As the college grapples with the loss of students, insufficient funding becomes a glaring issue.
By Alteara Huggins-Jones
Photo Credit: Alteara Huggins-Jones
Tim, the WSIA engineering director, is hard at work, as the radio’s budget hangs in the balance.
The student government is rethinking the current student activity fee, as they determine whether to increase how much students pay or adjust the budget to account for the notable decrease in students.
Lower enrollment and inflation is causing the college to struggle and a change is going to happen.
Enrollment at CSI has been at a steady decline since 2017, according to the Institutional Profile on the CSI website. The pandemic then made enrollment numbers plummet further, as financial struggles left many people without the option of continuing college.
During the 2019-2020 academic year, there were 12,797 students.
Out of 12,797 students, 12,714 of them took at least one online class-an average of 99.35%. Approximately 12,124 students, or 94.74%, took all of their courses online, according to College Factual.
“Student government is looking at a referendum to account for inflation and decline in students, ” said Mike Ivany, the Student Government President. “We haven’t decided if we want to raise it or reallocate it.”
Since the end of the pandemic, students have seen the benefits of having online classes and they have since stayed with them. Students have said they would prefer to have solely online classes.
Many CSI students have opted for online courses, which leaves fewer students on campus to join clubs and organizations.
A referendum is used to change the CUNY student activity fee; it requires 10% of the student body to sign on and then vote in a student election. The student activity is $138.15 for full-time students and $102.15 for part-time students, with a $73.60 summer fee.
CSI used to see around 14,000 incoming students and those numbers have decreased to around 9,000 students. The activity fee pool has considerably decreased, but still must be split among athletics, intramurals/recreation, student government, clubs/organizations, publications, childcare, the Campus Activities Board, WSIA Radio Station, health and wellness, transportation fees, New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) and the University Student Senate (USS).
“Full time enrollment is directly correlated to how much of the student activity fee we get,” said Laura Maraio, Chief Engineer at WSIA. “The money we get is per student which is different between full-time and part-time students.”
WSIA’s budget is derived entirely from the student activity fee, unless they do their own fundraising and underwriting to raise more money. The budget for WSIA is now $120,000 at most, though they used to get at least $147,000, which leaves the organization struggling for appropriate funding to pay for their engineer, billing, student leaders and necessary equipment.
Online students pay an activity fee at CSI but they aren’t interested in joining clubs or organizations because why come in when you have classes at home?
Less students on campus leads to less students in organizations and clubs. Clubs and organizations without members are forced to close.
Many other colleges are having budgeting issues after the pandemic and even well before. Undergraduate enrollment is down 9.4% compared to two years ago, which is a loss of almost 1.4 million students, according to a CNBC article on October 5.
SUNY Buffalo depended on one organization for funding of their radio station and magazine, but the SUNY lost their radio station along with a campus magazine when the non-profit student organization closed.
“I noticed there are less students on campus,” said Samantha Cottes, a senior at CSI. “This could be because students realize how convenient online classes are and are trying to stick with that as much as possible.”