Budget crisis calls for tough decisions
I sat thinking to myself, "Thank god for Chris Christie," as the newly minted governor proposed budget cuts for this year including an $18.5 million cut for the University. The one percent cut in the operating budget will hardly make a dent in the massive $1.9 billion the University has set aside for FY 2010, but will hopefully send a message to the administration that unnecessary spending will not be tolerated. The University boasts one of the highest total cost (including room and board) for a public college in the nation and prices are only set to increase unless serious actions are taken to curb spending.
The number one priority of any university should be the education of its students, and the University policy should be no different. If the school is determined to advance studies here they must keep in mind that new computers, modern classrooms and advanced energy efficient technology is nice; but it does nothing to further the intellectual lives of students.
These projects, including Busch campus' new Visitor Center, were constructed to draw more students to the University; does it make a difference how many students are here? What is the point of higher education if the quality of learning goes down due to overcrowded classrooms, lack of professor accessibility and the inability to register for popular classes? The solution to these problems is not to hire more professors or build more classrooms while concurrently enrolling more students. In fact, the University needs to only admit the best and brightest and stop all expansion projects until both New Jersey and University deficits are closed.
Additionally, one of the main problems plaguing the University today is the Union of Rutgers Administrators-American Federation of Teachers (URA-AFT). These individuals' sole purpose seems to advance a collectivist society, non-incentive based pay increases and a progressive agenda that puts no pressure on their members' performance; rather, sets complacency standards to work just enough. If you knew that public workers employed by the citizens of New Jersey and university tuition threatened to go on strike unless their wages and job were secured and increased, would you be upset? How is it that a group completely compensated by taxpayers and students works against the interests of both taxpayers and students?
It was always mind-boggling to witness teacher unions nationally oppose charter schools and voucher programs for K-12 education. After all, aren't they the ones responsible for the upbringing of the youth in our country? Yet they lobby Washington D.C. against the interests of students, in order to secure uncompetitive and guaranteed wages for bad teachers and asinine pensions for babysitting. In fact in many states, teachers are forced to join unions if they wish to teach at public schools. I foolishly thought that these selfish tactics, funded by taxpayers would end when I started to attend an institution of higher learning — boy was I wrong.
I understand the drive to create an atmosphere that is best for the individual, which is one of the reasons I attended our University. However, I also understood upon coming to this public institution, that I would be entering a school held back by public financing and severe bureaucratic nonsense, more commonly known as the RU Screw. Workers at the school should understand as well that they are not only employed by the University, but by the people of New Jersey. Public institution employees have a responsibility to the State, while their work is greatly appreciated, there is no room for negotiation when costs for students are bound to rise. These employees have chosen to work for a State funded school, I understood the downside of attending a public institution, and these union members should do the same.
The University must have a policy of keeping students and professors at the heart of their interests. If this means cutting bureaucrats, extraneous workers and unnecessary projects, so be it. The time has come to either advance the interests of your students, or advance the interests of workers; the choice is up to the University.
Christie would be doing the people of New Jersey and the student body at the University a great favor with an automatic and indefinite pay-freeze for all state workers throughout the state. This idea proposed by the governor and endorsed by the Star-Ledger will help ease the burden not only on New Jersey's fiscal woes, but the University's as well.
Tough times call for tough decisions, and the budget crisis that faces the state and University is in many ways life threatening. Nowhere in the private sector can you run deficit after deficit and still raise salaries of employees and promote programs that do nothing to enhance your financial stability.
Spending is a disease in New Jersey, from the local level, to the state house. The mentality of spend now, tax later has granted New Jersey the title of the most unattractive state for new businesses, the highest property taxes in the country and the highest in-state college tuition costs in the nation. These three examples are the result of failed fiscal constraint at the state, local and school level.
The voters in New Jersey already determined that tax and spend policies do nothing to benefit the people of the state. It is time for students to understand the same, when the school spends, builds and offers more "services." it comes at a price; a price that will result in less money in your pocket and more debt when you graduate.
Aaron Marcus is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in political science and history.