July 23, 2019 | 71° F

Snooki's $32K appearance at Rutgers inspires New Jersey bill

Photo by Wikimedia Commons and Amy Nicole Gwaltney |

Snooki’s two-day appearance at Rutgers in 2011 inspired a bill that would cap the maximum payment for commencement speakers at $10 thousand.

Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi’s $32,000 appearance at Rutgers in 2011 has recently inspired a New Jersey bill, according to USA Today.

New Jersey Assemblyman John DiMaio (R-23) proposed a bill that would cap commencement speaker payments at $10,000.

Polizzi received $32,000 for her two-day visit to Rutgers, of which the University said none came from public funding. Instead, student fees and the University’s beverage contract with Coke helped foot the bill, according to NJ Advanced Media.

As a point of comparison, former President Barack Obama was offered $35,000 for his commencement speech last May, which he turned down.

The Rutgers University Programming Association (RUPA) sponsored the 2011 visit from Polizzi, and at the time, former University spokesman Ernest (E.J.) Miranda said, "The students use funds designated for student programming. The University does not censor the speakers students choose to invite to campus."

Because the bill would just restrict how much state funds go towards a commencement speaker, instances like Polizzi's appearance would not have been affected, because no state funds paid for her. 

DiMaio said the cost of Polizzi’s visit was “ludicrous and wasteful,” according to USA Today. He has been sponsoring this bill since her appearance in 2011, where she advised students to “study hard, but party harder.”

During her visit to the University where she spoke to a sold-out crowd of 500 students, she also said her inspiration in life was being tan and brought students on stage to show them how to design her signature "hair poof." 

Sen. Joseph Kyrillos (R-13) said of the bill, “College students and their families should know exactly what they’re paying for, before their money is taken … We are giving students the opportunity to create and pay for the college experience they want, instead of forcing them to pay for frivolous events that do not contribute to the quality education that they deserve," according to College USA Today.

Polizzi received $2,000 more than the 2011 commencement speaker, Nobel Peace Prize-Winning Author Toni Morrison.

The bill has passed New Jersey lawmakers 74-0, according to NJ Advanced Media.

Senior Director of University News and Media Relations Karen Smith said the University has a long-standing policy not to use state funds for commencement speakers. 

Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) has said that although he believes the bill is “what happens when you have a part-time legislature that is looking for things to do,” he will consider it if it lands on his desk. 

Chloe Dopico is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in political science and journalism and media studies. She is the Associate News Editor for The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @ChloeDopico for more.

Chloe Dopico

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