March 20, 2019 | 28° F

After divisive presidential campaigns, Barchi admits his job has become more difficult

Photo by Edwin Gano |

File Photo | President Robert. L Barchi said in an on-the-record interview with The Daily Targum on Tuesday that making decisions as a college president has become more difficult in the months leading up to and after the presidential election. 

Since Donald J. Trump won the presidential election a little over a month ago, Rutgers has seen a watchlist emerge targeting liberal professors and student protests calling on the administration to designate the school a "sanctuary campus."

Similar politically charged scenarios have played out at universities across the country, from Muslim students at New York University allegedly finding the word "Trump!" written on the door of their prayer space, to an instructor at a California college telling her students that Trump's victory was an "act of terrorism."

And college administrators have had to deal with the blowback.

In an on-the-record interview with The Daily Targum on Tuesday, Rutgers President Robert. L Barchi discussed how decision-making for the college president has become more difficult in the months leading up to and following the "divisive" 2016 presidential election.

"Everything becomes either politically correct or not politically correct or ‘Let’s have this person thrown or that person fired or whatever’ at the drop of a hat," he said. "We don’t tend to sit down and say, ‘Okay let's argue about it, let's think about it, let's have a conversation about it, then we’ll make a decision.’ It was much more so that in the past."

Barchi, who has held various academic leadership positions for nearly two decades, added that "Anything we say, there will (undoubtedly) be someone on the other side who feels we have in some way infringed their rights or their position by taking the position we have chosen to espouse."

The administration, he said, aims to find solutions that honor the University's values and that benefit the greatest number of students.

Last week, a group of students protested at the Board of Governors meeting, calling on the administration to designate Rutgers a "sanctuary campus" for undocumented immigrants. Barchi instead opted for the phrase "safe haven" and reiterated the University's commitment to protecting the rights of students up to the point where they are required to turn information over by a subpoena, warrant or court order.

"(The campaigns have) made (decision-making) more difficult in the past months," Barchi said. "I see a lot of concern, a lot of fear, a lot of genuine ‘Whats happening to me or what’s going to happen to us?’ than anything I’ve seen in recent years. It has to do with the perception of policy changes that might happen, they might not. It has to do with the rhetoric that's been going on during the campaigns. It’s the most divisive campaign that I’ve ever witnessed."

Avalon Zoppo is the managing editor for The Daily Targum. She is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in political science.

Avalon Zoppo

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