Mike Russell | Staff Writer
I‘ve spent many, many hours of my life arguing with Central and North Jersey residents about the relevance and character ofSouth Jersey. Why? The rest of the state is ready to dismiss us as unimportant. If the Delaware River and the Atlantic Ocean met in the middle of South Jersey, leaving nothing butTrenton and above alive, no one would seem to care. In a state already cast aside by the rest of the country,South Jersey is the lowest of the low (excuse the pun), cast aside by the rest of a state that no one wants in the first place.
With the attention lavished onto Jersey City, Hoboken, and even Newark, it’s easy to feel like the little brother whose parents merely care of out of obligation, annoyed when he commands attention away from his older, more talented brother. I mean, look at everything our older brother has: multiple universities, including the State University of New Jersey; some of the richest residents in the state; a plethora of taxable former New Yorkers who want to enjoy the economic bounties of New York City without the frustration of having to park in New York City; the list goes on.
And yet, South Jersey continues on, fighting for attention and resources and love fromTrenton. We even have our own embassy fromNorth Jersey: the Rutgers Camden campus. RU-C is like a nod from our parents that says, “Don’t worry; you’re still a part of thisNew Jerseyfamily. We haven’t forgotten about you”.
But now we’re eighteen years old and our parents are telling us they want us out of their house. Dad’s saying he wants us to move in with our friend,RowanUniversity, and mom’s telling us that it’ll be better for us this way. And we’re not leaving the house without a whole lot of kicking and a whole lot of screaming.
This proposed merger of folding RU-C into Rowan will sever a valuable tie to the state as a whole.Rutgersis the State University of New Jersey, which means it should have a presence in every part of the state to ensure that the entire state has access to its educational bounty. Rutgers Camden, especially, services all ofSouth Jersey, giving non-tradition students and commuters a relatively low cost and highly respected option for higher education.
Rutgersas a whole is considered a public institution with an Ivy League reputation and education. Rutgers Camden gives all ofSouth Jerseyaccess to what is arguably one of the best public institutions in the country. To rip that away from us would be devastating.
George E. Norcross III claims that it will be good for theSouth Jerseyregion because we could focus on creating our very own world class research institution. To this claim, let me repeat what a speaker at the recent forums said a few days ago: “We already have a world class research institution inSouth Jersey. It’s called Rutgers Camden!”
Rutgers Camden has access to most of New Brunswick’s resources, making it possible to do high level research at our small campus. To say that we need a better or uniqueSouth Jersey research campus sounds completely nonsensical.
Why do Governor Christie and Mr. Norcross want to abolish a great research institution that already exists? So South Jersey can stand on its own two feet whileNorth Jerseysits in Papa’s lap? Why mustSouth Jerseyhave its own unique research university and deepen the statewide schism that so many already believe exists?