My name is Sabah Ahsan and I am a junior, Urban Studies and Political Science double major at Queens College, City University of New York. After graduating, I plan to pursue a Master’s of Public Administration (MPA), and work for a municipal agency in New York City or State. I originally became interested in an MPA in my Urban Studies classes. In these courses I learned how insufficient some social services are in the United States. I would like to improve these systems so that more people have a social safety net to rely on and have opportunities for upward mobility. I’m grateful for my professors and advisors at Queen College, who have guided me to my career path. That being said, there are facets of my college experience, and CUNY more broadly, that have room for improvement.
I’ve had a positive college experience at Queens College, but I have a few challenges. I am a recipient of the Macaulay Honors Full Ride Scholarship, which covers tuition, textbooks, and provides me with a laptop. I also have an advisor through the Macaulay program, and It has been nice to have one-on-one academic guidance. Personally, my main struggle is maintaining the high GPA requirement for my scholarship. To continue to be eligible for the scholarship, I must earn a 3.5 GPA or higher every semester. I wouldn’t be able to attend college without my scholarship, so it is stressful for me, especially juggling my coursework, extracurriculars, and an internship. While my college experience has been mostly positive, my scholarship does put additional pressure on me.
Outside of myself, I can see ways in which Queens College and the CUNY System could be better. For example, in this coming semester, the Urban Studies department is offering all in person classes. I’ve noticed that throughout the pandemic, in-person classes are less likely to be filled than the online classes. This is a challenge for adjunct professors, as their jobs are dependent upon students taking their classes. It would be better if it were up to the discretion of the professor whether or not the class was in-person or online, or if we had additional funding for Covid safety measures. Overall, CUNY’s response to the pandemic could have been better.
To solve issues of the pandemic response, and the stressors of the Macaulay Scholarship, CUNY needs more state funding. Since we are largely a commuter school, most students live with their parents, and many are wary of exposing the older generation to COVID-19. More students would feel comfortable coming to campus if there was a weekly testing program for all students. Additionally, CUNY has been cutting the amount of tenure track faculty, and instead replaces them with adjunct positions. Adjunct faculty lack the job security and have lower salaries than the full time faculty. CUNY needs more funding in the state budget to treat our professors right. Lastly, CUNY needs more funding for mental health resources for students. Students face many stressors in college, such as for me, maintaining the high GPA requirement for my scholarship. Currently, the counselors at Queens College can only see students for free for a few sessions, until the student needs to pay out of pocket. This makes counseling at QC inaccessible for many students. Therefore, we need more state funding for CUNY to help with the pandemic response, treat our faculty fairly, and to provide more mental health resources for students.