July 23, 2019 | 67° F

Barchi: "Vote. I don't care what the choice looks like."

Photo by Georgette Stillman |

University President Robert L. Barchi addressed the Rutgers community on Thursday night at the weekly RUSA meeting, answering questions and discussing the state of the school. He also told every student to vote on Tuesday, regardless of who they vote for.

With four days until the general election, University President Robert L. Barchi told a crowd of students at the Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) meeting to go out and vote.

“Vote. I don’t care what the choice looks like,” Barchi said.

Barchi said he "fully expect(s)" there to be no protests regardless of the election's outcome in response to a question about potential riots when one side's candidate loses. 

Students should engage in a civil conversation about the election. He referred to an Oct. 25 incident in which pro-Republican nominee Donald Trump slogans were written in chalk around the Livingston and College Avenue campuses.

"That’s why we have a campus where free speech is the norm," he said.

Two days after the election, the school will celebrate its 250th birthday, with fireworks over the Raritan and a party at Deiner Park, he said. 

"(I want to) not make (the anniversary) a glitzy celebration, but a thoughtful celebration," he said. 

The day, titled "A Day of Revolutionary Thinking,” will include 80 alumni presenting seminars on campus throughout the day. Some alumni will present in normal classrooms, while others will be in special locations. Each location can be found online.

The University is also changing its student experience by modifying the housing and busing program. Rutgers has the largest on-campus residential program in the country, with 19,000 beds, some of which  Barchi said "are 200 years old."

The current issues Rutgers is facing with their residential programs are how to restock and upgrade its facilities, as well as how to improve living conditions in general.

Improving bus routes would also help enhance on-campus experiences, he said.

“It’s a challenge for students to get from class to class,” he said. “You could spend one hour trying to get from Busch to Livi even though it’s a stone-throw away.”

Buses are limited in their routes and speed, so Barchi established a committee to brainstorm solutions to these problems.

One problem was that the first-year students were assigned housing, classrooms and course loads by different committees, which is “not optimized” for the students’ benefit. In response, Barchi said the committee put together a computer program this year that would minimize movement between campuses, leading to a decreased number of passengers by 8 percent.

Barchi has also proposed creating highways alongside Route 18 for new high-speed buses to shuttle students quickly between campuses. These new roads would be exclusively for Rutgers buses and bikers.

The two main areas of traffic are on Route 18 between Busch and Livingston campuses, and the bridge between Douglass and College Avenue campuses, he said. This new system would make the bus routes more efficient.

The new system might especially help as the University has faced recent expansions, notably the creation of the new health system, which is projected to be the biggest academic health system in the state, including 11 acute care units and three pediatrics units.

Barchi said to “look out” for the development of the system if students are studying the health professions. Last year, the University was named second in the nation for undergraduate healthcare education.

The University is currently in transition as Chancellor Richard L. Edwards is stepping down. The search committee for the new chancellor includes Barchi and RUSA President Justin Schulberg.

The search cannot be discussed at the moment, Barchi said. 

"If we don’t (maintain confidentiality), we won’t get the best candidate,” Barchi said. "If (Schulberg talks about the candidates), he'll have to be shot."

Bushra Hasan is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in cell biology and neuroscience. She is a correspondent for The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @bushrafhasan for more.

Bushra Hasan

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