City Council Student Liaison: UMD students should get involved in the governance of College Park

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The opinions expressed in the guest columns are those of the author.

It has been an honor and a rewarding experience to work on behalf of the University of Maryland students before the College Park City Council. During my three plus years at this university, I have met many students and residents of College Park through my participation in various committees and organizations in the city. I participated in concrete improvements and acquired skills that were impossible to acquire in the classroom. It all started because I was asked to get involved. Now I want to make the same request to you.

College Park is fast becoming the quintessential college town. Through the efforts of City Council, the Greater College Park Initiative and the University District Vision, we are developing our city and helping it realize its potential.

Members from across the College Park community participate in organizations such as the College Park City-University partnership to tackle issues such as housing and redevelopment, transportation, public safety, education and sustainability . The university is working with the city council to provide child care options for some College Park residents and university staff. We have come a long way as a city in recent years and the cooperation between the different communities is at a remarkable climax.

As College Park continues to grow, the challenges for students persist. Students continue to struggle to find affordable housing and continue to have issues with some landlords and their living conditions. Students continue to be invested in new transportation options and voting opportunities. It is a great pride for me that students are at the forefront of street cleaning and beautification projects. I hear every week about the various community service projects that students are involved in.

The students here are incredibly passionate about what they do and their vision for their community. Nonetheless, we need to encourage greater student participation at College Park to make our voices heard and demonstrate our commitment to the community we are building.

The students made real changes at College Park. Students advocated for increased access to mail ballots and were one of the main reasons the city now has no excuse mail ballot. The students were involved in moving the game day hatches around campus and helped ensure the hatches are safe and secure. The students continued to build strong relationships with the residents and community leaders of the Old Town north and west of College Park. Students make a noticeable difference here at College Park.

It is with this in mind that the President of the Student Government Association, Jonathan Allen, Deputy Liaison Serena Saunders and I decided to create the Student Advisory Committee. The committee’s goal is to establish a space for students to discuss city issues, while engaging city and university staff in a dialogue.

The nine voting members of the committee are students, with some campus organizations getting automatic seats. There are, however, three voting seats in general. I am writing to encourage all students at this university to get involved in the College Park community and to consider applying for one of these general positions. Priority will be given to those who are not associated with SGA. This is a unique opportunity to bring more students into the public service. No experience is required.

I was once asked to get involved. I am now asking you. You are an essential part of the College Park vision. Come make your voice heard. If you are interested, please contact me at [email protected] I hope to have some news soon.

Alex Tobin is the student liaison for College Park City Council. He can be contacted at [email protected].

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