By Jonathan Xiong

A coalition of students groups and labor unions are working to defend public education.

Rutgers One, an organization whose major members include the American Association of University Professors-American Federation of Teachers, United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), Black Lives Matter and the Union of Rutgers Administration, are actively trying to ensure all instructors are paid fairly without burdening students unduly.

The Rutgers One coalition can trace its roots back to a wage freeze beginning in 2009. At the time, various organizations campaigned against wages freezes across the board. Since then, various members have organized protests against the University and other groups.

The organization has existed in its present form for close to two years, said David Hughes, president of the AAUP-AFT and professor in the Department of Anthropology.

“It goes back to the campaign for a fair contract for full-time faculty, as well as students against sweatshops, (and) the beginning of their campaign against Nike,” Hughes said.

None of the previous campaigns were run directly by Rutgers One. Each campaign was orchestrated by its involved member. For example, the anti-sweatshop movement was run by USAS. The current campaign for tuition “rollbacks” is the first time Rutgers One has run a campaign under its own banner.

“Only in the last few months have we gone from a clearing house of ideas into an organization that’s trying to do something in its own name, the tuition rollback campaign,” Hughes said.

Mary D’Anella Mercanti
Mary D’Anella Mercanti is a member of Rutgers One, a group that is working to help increase instructor pay and lower tuition costs for students.

Mary D’Anella-Mercanti, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student and a member of Rutgers One, rejected the claim that it was a “protest organization.”

“I think it’s more of a group that observes various problems on campus, whether students are aware of them, or faculty are aware of them, and makes sure the administration does something about them,” D’Anella-Mercanti said.



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