July 23, 2019 | 67° F

USSA and NJUS funding necessary for stronger student representation

Letter to Editor

If you care about the skyrocketing cost of your tuition and fees, student autonomy over decisions that happen at your university and a voice with decision makers at the state and federal level, then I need you to listen up — there are two incredibly important referendum questions on the ballot for New Jersey United Students and the United States Student Association you need to vote in favor of. The proposed NJUS and USSA referendum questions on the ballot would allocate $2.50 per student and $1.00 per student, respectively.

It’s a scary time to be a student. As of 2013, the national student debt has surpassed $1.2 trillion, and students are graduating with an average of $26,600 in debt. According to 2012 statistics, tuition has increased by 1,120 percent over the past 30 years, while state and federal grants have shrunk with the cost of inflation outpacing maximum benefits. Here at Rutgers, 80 percent of students receive state or federal aid. Students walking across their graduation stage can now expect their first student loan bill along with their diploma. While politicians in Washington, D.C., and Trenton look for places to make cuts, Rutgers students have a right to be anxious.

While students are getting priced out of education, university administrators carry on making decisions about our lives and our futures without consulting us. In an editorial The Targum published in December of 2013, the editorial board wrote that on issues like student debt, “But we cannot just blame the school or loan companies. We must also direct our attention to our state governments …” At the USSA and NJUS, we agree. We realize these trends will only be reversed if students are engaged in the process, and students will only get engaged if they have organizations to work with to make meaningful change.

That’s where we come in. At USSA and NJUS, we believe education is a right for all and should be accessible and affordable to anyone, regardless of socioeconomic or immigration status. Together, we’ve worked on voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, higher state and federal appropriations for education and tuition equity for those attending college under the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act. We’re actively building a future for higher education where student debt isn’t an expectation, and where students are trusted as the experts of their lives, and have decision-making power at every university level. We’re building a future where education is a right.

So please, go to bitballot.com/login/102 right now to cast your ballot and vote YES for USSA and NJUS!

Sophia Zaman is the president of the United States Student Association. She is a University of Massachusetts Amherst alumna.

By Sophia Zaman

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