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"Snooki" nets $32,000 for speaking gig at New Jersey university

By Jesse Solomon, CNN
  • "Jersey Shore" star Nicole Polizzi spoke at Rutgers University on Thursday
  • Her paycheck is $2,000 higher than commencement speaker Toni Morrison
  • Polizzi's book, "A Shore Thing," has made the New York Times best-seller list

(CNN) -- It's not quite beach season yet, but students at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, got a lesson in tanning from MTV's "Snooki" -- who spoke at the school this week for a $32,000 price tag.

The paycheck of the pompadour-sporting Nicole Polizzi, nicknamed "Snooki" on MTV's wildly popular "Jersey Shore," eclipsed that of Nobel Prize winning author, Toni Morrison. Morrison is expected to speak at the university's graduation for $2,000 cheaper, according to a school spokesman.

"Everyone wants to see Snooki!," the Rutgers University Programming Association (RUPA), the group that sponsored Snooki's visit to campus, tweeted just before Thursday's event.

Polizzi's book, "A Shore Thing," has made the New York Times best-seller list since its January release.

The university said in a statement that the decision to invite Snooki was made by Rutgers University Programming Association.

Morrison, by contrast, was invited by the university, according to Rutgers spokesman E.J. Miranda.

"The show was promoted as a comedy act, not an academic program," the statement added. "As with any comedy show, the value of the content is subjective and students choose to attend based on their interests."

Miranda said that neither state funds nor student tuition were used to pay for the event. It was paid for by student fees, he said.

Brian Moylan, a pop culture blogger for the website Gawker, says students are attracted to Snooki's unpredictability.

"Morrison will read from her book, talk literature, and that's great, but Snooki could show up in all sorts of states and say God knows what," he said.

Moylan said "Snooki is part of a well-balanced diet." But, he added, "I don't think she should be the main course of a college education."

Rutgers student Chris Gregory, a junior studying criminal justice, missed Thursday's show but said that her presence at the university was unmistakable.

"It was just like a movie star coming to campus," he said. "She is a celebrity regardless of what people think or how she acts on TV," he said.

A representative for Polizzi thanked Rutgers in a statement "for their great hospitality."

Scott Talarico said that Polizzi's "comedy performances give her fans the opportunity to explore her humor and get to know her genuine personality."

CNN's Brittany Kaplan contributed to this report

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