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School's $219,000 conference table vexes students

Students said the money could have been better spent on classroom desks, cafeteria improvements, parking, or lowering tuition costs.

By Ben Hooper

UNION, N.J., Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Students at New Jersey's Kean University are criticizing officials for splurging on a $219,000 conference table.

Some students said they were shocked to learn the public university had spent the sum on the 22-foot oak table, which comes with built-in speakers and other electronic equipment designed to enable those sitting at the table to communicate with speakers from up to 25 international locations.

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"That's ridiculous," freshman Melrose Johnson said. "It's a table. You're just sitting around it."

The 23-seat table was custom made by a company in China, where Kean recently opened a campus. School officials said the conference room housing the table at the Union, N.J., campus will be made available for rentals to help offset the cost.

However, students on Twitter said the money could have been better spent in areas more directly related to serving the student body, such as classroom desks, cafeteria improvements, parking, or lowering tuition costs.

State Assemblyman Joseph Cryan, D-Union, joined in the criticism.

"Whether or not this is legal, it's certainly not ethical and it's a waste of taxpayer money," he told NorthJersey.com. "And it's an added insult that they didn't go to an American vendor."

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