Dear members of the Rutgers–Newark family,

As our lives continue to be reshaped in unforeseen ways by the global pandemic, I am reaching out to send my most fervent hopes that you are well and managing to navigate the unsettling terrain unfolding before us.

This new terrain can be much more than unsettling for our students and their families, posing fundamental threats to their dreams of earning a Rutgers-Newark degree, which is why I also am reaching out to seek your support for the Rutgers–Newark Student Emergency Fund.

Indeed, focusing on the fundamentals has become job number one for us at Rutgers–Newark. I could not be more proud of the way that the Rutgers–Newark faculty, students, and staff have responded. We have seen incredibly quick pivoting to adapt all courses to remote instruction. We’ve seen people transform corners of their homes into remote offices (where they seem to be working 24/7). We’ve seen our collaborations with community partners continue virtually as we collectively seek to move Newark forward. And, of course, we are all tremendously grateful to those who have remained engaged in essential work on campus, whether by carrying out research in labs, supporting our technology, working to ensure safety and security, or maintaining our facilities.

On one level, focusing on fundamentals sounds simple, but for too many members of our Rutgers–Newark family, it is far from that. As we all know, our university always has been a place of opportunity where generation after generation of strivers has come to gain a foothold in the world. For too many right now, even that fundamental step has become all too uncertain.

This unprecedented time has created unprecedented need for many of our students as they and their families face sudden threats not just to their health, but to their livelihoods. For some, supplies such as books are suddenly unaffordable, or they have no way to participate in remote instruction, or they are struggling with the most fundamental choice of all: paying for their education vs. paying for their groceries.

In the face of such heartbreaking realities, faculty and staff have made extraordinary efforts to keep all our students on track to realize their dream of earning a degree. We’ve heard testimonials of professors’ flexibility with remote learning and staff members’ empathy in counseling or navigating financial aid or enrollment challenges. Yet the crisis we face today is intensifying underlying disparities, turning what would be difficult obstacles in normal times into outright insurmountable ones.

But I know the Rutgers–Newark family. When we face challenges like those mounting today, our impulse is to rally ourselves to the cause. As I recently shared with faculty, staff, and students, our impulse is to echo a refrain familiar from our nation’s civil rights struggles and ones like it around the world: “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for!”

So, at this moment of unprecedented need in our family, I hope you will join me in supporting the Rutgers–Newark Student Emergency Fund.


In solidarity,
Nancy Cantor