By Amarelis Bracero, editor-in-chief
Not too long ago, I wrote an editorial about how proud I was to be a Highlander. In that editorial, which was published in The Vector’s second issue of the Fall 2015 semester, I explain how seeing the NJIT community rally behind our Men’s Basketball team last season stirred something in me. I recount how that sense of unity is what led us to win the Atlantic Sun Conference’s mascot challenge, and I looked forward to what the potential fruits of our newfound sense of togetherness would bring.
However, lately I have had to question whether or not I am proud to be a Highlander. Between a student who works for a department on campus telling me that my organization is looked at as the enemy, an email being sent out to students who work for another department ordering them not to speak with members of my organization, and the suspicious departures of multiple administrators, I have to come to terms with the reality.
What is the reality? We live in an imperfect world filled with imperfect people, and things are rarely ever copacetic.
Those who call us enemies do so because, unlike them, it is not our job to make the University look good. The Vector is not, contrary to what was once posted on our Wikipedia page, “the mouthpiece of the administration,” and it is my hope that it never becomes that. The email sent by the Resident Life department telling their RAs not to speak with us was sent in an attempt, presumably, to show compliance to those in higher positions of power. It is understandable why a department would do this, but the implications that email sent are shocking. To scare your employees into submission by restricting their freedom of speech is, in my opinion, terrifying. We attend a public university where the free exchange of ideas should be welcome. Putting this limitation on the RAs essentially shut down the free marketplace of ideas, and is not inline with what the purpose of an American university should be. My heart goes out to those who were unexpectedly let go… or forced to resign or forced to retire. None of you deserved that. It does not matter if your beliefs went against your superiors, and it certainly should not matter that your age does not fit in with the new direction the University seeks to go in. Since no one will explain to us WHY these people, most notably Lynn Riker, are no longer with the University, we can only assume the reasons. And thus, the inevitable spread of misinformation will dominate the conversation.
I use the word “we” instead of “I” because I am not the only one demanding answers. We have seen an immense outpour of support, not just for Lynn, but also for The Vector. Much like the post-season performance of our Men’s Basketball team brought together the NJIT community, these recent events have brought together the current NJIT community and members from the past. The series of articles published in the March 1 issue and the sentiments that went with them were able to start a change.org petition, and that, as insignificant as it may seem to some, fills me with hope. Though only 212 people signed the petition, it was able to fulfill its purpose of getting the attention of President Bloom and having him shed some light on the matter at hand. Many have expressed their positive feelings towards our approach of this subject. Many want to see more content like this.
I want to thank the students, faculty, administrators, and alumni who have reached out in support. Lord knows that is the only thing keeping my Highlander Pride intact.