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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Is the FSA ‘Bad’?–Debate Rages On


By Jeffrey Javidfar

The Faculty Student Association (FSA) is one of the largest student employers on campus. Annually, between 400 and 500 students work for the organization, most of them in Campus Dining Services. FSA is also one of the largest sources of student complaints, and this often revolves around its dining services. Interestingly enough, it is something that its marketing department seeks out.

In addition to self-employing, FSA also subcontracts the campus bookstore to Barnes and Noble and West Campus dining to Chartwell’s. Kevin Kelly, the Executive Director of the FSA, said that these companies’ expertise, large size and ability to buy in bulk actually drive down costs.

‘It keeps students from paying for employees all year round,’ Kelly said. ‘Chartwell’s can move managers to other locations, during the slower summer months where usually the Student Activities Center is the only dining facility open.’

However, many faculty members insist that the off-campus bookstore, Stony Books, provides better prices and service. Some go as far as giving book lists exclusively to that store, located on Rte. 25A.

‘I’ve had certain professors who say that things are available only at Stony Books, because the bookstore [on campus] was charging a lot more,’ student Ruchi Dharia said. ‘They didn’t want students to pay that much.’

Dharia, a senior in the Honors College, went on to attribute the higher prices to a lack of competition.

‘I think the cause of the [high prices] is that there is no other place on campus for students to go and get books,’ she said. ‘The only other option is to order your texts online and then you have to wait a couple of weeks.’

There is a pervasive feeling among students that high cost and shortcomings in customer relations are the norm, a sentiment that sparked a student protest march in the administration building in the fall.

‘The food on this campus sucks, and it’s way too expensive,’ said Joshua, a student only willing to give his first name.’I can buy a gallon of milk at Waldbaums for what I pay for a half-gallon on campus.’

Computer Corner also falls under the auspices of the FSA and has a monopoly on sale of computer products on campus. Although there is an educational discount provided to consumers, there have been several complaints about poor business practices.

‘The Computer Corner has provided substandard services since I’ve been here,’ sophomore Eric Chan said. ‘Not only are its services slow, unpredictable, and unreliable, but they also overcharge students.’

According the FSA’s annual budget charts, The Spot, the off-campus housing office and the Union Arcade usually lose money and are not heavily as used by students. However, the profits made from West Campus dining and laundry and vending services are more than sufficient to offset such losses.

Despite the element of disgruntled students, Kelly is proud of the organization’s recent successes that include self-operating the laundry services and making the Seawolves Marketplace profitable.

‘We were still able to get some returns and more importantly we now have a full time person that goes around and fixes the machines,’ he said.

The future initiative that Kelly said he is most excited about is the opening of a coffee shop on the first floor of the Kelly Quad Dining Facility scheduled to open next fall. The impetus for the plan was a study that revealed that a great deal of high school seniors on Long Island spend their leisure time at coffee shops. Possible vendors are still being considered.

‘I think it’s a great idea. Realistically, I think it’s somewhere I would go to do reading and work, or maybe even play some chess with my friends,’ said Jen Skirkanic, a resident of theUndergraduate Apartments. ‘I think it would greatly improve the quality of life on campus, especially for those in the undergraduate apartments.’

Kelly said that the FSA fulfills its mission of providing eclectic services that otherwise would not be available to those at the university. He asserted that he was eager to continually reexamine the organizations goals and operations.

‘As time has gone on we’ve look at each operation and asked what are the advantages, what is the primary mission, and what can the outside [help us with],’ he said.


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