BY SHARON HARRIS-ZLOTNICK
So, why do you send your kid to college? To possibly learn and listen to a Nobel-winning novelist or to attend a Q & A session with one of reality television’s biggest stars who may never graduate from college? Which one will be paid more? Rutgers University has the answers and is in the news for its well-paid speakers engagements and fees.
One high-paying speaking engagement was the March 31 appearance of “Jersey Shore” star Snooki, whose real name is Nicole Polizzi. She appeared at the Livingston Student Center in Piscataway. Price tag $32,000.
Both the 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. shows, called "Inside the Nicole ‘Snooki’ Polizzi Studio", sold out to more than 1,000 students. Student leaders say that she will share her fee with others like comedian Adam Ace, who interviewed her during the show.
Organizers claim no money came from tuitions. Instead, the student-run committee that invited Snooki, the Rutgers University Programming Association, used the mandatory student activity fees undergraduates pay with their tuition. The association’s vice president of the comedy and movies committee claimed the group sought a speaker with overall student appeal.
The reality star, dressed in a short black dress, straight hair and high-heel platform shoes, spoke to a largely female audience. Her one-hour repertoire included answering questions, teaching students the signature "Jersey Shore" first pump and styling a student’s hair in her iconic "pouf" hairdo. Her father was in attendance and was introduced to the audience.
Some early-arriving students, who waited hours inside the student center to secure a good seat, said they were thrilled the student programming group booked Snooki for such a “bargain” price. Others voiced dismay that they had lowered their standards enough to book someone famous for “smushing” and drunkenness.
Foxnews.com reported that Snooki offered some sage wisdom to students, telling them “study hard, but party harder.”
Are you glad you are paying fees for this?
Rutgers’ students book about 100 events annually. The student-funded concerts, comedy shows and lectures are mostly free.
On May 15, Toni Morrison, author of “Beloved”, “Song of Solomon” and other novels, will receive $30,000 to deliver the commencement speech. According to Star-Ledger reporters Kelly Heyboer and Peggy McGlone, it marks the first time Rutgers has paid for a graduation speaker. Officials say they will pay this year to animate its commencement, scheduled for the first time since the 1960s at the 52,000-seat football stadium. No state funds or tuition money will pay Morrison’s fee. Funding will come from PepsiCo, which pays Rutgers for exclusive campus vending machine rights.