Editorial: New decade, different issues

Another year has passed, and once again, we students have been through more than anyone would have seen coming. From problems with the economy to changes in the weather, we have seen it all.

Swine flu was one of the biggest national health concerns we’ve had in years. After hearing about the large numbers of students at other schools who had come down with the illness, the Lawrenceville and Westminster campuses went into defense mode. Swine flu caused such anxiety that “restricted-access lounges” were established in Conover and Switlik halls for students who got sick and could not go home. Overall, 189 students and 41 faculty and staff members reportedly came down with flu-like symptoms, but these numbers were nowhere near what was reported at other schools. At Rider, in the end, only three cases of swine flu were confirmed in the fall and none in the spring.

Luckily for students in the class of 2010, they will not have to worry too much about health insurance come graduation. Thanks to President Obama, U.S. residents must now have health insurance, and individuals age 26 and under can remain on their parents’ plans. This way, students have a few years of breathing room if they don’t get a job immediately after graduation. Since the provision doesn’t start until September, Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, released a statement stating that major health care providers have agreed to fill the gap from May to September for graduates and allow them to remain on their parents’ coverage, despite the law not taking effect until months later. This change is going to affect everyone, so anyone who was previously unconcerned with the health care reform should start paying attention. They should know how much they will be paying for their insurance and where it will be coming from.

The economy has affected us in every way. Because of a lack of funding, previous plans for expansions and renovations on the Lawrenceville campus had to be reworked. We will now be getting an expanded Bart Luedeke Center Theater, and a new academic building next to Memorial Hall, instead of the original plan of a brand new academic building with bonus features such as production, practice and recording rooms, and a new 250-seat theater. Of course, it’s great that we are still getting anything in light of our financial struggles, and we should definitely be glad to have something to look forward to in 2011.

This winter has been called “the year that people got tired of snow.” With all of the problems the weather has caused us, it’s easy to see why. Rider was hit by two massive storms this winter, causing cars to be buried and streets and sidewalks to remain dangerous despite workers shoveling overnight. When it came to classes, the school couldn’t find a consistent way of canceling. The Thursday morning after we were hit the hardest, we had a delayed opening, while the day of the anticipated second storm, classes were canceled before the snow even started. Finally, the snow went away, bringing us into spring and giving us one more problem: state budget cuts.

Not only has the economy hurt Rider’s plans for renovations, it has also hurt students. Because of Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed $173 million funding cut to higher education, incoming freshmen seeking Tuition Aid Grants (TAG) and Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) grants will suffer. This cut to funding could deter students from attending Rider since the tuition is already relatively high, which is unfortunate for the students who really deserve and want to go here.

As President Rozanski says, Rider continues to face daunting challenges. Many of our problems occurred as a result of the weakened economy, so we can only hope that the economy will get better by next year, and Rider will continue to flourish. We at The Rider News hope that all students and staff on both campuses have a safe and happy summer.

This weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News editorial board and is written by the Opinion Editor, Angelique Lee.

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