By Bill Crain
Last Monday, April 30, I testified before the CUNY Board of Trustees on two agenda items: the proposed revisions to the CUNY Bylaws related to Student Activity Fees; and the authorization of Excellence Fees and Differential Tuition for various CUNY Graduate programs. My testimony on these agenda items is given below:
Concern over Proposed Revisions to the Student Activity Fees
The proposed changes to the Student Activity Fees Policy are misguided. One change denies students the ability, through democratic referenda, to pay fees for NYPIRG, even though NYPIRG does significant lobbying to make college affordable.
Moreover, the proposal removes authority from the students by requiring campus presidents to weigh in on student government recommendations.
Finally, the proposed changes have been rushed. The Board of Trustees should put off this proposal until there is much more CUNY-wide discussion of the issues. In this discussion, faculty, staff, and students should have a voice.
Scrutinizing Graduate Excellence Fees
The Board is considering the authorization of various Excellence Fees and Differential Tuition for various graduate programs at The University. One program, for Architecture, is on my own campus.
I am happy that the Board is taking a closer and critical look at Excellence Fees for undergraduate programs. These fees are just back-door tuition increases.
But graduate students also struggle financially; they often have trouble making ends meet.
While these graduate fees might be more legal than the undergraduate fees, they compromise The University’s mission of giving all New Yorkers, rich or poor, access to education.
One justification for the new fee at the CCNY School of Architecture and elsewhere is that once students enter the work force, they will make more money than many others. But what good does that do for an economically disadvantaged student who is having trouble affording the graduate school right now? The fee increase will simply increase wealth inequities our society. Wealthier students, who can afford the fee increases, will eventually earn a nice living. Poorer students will get shut out from the programs.
Please vote against these tuition increases and excellence fees.
Bill Crain is a Professor of Psychology at The City College of New York and a member of the University Faculty Senate.
UFS Chair Conway and Professor Hugo Fernandez, Representative to the CUNY Board of Trustees Committee on Student Affairs would like to note that, subsequent to Dr. Crain’s testimony, the CUNY Board voted, in accordance with the requests of the University Student Senate, as well as UFS, and PSC support, to amend only section 15 of the CUNY Bylaws, and to reserve review of section 16, regarding Student Activity Fees, until a later time.
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