“Going green” should benefit community, not administrators
It is completely and utterly obvious that the tuition that continues to increase is not being put to intentions of our interests as students. Instead of receiving increased services, the libraries are open fewer hours on the weekends, the dining halls have closed earlier, and the once frequent and accessible LX busses are now clogged with students — whereas students hoping to go back to Cook and Douglass campuses on the REXLs are nearly fighting for their lives to get home. This is not an exaggeration. Our academic departments are forced to drop important courses, which are needed to provide us with an education, and which we students need to graduate. We cannot be fooled by all this new renovation and the idea that the purchasing of the medical school means the quality of our education has gone up — we must stand up and say something.
The practices that the University has taken with our tuition dollars are unethical. We pay more and get nothing. While the University tells us that this is innovation and part of a strategic plan, the strategy that the University is taking will only make this a state university for the wealthy and limit education so that the less socioeconomically fortunate will suffer. Just a few weeks ago, there was a redevelopment groundbreaking ceremony on the College Avenue campus, and the University and its adverting affiliates informed us that what we were doing would be a step toward progress. Yet what they didn’t mention was that this was the breaking of the ground between classes. This was the widening of the wealth gap in New Jersey by taking steps to make higher education unaffordable for the rest of us. The dormitories to be built will far exceed the prices for an average on-campus single or double room. This will either force students to live in housing that is affordable and older — which might have asbestos in the ceilings — putting these students at risk for cancer. Or it will force students out of Rutgers University-New Brunswick, who cannot afford off-campus housing out of pocket and cannot access financial aid. Students coming from communities like Newark or Camden, or who, perhaps, fell into an unfortunate circumstance, will be denied the right — not the privilege — of education in the great state of New Jersey.
Yet, the damage has not been entirely stated. When we deny access to students who come from less wealthy communities by tearing down buildings that could have been more cheaply renovated, we are also breaking our pact to sustainability and the environment. We are going green in the way of letting the high-up administrators pocket our dollars and making this university highly inaccessible, rather than going green to save the environment and save ourselves. When we tear down these buildings, we tear down the future of so many students who rely on public education to help them give back to the community and have a place in the world. We tear down the historical and meaningful buildings that are integral to preserving this institution’s prestige. Instead of saving the land, these buildings and ourselves, we save those who take away from us and do us wrong. Now is the time to stand up and stop. Should we continue such practices, tuition will get so expensive that the lower and working classes will have no access to education, and the middle class will be fighting for managerial jobs in retail while the rich relish in the luxury and the comfort of their greed. We can take this stand toward a better world by taking measures to support higher education for all by preserving the land and the cause for education and innovation in the environment.
One of the ways we can go green environmentally is by banning fracking from New Brunswick and standing up to the oil companies that we invest so heavily in by finally divesting. This is our future and our time to change what will get increasingly worse. The grace of our actions can save our university should we open up our minds to consciousness and see the future. I ask my fellow students, faculty and staff at Rutgers University to stand with me against the commercial green and go green in a way that will profit our community with pastures of rich education, knowledge and hope.
Kaitlin D’Agostino is a class of 2012 University alumna.