Rutgers Budget Hearing Addresses Tuition, Use Of Student Fees For Reality Star Appearance
Thursday, April 14, 2011 • 12:33am
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Although just over 20 minutes long and sparsely attended, the public hearing on the Rutgers University budget addressed concerns ranging from possible tuition hikes to the $32,000 in student activity fees paid for a controversial reality TV star’s recent campus appearance.
Rutgers University President Richard L. McCormick opened the April 5 meeting up for questions about tuition, housing, dining and state support to the school.
“These are important decisions for the institution that shape the resources that we have available for academic and other programs in support of students and our faculty,” McCormick said. “And for you, the students, they matter deeply because it’s about your personal finances and your ability to afford what we hope is an excellent education at Rutgers.”
Representatives of the Rutgers student assembly shared with the university’s governing body students’ concerns.
“This year, an in-state, on-campus, undergraduate student paid over $23,000 to attend Rutgers, which is over two-thirds of the total cost of a student’s education,” said Kristen Clark of the student fee advisory committee for the New Brunswick campus.
“The state, which used to be almost fully responsible for paying for a student’s education, is reduced to paying almost nothing,” she said, noting that as a result, many students are forced to take out additional loans and, in some instances, drop out of school entirely.
With Governor Chris Christie’s announced budget holding funding to state colleges and universities flat, she said, the students are requesting that tuition not be raised.
Student Joel Salvino, a senator for the Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences, expressed anger at a pattern of annual tuition hikes.
“When you decide to raise my tuition, can you tell me where that money’s going to come from,” Salvino asked school officials. “Because I am not an ATM machine and I want to stop being viewed as such.”
“We don’t get our (2011-2011) budget from the governor until the first week in July,” said university secretary Leslie Fehrenbach,”and until we get that, we don’t know what tuition will be and if there will be tuition increases.
“We don’t know what the tuition is going to be for next year and it’s hard for students to comment … because we don’t know what we’re going to be proposing and we won’t know that until July.”
But the issues regarding tuition costs were overshadowed by talk of the use of student fees brought up by Rutgers University Programming Association President Ana Castillo.
Castillo called for continued funding of association, which stages events and arranges for guest appearances on campus paid for by student fees, noting that it receives roughly $6 per student per semester and programs up to 180 events annually, organized by 50 volunteers.
She also addressed student reaction to what some believe to be a gross misappropriation of the mandatory student fees for a Mar. 31 appearance by MTV Jersey Shore reality star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, who was paid $32,000.
“I know that however we’ve been perceived in the last week for our decisions, I think that for the most part we can thoroughly defend our decisions,” she said. “We’re hurt that there has been this sort of student reaction, however I know that for us there is this great love and devotion for the work that we do.”
Jared Levine, the vice president of finance for the programming association, supported her comments. “Student activities fees are an integral and vital portion of the experience at Rutgers,” he said. “Rutgers has an extremely diverse student body with a wide variety of tastes. It is our mission to provide programming to suit all tastes.”
Vice President of Student Affairs Gregory Blimling assured the students there was no talk of cutting the student programming funds.
“I think everybody is very impressed with the amount of time and effort and work that each one of the students puts into” the programming association,” he said.
“I can tell you from my perspective, Ana and Jared, I think you do an extraordinary job and this campus would not be the same without the tremendous effort that you and the other people in your group put into providing for the quality of student life on this campus.”