After 3 years, organizers work to reinstate Rutgers Student Union
Until roughly three years ago, the Rutgers Student Union was active for a decade, playing an instrumental role in getting undocumented students access to in-state tuition. The organization has since fallen through due to a lack of interest, but two students are working to bring it back to life.
Evan Klein, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student, and Kylie Rogers, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences sophomore, the group’s organizers, held their first meeting on March 8, where they discussed their plans of campaigning and recruiting to revive the union.
“Rutgers Student Union wants to be the voice of students here on campus when it comes to getting the school to spend money on us,” Klein said. “We want to highlight and make really clear places where we believe money should be spent, either in great amounts or no money spent at all, just to make student life better.”
The money Klein is referring to is Rutgers’ nearly $800 million in unrestricted reserves.
In an interview last September, Rutgers spokesperson E.J. Miranda told The Daily Targum that unrestricted reserves are accumulated over time and designated by the University to support specific programs ranging from funding education to student activities and agricultural experiment station activities.
The organization plans to urge the administration to look into allocating some of its reserves to the union’s causes.
“It’s undeniable that there is money to be spent and there are places where money should be spent. And when we are living in a place where there is money that should be spent and money to be spent, there is clearly something wrong,” he said.
Klein said that the group will serve as a way for all Rutgers students, regardless of political opinions or ideologies, to come together and affect change to better the lives of all students on campus.
Being that Rutgers has a primarily progressive student body, Klein said some students with more conservative ideologies may feel shunned or turned off from most politically leaning campus organizations because they likely consist largely of people with differing opinions from their own.
“(The reason ) why Rutgers Student Union is unique is because we are catering entirely to self-interest. Whether you are a conservative or a liberal, you don’t like taking cold showers, you don’t like it when your facilities are falling apart, you don’t like it when your tuition goes up,” he said. “These are things that go across party lines.”
Klein said some main focuses will begin by addressing things like increasing parking availability on the College Avenue campus, improving dining halls and shortening response times for maintenance issues.
“Anything from facility management to keeping tuition low,” he said.
While the Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) works to address issues concerning the student body as well, Klein said that Rutgers Student Union may be able to address issues that RUSA cannot.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect and the work that they do is still important, but I think that they get kind of pigeonholed by being so intertwined with the rest of the University, like the administration,” he said.
Rogers said that the organization will provide a good platform for students who have not been involved in any kind of activism before.
“When it’s something that doesn’t directly affect you, it’s hard to get people to want to expend the effort and become involved,” Rogers said.
She said that a collective mission will help bring students together.
“It’ll be really cool to have something where we, as more liberal kids, and the conservative people as well will be able to get together and just have one big goal of improving student life for everybody,” she said. “Everyone wants their lives to get better, everyone wants their living arrangements to be better — it’s pretty simple.”
Stephen Weiss is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in philosophy. He is an associate news editor for The Daily Targum.