Barchi says University should fix its processes at RUSA town hall
Barchi updates Board of Governors, answers students’ questions
University President Robert L. Barchi opened the Rutgers University Student Assembly town hall for discussion last night at the Rutgers Student Center on the College Avenue campus.
In light of the situation involving former head men’s basketball coach Mike Rice, a student representative from RUSA asked the president how he will prevent a similar incident from happening again.
Barchi said in the process of looking for a new athletic director, he formed a search committee to represent a broad cross-section of the University that reflects his own ideals.
When selecting members of the committee, he did not consider their prestige. Rather, Barchi said he selected a group that has respect for gender, sexual preference, ethnicity and different points of view.
“I’m not going to get stuck in a situation where I hire somebody who’s on to something that I can’t live with,” he said.
The new athletic director should be a person who is committed to integrity, behaves ethically, works in the best interest in the safety of the students, and less importantly, draws in wins, he said.
He highlighted how student athletes have one of the highest performance ratings in the country.
“I boast about that when I go to an [Association for American Universities meeting],” he said. “I’m interested in seeing teams that can win, and I’m interested in seeing teams that can be competitive, but not if it means we don’t have integrity in our football program or our basketball program.”
Katherine Yabut, the University Senate representative to the University’s Board of Trustees, said student leaders on campus were concerned when the president did not include them in the decision-making processes regarding the incident.
Barchi said all levels of the University — trustees, governors and faculty — had similar concerns. He said the fast-paced nature of the incident led to communication problems.
“They heard a lot about this for the first time on TV,” he said.
Barchi originally wanted to ask members involved in the incident to temporarily step down from their positions pending an investigation, but needed to ask faster once the issue became a political affair.
He believes this stems from process issues that need to be fixed, but did not specify how this needs to be addressed.
The president also spoke about the rhetoric spreading about the University’s treatment of the Rutgers-Newark campus.
Margarita Rosario, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, asked why the University considers the Rutgers-Newark campus as existing solely for diversity.
Barchi denied this claim, and said the confusion probably stems from the Strategic Planning process.
He said in surveys, students, faculty and administrators are asked to identify what makes their specific campus unique and noteworthy, and the results were put on a diagram for discussion.
Results show that Rutgers-Newark’s top two values are access and diversity.
“It’s not that I’m saying that campus shouldn’t be anything but access and diversity. ... What I’m saying is how do we create a message that creates a unique identity for each of our campuses at the same time we create one for all three together,” he said.
Barchi also addressed how the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System states that the University spends $15,000 on Rutgers New Brunswick students and only $8,000 on Rutgers-Newark students, despite the fact that they pay the same tuition.
He said the University spends their data to IPEDS as a whole, and does not break the statistics down by campus, and someone in the government must have split these numbers up misleadingly.
Barchi mentioned the flaws he sees in the state’s immigration reform. The reform could give any student, regardless of where her or she lives, access to in-state tuition if they attend a New Jersey high school.
A person who lived in New Jersey and attended an in-state high school could live out of state for decades and still be offered in-state tuition rates.
“Those are very simple fixes,” he said. “They’re nothing to do with the fundamental point of what the legislation is trying to do. Anyone that believes in what the law is trying to do would have no problems with these things. Just fix it.”
The Office of Public Affairs plans to send an email to the student body Monday for those interested in sending a prewritten letter in favor of comprehensive immigration reform to the student’s two U.S. Senators and member of Congress based on zip code.
Rosario also asked Barchi to elaborate on a questionable comment he made in a public meeting to a high-ranking professor. The professor was discussing her struggles as a woman of color, and Barchi wryly remarked on the discrimination white, older men face in universities.
“Not in any way intended to belittle her experience, it was kind of just the opposite,” Barchi said.
Barchi also said the University will answer students’ requests to extend 24-hour study spaces to the week before reading days, and to allocate prayer spaces for Muslim students on campus because Muslim places of worship are not within close proximity.