RUSA hosts forum against U. mergers
Rutgers University Student Assembly hosted a town hall on Thursday, expressing the need to keep Rutgers-Camden a University entity.
RUSA made an official statement against the merger during their biweekly meeting at the River Lounge at the Student Activities Center on the College Avenue campus.
Although no official plans were enforced regarding the proposed merger between Rutgers-Camden and Rowan University, Gov. Chris Christie still fully backs the plan, said Matt Cordeiro, RUSA president.
“When the report came out of the governor’s office on [Jan. 25], he said he fully endorsed the merger,” said Cordeiro, a School of Arts and Sciences senior. “He said he plans to use his power — which he has a lot of — to pass it.”
The report — written by a committee chaired by Sol Barer, a University alumnus —details a proposed union between the University with parts of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey along with a merger of Rutgers-Camden and Rowan, he said.
Cordiero said, during the New Jersey Senate’s Higher Education Committee on Monday, state Sen. Sandra Cunningham, D-31, said there would be public hearings on the merger plan at a later time though currently, there have been no further developments.
“There’s been no official move from the governor or legislature to move forward,” he said. “The only action has been a hearing held by Cunningham that was open for the administrations of both schools.”
Cordeiro said because the standstill, different merger scenarios could happen throughout the course of the next few months.
He said it is unclear what the state legislature would do if document were signed, but he outlined another plan of action.
“The legislature could also try and pass a bill,” Cordeiro said. “To do that, it’d be like passing any other bill in New Jersey, and in that process, there is a lot of amendments so things could be added to the bill.”
The University’s Board of Governors and Board of Trustees could reject the deal, but the decision to do so might bring about other ramifications, Cordeiro said.
“This deal is being presented as a package, so the [New Brunswick] merger would happen at the same time as the Rutgers-Camden merger,” he said. “If the board said no, it could potentially nix the entire thing.”
John Connelly, RUSA vice president, said the proposed merger’s effects on the faculty and staff of both Rutgers-Camden and Rowan could prove detrimental.
“Despite Christie’s claim … there is a case to be made that the merger will result in layoffs,” said Connelly, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. “There are only a certain amount of positions available at a school, so when these schools start merging some jobs will be lost.”
Connelly suggested an alternative to a complete merger, where students have the option to still enroll at a single university but take courses at other universities.
“There’s the consortium model where students at one university could take courses at another university,” he said. “For example, in New Jersey, Rutgers-Newark and [New Jersey Institute of Technology] students can take courses at each school respectively.”
Donggu Yoon, a former RUSA senator, said he prefers another approach where all N.J. institutions share the same Board of Governors and Trustees.
“The unified state system is a better model because it streamlines how information is shared through schools,” said Yoon, a School of Arts and Sciences senior. “The merger does not take a step in that direction because it only splits off Camden and gives it to Rowan, which is a turf battle.”