Vote to increase funds for NJUS and USSA in RUSA referendum
Now, no one should have to remind the student body of the New Brunswick-Piscataway campuses of Rutgers University that there’s a crisis in the nation’s higher educational system — a crisis that’s playing out even at our own esteemed University. Certainly, anyone who has had to take out a loan of a couple thousand of dollars or had to scour the Internet for scholarships perceives that there’s a pervasive and entrenched crisis of affordability and accessibility in our University. If anyone has experiences themselves or their friends of having to drop out or take a semester off to work and save up money, surely we know there’s this crisis. When students from low-income communities throughout our state, places that are disproportionately black and Latino, see their peers having to return back home broken and defeated because they can’t pay their tuition and their aid has been cut — then there is a crisis. When we see student groups like United Students Against Sweatshops or the faculty union have to jump through hurdle after hurdle to pressure University President Robert L. Barchi and his administration at the top to try to get them to listen to the University’s most primary beneficiaries, only to have their appeals fall unto dead ears, there is surely a crisis. What many may not know, though, is that there is something that can be done.
New Jersey United Students is a student association founded some three years ago with their mission being a champion for a quality, affordable and accessible education in our very own Garden State. The United States Student Association, founded in 1947, prides itself on being both the largest and oldest student-led organization in the nation and dedicates itself to building student leaders at all levels of government, even in Washington, D.C., where it’s headquartered. These are both organizations with respectable records in achieving and campaigning on behalf of the principles they hold. NJUS, in a mere three years of its existence, has helped pass the first student-ran legislative bill in decades, the New Jersey DREAM Act for undocumented students and as even succeeded in campaigning for the Building Our Future Bond Act — winning approximately $750 million for the states’ two- and four-year colleges and universities. And as for USSA, it has been invited by Obama’s Department of Education in negotiations over student lending and other federal practices in regards to uplifting the students of this republic.
All this letter is asking of those voting in the Rutgers University Student Assembly’s elections this week is to vote in favor of a simple $3.50 fee per semester to be added to our tuition bills, very much how New Jersey Public Interest Research Group is funded. In a state that under Gov. Chris Christie stands third to last in terms of funding higher education, and whose students are saddled with some of the highest rates of tuition and debt in the nation, supporting the great work that NJUS and USSA do is a great step forward in solving our crisis in higher education.
José Sanchez is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in history and political science. He is a Daily Targum columnist. His column, “The Champagne Socialist,” normally runs on alternate Tuesdays.