Drew Needs to Answer to Biden Speech Cost

September 6, 2019

As is common in the current political landscape, every day there are tens of thousands of breaking news stories on a wide range of issues. Some days, it seems like there are too many to handle. Other days, the news includes more of the president’s crude tweets than actual news about policy. Due to this, many of us have become weary of the news and choose to ignore the nonstop crazy news cycle to protect our state of mind.  

 

Obviously, that's an approach that has become increasingly popular among Americans, especially young people, who, according to Pew Research, are more discontent and untrusting of the news industry than any other generation. Because of this and the ways the news industry as a whole manages what is headline news and what is not, many important stories end up in the back pages, away from a wide public view. Over the past few years, there have been a number of stories that I thought were incredibly important but instead fell from the news cycle. This was in part because of mainstream interests and in part due to the news obsession with Trump. However, there was one this summer hidden in the pages of the New York Times, FOX News and CNN, and to my surprise, Drew University was front and center.

 

PHOTO COURTESY OF DREW UNIVERSITY 

 

A Washington Post report found that in the two years since leaving the office of Vice President, Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden had raked in millions of dollars. Most of this money came from expected places for a former Vice President and Presidential candidate, including book deals and speeches from top corporate companies. It is expected that groups like that would flock to Biden with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars for hour-long speeches and an in-depth look into the Obama years and future of America according to the Biden viewpoint. However, what was interesting in that report was the singling out of Drew University and the $179,000 the University spent on an hour long speech from Biden. 

 

The Philadelphia Inquirer, the only major newspaper that went into further detail about the Biden money, found that with the exception of the University of Pennsylvania, of which Biden had a stint as a professor and associate of the University, no other nonprofit gave more money to Joe Biden during 2017-18 than Drew University. Ignoring the fact that universities–which have rich endowments and pay no residential taxes–are still laughingly considered nonprofits, the extraordinary fact that Drew University, a school that has had trouble with maintaining stable budgets and that has a high number of low-income students, gave Joe Biden almost $180,000 is incredibly concerning. And because Drew was called out by name for its excessive payment, I should not be the only one who is concerned by this. 

 

I understand that the money for Biden's speech likely came from the speaker series budget and not the money of Drew’s administration and financial aid offices, but nevertheless, Joe Biden spoke at a number of schools during this time for much smaller costs. So why did Drew pay him so much? As a student who, without financial aid services, would not be able to attend such an expensive and prestigious school such as Drew, I'm worried about all of the money Drew decided to give Joe Biden when it didn't need to be given. Drew University needs to tell us why Biden got so much when other schools did not give as much and, if we had $179,000 for Joe Biden, why we didn’t have any money to put into new residential dorms, fair salaries for our professors (who every year have salaries and benefits cut due to "budget concerns”), and yes, even financial aid students like me. I was there when Joe Biden spoke and he reminded the room that when young people are energized and part of the political system, the world is a better place. Maybe Drew should put that type of money into their students instead of older politicians who preach about the future generations. 

 

Ellie is a junior Political Science major.

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