Faculty, Staff, Students to Press Administration to Address “Critical Concerns”
When: Wednesday, October 6, 11:30 a.m.
Where: In front of Camden Campus Center, 326 Penn St.
CAMDEN, NJ—Rutgers University faculty, staff, and students will gather this Wednesday, October 6, to send a message to the Board of Governors as it meets in person on the Camden campus.
Dozens of members of the Rutgers community are expected at an outdoors speakout at 11:30 a.m. as the governors arrive—before some of their number go inside to address the board during its open session at 1 p.m. Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, who spoke out alongside several women professors suing the university for violating the state’s Equal Pay Act, will address the governors virtually during the open session.
“We have a lot we need to talk about with the governors,” said Rebecca Givan, president of Rutgers AAUP-AFT, the union that represents full-time faculty, graduate workers, postdoctoral associates, and counselors.
“Recent exposés in the media have shone a spotlight on the administration’s mishandling of both Rutgers Athletics finances and a salary equity program that was supposed to address long-standing pay discrimination,” Givan said. “After more than a month of in-person learning and work, faculty, staff, and students are fearful of the ongoing threat to their health from the pandemic, but the administration hasn’t responded with the same urgency. The governors need to respond to these critical concerns.”
Jim Brown, president of the Camden chapter of Rutgers AAUP-AFT, said the site of the meeting was an opportunity to focus attention on grievances at Rutgers-Camden, the smallest of the university’s three main campuses, but one recently cited by US News and World Report for its success in serving a disproportionately non-wealthy and people of color student body.
“The board meeting in Camden is a nice reminder that the Camden campus is part of Rutgers and not an afterthought,” Brown said. “In recognition that Camden is part of President Holloway’s ‘beloved community,’ the Board of Governors should acknowledge the inequitable way the university has dealt with pay equity, and it should have a frank conversation about how Rutgers’ approach to budgets and finances continue to hamstring Camden.”
Givan said that during the pandemic, online Board of Governors meetings were addressed almost exclusively by senior administrators. “This is the first in-person meeting since the pandemic,” Givan said. “The board’s mission is to oversee Rutgers in the interests of the whole community. They need to hear from all of us.”
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Issues at a Glance
Rutgers Athletics Finances: Recent media coverage has exposed the financial mess of Rutgers’ athletics program and the lengths to which the university’s top administrators went to hide the scale of the problem. Not only was Rutgers Athletics allowed to accumulate a quarter-billion-dollar debt, but the administration failed its obligation to be transparent about finances at a public institution. Students, their parents, faculty, and staff deserve an open, honest discussion about whether they should keep paying the huge price of subsidizing a money-losing athletics program.
Faculty Salary Equity: Initial decisions in a groundbreaking faculty salary equity program show the administration shortchanged over 100 faculty members by at least $750,000 and probably close to $1 million in all, according to faculty experts who analyzed the first round of decisions. The reduction in salary adjustments in the initial decisions hit Camden faculty the hardest; they had by far the lowest average salary adjustments of all campuses, despite long-standing pay gaps for Camden professors.
Health and Safety: Rutgers’ COVID testing program registered a significant rise in positive tests during the first month of the new semester, but there is no telling if the Delta variant is spreading in asymptomatic vaccinated individuals because the administration hasn’t responded to calls for surveillance testing. Faculty and staff say weekly testing of vaccinated and unvaccinated people alike is necessary to protect their families and communities.
Campus Inequities: Rutgers-Camden has struggled under drastic financial restrictions imposed by the administration. At one point last year, any non-grant-related expenditure greater than $500 required direct approval of the university’s Chief Financial Officer. Administrators justify these restrictions on the basis of a supposed budget deficit of $30 million (caused by a budgeting system that faculty say is unfair). Yet Rutgers Athletics lost well over twice as much in a single year, and there are seemingly no restrictions on the athletics program’s spending.
Graduate Funding Extensions: Under pressure from negotiations with unions in the spring, the Rutgers administration announced a program to extend funding for some graduate students whose studies and research were disrupted by the pandemic. But the program is restricted to a minority of graduate students. Union members say there is no reason for such limitations, especially given the recent revelation that Rutgers has not spent the bulk of the $365 million it received in federal and state COVID relief funds.