Questions and answers with political blogger (and engineering grad student) Juan Melli
Juan Melli knows all about feedback. "If I write something that a politician doesn't like, I'll hear about it," says Melli, the founder of BlueJersey.com, a blog devoted to discussing and debating New Jersey politics. Since the Princeton mechanical engineering graduate student from Washington Township, N.J., launched the blog in September 2005, traffic has grown to an average of 1,500 hits per day, and the site has been featured in The New York Times and on ABC News. With New Jersey's legislative elections just a few days away, Melli sat down with The Weekly Blog's Julia Osellame ’09 to discuss blogging and politics.
Where do you find time to keep up with graduate school and the blog?
I read the news all day - in the morning, at night, at lunch. I make the time. But writing the blog is usually something fast. I don't spend hours writing a draft and revising. It may have delayed my graduation a bit, but I don't regret it. It's something I enjoy.
What should voters be looking for in the November election?
This year is legislative, next year presidential. What most students at Princeton don't know is that in New Jersey, every year there are elections; in other states this isn't the case. Usually, turnout is low and we get a lot of the status quo on the ballot sheets. But if all the students in the University voted, they could easily swing [a local] election.
What do you think is the most important political issue in New Jersey right now?
It's not the issue I care the most about, but property taxes are politically significant each year in New Jersey. It's not a hot button issue [for students], but it's always there and never addressed appropriately. Personally, I think the most important issues are ethics and campaign finance reform. When people run for office and they are beholden to someone, policies coming from that arrangement tend to be bad. These aren't really sexy issues, but they affect everything.
What's your take on student involvement in politics on campus?
I was involved three years ago with the Filibuster campaign [at Frist Campus Center]. When that happened, it showed that students did care and participation on campus was huge. Princeton students can and will participate if there is an issue that appeals to them. Overall though, political participation is lackluster. It is disappointing because students should care about their government regardless. Part of this apathy could be because people, the legislative officials or the activists that care about the issue, aren't doing enough to make issues appealing to students.
Culbreath ’10, Princeton outrun Cornell
Against the Big Red, backup tailback Jordan Culbreath ’10 ended both droughts in the fourth quarter, busting through the defense for a 58-yard touchdown run. The play pushed him over the 100-yard mark (he would finish with 145) and put Princeton ahead for good in a 34-31 victory.
Culbreath had more carries against Cornell (11) than he had in the previous six games combined, and Hughes expects to continue putting the ball in his hands in the remaining three games. "He's certainly earned it," he said.
Until the day before the Cornell game, Culbreath was the third tailback on Princeton's depth chart, but when a foot injury sidelined Kenny Gunter ’10, he moved into the backup role. Culbreath seemed prepared for the opportunity: On his first carry, early in the second quarter, he shrugged off two tacklers and sprinted down the right sideline for a 49-yard touchdown run.
"He had a great fall camp - he came into the season prepared," senior quarterback Greg Mroz said of Culbreath after the game. "The audience may be surprised, but the players and coaches know what he's capable of, once he gets his chance to shine."
Photo by Frank Wojciechowski