U. activists continue to 'Walk'
A crowd of about 40 people outside of the Old Queens building yesterday chanted, "You can put us all in jail, but the students will prevail," as part of the second "Walk into Action."
After two weeks of attempts to get University President Richard L. McCormick to meet student demands for lower tuition — among other things — with no response, students rallied on Voorhees Mall on the College Avenue campus and around Old Queens as part of "Walk into Action: Part Two."
The first "Walk into Action" had the support of hundreds of students, which was followed by last week's Tent State University, where students wrote letters each day with demands, including elimination of transcript fees for the first 10 requested and a one-year tuition freeze.
"We had an unsuccessful meeting with McCormick on Friday and he basically laughed at us when we mentioned the transcript fees," said Kristen Clarke, outgoing University affairs committee chair for the Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA). "[We're rallying] to show he can't laugh us out the door. We're not going anywhere."
Clarke, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, said the tuition for the upcoming school year would not be announced until July. If the University increases tuition 10 percent, that could amount to about $1,200 per student.
"You could buy four iPads with that," she said.
Clarke said this is not just a University issue, but also one of state and national importance, as students at the University are among at least four others to organize such a rally.
"[Two weeks ago,] it was statewide and organized by New Jersey United Students," she said. "This is more spur of the moment because McCormick is refusing to speak with us. It's awesome kids care to stay out here in the rain and tell him enough is enough."
The march commenced on Voorhees Mall with a few student speakers, but the crowd soon moved to Old Queens in support of the students holding a "study-in" on the third floor, who were at risk of being arrested for trespassing around 5 p.m. when the building usually closes.
"They occupied the entire floor, but the administrators are just ignoring them," Clarke said. "We have people [up there] who are willing to be arrested."
The turnout of the rally fluctuated from its start at 2 p.m., as it simmered down after an hour because of the rain. But people took shelter under tents to maintain their support and other students went around to classroom buildings like Scott Hall and Murray Hall on the College Avenue campus chanting, "Keep Rutgers public" and playing bongo drums.
"I've been hearing about the campaign, and it affects every student. The priorities for tuition are wrong and [funds] to any space can be cut," said Mary Ann Thomas, outgoing volunteer coordinator at the Women's Center Coalition and a College of Nursing senior. "We're going to fight until the administrators take us seriously."
Chris Reale, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, attended both rallies and was disappointed with the turnout.
"I think [rallying] is more effective than voting, but this is disappointing," he said. "At the first one, it was still maybe only 1 percent of students at this University who showed up."
Matt Cordeiro, RUSA president-elect, was happy with the student turnout at the rally.
"I think it's a great turnout. This many people here shows the students are really trying," said Cordeiro, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.
He said he hopes the rally will let administrators know that students are serious about rising tuition costs.
"Students really do care. They're committed and really want this to be seen through," he said. "Hopefully we can compromise with the transcript fee. If we get that victory, I'll be happy. I think administrators work hard for the University, but we have to express [ourselves]."