RUSA committees brainstorm semester plans
Committees of the Rutgers University Student Assembly convened last night at the Rutgers Student Center on the College Avenue campus to discuss their prospective projects and goals for the semester.
The University Affairs committee, which focuses on reforming policies that affect students on campus, and its subcommittee on privacy talked about several of its initiatives. Most of the focus was on privacy, parking and tenant and environmental concerns.
RUSA will pick up where it left off and fulfill unfinished tasks from last semester, RUSA President Yousef Saleh said.
"Any other further things we need to be done that come up, we will address them at our meetings," said Saleh, a School of Arts and Sciences senior. "Sometimes things come up on us and we get to react and help our administration in taking the pulse of the student body."
The privacy committee is researching University policies on privacy and is also using policies of other entities, such as Facebook and Twitter, for guidance, said Daniel Herbert, Busch senator for 2011.
"We're concerned with not just policy, but practice and where the practice deviates from policy," said Herbert, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.
The privacy committee conducts research regarding residential, online and student worker privacy, Herbert said. The committee hopes that by the assembly's second general body meeting of the semester they present an in-depth report of their findings.
"Once we have those results in hand we will be able to start phase two, where we actually look at what policies we have, how to change them and [whether] we have the power to publicize, so everything we do this semester is dependent on what we find out in the next couple of weeks," Herbert said.
One of the biggest concerns for the University Affairs committee is the parking on the Livingston campus, said Kristen Clarke, University Affairs chair.
Construction of new facilities on Livingston campus left students with not only decreased parking spaces, but safety concerns as well, which stemmed from the removal of some parking closer to the main campus.
"Students are walking on a side of the road in the dark with no lights," said Clarke, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. "It's just really dangerous. Our advisor works at Student Life, and she's gotten a lot of e-mails concerned about the situation."
The University Affairs committee is trying to reach out to Jack Molenaar, director of Transportation Services, to find a possible solution. But Clarke said it might be out of his hands.
"I don't think it's his issue anymore," she said. "He's not the one that shuts down the parking lots."
The University Affairs committee is also starting a tenants' rights campaign, Clarke said. The committee wants to proliferate a survey to students who live off campus in the New Brunswick and Piscataway area that inquires about their relationship with their property owners.
"It's pretty much students answering questions about their landlords and telling us what their landlord does and if they like the landlord," Clarke said. "Hopefully we're going to compile this together and turn it into actual information that we can post to a website."
When landlords commit illegal activities, many students, unaware of their rights, do not take action against them, Clarke said. By creating an online presence, the University Affairs committee hopes students turn to the website and check comments about the property and the landlord before making serious decisions.
"Landlords right now are kind of ripping students off because we're naïve, we're young," Clarke said. "No one's ever really signed a lease before, so they think they can get away with everything."
The University Affairs committee is also working together with on-campus organization Take Back the Tap, Clarke said. Instead of selling bottled water on campus, the initiative involves installing water fill stations, where people can fill water bottles.
"It's just really environmentally friendly. It's a lot cheaper for students, so we're working on it," Clarke said. "Hopefully, the first fill stations will be installed before Spring Break, but that's not official at all. We're waiting for money transfers to go through and the go ahead from facilities."