A Message from the President
To the Rutgers UniversityNew
The arrests yesterday of seven current Rutgers
students for assault, robbery, and other charges bother me no
end. Some of them were "student
athletes." That makes it worse. It attracts attention.
Let me state the obvious: this behavior is
not reflective of Rutgers or of the members of our academic community.
Everybody understands that this kind of behavior isn't the kind
of thing typical Rutgers
students indulge in. No guns. No breaking of jaws. No grade
tampering. None of that.
You walk onto
the Rutgers campus, you see students strolling along the shaded
paths discussing Wittgenstein, or arguing about Einstein's account
of gravitational lensing. Bright, intellectually engaged students,
too involved in reading and thinking and arguing about ideas
to break into rooms and take money from other students at gunpoint.
Especially with masks on.
This business about trying to rig athletes'
grades and breaking the jaws of bystanders and wearing masks
and robbing people at gunpoint has the potential to shape an
image of the University that only we, together, can confront
with a constant repetition of our highest slogans. That's why
I'm writing you now.
I want to ask everyone in the Rutgers community
to help with damage control.
In this -- I don't want to say "emergency,"
but maybe "moment of discomfort" -- in this moment
of discomfort I think it's reasonable to ask alumni and boosters
to help douse the flames of controversy.
In particular, I want to ask those on
"booster boards" to help me discredit the news
outlets that have carried stories about the arrests of our student
Some have asked me about strategies. For those
who want to lend aid in this moment of discomfort, the best tactic
will be what we in Old Queens call KTM. It can be mastered in
a second. Maybe faster. Imagine that a doctor comes to you, for
instance, with the news that you have an inoperable cancer.
This is not pleasant. The word "inoperable"
means that you are going to die soon. But you don't have to just
sit there and suffer: you can kill the doctor. That way,
you might be dead, but the doctor will be too. You get a feeling
For instance, if a New Jersey newspaper like
the Star Ledger should even mention the gunpoint robberies
or broken jaws or grade tampering on an inside page, a thing
you could do is flood the booster boards with posts that vilify
the Star Ledger.
There are ways of doing this. For instance,
you could call the paper the "Star Liar." That would
be tremendously witty and original and it would subtly show that
you don't like their stories about the Rutgers football franchise.
Or if one of their writers had a name like "Politi,"
for instance, you could give him a witty nickname like "penishead."
That would show him.
If the paper has a website, you could advise
everybody not to "give them the clicks." Or you can
keep saying that the paper "had it in for Rutgers."
In other words, it's not essentially different from killing the
doctor who tells you about the cancer.
One other tactic: minimize the news by contrasting
it with something worse, like terrorist bombings or cannibalism.
For instance, you might write messages on the boosters' board
along the lines of "Hey, look, busting into a room and taking
money at gunpoint isn't pedophilia, is it? What about TTFP!"
Or you could say "Look, a little bit
of leaning on a faculty member to boost a grade for a 'student
athlete' isn't like UNC. UNC had whole departments writing
papers for their 'student athletes.' Rutgers isn't UNC."
This way, everybody sees that Rutgers isn't UNC.
One last thing. We need to get the message
out that Rutgers is an outstanding academic institution whose
students achieve remarkable success. Those who say it's a glorified high school
with open admissions and hordes of "party
animal" students who couldn't care less about the life
of the mind need to be drowned out. Those who say that the "Grade
13" atmosphere on campus is totally due to trying to become
a sports factory like Nebraska or Ohio State also need to be
I'll do my part. As president, my job is to
go around talking constantly about how Rutgers is a "distinguished"
university. The point is to promote the brand. The point is to
keep saying stuff like "distinguished" and "world
class" until people stop laughing in your face. You keep
repeating the words. You wear them down. That way, after a while,
almost nobody laughs in your face anymore.
Finally, some have asked if I'll have the
spine to abolish the football and basketball franchises, return
Rutgers to participatory athletics, and leave the presidency
feeling like I've done something worthwhile in my life. I'll
have to get back to you on that one.
A New Year's
outreach proposal for RU's athletic "academic support"
Tutor a Tiger!