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CUNY Budget Cuts Affect Office of Student Development and Leadership

As if the CUNY budget cuts weren’t bad enough, its impact has spiraled to all corners of the CUNY community. One in particular is the office of Student Development and Leadership here at Queens College.

The Knight News was informed via an anonymous source that the budget for four positions within the Office of Student Development and Leadership (OSDL) has been cut. Ordinarily, the OSDL would be staffed with an office manager, an assistant director, two associate directors and one director.

At the present day, Dwayne D. Jones, Director for Student Life, stands as the sole member of his department. Jones is currently responsible for serving as an advisor to 400+ club leaders, an advisor to Student Association and planning and organizing the annual Queens College Welcome Day. He’s also responsible for ensuring that on our campus of 20,000+ students, all are aware of the student life community.

Ordinarily, the Office for Student Development and Leadership would have its assistant director coordinating with clubs and organizations, helping student leaders to mature and grow. The associate directors would be tasked with training potential student leaders and helping Queens College attendees transition into life on campus.

The consequences of budget cuts to Student Life are damaging, to say the least. Student Life is meant to properly train club leaders to prepare them for their role. Additionally, the Office of Student Development and Leadership serves to moderate the actions of the Student Association.

In times past, The Knight News uncovered that the President of Student Association, Japneet Singh, was allegedly involved in forging meeting minutes of the Student Senate, as well as providing monetary stipends to close friends using the Student Association’s budget. With Dwayne Jones being the sole member of his department, this leaves for plenty of room for Student Association to operate quietly and covertly.

Cayla Kempf, a Junior Psychology major and active member of GLASA (Gender Love and Sexuality Alliance) shares the concerns held by many club leaders about the fate of student life. “Because of the budget cuts, I am worried that it will affect programming for the upcoming Spring semester.” Kempf’s concerns originate from the need of student leaders to consistently interact with the Office of Student Development and Leadership in order to successfully organize and carry out events.

Jenna Choi, a Sophomore Film major and President of Asian Students in Action at QC, shared Kempf’s sentiments. “Right now there’s a lot of uncertainty with how smoothly the semester will go. Clubs just won’t be able to function properly because they’re remote, but cutting the budget of the OSDL definitely will have more drawbacks than we can anticipate at this moment.” When asked to comment on potential drawbacks, Choi explained, “Dwayne is doing everything solo [or with limited staff], I expect things to be slower. If we [ASIA] need to contact someone in regards to an online event…my only concern would be how long it will take for a response.”

It should be noted that, despite Jones serving as the sole member for his department, he continues to ensure that students receive his undivided attention and persists throughout the various struggles of the pandemic. Even though the Office of Student Development and Leadership is understaffed as a result of the CUNY budget cuts, Jones tirelessly works to keep student life alive on our campus.

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