Dear Board Members,
At last year’s tuition hearing, I spoke about my personal story. Apparently that did not have that much of an impact because you decided the tuition increase over a conference call last summer (without the student trustees present), you continue to silence and dismiss students at the board meetings, and you continue shift 100% of the responsibility to the state.
As you can see, I’ve rallied up some more students. You are no longer going to get away with these silly decisions that end up costing individual students thousands of dollars, that end up adding more and more fees to our bills.
Asking for lower tuition is not synonymous with cutting faculty salaries; it is not synonymous with asking for lower quality education; and it is not synonymous with hoping the state will give us more money. (Trust me, I am giving the state just as much of a hard time as I am giving you all, so don’t say I am misguided).
I find it outright insulting that you are trying to justify the tuition increase by showing how MSU is one of the cheapest schools in New Jersey. Although we are one of the cheapest schools, we had one of the largest tuition increases last year. So it is not going to be the cheapest much longer. Stop blaming others and take responsibility. If you do want to continue blaming the state, then you need to be doing more to hold the state accountable.
Additionally, while it is true that the state is partially to blame and that our governor selfishly strives to squeeze the poor for more and more money while giving the wealthy individuals and corporations tax breaks, there is still some frivolous spending going on at MSU because of the administrations’ lack of transparency.
We can save money here at MSU by chopping from the top. Some things we could have saved money on are our presidents’ $125,000 bonus (most presidents donate their bonuses to scholarships), the ill and nontransparent decision making, and the privatization of services on campus that are hidden inside added fees.
Two great examples of the administrations’ lack of transparency and disregard for student input can be found in today’s agenda. The first is the Pedestrian Promenade. I asked around about this for quite some time before I discovered what it is. For those of you who don’t know, the pedestrian promenade is a walkway that they plan on building along the ridge parallel to Valley Road so that they can take prospective tours along a scenic route overlooking the NYC skyline. To bring in more “students” (or should I say sources of revenue). This fancy walkway is going to cost the university around 2.5 million dollars.
Let’s stop and think for a second. We have sidewalks deteriorating all over campus. It is getting more and more difficult for students--especially those who need wheelchairs and assistance getting around—to walk on the preexisting sidewalks.
[The administration interrupts me right here and tries to cut me off, but I continue.]
Or we can think about it this way. 2.5 million dollars can do a lot for students. It can give each student of the 18,000 students $138 dollars for textbooks or another fee. It can give 100 students free tuition for their entire 4 years at MSU. 2.5 million dollars can do a lot of things and should not be given over so easily to a project so useless as the pedestrian promenade.
If the administration really cares about student input they wouldn’t stop at consulting the BOT student representatives or the SGA committees. They would call for a referendum and see if the students at MSU really want a fancy walkway that is going to cost them 2.5 million dollars.
The Overlook at Great Notch:
Another great example is the overlook at the great notch, where we are planning on putting the School of Business. Two years ago, the university paid a company 2 million to design a new school of business building that would have gone on the tennis courts. Now the university changes its mind with the argument that we can’t afford an entire new building. So they wasted 2 million on the designs and are now asking for another million to redesign the overlook building. This brings the total cost of designs to 3 million dollars.
It gets worse. We will be renting the overlook with a long-term lease of 21 years for the initial term. At what price? It is not listed. This will be left to the discretion of the president. However, I decided to do my own research.
A quick search on the internet says that at the rate of $28/SQ FT, the 151,000 square feet that MSU will be renting at the cost of 4 million a year. Over the span of 21 years, this will cost the university over 88 million. This far exceeds the 35 million being proposed for the building of the Media and Communications building.
So, in the long term, we will not be saving money. Especially when you start consider the additional shuttle services that will be driving students to and from the overlook.
The final message that I leave you all with—-trustee members, students, and faculty—-is that we need to hold the decision makers accountable at this university. These people rule the university. And they are appointed by the governor. Many of them have their own agendas. Some of them do not have the students’ best interests in mind. They all need to be told by the students how WE want OUR university to be run—democratically and fairly. If our tuition and fees continue to rise, our intolerance for the actions and decisions being made here will increase 10 times that amount.