Potential Fee Will Help Close CSI’s Million Dollar Budget Gap
By Christopher Williams
Administrators announced that the College of Staten Island is considering a plan to add a $40 charge per semester to every student’s tuition during a Transportation Fee Discussion with Student Government on November 6 in the Campus Center. The charge will cover 70% of loop and shuttle bus expenditures and help to circumvent a decrease in grant funding.
Vice President of Finance and Administration Ira Persky and Vice President for Student Affairs A. Ramona Brown, confirmed that CSI will either need to seriously curtail or completly stop shuttle services to balance the budget.
“We’re not going to anybody if it wasn’t necessary” said Persky. “The idea of coming here and getting support potentially for a fee, this is something the students have to vote on.”
Since the first year of state funding for the loop and shuttle, subsidy has gone down from $400,000 to $180,000 leaving the college to pay for transportation almost entirely on its own. The college also increased the shuttle bus services to three buses per hour.
Some students believe that the $40 charge to tuition is negligible and that the fee is worth keeping such an important part of campus functioning.
“I support it,” said Ahmed Ahmed, a Junior Senator in Student Government. “If you don’t make this decision now, you risk not having anything.”
Other students think that it would be wrong for CSI to place an extra charge to their tuition on top of what they’re already paying.
“I think it is wrong because it’s supposed to be no charge,” said Walt Poitevien, a senior at CSI. “The service is provided for a student’s good. If they charge us, either give more hours, or better and more bus service.”
CSI wouldn’t be the only CUNY campus charging students for shuttle service. CSI borrowed the idea to charge students from Queens College, which charges its students $40 per semester.
According to Student Government Minutes, a petition against the transportation fee is currently circulating campus, remarked Campus Center & Student Facilities Commissioner Rana Mohammad.
Student Government’s President Tai Adenekan responded to the rumors against the $40 charge, saying that a petition wouldn’t be useful in this since nothing has been agreed upon yet.
“There is still room for negotiation,” said Adenekan. “$40 can still easily be taken down to $30, $20, or $15.”
Student tuition pays for child services, the library, the gym, counseling services, and club hour events and that while the majority students don’t utilize most of these things, they still contribute in funding them, Persky told members of Student Government.
Shuttle services may be provided on Saturdays if a significant enough fee is put into place. Administrators also mentioned the possibility of involving the Dolphin Card to ensure that only students, faculty, and staff are using the shuttle service.
The shuttle and loop buses started as an experiment in 2008 using only one bus per service. Both loop and shuttle were such a success that CSI needed extra wheels to accommodate the amount of students utilizing these services, so they applied for a grant to put three shuttle buses and two loop buses in service.
Usage of the loop and shuttle buses has increased since its first pilot in 2008. The ferry shuttle carried 277,000 students in 2011-2012. The numbers have only increased; it now carrying 389,000 students in 2013-2014. The loop bus transported 291,000 students in the 2011-2012 academic year, which increased to 339,000 during the 2013-2014 academic year.
“I can’t predict what the fee is going to be five years from now just like I can’t predict what your tuition is going to be,” said Persky. “But what I can predict is that this reduces the obligation the college currently has that we can’t continue to do and students should think about that.”
Additional reporting by Clifford Michel.