By: Michael Olszewski, SGA reporter
The Towson University Student Government Association voted down a bill that would’ve allowed freshman students to park on campus during Tuesday’s General Assembly.
Zero SGA members voted in favor of the bill, introduced by Sen. Damari Sedgwick, while 18 voted against and one abstained. The bill would have allowed second-semester freshman residential students to park on campus after obtaining 15 credit hours.
Currently, students must have 30 credits, equivalent to a sophomore class standing, to qualify for an on-campus parking pass.
SGA’s Director of Civic Engagement and Sustainability, Jayden Johnstone, spoke against the resolution during Tuesday’s meeting. He urged the senate to vote against the legislation and said he had concerns of CO2 emissions rising on campus.
Johnstone said he worried the legislation would cause a decrease in the use of the campus shuttle buses as first-year students are currently the main users of the service paid for by the SGA.
Several SGA senators presented concerns regarding the bill, with Sen. Roni Brown saying they’re concerned that allowing second-semester freshmen to park on campus may lead to them getting into trouble off campus. Further, Brown said the existing parking issues on campus would be exacerbated by expanding eligibility.
“The buses are more accessible than a car anyway because the bus stops are like right in front of each major classroom,” Brown said. “Whereas your car is gonna sit in one spot maybe on the weekend, and you want to go somewhere and do something.”
In response to the concerns, Sedgwick said the legislation wouldn’t cause every eligible freshman wanting to get a parking permit but instead opens up the eligibility as an option.
“I also don’t feel like every freshman is going to opt out to do that, though I will say no freshman wants to pay extra fees to bring a car on campus,” Sedgwick said to his colleagues. “I think there’s more of a bill or resolution to say that we have the option to do so and allow them to do so.”
Towson’s Director of Parking and Transportation, Pamela Mooney, told the SGA during their Nov. 1 meeting that as of now, there are open spots in all garages on campus- a figure likely due to the drop in enrollment during the pandemic. Pre-pandemic levels were at capacity, and Mooney said that they will likely rise in the coming semesters as enrollment rises.
The GA also introduced a bill regarding Juneteenth observance for the upcoming calendar year. This proposal will change the date of Juneteenth observance to the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November each year- also known as election day.
This observance is intended to honor Juneteenth during the fall semester per federal government guidelines while simultaneously allowing students a day off to get out the vote.
Sen. Shawn Bell sponsored the bill and urged his fellow Senators to vote in remembrance of those Black Americans who fought for the right to vote.
“Being able to vote that day is giving a homage to those who came before us,” Bell said.
Towson has previously been ranked a premier school for student civic engagement, with a voter-registration status of more than 85% of the student population, according to the University.
Tuesday’s meeting also saw the SGA introduce legislation that would increase the number of guests an on-campus resident may have on campus from three people to the pre-pandemic limit of five.