Courage in Trenton

Assemblywoman Connie Wagner's letter to the Paramus, NJ newspaper:

To the Editor:

News that Rutgers University spends more on its athletic programs than any other public university in the nation—while laying off academic staff and cutting programs—should send shivers through the wallets of students and taxpayers alike. When the needs of students and professors take a back seat to the wants of a football program, something is seriously out of balance.

Since entering the Legislature, I have sponsored legislation to cap tuition increases, in hopes that New Jersey's colleges would get the hint that affordability must be a key concern, and that they must learn to live within their means. Obviously, this mantra has been lost on Rutgers. Just four years ago, the university pleaded poverty when it was dragged before the Legislature to explain its reasoning for cutting six low-cost sports programs, including swimming, crew, fencing and tennis. That argument has now been shown to have been made under entirely false pretenses. I would certainly hope Rutgers can pull it together and reprioritize its spending before the Legislature forces it to do so. . . .


Ms. Wagner is fighting a lonely battle in Trenton, where many NJ politicians have, historically, tended to be beer-and-nachos sports boosters -- or, sadly, have felt they had to adopt that pose to get votes -- who know nothing and care less about the deterioration of Rutgers as an institution of higher learning. If you are a Rutgers student, parent, alumnus, or faculty member, contact her to let her know that thousands of people in NJ support her position. In particular, be sure to e-mail her if you live in Cliffside Park, Edgewater , Elmwood Park, Fair Lawn, Fort Lee, Hasbrouck Heights, Little Ferry, Lodi, Paramus, Ridgefield , Saddle Brook Township, South Hackensack, or Teterboro: