Barchi presents Physical Master Plan at RUSA meeting

<p>Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi answers students’ concerns at the Rutgers University Student Assembly’s event, “Town Hall with President Robert Barchi” Feb. 26 at the Student Activities Center on College Avenue campus.</p>

Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi answers students’ concerns at the Rutgers University Student Assembly’s event, “Town Hall with President Robert Barchi” Feb. 26 at the Student Activities Center on College Avenue campus.

President Robert L. Barchi spent an hour at Thursday's RUSA meeting addressing student concerns ranging from on-campus sexual assault to the future of fraternities.

The meeting, held in the Student Activities Center, opened with a 20-minute PowerPoint presentation of the University’s Physical Master Plan, which showcased the construction that will occur at Rutgers within the next 20 years.

The physical changes include a pedestrian footbridge connecting the Livingston and College Avenue campuses, a Raritan River boardwalk, a new student center and an enhanced transportation system.

One of the major issues being solved by the plan is transportation, Barchi said. To speed up movement, each campus will feature a transportation hub, with food and amenities within a ten minute walk of that hub.

“We have this beautiful campus spread out over 2,700 acres and it’s not easily connectable,” Barchi said. “Many of you spend enormous amounts of time on buses.”

George Street would become a one-way southbound bus lane and Neilson Street a generally one-way northbound route. Livingston Campus and Busch Campus would be connected directly with a bus and bike lane to speed up the commute.

In the coming years, Barchi said the University will implement scheduling changes to control the overcrowded bus system. Students will be assigned housing based on their major and the classes they are likely to enroll in.

“If we did that, we could reduce ridership on the buses by 35 percent,” Barchi said.

After the Physical Master Plan presentation, students lined up behind the mic for a Q&A session with Barchi.

Justin Lucero, RUSA treasurer, questioned why Rutgers, unlike other institutions, does not publish its budget for the public to see.

But Barchi told students that this is a misconception.

“We have an audited financial report that is released each year,” he said. “They are available for the public on the web.”

Students also mentioned the athletic funding in 2014 was $36 million, and questioned how the administration justifies taking money from student fees to put toward sports such as football and men’s basketball.

Again, Barchi said this is another misconception. Athletic funding comes from athletic fees that are put toward 18 different sports, such as swimming or gymnastics, but not football or basketball.

“We have an athletics fee, and so do 80 percent of other AAU universities,” he said. “Football and men’s basketball are the only two sports that happen to generate money. They support everything else.”

A portion of the University’s budget has gone into creating the new honors college, which Barchi said will keep New Jersey students in the state and attract students from across the country.

The honors college has brought in 500 students that would be at another school otherwise, Barchi said. 

“We need to build the top, and raise our bottom standards,” Barchi said. “You learn from the people you interact with. The quality of the education reflects the quality of the students that go here.”

Barchi touched upon issues surrounding Counseling and Psychological Services, which has seen an increase in amount of students requiring its services. CAPS does not have a large enough staff to handle 66,000 students, Barchi said.

“(CAPS) is basically an emergency service,” Barchi said. “… More and more individuals are coming to college having been given counseling before they get here, but suddenly they are cut loose.”

Although CAPS does not currently have the capacity to properly serve all students seeking help, Barchi said the University is hiring more people for CAPS and improving the system.

“We are working to add to the number of visits that an individual can have within the system,” he said. “But it seems like a never ending race on a treadmill to keep up.”

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