Snooki and Teacher Salaries

OK. I’ll admit it. I’ve never watched the wildly popular show Jersey Shore on MTV. So for all I know Snooki and her colleagues are working on innovative breakthroughs involving medicine, nuclear energy or alternative fuel technologies.

Probably not.

Anyway, it appears that Rutgers University — or at least a student-run committee at Rutgers — thought enough of the diminutive reality TV celebrity to invite her to campus for a presentation — and receive a payday of $32,000. Sweet.

This kind of thing goes on at universities throughout the nation. And nobody — including me — would be opining about Snooki and Rutgers except she is making more than Toni Morrison, the respected and highly acclaimed author, who will give the commencement address — for a paltry $30,000.

Here’s the story, from Newsroom New Jersey, “Snooki getting paid to go to college“:

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.

OK. Better Snooki than Charlie Sheen. And, unfortunately, I attended lectures and readings at Kent State given by renowned writers and Pulitzer Prize winning poets that based on the number attending could have been held in an expanded phone booth.

And here’s a critique of Snooki’s performance, via Mediaite:

“Money for Snooki’s appearance came from the mandatory student activity fee.
Interesting to note, the reality TV star’s $32,000 fee is $2,000 more than Rutgers’ commencement speaker, Nobel-winning novelist Toni Morrison, will get when she addresses graduates this spring.
Snooki’s parting advice to students: ‘Study hard, but party harder.’
I’m thinking Morrison might have a different message come May.”

It’s easy for me to sit here in the darkness of the early a.m., a pajama-clad citizen journalist, and make fun of Snooki — or anyone else who can command this kind of money on a college campus or elsewhere for being, well, Snooki.

Actually, it is equally troubling to me that Rutgers — or any taxpayer-supported university for that matter — has to pay a commencement speaker anything. I expect that this kind of expense falls under the category of student recruitment or marketing. And maybe that’s standard practice these days. If so, it should stop. And I’m sure Toni Morrison will give a thoughtful and perhaps even inspiring message. But in an era of spending cuts — and increased tuition when many students are working and taking on considerable student loan debt to cover the class fees and related mandatory student fees — I’m sure the money could be better spent elsewhere. Just sayin’.

Here’s the point. Throughout the nation, we are now eliminating teaching jobs and putting the squeeze on pay, benefits and pensions. My view: teachers at all levels — preschool through college — are grossly underpaid. And I know there is no direct relationship between what Snooki and Toni Morrison are paid for something that doesn’t require much heavy lifting and what we pay teachers, on college campuses and elsewhere, for what is a heavy lift, day in and day out.

By the way, I taught for five years full time at Kent State and retired three years ago making $44,000 for a nine-month contract. And I could have made some more if I wanted to spend my summers in the classroom. But hey. Life is short — and you have to have some time to explore the Jersey shore.

So let’s see. Snooki made $32,000 for a gig that lasted an hour or two. And she didn’t even have to grade any papers.

Wow. I hope Snooki doesn’t read this.

She’ll think I’m a real asshat.

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4 responses to “Snooki and Teacher Salaries

  1. Ooops, you left out the fact that just like Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, Snooki is also a (extended) New York Times bestselling author for her book, A SHORE THING. Gems from this literary masterpiece include lines like “During the summer, the girls enjoy all that the Jersey area has to offer: Hot guidos, fried Oreos and lots of Tequila.” And “The Seaside Heights drunk tank– on a weekday afternoon–was as clean and quiet as a church.” Poetic.

    The only thing that saves me from wanting to throw something sharp when I read news like this is my memory of going to an Adrienne Rich reading at UGA a few years ago. They booked her into a very small Kent State-sized auditorium. I guess they assumed that no one would would want to see one of the most influential poets of the 20th century. Anyway, about an hour before the reading even started, there were probably a thousand more people than the auditorium could hold. After some scrambling, they found a way to feed a speaker outside so that everyone who wanted to hear her could hear her read. And students just sat there, sort of mesmerized, just LISTENING!

    See, there’s always hope!

    • Well, I’ll admit that I didn’t know that Snooki was a wordsmith as well. Given that, maybe Rutgers got a good deal.

  2. Rob, first you were grossly underpaid in terms of snookie dollars!!!
    What I wonder though is how many of those 1000 students are currently in Harrisburg protesting the proposed cuts in state funding for higher education?? Just another example of how screwed up our priorities are. A better example is this: my alma mater, Penn State, stands to lose 150 mil in funding from the current PA budget proposal. But they just received nearly 90 mil from an alumni who cashed out on the marcellus shale boom to promote the PSU ice hockey team from a “club sport” to a varsity sport-complete with state of the art facilities. I love Penn State. But maybe that 90 mil could be put to better use than a hockey arena. Then I woudn’t have to listen to the university president, who makes five times what the governor does, plead poverty and threaten tuition increases every day.

    • Nothing more pathetic than a highly paid college prez pleading poverty — while hiking tuition and pocketing an annual bonus. The priorities are screwed up. No question about that.

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