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New Rutgers President to Face Public Questioning For First Time Since Taking Office

Student Government Will Host President Robert Barchi at Public Meeting Tonight
Robert Barchi
Robert Barchi, during his tenure at UPenn in Philadelphia. He later served as President of Thomas Jefferson Medical School. UPenn

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Tonight, Rutgers University President Robert Barchi is scheduled to address the elected student leaders of the Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) and participate in a public question and answer session for the first time since he took office on September 1.

His predacessor, Richard McCormick, traditionally took questions for hours following his State of the University address at a University Senate meeting each September.

The "Town Hall" meeting will take place at 7:30pm in the Student Activities Center on George Street, and will be open to the public.  Barchi will be participating in a question and answer session following a half-hour address.

Since becoming the 20th President in university history, has been somewhat difficult to read.

President Barchi was responsive to concerns of a local anti-sweatshop organization.  In 2012, Barchi cut Rutgers University’s contract with Adidas in response to public protests by Rutgers United Students Against Sweatshops.

This semester, students hope that Barchi will continue the trend of working to support student-driven campaigns like that one.

"As the president of Rutgers, it is Barchi’s responsibility to effectively represent his core constituents - the students,” said David Bedford, student organizer for Rutgers Student Union.

But Barchi also developed a reputation for being hard to get in touch with, which led to public pressure from the campus newspaper that resulted in tonight's forum.

Following the Daily Targum's January 31 editorial slamming Barchi for failing to meet with student leaders, Barchi's secretary called at 9:30am the next morning to schedule a meeting, according to RUSA President John Connelly.

After many attempts by RUSA members to meet with President Barchi to discuss the issues of the day, student leaders were met with a "dead-end or runaround," said the editorial.

Students from the Rutgers University Tuition Equity (RUTE) coalition are expected to attend the meeting tonight and ask about Barchi's stance on the In-State Tuition Act, which would grant in-state tuition to some undocumented immigrants, most of whom had no choice in their parent's decision to immigrate.

The pending state legislation, A-1659/S-2355, would allow anyone who has attended New Jersey high schools for at least three years and graduated, to pay in-state tuition rates at the state's public colleges and universities.  Currently, undocumented students are regularly forced to pay out-of-state, or even international, tuition rates.

The RUTE Coalition consists of ten student and community groups working to pass the bill.

A letter currently circulating in support of the legislation has 41 signatures, about 9 of which are student organizations at Rutgers, according to Margarita Rosario, an organizer with RUTE.

The coalition aims to have the letter signed by President Barchi at tonight's meeting.

Bedford said he is hopeful Barchi will support the equity campaign.

"Issues such as [the In-State Tuition Act] have strong student support and very little student opposition."