A Flood of Money for Football but Not a Penny for a Drain

Reporting from a Rutgers student:

Things in Voorhees Mall, one of the historic hearts of Rutgers University, aren’t in great shape. For one, the basement of Voorhees Hall flooded again recently. This recurring problem, caused by a small drain which there isn’t money to fix, meant that when staff arrived to work on Monday, they found the basement classrooms and lounges under about 6 inches of storm-water. Even after cleaning, the smell of mold and damp still lingers. The carpets were soaked, but there’s not money to replace them either. And why bother? Without work done on the drainage system, come next downpour, the basements are likely to flood again.

In this sense Voorhees Hall is a lot like the rest of the buildings on campus. Run down and increasingly decrepit, it needs urgent maintenance, but there is no money and a long, long list of other problems to drain the meager facilities budget that Rutgers scrapes by on. Most buildings lack adequate heating and air conditioning. Lecture halls have broken chairs, libraries have desks covered with pornographic graffiti, and good study spaces are few and far between. In fact the budget is so tight that the university mail service has recently cut back campus delivery from twice to once a day to save money. This means that even basic administration tasks take twice as long to complete, making more work for those administration staff who weren’t laid off in the 2006 budget cuts. This is the material, the stuff with which Rutgers tries to provide a top-quality education for its fee-paying students. And let’s not forget how rapidly the cost of tuition at Rutgers is rising.

Flooded classrooms and crumbling infrastructure make up the reality of student life at Rutgers, no matter how much this administration tries to distract attention by talking about its dreams for football. This utter contempt for the student body at Rutgers is also the signature of Richard McCormick’s dire tenure as President, a tenure that saw him “earn” a salary this past financial year of a million dollars. Under our million-dollar-President, we now have a university which pays $250,000 dollars a year to house the football team at a top hotel for home games while real students learn in classrooms in mildewed basements. We have a $100-150 million dollar gamble on a luxury stadium complete with a lounge for recruits while real students are forced to study at home because of the lack of space on campus.

Remember the College Ave greening? President McCormick announced it in 2005. Even in its el-cheapo, trimmed down form, there are no signs of it beginning, while at the same time construction crews were camped at the stadium site (and costing the university millions) BEFORE the woeful boosters on the Board of Governors even voted for the ruinous project.

What happened to the promise to start work on the new Livingston student center last year? Best not to ask, it’s probably been delayed for another few years. What happened to the 2007 promise to spend $15 million renovating some of the worst lecture halls on campus? We haven’t heard anything since then. For McCormick, if it’s money to be spent on student facilities, then there is no hurry. If it’s for football, then it needs to have been done yesterday.

Quite simply, is there another university president in the country so utterly contemptuous of the students he is paid to represent? Fix a drain? For the McCormick administration, this is too costly. Send the athletic department on a junket to Texas? Well, hey – we’ve got money for that! These are the priorities of this administration. It’s just a pity we can’t move his office from Old Queens to the basement of Voorhees Hall. Then he might be forced to attend to the needs of something other than football.

Rutgers needs, according to estimates, $500 million dollars of maintenance work just to bring the campus back to an acceptable condition. But that’s not the worst of it. Far more even than this, the university needs to follow the lead of the University of Washington and sack Richard McCormick, whose Presidency has been an unmitigated disaster for Rutgers.

Email brought us the above blog post, written by a current student. We welcome contributions from all members of the Rutgers community.

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One Response to A Flood of Money for Football but Not a Penny for a Drain

  1. Grumpy alum says:

    Bravo to the contributing student for speaking out. This, despite the depressingly familiar scenario described, is heartening to see.

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