It's hard to put a price on celebrity advice. How much should a TV personality receive for dishing graduation-day truisms? Well, if it's Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, the cash is good — $32,000 good. This price is fairly average in terms of speaker fees, but the state of New Jersey hopes to change that. The State Assembly will vote today on new legislation that will limit public university speaking fees to a mere $10,000. Allegedly, this move was in part incited by Polizzi's hefty salary when she spoke at Rutgers University in 2011. As the Las Vegas Sun reports, Assemblyman John DiMaio cites the expensive appearance as the inspiration for the bill.
Contrary to some reports, Polizzi didn't speak at commencement, but instead just an event hosted by the school. Reports of her salary are conflicted — one reporter stated that the event itself cost $32,000. Polizzi's fee, then, would have been a fraction of that cost. However, People reported at the time that the salary was indeed the complete $32,000. In the same report, the publication noted that Toni Morrison, who spoke at the 2011 graduation ceremony, made only $30,000.
The uproar wasn't just over the fact that the reality star earned so much money. The student community was incensed that their tuition would be going toward a speaker they found less than worthy. Dan Oliveto, a freshman at the time, told the New Jersey Star-Ledger, "Such a waste of my money... If I want to listen to someone talk, they should have something intelligent to say."
At the actual event, Polizzi instructed students on proper fist-pumping technique and the signature New Jersey "pouf" hairstyle. Allegedly, she told the audience: "Study hard, but party harder." Representation for Polizzi did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In the years since the appearance, the state assembly, led by DiMaio, has drafted a bill to prevent such snafus in the future. Under the new legislation, the state will supply only $10,000 for speaker fees. Note: This doesn't mean speakers won't be able to earn more than that. This just means that the state won't subsidize more than 10K. For many public figures — Toni Morrison and Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi included — speaking fees are an essential part of a yearly salary. The limit effectively connotes that the state of New Jersey does not condone speakers like Polizzi, but, hey, if the school wants to pay for her, it can go ahead.