Despite rain, 500 students voice opinions about SG at Forum

Students who showed up for Student Government’s biannual Forum Tuesday got pizza, smoothies, T-shirts and, most importantly, a chance to voice their opinions and meet their representatives from SG.

Those who stayed also got a little wet.”It went really well, except for the weather,” said Nicole Randazzo, a senator from the College of Arts and Sciences.

Despite the rain, about 500 students showed up at MLK Plaza, where they offered their opinions by filling out student concern surveys in return for pizza and smoothies.

“Our job is to serve as a liaison between students and the University,” said Natasha Bui, head of the SG’s Organizational Outreach Committee. “Without knowing student’s concerns, we don’t have a place to start.”

Many student concerns revolved around SG’s visibility and the rates and quality of housing and parking on campus, said Bui.

Tony Vengrofski, a senior majoring in engineering, said he opposed the 7 percent housing rate increase approved by a Board of Trustees subcommittee Feb. 1. The proposed use of the rate hikes – to fund new learning communities in residence halls and pay down the debt on a 1,000-bed housing complex slated to open in 2009 – ignores the more pressing needs of existing residence halls, Vengrofski said.

“Current on-campus housing is trash,” said Vengrofski, a resident of Kosove Hall who has lived on campus for the past four years. “Go into a room and it’s dirty. The stuff these fees will be paying for – I’ll never see the benefits.”

Josh Agramonte, a junior majoring in mass communications, said he worried about possible tuition increases and the 20 percent parking rate increase approved by the same BOT subcommittee.

“With the continued expansion of the University, I’m concerned about how much it’s going to cost me to attend here,” Agramonte said.

SG has attempted to work with students on their concerns, Bui said. Students can meet with senators on the SG parking committee every Wednesday at 6 p.m. to discuss their concerns. Bui has also asked senators to wear SG shirts and nametags every Tuesday to increase their visibility on campus.

Table displays at the event explained the four agencies of SG – Student Resource Agency, WBUL, Safe Team, SG Computer Services – and the services they provide to students. Students also participated in trivia contests and played against SG senators in ping-pong.

“The turnout of both students and members of student government shows the willingness of both sides to work together and speak frankly,” said senate President Barclay Harless. “Right now, SG is not reaching out to students enough and events like this show us that students are willing to come out.”