Rutgers standards and priorities must be re-evaluated

According to the Targum’s Sept. 29 editorial “Big Ten, big bucks and big outrage,” Rutgers plans to spend $64.1 million over the next year on the Athletic Department in hopes of significant revenue. However, with this drastic action that is estimated to cost $183 million over the next nine years, according to economics professor Mark Killingsworth, it has shown its students and the watching world around it that it has lost sight of its priorities. Rutgers has shamelessly been using the façade of collective progression while clearly singling out athletics as far more important than any other department.

Not only does this decision point to Rutgers’ ignorance to recognize the elasticity of the sports business as well as the financial torrents that are caused by common administrative blunders (which Rutgers seems to have unique luck with), it points to Rutgers’ own failure to look at what’s really happening inside its classrooms. Clearly, the administration hasn’t analyzed the flaws of its own academic system — one that is supposedly designed to nurture morally upright intellectuals who are dedicated to service and the spreading of knowledge. Instead of doing things to propel an atmosphere that allows for the proper upbringing of these individuals, such as hiring tenured professors and funding research, it is avoiding the obvious notion that investment should be put where it is needed most. Rutgers has allocated hard-earned student tuition fees to an area that represents a mere extracurricular and luxury to most students on campus. Janine Purcaro, the Athletic Department’s chief financial officer, said last year when describing the financial plan, “Five or six years out, could I be wrong in my assumptions? Yes.”

This isn’t an attack on sports. It is a criticism of Rutgers’ failed recognition of the legitimate and urgent need for higher academic and intellectual standards on campus. The administration is once again making a mistake that may haunt us for the next few decades. To cut funding that fulfills the fundamental functions of a university simply to feed an excessive and unstable plan for profit is a mockery of the pursuit of knowledge every institution stands for. As Chris Hedges puts it in his book “The Empire of Illusion” when describing UC Berkeley’s athletic department, “Education, at least an education that challenges assumptions and teaches students to be self-critical, has been sacrificed in a Faustian bargain.”

So I urge all students who call Rutgers home to make known and fight the increasing gap between us and our profit-seeking administration, which has seemed to forget the real purpose of our presence.

Sidra Zia is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in physics with a minor in astronomy and African, Middle Eastern and South Asian languages and literatures.

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