Photo by Ryan Lanxton
This week’s Student Government meeting saw some important announcements and proposals made by various members that could affect many across campus.
To start the meeting, President Nickxit Bhardwaj announced he is working closely with administration in Ann Arbor to possibly have the Go Blue Guarantee extended to UM-Flint.
The Go Blue Guarantee is a program that allows incoming freshman students from low-income families–those making less than $65,000–to attend Ann Arbor with free tuition. Bhardwaj sees this as a huge opportunity for those in the Flint and surrounding communities, especially for incoming freshman students whose GPA may not be enough to attend Ann Arbor, but meet UM-Flint enrollment requirements.
Bhardwaj also announced that new hubs for commuter scooters will be installed. The Department of Public Safety will work closely with Student Government to help identify areas where certain speed zones will have to be established.
Vice President Queen Odirah followed Bhardwaj by announcing the Fire Pit Talent Show competition. Open to all students, contestants will be able to submit videos of them performing their talents with prizes being awarded to the top three. As of right now, no deadline has been established, but Odirah expects it to be in late March.
Director of Student Affairs Marcus Williams announced he is looking into possibly having a vice president serve under him on the Student Affairs Committee. He said this position could be open to the student body and anyone interested should contact him at [email protected].
Following Williams, Director of Foreign Outreach Samantha Uptmor said she is looking for students who would be interested in testifying in front of the Michigan Legislature on Thursday, March 12. As part of the SCHEF coalition formed by various universities across the state to get more funding allocations, students can tell their personal stories of how funding has impacted their learning experience at UM-Flint.
Senator Terae King Jr. announced he and other members of Student Government will travel to Carman-Ainsworth High School to speak with students and their Student Council about getting involved and promoting leadership. As King puts it, leadership and involvement are vital for the younger generation to succeed later in life and he hopes his message will convey that.
Some of the other big announcements of the night came from Senator Donald Weismiller. After attending a meeting with the UM-Flint’s Parking Committee, he announced several new changes that will affect students, faculty and those in the Flint community.
First, $5,000 has been approved to update and standardize signage across the entire campus. Commencing in two phases, the most important signage will be changed first, followed by less important signage with the leftover funds.
Next, Weismiller announced he and DPS chief Ray Hall are working out an idea to bring a Smart Gate system to campus. This system would have students swipe their MCard to gain access to student-only parking spaces, meaning visitors and non-students will no longer be able to take up these spots.
Although only an idea for now, Weismiller reported that Hall hopes to see this system come to fruition anywhere from later this year to next year.
New changes are also coming to how parking tickets can be paid. A typical parking ticket costs $25 and requires those paying in-person to go to the 67th District courthouse. All fees collected from these violations by students go directly to the city, with UM-Flint receiving none. According to Weismiller, the Downtown Development Authority, who is responsible for handling these violations, are also raising this fine to $40.
However, DPS and the DDA are currently in negotiations to have 20% of these fines against students go back to the university. Additionally, students will be able to pay these fines at the DDA office downtown, allowing people to avoid waiting in the often long lines at the courthouse.
Weismiller finished his report by announcing construction will take place on Saginaw Street over the summer. The construction will reconfigure the street to make room for slanted parking on the sides, rip up much of the historic bricks and replace them with asphalt. However, some sections of the street will possibly retain the bricks, mostly in crosswalks.
To finish the night, three new bills were proposed. Senate Bill 2020-003, proposed by Williams and Senator Jordan McNaughton, asks for $600 to be approved to provide for food and hosting costs for the upcoming Food and Housing Forum on Wednesday, Feb. 26.
Weismiller then proposed Bill 2020-004, which asks for $500 in funds to buy prizes for the Fire Pit talent show competition. The prizes will include a Beats Pill Speaker, an Amazon Kindle and a GoPro camera.
Finally, Director of Student Organizations and Partnership Board Kamryn Hoadley, along with McNaughton, proposed Bill 2020-005. This bill asks for $100 to be given to each student organization that completes the Center for Gender and Sexuality training program that was announced at last week’s meeting. A maximum of $500 was set, meaning only five organizations could participate.