Rutgers has been no stranger to its share of protests in recent years, and a new study from ShieldCo found that the reason may be geographical.
The sign-design company found that New Jerseyans would be prepared to travel 8.1 hours away from their homes to take part in a protest for a cause they believe in, a significant distance above the national average of 5.5 hours, according to its study.
ShieldCo surveyed 3,000 adults, and found that nationwide the issues respondents would most likely protest about this year included politics, gender equality, racial equality, the environment and economic or labor rights.
Back on the College Avenue campus, the issues protesters have been most concerned about are expired faculty contracts, the fight for a $15 minimum hourly wage and sexual discrimination and harassment.
Today, protesters will take back to the streets for the first time this semester, as groups led by the Rutgers American Association of University Professors – American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT) plan to organize against the Rutgers administration regarding unsettled faculty contracts.
“While Rutgers President Robert Barchi has a two-year extension at Rutgers, 20,000 workers are working without a contract and university management is negotiating a questionable deal to privatize vital public health resources to Barnabas without necessary transparency and oversight,” organizers for AAUP-AFT said, according to a media alert.
The rally will take place at 12:30 p.m. at the Rutgers Student Center on College Avenue. Organizers said that Rutgers faculty and staff will gather to call for fairness and bargaining.
Faculty contracts expired on July 1, as reported by The Daily Targum. These professors are still receiving payment as the terms of their old contract continues until a new one is decided, but they are left facing uncertainty.
“PTLs (Part-Time Lecturers), many of whom only earn $5,200 per course, should not have to live, work and teach under this cloud of uncertainty and insecurity,” said David Hughes, vice president of AAUP-AFT and a professor in the Department of Anthropology.
On Wednesday, the University announced that Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi, who has been at the head of the University since 2012, will continue in his role for at least two more years, according to the Targum.
“(Robert) Barchi has been a remarkable leader for Rutgers,” said Sandy J. Stewart, chair of the University’s Board of Governors. “His vision, focus and commitment have made Rutgers a much stronger university and a stronger asset to the state of New Jersey. The integration with the former University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey would have been cause for reflection for most people, but Dr. Barchi continued his efforts, raised Rutgers’ academic profile and improved our reputation both nationally and in New Jersey …”
The following week, on Monday, Sept. 24, another protest will take place.
“While We Wait — Protest Against Rutgers Title IX Malpractice” will take place at 4 p.m. on College Avenue and allow participants to share their stories in protests against Title IX malpractice that organizers said exists at Rutgers.
As protests begin on campus this semester, it might be part of a larger trend nationwide.
The study found that approximately half of the respondents were more likely to protest an issue in 2018 than any other year, and that 73 percent of respondents believe that protesting works.
“Despite there being so many protests across our nation for varied causes, I think all Americans can agree that, whatever your point of view, we should never take our First Amendment freedoms for granted,” said Luke Markey, president of ShieldCo.