By Emily S. Tai, Hugo Fernandez, and Kimora
As many on the CUNY Faculty may be aware, controversy currently swirls around a Board of Trustees resolution, charging the Vice-Chancellor of Legal Affairs to examine current practice with regard to Student Activities Fees across the campuses of City University. Over 200 people have signed up to testify with regard to this matter at today’s Queens Borough hearing of CUNY’s Board of Trustees.
The Office of Interim Vice-Chancellor Student Affairs Christopher Rosa has established an information and Commentary site for the proposed revisions on Student Activity Fees.
The website features a wide range of relevant documents, including the legal background for viewpoint neutrality, from the 2000 Supreme Court decision Wisconsin vs. Southworth to the most recent case involving Queens College, as well as the charge regarding Student Activities fees, from the Board of Trustees; the proposed revisions, and current student opinions.
The UFS Committee on Student Affairs offers a Resolution
To these documents may now be added a UFS Resolution, offered by the UFS Committee on Student Affairs, and unanimously approved at the most recent April, 2018 UFS Plenary:
Resolution for Support of Students in the matter of Student Activities Fees
WHEREAS, litigation involving the City University of New York (CUNY) has raised concerns about the First Amendment and the funding of student activities; and
WHEREAS, the faculty agree that changes needed to comply with the law may be necessary; and
WHEREAS, the faculty agree that a review of best practices is a worthwhile exercise; and
WHEREAS, students deserve to have input to the expenditure of the fees they pay to support activities; and
WHEREAS, both faculty and students support the need for greater transparency related to all fiscal matters at CUNY; and
WHEREAS, the issues are complex and require a clear understanding not only of case law, but also a review of best practices implemented elsewhere; THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the faculty request that only those changes needed to directly respond to legal settlements be implemented at this time; and BE IT FURTHER
RESOLVED, that any further changes to the process of expending student activity fee funds be delayed until the fall term so that additional discussion and a better understanding can be reached by all parties.
A Call for Faculty Comments
The website established by the CUNY Office of Student Affairs has a link for comments—and has indicated that the views of CUNY’s Faculty would be greatly welcomed.
We hope all our CUNY colleagues will consider weighing on this important matter.
Hugo Fernandez is an Associate professor of art and photography at LaGuardia Community College. He is a member of the UFS Executive Committee and the UFS Delegate to the CUNY Board of Trustees Committee on Student Affairs. Emily S. Tai is an Associate Professor of History at Queensborough Community College of the City University of New York, a member of the UFS Executive Committee, and the Alternate UFS Delegate to the CUNY Board of Trustees Committee on Student Affairs. Kimora is a member of the Core Faculty in the Masters Program in Criminal Justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and chairs the UFS Committee on Student Affairs.
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