As far as we know, it's not an April Fools' Day joke: USA Today reports that Rutgers University has paid MTV's "Snooki" (of spray-tanned, drunken, Jersey Shore fame) $32,000 to speak to their undergrads, while Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison will receive only $30,000 for her address at the school's commencement.
Snooki earned her fee by entertaining two sold-out audiences with dance and hairstyling tips, and the takeaway message, "Study hard, but party harder."
The idea that Morrison's appearance has been deemed to be worth $2,000 less than those antics is not going over very well. At all. Her name is trending on Twitter, with people "OMG"-ing and "WTF"-ing the news, announcing the "dumbing down of America" and asking, "What's wrong with this picture?"
To be fair, Snooki was booked by a student-run organization, not technically by the university, which arranged the Morrison appearance. So it's not as if the same group sat down and decided that Snooki had more valuable insights and made her a higher offer.
Still, this just reflects old news: The amount of money a person earns often doesn't line up with how much respect we have for him or her, or how much that person contributes to society. Ask your local educator for details on that one.
Those of us who still can't help feeling rubbed the wrong way by this compensation discrepancy (and even by the idea of Snooki and Morrison being mentioned in the same sentence — eek!) should check our own priorities before being too hard on Rutgers. Unless we're turning off MTV and heading to the local bookstore for a signing to support a talented author in a demonstration of what's really beloved to us, we don't have a whole lot of room to judge.
Read more at USA Today.