As election season approaches on campus, current Queens College Student Association President Japneet Singh will be running for reelection, along with his administration, Students for Change. Singh points to the success of his team over the past year as the reason they deserve reelection.
“Although SFC has been in power for 5 years, our administration alone has done more in one semester than an entire year. We have forged relationships with Greek life, administrators, athletes, and students; we have been able to connect almost every part of campus and the community. That’s what student government is supposed to do, we are a unifying body.”
In the 2016-2017 year, SFC was able to increase social events on campus, breaking records in attendance for QC’s annual “Welcome Day” concert which featured Jay Sean, and co-sponsoring/co-hosting club events to help promote and maximize turnout and success. Through their diligence to unite the campus, the number of clubs and organizations under SFC has almost doubled, providing students more options to select from.
Of the many strides the current SFC administration has made, Singh credits the diversification of student involvement on campus as one of his biggest accomplishments.
“The goal I had in mind last year was to have a team that accurately represented the QC community. Today, we have a very diverse group of students that sit at our table and as we continue we want to move further in this direction.”
SFC is currently divided into eleven committees to address different campus requirements including programming and Greek life as well as athletics community, career development, honors and scholarships, and nontraditional committee which is all introduced by the current administration.
“Every decision that is made is internally structured, where every committee member and chair person has an equal say. We work with QC students, clubs, and administration in every step we take,” Singh said.
One example of the clubs’s ability to quickly and effectively organize took place in October, QC’s first Breast and Prostate Cancer Awareness month.
“Over the summer, one of our members told me his father was diagnosed with prostate cancer. We usually organize breast cancer awareness in October, however he asked me if we could promote awareness for prostate cancer as well. Of course, we made it happen.”
The event raised 3,000 dollars and was one of the many accomplishments SFC had over their year in office. Adding on to their success was finals week, with events and services for students, such as the MidKnight Breakfast, a puppy room, and free supplies for students. The administration was also able to provide 24-hour library access for students and, for the first time ever, extend hours in the Summit MCR Flex Space, Student Union, and Q-Side Café.
SFC, along with Singh, wanted to clarify any student misinformation about their party, specifically that of participatory budgeting on campus.
“Participatory budgeting is not a chartered club on campus. It started in 2015-2016 when five thousand dollars was allocated to a committee to provide students a say in where they would like the money to be used. The team was made up of SODA members, many of whom didn’t want Student Association members to be involved. Our team wanted to provide oversight for any questions the team may have had, as we’ve had experience in participatory budgeting on a city and counsel level. While they didn’t want to compromise, they were still provided that money. However, at the end of the 2016 fiscal year, when my administration began, they did not hand in their paperwork on time, hence the five thousand dollars was not allocated.”
Singh said this confusion has resulted in a divide between the participatory budgeting team and the Student Association.
“We did our best to communicate. We keep everything in writing, but no one ever followed up.” Singh added that all of Student Association’s records are public. “If anyone has any questions, our finances can be found on the 2nd floor of the Student Union. It’s transparent, you can get any record you want, and you can come to me or anyone in the finances office to obtain it.”
SFC and Singh also addressed the desire of a Free CUNY movement. “We hear the students and all ultimately want the same thing. Free tuition is a common goal, however, it is not our decision. It is a CUNY wide problem and decision that must be made by the state and the governor. If there is no law, Free CUNY is just a thought.”
Student Association does, however, continue to pursue the battle to the best of their ability, freezing tuition for the 2016-2017 school year for the first time in five years. It provides all senior and community colleges the chance to have stable tuition again.
“We continue to fight and realistically battle the situation. We were one of the leaders in organizing a rally in front of City Hall, which included a march across the Brooklyn Bridge where over 1,000 students showed up in support,” Singh said.
The activism Singh and his team have engaged in over the past year has also expanded, with efforts such as lobbying Higher Education Day in Albany, advocating for QC students and CUNY alongside NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio at the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus, as well as declaring QC a Sanctuary Campus and creating a Unity Wall on campus for students.
Singh recapped his year as SA president. “While we are proud of the progress we have made, our work is never done. I can’t speak for the years before us; I can only speak for our own, and I believe we have made a differ- ence on campus. We do our best to serve the needs of all 20,000 students…this is easier said than done. Given another year, we promise to continue these efforts to unite our campus, serve the students to the best of our abili- ties, and make their experience at Queens College worthwhile.”