Queens College students have been left wondering where their Student Technology Fee (STF) has been allocated for the past three academic years, as a detailed plan has not been posted of it since the 2019-20 academic year. The STF was established in 2002 to enhance college teaching and learning through technology. The STF is mandatory for all students and collects approximately $5.5 million annually, with each full-time undergraduate student paying $125 every semester, according to the Queens College website. However, there has been no information released for students to learn about how the collected fees have been allocated.
The Office of Communications and Marketing released a statement in September 2020 that highlighted how the Student Technology Fee supported essential campus services in response to the shift to virtual learning posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of these virtual services included weekly meditation workshops, strength and fitness workshops, and the Student Leadership Summit. However, it remains unclear how the fees have been allocated since then, especially with the return to in-person classes starting in Fall 2021.
The Knight News reached out to Troy J. Hahn, Chief Information Officer and Chair of the Student Technology Fee Committee, to retrieve the figures and investigate the missing Student Tech Fee information. The following figure is what Hahn shared with The Knight News:
- Figure 1: 2022-2023 — STF Budget Allocation/Request
|Expense Name||Personal Services (PS) Cost||Other Than Personal Services (OTPS) Cost||Tech Fee Funds Devoted to Project|
|Student Print Stations||$40,000||$40,000|
|Technology Enhanced Classrooms||$250,000||$250,000|
|Upgrading Instructional Computer Labs||$150,000||$150,000|
|Full Time and Part-Time Staff||$2,400,000||$2,400,000|
According to Hahn, the STF plans are normally posted on the QC website. However, the plans from the past three academic years have not yet been uploaded due to hardware failures and security vulnerabilities with the under-construction QC website. The decision was made to transition into the new QC website, even though it was only 60% complete.
The pandemic caused significant strains on QC’s technology infrastructure and team members, which raised several challenges. Hahn said ‘the STF was not immune’ to those challenges.
It’s worth noting that the STF Committee advises President Frank Wu on the development of a plan for fund expenditure derived from the Student Technology Fee. The fee has funded various campus projects, including departmental and shared-use labs, smart classrooms, computer upgrades, and the development of faculty teaching expertise.
According to Hahn, “The decision was made during the website transition to focus on the academic divisions, departments, and student support services. This left various subsections of the website, including Information Technology (IT), in a static place.”
Hahn reassured The Knight News that the new website is almost complete. The IT department has hired Roseann Warren, an experienced Webmaster, to thoroughly review the website for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance. This will ensure that the text, images, navigation, and tools on the site are easily accessible. Warren and her team will be implementing a major overhaul of the website this summer.
Despite technological and pandemic-related setbacks, Hahn shared that the committee met as needed during the pandemic. Starting in Fall 2023, the committee will begin meeting at least once a semester and additionally, as needed. It will review proposals, recommend new funding proposals, check the status of approved projects, and maintain project oversight regarding budget and effectiveness. The committee schedule will be posted on the QC IT website; these meetings are open to the student body.
Hahn encouraged students to be curious and active participants in the fee allocation process. “As the Queens College CIO, I welcome students’ active participation. Numerous line items are essential, such as the library’s online resources, related personnel, and hardware/software maintenance. I believe it is a good practice for students to come and ask questions to stay informed,” he said. The committee will post meeting minutes for those who are interested but may not necessarily be able to attend as well.
Students can also provide feedback on the Student Tech Fee allocation process. Hahn shared, “Early in my tenure as QC CIO, I identified the need to improve the STF Standard Operating Procedures. I began a deeper investigation into the process in order to create a more robust public technology environment. I strongly encourage students to provide feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
With the new website overhaul and the STF committee’s commitment to meeting regularly, students can look forward to greater transparency and engagement.