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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

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Candidate profile: Smith values concrete plans to improve student lives


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Smith wants to improve food, parking and Wi-Fi on campus. | Justin Tijerina/The Cougar

Economics junior and Student Government Association presidential candidate Shane Smith has been a part of just about every organization that UH has to offer.

Now, Smith’s campaign plans to use that first-hand experience to make the day-to-day lives of students easier by improving meal plans, Wi-Fi and parking, as his party name Project Red: Better Food. Better Wi-Fi. Better Parking indicates.

“I have a lot of different perspectives which the University is made of, and I think I’ve been able to learn what it takes to get stuff done,” Smith said.

Smith serves as the chair of the Food Service Advisory Committee, the vice chair of the Student Fees Advisory Committee, the president of the undergraduate Mock Trial program and a senior residential adviser at Calhoun Lofts.

Smith believes that the experiences and connections he’s made while serving different organizations will help him improve the conditions his campaign is focused on.

“It’s a matter of having influence, (and) if you have good ideas, if you have a good relationship with students and the administration to carry those ideas,” Smith said.

One of Smith’s top goals is to give students access to better Wi-Fi around campus. Smith said that the IT department has been doing a fairly good job in upgrading technology and the UH wireless network, but what it needs is to know which areas need improvement.

His other initiative involves finding cheaper meal plan alternatives to residential students. One of the most popular meal plans, the Cougar Choice 160, is widely used.

When Smith served for the Food and Dining Services, he looked at the data for meal plans and found that Cougar Choice 160 sold more than 2,700 units, but students were leaving 45 percent of their meals unused.

Smith has brought up the issue with the subcommittee that recommends new meal plans every year, as well as Aramark, the Auxiliary Services Department, the Food Service Contract and Dining Services, and they developed some new plans for next year.

“It is a step in the right direction. Not a big step, but it’s progress,” Smith said.

Smith also has plans to improve parking, including an ERP-only pass that costs $20.

“If we offer an only ERP pass that was sold very cheaply, roughly maybe $20, I believe enough students would buy that pass and save money because the next cheapest price would be $100,” he said.

Smith wants to add a tracking system to make it easy to know if there are any spots available.

“It’s not free, but it’s a great alternative than adding another lot. All it takes is the digital sign and sensors (for the) cars that go in and out of the lot,” Smith said. “The tracking system will add and subtract the number of spaces left in the lot. You don’t need to circle the lot for 15 minutes trying to find an empty (spot).”

Smith said that one of the biggest differences between him and the other candidates is his diverse senator team. The group consists of 14 resident advisers, students from five different departments, Greek affiliation members, IT experts and a variety of club and organization affiliations.

“You’d be hard pressed to find an area of student or academic life that someone in our group doesn’t cover,” Smith said.

Smith said he has an agenda full of ideas ready to run with alongside his team if elected president.

“(I want to) make students’ lives easier,” Smith said. “That’s the goal.”

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