Rutgers student assembly hosts Rutgers President Robert Barchi
Medical amnesty is a program that Rutgers University should implement, University President Robert L. Barchi said.
At the Rutgers University Student Assembly town hall meeting on March 3, Barchi fielded student questions about the sale of alcohol in stadiums, racial diversity on campus and the safety of pedestrians.
Barchi was “cautiously supportive” of the Resolution for RUSA to Support the Selling of Alcohol in Rutgers Athletic Stadiums. The Jan. 28 resolution, based on a similar program at the University of Maryland that projects $500,000 in revenue for the 2015-2016 academic year, would need to be researched before being implemented, he said.
“I would really like to see some broader data that suggests that their results are similar or have been replicated elsewhere,” he said. “(But) I think we have to be very, very careful because there are a lot of folks … who would not be happy about hearing about such a change.”
The change would have to be rooted in reducing risk and health impact to students while producing revenue used to fund athletics and Counseling, Alcohol and Other Drug and Psychiatric Services, he said. If the program jumped these hurdles, it would still be put through a trial.
“I think we have to start small, and small might be the (Rutgers Athletic Center) rather than the football stadium, and see how it goes,” he said.
RUSA openly supports the program, and Barchi said Rutgers Athletics supports the initiative. The program’s fate rests on the “temperatures of various constituencies,” meaning alumni, students and the Board of Governors will play a role as well.
A RUSA report on medical amnesty received warmer support from the president.
“I'm surprised to find that it wasn't already the law of the land,” he said. “I put a policy like this in place with (The University of Pennsylvania) in 1999, and it was kind of cutting edge then. It's not cutting edge anymore — this is sort of a standard play.”
While parts of the report would require discussion, he said medical amnesty for those who call 911, identify themselves and stay at the scene is “absolutely sound.”
“I can't have a student think for five minutes whether that person not breathing is going to get a 911 call because they happen to have drugs on them. That can't happen. That's not going to happen,” he said. “So I support that report.”
Students can expect reports from committees dealing with diversity on campus to come out before the end of the semester, he said. The Committee on Enslaved and Disenfranchised Populations will provide interim comments this semester, and release a full report in the Fall 2016 semester.
Barchi also announced the launch of Rutgers Health System, which is slated to be one of the top 10 largest academic health systems in the nation.
With the merger of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital System and the Saint Barnabas Medical Center, the University’s health system is already the largest in the state, he said.
He did not expand on what the Rutgers Health System would include.
When asked a question about pedestrian safety spurred by a recent car accident on Nichol Avenue that sent two students to the hospital, Barchi said that while issues with infrastructure may exist, part of the issue lies with students recklessly crossing roads.
“I come home coming out of College Avenue, and I come to work coming down George street. I can't tell you the number of times that I've almost hit somebody,” he said. “It's not the crosswalks … It's coming out between cars, it's jumping out between two busses.”
The University president then suggested RUSA create an educational program on jaywalking.
The infrastructural issues on Nichol Avenue are being addressed, said Kenneth Cop, chief of the Rutgers University Police Department. Improvements are also planned for Ryders Lane.
Changes for both roads may take some time to be implemented. The roads are under the jurisdiction of the city, and working with the city takes time, he said.
Barchi did not explain whether he would donate his $97,000 bonus to charity, like he did with his first bonus.
“My wife and I do our philanthropic activities in private. You can check our returns if you like, we make significant donations to the University every year ... and we will continue to do that,” he said.
After the town hall, the assembly passed two pieces of legislation slated for the day’s agenda.
RUSA introduced the “Bill to Establish Water Fill Stations in Campus Dorms.” The bill calls for higher quality water fountains to be installed in the Cook-Douglass residence halls.
Derek Howard Lecker, one of the bill’s authors, said the return investment per student would be $6.38.
Lecker said a combination of New Brunswick’s poor water quality and poor pipe maintenance have caused water fountains to become detrimental to student health.
RUSA President Matthew Panconi, a Rutgers Business School senior, said there is “plenty of room in the budget” for this type of upgrade.
The “Bill to Sponsor Purchase of Water Bottles for NSO,” authored by School of Arts and Sciences sophomore Nivedh Rajesh, called for the purchase of 9000 water bottles for the new student orientation. He said that this type of public relations campaign will boost RUSA’s presence among the first-year students.
The bottles will be paid for by RUSA’s operating expenses and will not require additional money to be allocated.
Nikita Biryukov is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in journalism and media studies. He is an associate news editor for The Daily Targum. Follow him on Twitter @nikitabiryukov_ for more.
Bushra Hasan is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student majoring in cell biology and neuroscience. She is a staff writer for The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @Hasanabanana for more.