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EDITORIAL: With so many issues at Rutgers last year, what has changed?

Issues brought up to the Rutgers administration must be followed up on.

The 153rd editorial board reflects on the most important issues covered during their term. – Photo by Samantha Cheng

The next editorial you read, if you do indeed read them, will be written by an entirely new set of students as the 154th editorial board settles in. As the 153rd editorial board of The Daily Targum, we have spent the last year writing about issues ranging from vaping to Halloween to heartbreak.

In our last editorial, we would like to reflect on three editorials that we found to be most relevant to our lives at Rutgers and report on what changes have happened since their publication. 

At the beginning of the Fall 2021 semester, Editor-in-Chief Hayley Slusser and Managing Editor Madison McGay published a special report explaining that much of the CARES Act funding provided to Rutgers for the benefit of students had been distributed in opaque and backward ways, leaving some students with no financial support and everyone confused at the allocation process.

We all remember receiving suspicious-looking emails and wildly differing amounts of money. Our editorial called for increased transparency and appropriate use of funding. The question we now have is whether Rutgers made any changes in these areas. 

The answer is not so clear. Students did receive larger amounts of money in the weeks that followed the special report, but how this decision was reached has still not been made clear to the student body or faculty.

The Rutgers Office of Financial Aid is still very much a black box. We have never known how financial aid decisions were made, and now, in the wake of a pandemic, coronavirus disease (COVID-19) aid has also been distributed with no clear guidelines or criteria. We continue to ask that Rutgers increase their transparency in financial aid decisions. 

In mid October 2021, Rutgers—Camden faculty underwent turbulent times, bringing to light pay disparities across different campuses. At the time, Camden faculty were paid markedly less than fellow faculty members at other Rutgers campuses with no real justification for this difference in compensation.

Faculty had brought their complaints before the Board of Governors and University President Jonathan Holloway promised, “I am determined that we will address pay equity concerns in a way such that you will not have to come back to the Board of Governors.” Have these concerns been addressed? 

An article from Nov. 17 suggests that no, they have not. Jim Brown, an associate professor of English, claims that, “the administration needs to reimagine (its) priorities.” This inaction is not new. Camden faculty have been pushing for changes since New Jersey passed a new pay equity law in 2018, and in almost four years nothing has changed.

Well, one thing has changed: College of Arts and Sciences Dean Howard Marchitello was fired after his “public criticism of ongoing intercampus and pay equity issues seen by the Rutgers—Camden campus.” 

In a similar vein, on Nov. 19 we asked that dining hall employees be fairly compensated for their work at $15 an hour. The average dining hall employee still only makes approximately a $12 hourly wage. 

While the petition started by Sid Srivastava has garnered approximately 100 more signatures, bringing it to 1,000, it still has not reached its goal of 1,500. Rutgers dining hall employees have continued to work to serve students meal after meal, even though their work has not been valued by means of a fair wage. 

While we acknowledge that change is slow-coming, more should have been done, and must be done moving forward in these three areas, all of which Rutgers has some control over. Dining hall employees and Camden faculty must be fairly compensated, and students deserve clear answers about the process that governs their COVID-19 financial aid. 

It is disheartening to see little improvement in these three fields, but that does not mean these issues should be swept under the rug or ignored. You, as Rutgers students, must continue to push for change and hold administrators accountable for their decisions and any lack of transparency in making those choices. We encourage the 154th editorial board to continue covering these issues and wish them luck in their coming term. 

The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 153rd editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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