A public appeal to President Barchi
Editorial | Student demands must be addressed in coming weeks
It comes with great surprise and disappointment for us to hear that members of the University student body have been unsuccessfully competing for a chance to discuss pressing issues with University President Robert L. Barchi. With urgent issues on the table like instate tuition fees, the window of time to discuss these issues is rapidly closing amid countless excuses and stalling from the University president’s office. In order to fulfill his promises of engaging students, it is necessary that Barchi find the time to meet with student leaders in the next two weeks.
It has come to our attention that for the past few weeks, Rutgers University Student Assembly members have been trying all avenues to get in touch with Barchi, each being met with a dead-end or runaround. Students have not been able to establish direct contact with him or even get past a secretarial response, which is effectively stalling the necessary attention the student body needs on time-sensitive issues.
“This isn’t the first time that RUSA has attempted to have some kind of meeting with President Barchi. We’ve invited him on several different occasions to actually speak to the RUSA assembly,” said John Connelly, RUSA president.
One of those occasions was an event that was promoted as having the University president in attendance. The event was ultimately a disappointment to the many attendees that expected to see him. Connelly himself has never met with Barchi since he assumed his position last spring.
“I feel like there’s a recurring trend of saying [the University president] wants to meet with student leaders,” Connelly says, “and then when the student leaders show up at his office, they get a runaround.”
The most recent response that RUSA received from Barchi’s office was a notice that the University President is booked for weeks to come.
The following day Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., tweeted about a meeting with Barchi at Old Queens, according to Spencer Klein, president of the New Jersey United Students. It is understandable that Barchi would feel the need to meet with legislators like Pallone, but it is also disconcerting that he is not making time to meet with his own constituents first. Doing so would greatly benefit the University student body’s agenda on a state level. Otherwise, it can be assumed that Barchi is sending a message that he is not interested and doesn’t have the time for students’ concerns. We believe that it is crucial for the University president to keep up a direct line of communication with students, and Barchi’s recent actions fall short of what the student body needs.
Among the issues that RUSA wants to discuss with Barchi are upcoming tuition hikes, debt inheritance from the UMDNJ takeover, the new strategic development plan — which we believe has had very little student engagement — and most importantly the status of in-state tuition for undocumented citizens.
It is problematic that the student body still does not know where Barchi stands on the instate tuition bill. RUSA is hoping to get Barchi’s signature on the bill, which would allow undocumented New Jersey students to pay instate tuition fees. It is necessary for Barchi to meet with RUSA within the next two weeks, in order for RUSA to have enough time to take direct action in the case of Barchi’s lack of support.
“There are students in the state of New Jersey who are getting ready to take on the next four years of their lives and need to know very soon if they can actually enroll in Rutgers University and whether or not will be able to afford it,” said Connelly. “President Barchi has yet to announce whether or not they can actually be a part of the university.”
Frankly, RUSA is supposed to represent the student body to the University president, and Barchi is not allowing enough opportunity for the needs of the students to be met. One of the biggest expectations of Barchi since taking office has been his direct engagement and collaboration with students. With this latest correspondence, or lack thereof, it is clear that Barchi leaves much to be desired of his attention to students’ concerns. In order for Barchi to properly display his intentions of reflecting the needs of the student body, it is necessary for him to arrange a meeting with our student leaders, posthaste.
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