SGA at-larges weigh in ideas

In the Student Government Association, four senators hold at-large position, with which they represent the general interests of the University.

The four at-large senators for the 46th administration, Mariam Zakaria, Joshua Gray, Julian Jiminez and Kyrie Ruiz, have different priorities and ideas regarding University improvements.

The senators agree parking is an important issue, but are divided on how to solve the problem.

Gray said the University can develop more parking lots, and shuttles can transport students from those new lots to campus. He said he’s also entertaining the possibility of faculty parking lots being re-designated for students.’

Ruiz said there are definite hurdles to overcome before this issue is resolved.

‘They can’t build parking garages without student fees,’ Ruiz said. ‘I like a green initiative. Next semester, I will be carpooling with a friend.’

Zakaria said she is interested in the proposal to integrate the Metro Q card with the Cougar 1Card. She also said she would like to see students organize carpooling online.

Zakaria’s agenda involves improving on-campus wireless access by expanding wireless routers to many outdoor areas. She said wireless printer banks should be available for students to print from anywhere on campus and retrieve the printout from the closest printer.

Zakaria is working on an SGA environmental initiative with chemistry associate professor Simon Bott on a biodiesel program.’

‘The idea is to take cooking grease from (campus restaurants) Wendy’s and Chick-Fil-A and turn it into a biodiesel that can run the lawnmowers and golf carts on campus,’ Zakaria said.

The environmental club will also work on this project, which could potentially decrease the University’s gasoline need by at least 10 gallons per day. The project received attention from former President Clinton when he mentioned the biodiesel project on National Public Radio in February.’

In the wake of the shooting at an on-campus Metro bus stop and reports of assaults and robberies, campus safety is another concern among the newly elected senators.

‘We need more presence (on campus). Not necessarily police, but student groups like Cougar Patrol,’ Ruiz said.

Cougar Patrol is a student group that assists campus police by patrolling the campus while in radio contact with officers and the police dispatcher. Cougar Patrol also escorts students to their cars at night and provides simple vehicle assistance such as jump-starts.

‘I want to be proactive and prevent problems before they before they happen,’ Ruiz said.

Ruiz said hiring new officers is an effective, but expensive, solution to campus safety. If Cougar Patrol offered students paid positions, it would provide work-study opportunities and keep University costs and student fees down, Ruiz said.

Gray said he would like to see a tuition lock for next semester.

He and Ruiz said they support details of SGA’s five-point plan for student tuition, including application of a tuition increase cap at 6 percent for the next two years, a four-year freeze on freshman tuition and a 2-for-1 tuition rate for summer courses.

Gray said he is interested in promoting community outreach programs by forming student-volunteer groups. He said he would like SGA to start a volunteer group that could give time to the elderly.

Gray also said enhancing communication channels between the SGA and the student body would allow students to voice concerns and become more involved with campus affairs.

‘I want to act instead of react,’ Gray said.

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