Budget shortfall requires equal sacrifice
Fellow members of the University community, I am sure by now you are all aware that Rutgers faces the prospect of disastrous cuts to its operating support and as a result will most likely be forced to raise tuition, suspend faculty searches, cut courses and lay off current University staff. The blame does not belong to one person or one administration but rather a series of unfortunate developments. In my opinion there are three factors that will strangle the University this fiscal year. The first is the global economic recession, which hits New Jersey substantially hard due to the nature of its tax base. Additionally, the lack of stability in the state funding apparatus, the causes of which need not be stated due to common knowledge of New Jersey politics, places the state in economic crisis. Yet the third circumstance is particularly aggravating and if removed can ease the burden on University students and prevent layoffs that at this point threaten to further cripple many of the University's resources. I am referring to the mandated American Association of University Professors-American Federation of Teachers 5 percent salary increase, which as of 2007 the University agreed to pay to our faculty members amid a substantially better economic environment. This expenditure of $30 million represents nearly half of our projected budget shortfall. I believe that these circumstances require a shared burden that must be placed on all members of the community, although tuition increases must be kept to a minimum to allow students to be able to return for the fall semester. No one likes to conclude that tuition will go up, fees will be increased and classes will be cut. While at this time there are few alternatives, the degree to which these changes occur can be greatly influenced by creative and intelligent thinking and resource management. I would ask at this time that the AAUP-AFT consider the needs of our students financially and academically as well as staff personnel, who would be laid off in a frozen job market by agreeing to forgo the contractually obligated 5 percent salary increase for this upcoming fiscal year. There is no doubt that you have earned a respectable wage for your many publications and services to both students and academia. Yet, as I stated earlier, this great financial burden placed upon the community must be shared by all members with the intention that if we each give up a little we can save much needed jobs and for students prevent the level of cuts that would further overcrowd our classrooms and make a four year education the exception rather than the rule. I submit this letter with all respects and assure all University students that very dedicated and qualified people are working on your behalf to make the best of a very difficult situation.
Ryan Cooke is the student representative to the Board of Governors. He is also a Livingston College senior majoring in history and political science.