LETTER: RUSA members respond to student, staffer altercation
To The Editor:
As representatives elected by students in our respective bodies at Rutgers University, we strive to advocate on behalf of the students. On Wednesday afternoon, a staff member laid his hands upon a student during a closed session of the Board of Governors in Winants Hall at Rutgers--New Brunswick. This student attempted to read the resolution on a proposed tuition increase by accessing one of the board’s confidential binders. On this issue, we speak as students of the University community, not as representatives for any organization or body.
We denounce the actions of the staff member who laid his hands upon a student. Physical violence is never an appropriate response, and it has no place in an academic institution. Rutgers University strives to be a diverse institution that, as a whole, champions the idea of respect for its students. We must not only continue to promote this ideal, but also demonstrate it.
We denounce the actions of the student, who broke the rules by attempting to access confidential materials without proper authorization. We are bound by rules here at Rutgers, rules that we agree to by being part of the University community. As we seek to be respected as students, we must also respect the rules that govern us.
This incident is an unfortunate consequence of building tension between the students and the administration. This tension finally hit a breaking point on Wednesday afternoon and the remedy is a vote on the Board of Governors. The lack of this vote drastically weakens the student voice, especially in the discussions on setting tuition and fees. Our inclusive University Senate has criticized the budgeting policy, citing student input as “critical” to the process. Tension between students and University administrators and will naturally continue to build until these transparency and representation issues are resolved.
A staff member putting his hands on a student is entirely unacceptable, but it cannot distract us from the deeper issue at hand. Students are the lifeblood of every university, and likewise a large contributor to the budget. We deserve voting rights to effectively advocate for ourselves in the University administration. As we write this letter, Bill A2134 sits in the New Jersey Assembly Higher Education Committee. The bill proposes to have two student representatives to the Board of Governors, one of whom will be a voting member. As we continue to lobby New Jersey state legislators in support of A2134, we urge students to contact their legislators in an effort to achieve this vote. We will fight relentlessly to advocate for the entire student body, but we cannot achieve fair representation without your help.
We have created a petition to show unified student support. If you agree with our position, please visit the petition page here.
Justin Schulberg is the student body president of Rutgers--New Brunswick, Evan Covello is the student body vice president of Rutgers--New Brunswick and Anish Patel is the student representative to the Rutgers University Board of Governors.