EDITORIAL: Insensitive tuition increase reflects U.'s decline
Students must shed indifference, shift Rutgers away from regressive path
We cannot simply withdraw into a dark age of disconnection and disengagement. We are no longer just the beneficiaries of the generations before us waiting for a seat at the table, and we are no longer mere bystanders to the political discourse in this country. We are members of the Rutgers community, a microcosm of the world in which we cannot blindly inherit the corrosive trends of our declining direction.
As Eleanor Roosevelt insisted, it is in these small places, in the microcosms that reflect society, that progress is made. She had said, “Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”
It is here at the campuses of Rutgers that we must create the future we wish to see. We must not accept changes for uniformity's sake if the stringent uniform mold is one of injustice. We cannot submit to tradition if such a tradition results in the disregard for the disenfranchisement and systematic disadvantages of many.
Though the nation has begun to feel the strangling sensation of student debt, recognizing the debt crisis that grips our generation, Rutgers administrators have once again decided to make their annual increase in tuition and fee costs. Desensitized to the realities of the students, without compassion and courage, the University’s decision-makers entry the fray once more to blindly follow, rather than justly lead.
The American reality is one of financial instability and micro-hardships. Any type of tuition increase puts a new strain on a family’s budget, a greater burden on a student. That increase means less money for food, that extra cost means less money for living expenses, that extended debt means more accrued interest and all the while the snowball rolls on, economic tensions rise, the shackles get tighter, the mobility weakens and all we are told is that other universities exact the same burdens so it is fine.
In agreement with Jeffrey Dowd, a professor in the Department of Sociology, we should not accept a comparison to others’ abuse of students as the justification of our reflective shameful practices. Dowd had said at the Board of Governors meeting, on the tuition increase, that the University’s presentation relied on comparing Rutgers’ tuition to other institutions, but the goal should be to make a statement by not raising tuition. Rutgers’ administrators must re-evaluate where we, as a University, choose to lead and where we choose to follow.
When we choose to follow the national trend of exploitation of part-time lecturers, we decide to take part in the national corruption of higher education rather than leading in the fortification of the values of education with investments in tenure-track opportunities and financial security of educators.
When we choose to follow a path of crippling homogeneity and our faculty diversity declines, we decide to embark down a familiar path of exclusion and inequality rather than leading down a path of representation and empowerment.
As Robert Kennedy said, “This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease.”
This University demands our will to stand steadfast in righteousness, our imagination to envision the progress we must seek, our courage to act in defiance and our appetite for the blazing of a new path. We cannot wash our hands of the regressive trends of Rutgers. We cannot accept the self-defeating belief that what is, is right and that things will not be changed by the powerful who wish things to remain the same. A year of civic engagement, semesters of empathetic action, must follow the impending summer.
In order to have the state’s public financial commitments to, at the very least, increase with inflation, we must act. If we want greater transparency regarding faculty sexual harassment investigations and the University’s financial investments that account for 38% of our $615 million in unrestricted reserves, we must act.
We must come back ready to act.
The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 151st editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.