New Jersey's Kean University has a big new conference table. It seats 23. And it happened to cost $219,000. And that has one lawmaker up in arms over the purchase, which was made from a company in China, where Kean recently opened a branch campus that is being financed by the Chinese government. "Whether or not this is legal, it's certainly not ethical and it's a waste of taxpayer money," Assemblyman Joe Cryan said in a statement. "I don't need a study to know a university shouldn't be spending up to $219,000 for a conference table. I already know it's wrong. So do the students and families struggling to afford a higher education."
Cryan called on the state attorney general to review the waivers that Kean used to buy the 22-foot circular table—which has a host of built-in multimedia devices—without putting out a bid. Kean says the table falls under the professional creative services category that doesn't require bids and noted the price tag also includes lighting, data ports, gooseneck microphones, an illuminated world map and a motorized, two-tiered glass turntable. What university President Dawood Farahi had to say: "It is small-minded to focus on the university buying a $200,000 table, Why not? Why not?" He added that the table would have cost $500,000 if made in the United States. See the table here. (Read more New Jersey stories.)