In a previous post, I described how I became involved with UNM student government in January 2015. With the new school year about to start, I wanted to detail some of the projects I have been working on and give ideas on things which could be addressed in the upcoming year.
An issue of great importance to students and faculty, especially on North Campus, I have been working with UNM’s Parking and Transportation Services (PATS) to brainstorm ideas on improving the parking situation at the University. PATS does a good job of helping ensure commuters to campus each day find a place for their vehicles. However, there are a couple of projects which could enhance the usability of campus parking:
- Permit Sharing Program
Some parking resources, such as the Yale Parking structure, are expensive for individual students to afford. I have proposed a permit sharing program to allow students to pool their money to purchase a single permit for use with multiple vehicles. This helps increase utilization of the parking structure while also improving affordability of the passes. Further, if the parking structure is utilized at capacity, then this program would help increase its effective capacity without requiring construction.
- Improving South-North Campus shuttle serivce
Some students who work on South Campus, such as those at the Center for High Technology Materials, have to travel to North Campus for classes or meetings with their advisor. Absent any available parking in M lot, these students either have to pay for hourly parking in the Yale parking structure or take several UNM shuttles. There is no direct South-North campus shuttle; instead, students must go from South Campus to Yale/Redondo, then either ride around Redondo to the Duck pond or cross campus on foot, and in both cases, then take a shuttle to North Campus. Either way, taking the shuttle chews through a lot of time. I have encouraged PATS to look into increasing the number of shuttles they have on the road, and consider implementing a direct South-North campus shuttle.
Biking on Campus
As someone who rides their bike across campus on a regular basis, I am surprised with how difficult it is to find safe and fast routes. In collaboration with the GPSA President, we are encouraging the UNM Bike Committee to continue their work on rethinking bike routes on campus, and improving bike friendliness overall.
Finding funding to travel to conferences can be tricky. To this end, I have been raising awareness amongst graduate students in the department on a set of grants funded by GPSA for conference travel. During the spring semester, we had 10 students apply, of which 5 students were awarded $2500 in total. It is my hope to increase Physics student participation in applying for these grants.
As you may have noticed from above, most of these projects are still in the process of being completed. During the upcoming year, I would like to focus on getting a Permit Sharing Program started as well as working with PATS and the Bike committee to get dedicated bike lanes around campus.
One new project will be working to clarify how Pro-Rated Benefits (PB) funds are allocated and distributed. In particular, this past year saw the enforcement of a clause in the GPSA Constitution which stipulated that all PB funds not used at the end of the current fiscal year would revert back to the GPSA General Fund. This caused a great deal of concern at Council; while we were able to pass a temporary stop-gap measure to let students groups retain some money for the summer, a more permanent solution was desireable. Unfortunately, such a solution was not available to Council at that time. I would like to remedy this and help empower student groups to spend and save their money as they see fit, and to prevent such reversions from happening in the future.
Another project which I recently have been incidentally involved with concerns the Student Fee Review Board (SFRB). This board decides how student fees are to be allocated across campus organizations, and is also the entity charged with deciding whether student fees need to be raised. My interest in this work stems largely from a committment to ensuring student fees are allocated appropriately and not charged needlessly.
On the whole, it is shaping up to be an exiciting year - there is a lot to do, both on research and student government! As always, if you would like to help or have ideas, do let me know.