CUNY Queens College takes the colloquial phrase “money is power” to a whole new level, as do other universities. It’s not often clear how budgetary decisions are made at QC; the so-called ‘transparency’ that the upper level administration and student government claim to promote, is seemingly absent at times like these. Nevertheless, The Knight News conducted thorough research to properly inform its readers.
Funds at QC are organized depending on their purpose, and fall under one of the four governing boards on campus. The boards have the same general structure: Each governing body has a board of directors, which are individuals who have voting power in how funds are managed. Then there’s “ex-officio” members, who are part of the board because of the position they have, but aren’t allowed voting rights. Some boards have a large number of voting members, making it difficult to arrange a meeting. As a result, they have various committees with a portion of the members from the board, who meet on a more daily basis to craft recommendations on how funds should be managed. These recommendations are then proposed to the full board of directors, and are subject to approval. Most boards follow parliamentary procedure, specifically being Robert’s Rules of Order.
The Auxiliary Enterprises Corporation, The Student Services Corporation, The Queens College Association and The College Personnel and Budget Committee (P&B) are boards responsible for managing the funds at QC. Each board is entrusted with a different purpose of managing different types of funds. For most of these boards, with the P&B being the exception, six student government officers constitute a portion of the membership, with two of the six being the annually elected Student Association President & Vice President. The other four students are appointed by the Student Association President, with the consent of the Student Senate.
The Student Services Corporation (SSC) is one of four administrative boards on campus. The Corporation collects all student activity fees obtained from students paying tuition, as well as any and all revenue obtained from the Student Union (e.g. space rentals). The corporation has a 18 member board, with four ex-officio voting members. The corporation managed approximately $2.6 million in fees in the last fiscal year, according to the 2019 fiscal year budget on the college’s website.
The Queens College Association (QCA) is a board that moderates the student activity fee given to clubs, Student Association, the QC Committee for Disabled Students (CDS) and anything else related to student life. The board consists of 13 voting members. Six are the aforementioned officers of the Student Association. Three are professors, who are appointed from a panel of six annually elected by the Academic Senate. The other three are college administrators, the last being the college president himself.
The College Association’s funding is obtained from an allocated portion of the finances from the Student Services Corporation. The operating budget of the QCA board is unknown; however, the Student Association’s budget for this year is $106,399. The budget for clubs and organizations is also unknown for this fiscal year, but the Student Association leadership on the board has a past history of being fiscally conservative when it comes to proposing club budgets.
The Auxiliary Enterprises Corporation (AEC) is an administrative board entrusted with providing auxiliary enterprises, such as food services, a campus bookstore, parking, etc., for the benefit of the Queens College students, faculty, and staff. According to its bylaws “the Corporation is organized under the New York Not-for-Profit Corporation Law and is operated exclusively for the charitable purpose of supporting Queens College.” In layman’s terms, the AEC collects revenue on campus from dining services, venue rentals, the shuttle bus fee, parking, etc. In the past fiscal year, the AEC (and ergo the college) obtained nearly $3.7 million in revenue according to an estimate from the 2019 fiscal year budget.
Lastly, QC has a Personnel and Budget Committee, which according to CUNY bylaws, Article 8, Section 7, is responsible for approving promotions of faculty members to higher ranks such as assistant professor, associate professor, full-time professor and so on. The Personnel and Budget Committee (P&B) has a membership consisting of all department chairs. The P&B is chaired by the College President and co-chaired by the Provost. It is unknown what the budget for the P&B is.
What this information demonstrates is that it’s important – now especially more than ever – that Queens College, particularly its student body, takes note of the people running for student government. The people elected into office have more influence than the general public is made aware of, and as payers of QC tuition, students have the right to know what they’re investing in.