This week’s materials were interesting, seeing the breakdown of prioritization across CUNY’s budgeting. Working in CUNY, I feel like I am involved in conversations about budgeting a lot, such as with the CUNY Commons and its struggles with funding or more typical cases like how money for roles/projects is distributed throughout office units via my position at Lehman. It is, however, always jarring to see the discrepancies in certain investments by the administration. For example, as someone working with teacher education programs currently, I was immediately drawn to the budget for Smart Classroom and Digital Technology upgrades. They stated they would be putting 8 million dollars towards the senior colleges and only 2 million dollars towards the community colleges. Not only does that number (while large, don’t get me wrong) seem small for a technology investment at the world’s largest urban university system to begin with, but to then provide the most accessible of our institutions with the least resources, feels not so good. This seems to be a trend across the budget, however. Having worked at LaGuardia and City Tech, where entire floors are unavailable, or 3/8 elevators are working at any given time, it’s unsurprising to see the numbers laid out as they are, but it’s still disappointing.
SeeThroughNY is a tool I’ve encountered before and hadn’t visited in a while, mostly because when I first found it, I was a very early graduate student doing the CUNY Juggle (working and adjunct’ing at about 2-3+ schools at any given semester), and it made me sad. I do think it is a very positive thing in that transparency can foster a healthier relationship between institutions and the public. I appreciate it for a lot of reasons, but I can also see the argument for privacy, too. We’ve made it a cultural norm not to ask people how much money they make, for example, and so to have it publicly available due to it being publicly funded, while fair, almost grants more privacy and, by extension, more social power to private institutions. Ultimately, I think it’s a good thing, but you have to wonder what kind of [drastic] shift would occur if suddenly everybody had to be transparent about their finances.