Students must control events

Dear students, University parents, alumni and University administration:

Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi of the reality television show "Jersey Shore" visited the University on March 31 as part of a comedy tour and performed two shows on Livingston campus. She was booked by the Rutgers University Programming Association (RUPA), which is the University's student programming board. Snooki was requested by approximately 2,000 students and paid for through student fees that are allocated directly to RUPA for programming events.

The merit and value of this program can certainly be debated. In addition, the price tag that was paid, $32,000, may make some of us uncomfortable and maybe even upset. While members of the Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA), the main student governing body at the University, are not all in agreement over this program or the amount that was paid, we still believe in RUPA's ability to enrich students' lives on campus through a wide variety of programs and events. If the past is any indication of its abilities, then RUPA will continue to go above and beyond its mission statement with lectures, documentaries, lessons, cultural programs and entertaining events. These programs provide a brief reprieve from all our studies, work and other responsibilities. We urge for caution — not to rush to judgment and have this event pigeonhole the content of all events that take place at the University. This event, regardless of one's stance, stands as a testament that our University still remains as one of the largest and most diverse universities in the United States. We must also be considerate of RUPA and most importantly the student body. Calling for drastic and detrimental actions to RUPA would reduce the variety and richness of programming at the University, only harming the student experience here.

RUSA is opposed to any thoughts or ideas of removing RUPA, having it controlled by our parents — or whoever is footing the bill for our education — or in any way censoring RUPA. We stand in solidarity with RUPA over the simple principle that students must be the ones to create the programs on campus. The conversation over the appropriateness of RUPA's events and spending of student fees should take place among the students, as we are the direct beneficiaries of any programming that takes place on campus. We must be allowed to decide what and whom we bring to campus.

What we, RUSA, recommend is: First, there is a student resolution to this issue. We are against parents, alumni or the University administration controlling the content of student programs. Second, that there is more transparency within RUPA when it comes to booking big-ticket items, excluding Rutgersfest. This can be achieved through stronger lines of communication between RUPA, RUSA and the entire student body. Larger surveys and more interaction through RUPA's website would help realize this goal.

Yousef Saleh is a School of Arts and Sciences senior and RUSA president. The above letter is co-signed by the RUSA Executive Board.


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