Parking, Bear Bus initiatives discussed at State of the Student Body Address

By Kevin Graham

Student Body President Benjamin Eveslage and President Elect Samantha Wolf gave the 2011-12 State of the Student Body Address Wednesday.

Eveslage began the address by acknowledging key issues and events that happened during his term, including raised tuition over the summer.

“Because the state reduced the allocation for universities in Michigan by a considerable amount, they also introduced a regulation that capped the amount you could increase tuition,” Eveslage said. “That helps students because we can only pay so much more that year. Also it hurt, because basically it made universities increase the tuition.”

He said Student Congress was able to use university events like the Republican debate, in conjunction with OUSC sponsored “Your Voice Heard Live,” to increase student participation.

Eveslage said an upturn in the economy had led to increased student morale as well.

“Oakland University students are always focusing on the job market, whether they’re an incoming student deciding what major they want, or if they’re graduating and hoping to get a job,” he said. “This year what we’ve seen is it’s getting better compared to the recent recession. It’s helped the hopefulness for our student body.”

Eveslage also trumpeted several achievements of his administration, including the 24/5 library initiative, Bear Bus expansion and Chartwells reduced pricing for student organizations.

He pointed out a couple of things his administration was not able to accomplish, among them getting an extra $2.50 added to the Student Activities Fee, something the students had already passed in a referendum last election.

Eveslage was also unable to resurrect an initiative from the Gustaffson/Ring administration called OUNITE, a board that in the past gathered people from various areas of the school to discuss issues facing OU.

Wolf took the podium next to discuss the outcomes she hopes for during her administration.

Wolf outlined the thoughts she and Vice President-elect Robbie Williford have on Oakland’s parking issue.

“We want to ease congestion and frustration with parking,” she said. “If you’re a commuter, you know you spend lots of time trying to find a parking spot. (Our) thoughts on parking is there is enough parking, it’s just students aren’t willing to park further away.”

To that end, Wolf hopes to push for an expansion of the Bear Bus program to service more locations.

“We’re looking forward to potentially go to Greek row,” she said, “and maybe potentially Beacon where a lot of OU students live.”

She also believes the bike share program can be successful with the addition of antitheft security measures.

“Potentially there could be a method like the New York or Boston program where you swipe your card, the bike knows that it’s you riding it, so you’re responsible for it until it’s returned, and then it will reprogram itself  for the next student who takes it,” Wolf said.

Finally, both Wolf and Eveslage said the next administration can only truly be successful with student participation.

“It’s most important to realize it doesn’t matter if you drive to school or live on campus,” Eveslage said. “You can be involved. Your voice should be heard and you just need to do something. You can’t just sit and act like this university owes you a degree because you’re paying tuition. You’re part of a community.”