew Urban provided a working definition of the Digital Humanities for students using a series of websites.  He began with information about the Rutgers University-New Brunswick Digital Humanities Initiative, a graduate student-driven program focused on spreading awareness about the innovative form of scholarship running workshops throughout the  academic year piloted by the Center for Cultural Analysis (CCA).  He also showcased diverse work in the area including Ben Schmidt’s whale mapping project “Data Narratives and Structural Histories: Melville, Maury, and American Whaling,” a student-generated Google Books Ngram Viewer graph comparing familiarity with Albert Einstein, Sherlock Holmes, and Frankenstein from 1800-2000, Facebook’s Map App; an online exhibition his class created called “Chinese Exclusion in New Jersey: Immigration Law in the Past and Present” now housed on the New Jersey Digital Highway webpage,  and a student-based blog project he helped coordinate for the Guantánamo Public Memory Project.   Professor Urban invited students to consider how this interactive scholarship influenced our relationship to history in both the public and academic spheres.

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To encourage students to begin thinking about how their own work could benefit from joining the ASMCP by taking part in the digital conversation, Jessica Gonzalez complemented Professor Urban’s presentation by informing undergraduates of the resources available at the Plangere Culture Lab (PCL).  Housed on the third floor of Murray Hall on the Rutgers University-New Brunswick College Avenue Campus in the Plangere Writing Center, the PCL offers students a chance to familiarize themselves with new technologies.  It offers cutting-edge computer software equipped with audio and visual editing programs and tutorial support students can utilize to create blogs, podcasts, and video essays.  Jessica, the PCL’s Media Tutor, is available to work with students on a variety of projects Monday through Thursday afternoons and evenings.  Please contact the Media Culture Program at MediaCulturePorgram@gmail.com for more information.

To Blog or Not to Blog

The first ASMCP workshop  will be held on October 16 at the Plangere Culture Lab in Murray Hall, Room 305, at 6:30PM.  All are welcome to attend.  We will concentrate on addressing proper content, form, and style when blogging.   Our overall goal will be to discern what makes a blog appropriate for professional presentation.