Queens College’s Student Union has seen, in recent weeks, the circulation of a petition amongst various club leaders. The petition, which has already garnered fifty-eight signatures from thirty-four different clubs, calls for a change in the way the Office of Student Development (OSDL) and Leadership and Student Association handle certain responsibilities they have to the clubs.
The petition, created by economics major and President of the Anime Club, Omar Onofre, along with graphic design major and President of the QC Broadcasting Club, Jacqueline “Jackie” Horowitz, made its rounds in late April 2023 after issues with the SA hit a breaking point.
The petition, signed by various club leaders, also features a section where petitioners can list their grievances and the instances that led them to sign in the first place. This comes with the hope that these problems, such as frustrations with budgeting, a lack of communication, and unrealistic deadlines, amongst others, will be addressed and improved upon.
Horowitz, a Junior, expressed her frustrations when asked about what pivotal moment led her to take that first step and put together a petition. “We were supposed to have a clubroom, but we didn’t, and as it turned out, other clubs were also misinformed, and so we went all over, running up and down the Student Union just for unclear information.”
Horowitz describes other moments that led to her exasperation with the mishandling of club tasks, such as finally getting a clubroom only to find the necessary supplies for her club gone.
“Originally, the whole fight was for our club to exist, and the goal was to get a clubroom to record, because we didn’t have any of the supplies, and as far as we were aware of, the supplies were in there,” she explained. “But when we got to the clubroom, it was empty. Everything was gone, and we had been told they trashed it, only to find they had told someone else it was all in storage.”
There were other vexing incidents Horowitz describes, such as eventually doing most of the club-related maintenance alone, with Horowitz and her club cleaning the entire club room all by themselves. Onofre detailed his own club-related frustrations:
“QC Anime Club had what we believed was a mold issue that we reported to Student Life’s office in person but was never forwarded. After going through multiple people ourselves, Jackie and I met Frank [Wilson], who’s the building manager of the Student Union building. He told us he never received word of the issue, and he said they would fix it over spring break, which they did. A short conversation with Frank himself managed to get more done.”
This allegedly was not an isolated event in which higher-ups dropped the ball. Onofre describes how his club collaborates with other clubs as well, with the ‘Play Party’ event held with QC Asia and K-Pop Club being an example. But he still deals with a lack of communication when it comes to setting up an event.
“The whole process of organizing an event isn’t as straightforward as it could be,” he laments. “Some documents are outdated — some from 2017 — and these documents aren’t clear. In addition to this, sparse budget meeting dates can lead to delaying an event by a month.”
Onofre and Horowitz reveal the petition’s origins to have started as they worked closely together to solve issues with managing their respective clubs.
“We met with Professor Jason Tougaw,” Onofre explains, “regarding another issue with the multimedia room.” This led to a longer conversation where the two club presidents detailed the situations they and other club leaders go through.
“We told him about some issues with our clubs and how other clubs have had similar negative experiences and suggested having club leaders sign some sort of petition where they could lay out their issues, as clubs have told us they would email Student Life for any issues just to receive little to no help, as well as delayed responses,” Onofre said.
“Jackie and Omar expressed frustrations I’ve heard from many club leaders. I’m pleased to see students empowering themselves and their peers,” comments Professor Jason Tougaw on the matter of the petition.
And empower the QC students it did, starting with talking to other clubs they knew the E-Boards of and listening as other club leaders came forward and revealed the issues they faced, whether it was Student Association, OSDL, or even with the Director of OSDL Dwayne Jones.
Going from club room to club room in the Student Union with a clipboard with a QR code that linked to the form, and even spreading the petition online via the Google form link, Onofre and Horowtiz managed to gather fifty-eight signatures, with others hesitant to put their name officially on the petition.
When asked what they are hoping to achieve from this petition, Horowitz says that for her, the main thing is just to gain information about what everyone else is facing with student life and to hope that the combined force of it all will result in some much-needed change.
Onofre agrees, saying that “I talked to other club leaders about their issues and how they would always get shrugged off. There’s only so much we can do as students without some awareness from the higher ups, and once Professor Tougaw suggested taking action, that’s what Jackie and I decided to do to see if we can get some sort of change.”
As it turns out, fifty-eight signatures seem to be the magic number, as on May 5th, 2023 Interim Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Sean Pierce thanked the petitioners on behalf of Vice President for Student Affairs Jennifer Jarvis for submitting their concerns with [namely] OSDL and student life in general.
According to Pierce, the comments are in the process of being reviewed, as they are looking into and researching some of the scenarios that have been illustrated, and petitioners will be contacted in June to discuss the incidents presented.