Students deserve answers for Snooki, Morrison

Having just transferred to the University, this is my first semester at the State University of New Jersey. I thought the University was a good choice as it is rated pretty high on most ranking lists. Apparently the school does not think that way of itself. With the Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi story came some revealing information. The University actually had to pay for a commencement speaker this year. Is the school not good enough to attract comedians, intellectuals or entrepreneurs without having to pay them? Does the school not have any successful or famous alumni that want to be honored by speaking at their alma mater?s commencement? The big story this past weekend was that Snooki was paid more than the commencement speaker. The University released a statement explaining that the money spent on Snooki was from student fees. The Rutgers University Programming Association (RUPA) hired her, and there was admittedly no educational purpose to having her. What really bothered me though was that a commencement speaker at a good state school was getting paid at all. The fact that Snooki was paid $32,000 dollars for doing nothing bothered me too. I don't agree with paying celebrities to come to the University, especially if they have nothing insightful to share. I wish my fees were spent more wisely.

But why must the University pay for a commencement speaker? The school justified having Snooki by saying it was RUPA that hired her. What is their excuse for hiring a commencement speaker? Aside from the waste of money, is the University not good enough to attract a qualified speaker? Who chooses the speaker? Whoever you are, can you explain why one must be hired? While I'm at it, can someone explain why I have to pay for fees that are used on foolishness? Why don't I have a choice to not pay these fees? Why does a school organization have the power to use $32,000 of student fees on entertainment for a couple of thousand students? I pay a fortune for my education, and when I park in an empty parking lot at 8:30 p.m. I get an $85 ticket. If the school needs every penny, then how is there enough of my leftover fees lying around to be spent on hiring Snooki?

I do appreciate having famous or influential people speaking at the University. I've gone to hear speakers brought in by the Eagleton Institute, and I've heard Spike Lee was at the University to share his insight about the art of film and how he became successful. Maybe I was naïve, but I did not know people were paid to speak to students. I thought they did it for fun, to share their thoughts, to influence the future of the world. Even if they are paid though, the school should not be spending students' money on any speaker more than a nominal fee for travel, etc. I'm willing to forgo having these speakers come to the University in exchange for my fees, and I'm sure many other students would agree. I'm not sure what I'm more upset about — having to pay useless fees or that my new school had to hire a commencement speaker this year. Either way, I'm sure there is some reason, however weak, why both were done. Can an explanation be given? Can someone in charge take the time to publish an op-ed justifying his decision?

Neal Lang is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in political science.


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