On April 14, I attended the Assembly budget committee hearings for higher education. Representatives from most 2 and four year colleges were present. Presidents Rosemary Jeffries (Georgian Court) and Rich Levao (Bloomfield) testified on behalf of the independent colleges. Both of them did an excellent job making clear the extreme hardship that the cuts will have on New Jersey students, particularly TAG cuts.
The reaction from the legislators, Democrats and Republicans alike, was one of anger (that cuts of this magnitude are being made) and support for the work the schools are doing to cut costs during this recession. We have yet to know what this will mean when the Legislature crafts its own budget and sends it to the Governor. The best that came out of yesterday’s hearing was that a strong case was made for restoration of some or all TAG, EOF and Aid Act funding. More hearings will follow.
AICUNJ (the independent college association) is working with the 14 independent colleges to coordinate a grassroots lobbying campaign. We are taking part. This included a full page ad in the Seton Hall student newspaper, the Setonian, so students and others can join the AICUNJ Facebook page to get regular updates. AICUNJ also borrowed our letter-writing model. Next week, we will set up a table near the student cafeteria to ask faculty, administrators, staff and students to sign pre-printed letters to the senate president, assembly speaker, and our 3 district representatives, letting them know about the severe impact of these cuts.
The message of the independent colleges for Governor Christie’s proposed budget is that 100% cuts like those that have been proposed for certain independent college funding do not fit within the model of “shared sacrifice” that he has been calling for.
To join the AICUNJ Facebook effort, go to http://www.facebook.com/pages/Act-for-AICUNJ/109121802441211