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The RU Screw: What Doesn’t Kill Us Makes Us Stronger

Most Rutgers students have heard the term “RU Screw,” a term used when referencing some of the somewhat frustrating, less ideal happenings at Rutgers.  Getting booted off of Webreg while trying to register for classes, arriving to class late because the first three LX busses that passed by were too packed, and dealing with annual on-campus housing dilemmas are among some of the commonly occurring predicaments that may elicit a Rutgers student to breathe the familiar phrase, “RU Screw.”


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Even though Rutgers students and alumni are often characterized by their undying sense of pride and school spirit, these common mishaps are typically regarded as drawbacks to attending a large school like Rutgers.  But maybe these dilemmas deemed “RU Screw” moments by Rutgers students aren’t all bad.  In fact, maybe, they are actually beneficial to us.

A few weeks ago, I attended one of the Rutgers Business School’s Speaker Series sessions.  The speaker of the day was Steven Temares, the CEO of Bed Bath and Beyond and Rutgers University alum.  During the Q&A portion of the session, a student asked Temares to share something important he learned while attending Rutgers, to which Temares responded by first rattling off a few less-than-ideal situations—bus mishaps and housing incidents—that even he experienced while attending Rutgers thirty plus years ago.  Then, Temares explained that these situations, which exemplify the “roll-up-your-sleeves” lifestyle of a typical Rutgers student, helped prepare him for the reality of life after college.  He explained that, just like Rutgers, the business world is often unforgiving.

Temares’ response shed light on the fact that these frustrating predicaments in which we find ourselves while attending a school of over 60,000 students are not exclusive to college experiences.  In fact, life after Rutgers will likely be full of moments where things don’t always go according to plan.  As Rutgers students, we already know what this feels like. For some, the RU Screw takes the form of learning calculus for the first time by attending a lecture with 300 other students; for others it means living on an unfavorable campus located far from all their classes (I still remember the day I found out I would be spending my freshman year living on the campus I listed as my last choice!).

So, maybe these frustrating college experiences aren’t all bad.  Maybe learning to deal with the sometimes-inconvenient bus system makes us more ready to handle future life pressures that are outside of our own control.  Similarly, less than ideal schedules due to Webreg difficulties may help us develop a certain kind of resilience, as we develop an ability to push through a semester of classes that may be much different than originally planned.  And maybe, attending a large university exposes us to more opportunities to step up and take initiative when we want our voices to be heard.

RU Screw experiences are not unique or uncommon, and after just a few months at Rutgers, we all begin to develop a tolerance for the degree of uncertainty associated with attending this school—a tolerance that will help us manage the unpredictability of post-college life as we begin the process of finding jobs and moving out.  The RU Screw, an inevitable part of the RU experience, may therefore be just another valuable characteristic of a true Rutgers education.  

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