On Jan. 2, Profs with senior standing received an email from Drew Tinnin, Associate Vice President for Student Life, though the signature was from Jenna Day, SGA’s AVP of University Advancement. The body of the email contained a request for donations totaling $4,000 from the graduating class of 2020, to go toward scholarships for the incoming freshman class of 2024. This was even incentivized by offering a “spirit cord” for everyone who donated at least $20.20.
Let’s review some numbers, though: tuition and fees for one semester at Rowan University currently costs $7,000; the absolute cheapest option for housing is $4,157 for a single semester; non-guaranteed parking in the Rowan Boulevard lot is $185 for one semester; SGA has a fund with $8,000 for scholarships only open to SGA members; and SGA clearly has some level of discretionary spending, since the owl statue in the middle of campus was a $150,000 charge.
There’s clearly no shortage of money flowing within Rowan University. So why does SGA – or any institution at this university, for that matter – think that it’s appropriate to ask students to foot the bill for other students’ tuition? After four years of nickel-and-diming financially vulnerable students, one would think that tuition money might accrue in a way that would render this senior gift unneeded, by going to students most in need.
But scholarship funds clearly aren’t unneeded. Because clearly, to the financial control board, that $150,000 was better spent on that owl statue. (This paragraph is sarcastic, if that does not come across.)
This makes The Whit wonder what our university administration thinks that we students actually want or need. Tuition is bloated, but it seems to be going toward statues and colorful folding chairs outside of Robinson Green. While no formal poll has been taken, it can be assumed that most students at a state school would rather leave in four years with less debt, than spend those four years surrounded by expensive lawn ornaments.
A more affordable education is possible. A university where adjuncts are paid a living wage, where EMS is compensated for their service saving lives and where parking is free – these are all also possible. It’s frankly bizarre that the burden of fixing our current dystopia is placed upon those of us most harmed by it.
If every student had free tuition subsidized by whatever mechanism materializes money for such discretions, it might make sense to crowdsource for other students’ housing expenses. But in our current reality, students already give so much to this university just to be able to attend. Does it not seem tone-deaf to try to guilt us into another shake-down for a good cause that the university itself can obviously afford?
To clarify, this is not the fault of the individual students within SGA. They’re all in the same boat as everyone else, having to pay the same fees for the same basic necessities. But class consciousness among students, and a subsequent class solidarity, is needed to tip the scales to a more equitable model of wealth distribution. The Whit urges SGA representatives for various clubs to not pass resolutions just to see meetings end more quickly, but because they believe that those resolutions will be a positive good for the entire Rowan community.
Let’s stop guilting students into actively subsidizing the educations of other students. Let’s pressure the people with the money to do that.
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