I was pretty blown away when my wife sent me this NJ.com story. Apparently “Snooki“, who became a star from the MTV show, “Jersey Shore” was paid $32,000 to hold two question and answer sessions at Rutgers University.
This is on top of the fact that they are paying $30,000 for the keynote speaker at this year’s graduation! This will be the first time that Rutgers University will pay for someone to speak at commencement.
Rutgers University And Snooki: A Display Of Financial Irresponsibility?
That’s a total of $62,000 in order to have two people (neither of whom are connected with higher education) come to speak to students for a few hours! For those of you who are not familiar with RU, they are a public university (actually, The State University of New Jersey) who has seen their state budget appropriation fall in recent years!
Here are a few things that I think are important to understand about the university’s financial situation:
The State University of New Jersey’s Budget Crisis
Rutgers University has not paid raises to their staff since 2008 – this represents a breach of contract by the university in both 2009 and 2010 (and it is expected to happen again this year)
The State University of New Jersey has only given its faculty members 25% of their contractually obligated salary increases since 2008
New Jersey has cut higher education funding over the last few years
Rutgers has increased tuition rates for students in each of these years
The university actually has departments/units that are losing money
Over the last few years, there have been many athletic and academic programs that have been cut
The university has laid off a number of staff members
Now, I understand that $62,000 won’t solve all of these problems (although that’s probably the salary of two workers who were laid off), but I still think these were poor decisions! They have never needed to pay someone to come and speak at the graduation ceremony; So why wait until the university is in a budget crisis (to use the words of the president) to start spending money in that area?!?!?!? I can’t believe someone actually said, “Hey we’re broke, so let’s spend money on something that we always get for free“!!!
Let’s get back to Snooki for a minute! I don’t want you to think that some outside agency or special donor paid for her to come…here is what the article has to say about it:
The Rutgers University Programming Association paid the reality star using the mandatory student activity fees undergraduates must pay with their tuition.
So basically, the university increased tuition and fees this year, and then decided to take some of that money and pay Snooki to talk on campus for a few hours! This is in the face of all of the financial difficulties outlined above. They cried and complained when the state lowered higher education funding, but yet they have no problem with squandering the money in this fashion!
I have no respect for a company that breaches contracts with its employees, withholds money, cries broke, continues to raise prices (tuition), and then decides to waste money!
Just in case you think this event was all fun and games, Snooki was asked to give some final words of wisdom to the students (the future leaders of the world), and here is what she said: “Study hard, but party harder!”
[Update: Read Rutgers' Statement About Snooki]
I would love to know what you think about all of this!
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