Senators Aim to Take Spots Reserved for Business Students
By Ramses Martinez
A proposal brought before student government requesting additional funds to be used for a study abroad program has shed light on questionable things SG has done this semester.
The quandary is that certain members of SG attending the trip are also the same people who have power over whether the trip is funded by SG.
The trip is not open to all CSI students and is funded by student fees. This is due to the fact that only students in the BUS 420 class, a business class, can attend it.
The program features a trip which entails up to 23 students to attend a “Global Business Seminar” in Dublin, Ireland for nine days.
The participants of this trip are drawn primarily from the BUS 420 class.
In addition, according to CUNYfirst’s enrollment, BUS 420 currently has 15 filled spots with a maximum capacity of 10.
The number of students slated to be going on the trip is 23. Some of the participants of the trip are in fact current members of Student Government, who voted to allocate funds towards this endeavor.
As they were reminded during their meeting, these members were asked to recuse themselves during the vote for funding to prevent a conflict of interest.
These members included the Vice President of Student Government and several others who did not opt out during the vote.
The March 26 Student Government meeting on the voting for Global Business Seminar featured one of the participants, SG President Taiwo Adenekan, who knew the details of the trip, explaining what the trip was about and proceeded to defend it.
In attendance of the meeting, but unable to vote, was Vice President for Student Affairs A. Ramona Brown, Executive Director of CSI Association Marianne McLaughlin and Professional Parliamentarian David Curcio.
During the meeting it was mentioned by Mr. Curcio that if a member of Student Government was going on the trip that they could recuse themselves in order to prevent a conflict of interest.
Executive Director McLaughlin also explained to them that according to legal consultation, if a person is benefiting personally from the vote, said person should abstain from the vote.
He added that since SG members have inside knowledge regarding the trip, its participation in funding the trip should be widely publicized.
VP Brown also asked for a clarification on how eligibility will be determined for the trip by which SG president Adenekan stated that it was open only to students who meet the criteria of the class and were enrolled in the class.
BUS 420 Global Business Seminar: Doing Business Abroad is a class offered every year in the spring semester.
It offers students the opportunity to travel to another country and learn more about their culture and business practices.
In the past, this trip was funded in part from grants and from the attendees funds and not through Student Government.
Because the availability of grant money has significantly decreased from previous years, Professor Zimmerman and certain members of Student Government petitioned for funding.
The vote for the Global Business Seminar was quickly pushed through by the majority of SG members voting in favor.
The few members of SG who voiced any opposition to the seminar and wished for additional discussion about the trip were quickly voted down. The final vote was 15 for, five against, and three abstentions.
The Global Business Seminar as it stands will cost $55,000 of student activity fee funds.
These funds are taken directly from students’ tuition, added to each full and part time student’s bill who attends CSI.
Funds from this budget are usually allocated towards programs and services open to all students at CSI.
The cost for this trip includes room and board at $1,550 and $800 for airfare per student for a total cost of $54,050, with a $950 surplus for all 23 students.
This is not the final say on the matter however, the CSI Association must also vote on the issue.
CSI Association held two separate meetings so far in an attempt to address the issue.
The first meeting was adjourned prematurely after members of SG in favor of the proposition became agitated and verbally abusive towards members in attendance of the meeting such as VP Brown, which prompted Brown to end the meeting until a more civil discourse could occur.
The second meeting held on April 1, revisited the issue.
The original proposition was not approved; instead, a modified proposition was presented and approved.
This new proposal for the Global Business Seminar’s funding stated that the $55,000 earmarked for the trip would be donated to the Center for International Service for Study Abroad Opportunities (CISSAO).
The CISSAO would develop the criteria for the funding awards with first priority given to students attending the seminar.
The remaining funds will be allocated to other students who would be studying abroad based upon a review of their application and keeping with established award criteria already exercised by CISSAO.
This revised proposition will have to be voted on again by SG and then Association.
Issues such as this are not uncommon in Student Government.
Members of Student Government have in the past been accused of unethical behavior such as last spring, where the Vice President was removed from office after a trail of charges regarding abuse of power.
As it currently stands, the trip is most likely going to occur.
There are still some unanswered questions on the validity of the trip or of the people attending.
What is known for sure is that certain members of SG who will directly profit from the trip have continued to vote in favor of and support the proposition.
Only one member of student government who would directly benefit from the trip has been among those who have voiced any contention with the proposition.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Professor Alan Zimmerman “addressed Student Government during one of their monthly meetings asking for additional funding for this program.” The aforementioned graph has been removed.