April 23, 2019 | 71° F

Rutgers needs to improve on inclusivity of all its schools


Congratulations to Kristine Baffo, the new Rutgers University Student Assembly president, and to the rest of her board. I sincerely wish you all the best as you inherit the complaints and problems of boards past and of classes new. As a second-time Targum editor, I can definitely relate. So here’s another one for you — I did not vote.

Let me rephrase that: I could not vote. After doing a fair amount of research on all of the candidates (i.e., reading our Targum articles) and getting psyched to cast my ballot, I was denied access to the online voting system. The only explanation I received was that it was because I am a Rutgers nursing student and, “You guys are weird.”

See, a lot of people don’t know that the Rutgers College of Nursing is based in Newark (actually a lot people don’t know that there is a Rutgers College of Nursing). Thus, nursing students on the New Brunswick campus have always been placed in weird positions. Technical glitches like this one with the RUSA elections happen all the time. Every year when they were free, we would have trouble getting football tickets through the online ticketing system. Exam scantrons must be scanned in Newark. We don’t even receive New Brunswick crime alerts, but rather Newark alerts that aren’t relevant to us on this campus. Some students have been kicked out of classes because of financial aid mishaps. I’m pretty sure FAFSA classifies me as a half-time Newark and half-time New Brunswick student. The list goes on.

The small things are all running gags to me at this point, but there are more pressing matters for New Brunswick nursing students. We weren’t able to vote in the last RUSA election because of some technical screw-up. What is unfortunate is that more nursing students would care if we had some sort of representation in RUSA. This isn’t RUSA’s fault. They’ve actually reached out to us about having a nursing student representative present at their meetings. (I can’t represent my school as a Targum editor since ethically, that would compromise my integrity as a journalist covering campus news.) The majority of us just don’t care enough because the bottom line is that we don’t feel like true New Brunswick students.

The business school is based in Newark, but their students don’t seem to have the same problems or sentiment. Yes, they’re a larger, more visible school. Yes, the nursing building in New Brunswick is a little removed from campus (I would complain about the intermittent buses that go to the building, but that’s for another time). And yes, we nursing students are small in number. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t exist. I chose the New Brunswick campus over the others offered by Rutgers, and I can’t imagine being anywhere else during this time in my life.

Recently, the Board of Governors voted to merge all of Rutgers’ and UMDNJ’s nursing bodies in Newark, Stratford and New Brunswick into one new entity. The new Rutgers School of Nursing and all of its parts make up the best nursing school in the state. Like every academic institution, it has its problems, but I hope that with the recent merger and restructuring of our school that some of these problems can be ironed out. I’m sure the glitches in the system are more systematic than purposeful alienation, but I hope the new RUSA board can at least hear us out and help where they can.

Marielle Sumergido is a College of Nursing sophomore. She is the online editor for The Daily Targum.

Marielle Sumergido

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