"Jersey Shore" guidette Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi might come in a pint-size package, but she commands a big appearance fee.
The reality-TV star raised eyebrows once again this week with a Thursday night showing at two question-and-answer sessions at Rutgers University's Livingston Student Center. Specifically, the fat paycheck that Polizzi received for the gig — $32,000, or $2,000 more than "Beloved" author Toni Morrison will receive for speaking at this year's graduation ceremony — has been the source of much discussion since the numbers were revealed.
Now Rutgers has weighed in on the topic, defending the lavish outlay in a statement released on Friday.
According to the school, the decision to bring Snooki to Rutgers was the result of student input, and no public money was squandered in the booking.
"The Rutgers University Programming Association (RUPA) is comprised of students who plan more than 140 programs and events throughout the academic year. RUPA made the decision to invite Snooki and her comedy act to the campus based on input from students," the statement reads. "No state funds or tuition money are used for these events. The students use funds designated for student programming."
Moreover, the release notes, "The university does not censor the speakers students choose to invite to campus."
Sure, but really — $32,000?
Rutgers rationalizes that the seemingly staggering amount isn't all that unreasonable, given that the fee covered two appearances, for both Snooki and the events' emcee.
"Nearly 2,000 students expressed their wish to attend an event featuring Snooki and a second show was added," says the statement. "The cost for her appearance included the fee for the moderator Adam Ace, a comedian who has been named College Comedian of the Year by the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities, and the booking fee."
Outlandish payday or not, at least the Rutgers Q&A was probably more dignified than the "Jersey Shore" star's next high-profile appearance — in a three-on-three grappling match at WrestleMania XXVII on Sunday.