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Rutgers Board of Governors hears public input on tuition, housing, dining costs for next year

On Thursday night, the Rutgers Board of Governors held an hour-long open hearing to gain input regarding the financial cost of attending the University.

The meeting was held in person at the Rutgers Student Center on the College Avenue campus and live-streamed on Zoom. Less than 50 people attended the meeting, and 15 individuals provided comments to the Board.

Supporters of different faculty unions held a demonstration outside the building starting before the hearing while other individuals attended the meeting, holding up signs and sometimes speaking out in protest of the University administration's actions.

The current chair of the board, William Tambussi, spoke before the open hearing and said the process of maintaining low student tuition and fees is challenging.

He said rising inflation and student programs requiring additional funding add to the difficulty of keeping costs down.

The floor was then opened to attendees, including undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty and local community members. These speakers voiced their concerns about a potential rise in the University's costs and its impacts on the surrounding community.

Liana Katz, vice president for graduate workers at the Rutgers American Association of University Professors and American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT) and graduate student in the Department of Geography, said she and some of her colleagues make less than $25,000 a year for their work at the University — this income decreases even more after they pay fees for partaking in a fellowship at Rutgers.

"We are teaching. We are doing groundbreaking lab research that got us all through (the pandemic)," she said. "We are mentoring students, we are running our departments, and we are being paid far less than a living wage and being forced to pay exorbitant fees that make it hard for us to survive."

Johanna Almiron, an adjunct professor in the Department of American Studies, spoke on the University's subpar teaching facilities. She said she teaches in a classroom in the Ruth Adams Building on Douglass campus with several broken chairs.

"(For) the 50 students (in her class), 23 of those chairs are broken. Out of the 5 blinds that we have, 4 are broken," Almiron said.

She said that though her students persevere through these conditions, it is the responsibility of University leadership to fix these issues.

Cal Fodor, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said he has experienced poor living conditions and lackluster maintenance responses at the University but has still seen student costs increase.

"Why (are these) prices on these (residence halls) keep rising for places where students are literally freezing, where the conditions are horrible," he said. "It just shows over and over again a complete lack of care for your students and a complete obsession with profit."

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